The 2021 Holiday Season is here, and the United States is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its variants. This is affecting small businesses financially, and the public is bracing for shortages of goods.
So, with holiday shopping fast approaching and supply chain issues, there is no better time to support local businesses.
Small Business Saturday first started in 2010 and is a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which feature big box shops and e-commerce. Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize businesses that are small and local.
Last year, we asked the r/Rochester community in Reddit to tell us their go-to local businesses for Small Business Saturday, and the response was so overwhelmingly positive that we decided to do it again this year.
Here are some of Rochester Reddit’s unique suggestions:
The Hungerford Building
It seems weird to suggest an entire building for Small Business Saturday, but the Hungerford Building, 1115 East Main St., is home to over 80 independent art studios and several food and drink shops that are perfect for holiday shopping.
The majority of the occupants of the building are artists from whom you could purchase art such as leather goods, ceramics, photography, metalwork, clothing goods and mixed media, among others, said Todd Flemming, who rents a photography studio in the building.
“There’s such a wide variety of arts there, from clothing to utilitarian home kitchen goods. Anything that someone would go out to buy for themselves, they can find someone there making them or have something custom made,” said Flemming.
The Hungerford Building hosts First Fridays at the Hungerford, where artists open their studios on the first Friday of each month to let patrons purchase from them directly. Then there’s Second Saturdays – Handmade Hungerford, which takes place on the second Saturday of each month.
Inside The Hungerford Building, you can find:
- Happy Gut Sanctuary: a specialized fermented tea and non-alcoholic drink shop that also sells plants and local art.
- Seed & Stone Cidery: Sells handcrafted cider and mead.
- Comics Etc: A large selection of comic books and other collectibles, established in 1983.
- Eat Me Ice Cream: A non-dairy ice cream shop with dozens of flavors, manufactured in Rochester.
- M.O. Pasta – Opened in July 2021, the shop offers an array of freshly-made pasta and sauces meant to be enjoyed at home.
For more information on the artists, and to shop for handcrafted local art, see https://shopthehungerford.com/.
If you are in the mood for cooking with locally-ground spices this holiday season, look no further than Stuart’s Spices on 754 S. Clinton Ave.
“We’re known for having extremely fresh and bold flavors,” said owner Tom Finnefrock, who purchased the spice store in 2010 after working 40 years as an electrical engineer.
The shop sells over 400 spices, according to Finnefrock, and all the grinding, blending and packaging is done in the S. Clinton address.
For the holidays, Finnefrock said they offer premade or customizable gift baskets.
You can visit https://stuartsspices.com/ to purchase online and follow for deals and events.
There’s no better feeling than gifting children toys for the holidays, and what better toys than locally-made stuffed animals?
Fleecimals.com is an online, Rochester-based handcrafted stuffed animals store, with fan-favorites like octopi, manta rays and heat wrap eels.
The company was started by Michelle Vullo five years ago when she was a sophomore in college, sewing customizable plushies for friends
Vullo said the online store has a variety of handmade, customizable and usable plushie products, all of which come in a variety of patterns and colors. She also offers a full line of accessories, which allows each and every customer to get a one-of-a-kind plushie.
“We are a small business that prides itself on knowing our customers and making the stuffed animal or plush decor they imagine,” said Vullo.
All items are available online on https://www.fleecimals.com/, and you can also find fleecimals at Jenn’s Cookie Creations, The Apple Farm in Victor, and at ShopOne.
Vullo said customers can also expect unique Christmas goodies, such as a giant octopus filled with ornaments, plush snow globes, holiday patterned Manta ray heat pads, and more. An online Black Friday sale starts Nov. 21.
“We are all so glad that our little friends get to be adopted by you, so thank you for supporting us, our plushies and our team,” said Vullo.
Women of Color New York
Back in August, Connie Marple gathered nine female entrepreneurs of color and opened up Women of Color New York, 539 South Ave.
Past coverage: Women of color find synergy in new business
Since then, the business has expanded to include a tenth vendor, Pure Best, which specializes in luxury soaps.
For the holiday season, Marple said that the collective will participate in South Wedge community events like It’s a Wonderful Life in the South Wedge and will offer sales for 12 Days of Christmas starting in mid-December.
Women of Color New York features:
- Charlie Style New York: Clothing and accessories boutique run by Maple
- Shayla J’s Dessert Bar & Bistro: Offers over two dozen desserts and treats
- Beauty by Olivia Travis: Makeup application.
- Goddess Glow Botanicals: natural bath & body products
- Kiera Javone Wigs: Wig creation, styling, touch-ups, and color
- Blink Beauty: Lash extensions, lash lifts (like a perm for lashes), lip and brow waxes
- Eusi Sana: Unframed art prints with positive images that reflect the African diaspora.
- Light My Candle Co.: Handmade scented soy wax candles come in an array of scents
- Ivolve Me Wellness: Faith-based counseling and personal growth from a licensed clinical social worker.
- Pure Best: natural, organic, and vegan luxury soaps.
We asked Reddit answered:
Here is a list of all the small businesses Rochester’s Redditors gave us. You can also check out last’s year’s list for holiday shopping inspiration.
More: Best Rochester shops on Small Business Saturday? Reddit users answer
- Hi Fi Lounge, 1822 Monroe Ave. Rochester
- Ritual Clay Company, 60 Browns Race #1, Rochester
- The Artful Gardener, 727 Mt Hope Ave., Rochester
- Lala of Webster, 38 E. Main St Webster
- Krudco Skate Shop, 60 Mt Hope Ave., Rochester
- AE Gifts & Clothing, 10 E. Main St Suite 203, Victor
- Eleventh Hour Gift Shop, 1922 Monroe Ave., Rochester
- Enchanted Rose Garden Boutique, 1922 Monroe Ave., Rochester
- Flint’s Maple, Online maple producer
- Fire Crust Pizza, 4843 W Henrietta Road, Henrietta
- Kiss Me Cookie, 696 Ridge Road, Webster
- Voula’s Greek Sweets, 439 Monroe Ave.
- Tu Amor Cakery, 900 Jefferson Road Ste 901, Rochester
- Chortke, 352 N Goodman St, Rochester
- Better Together Dog Park Bar, 613 Culver Road, Rochester
This story includes reporting from food & drink reporter Tracy Schuhmacher
Natalia Rodríguez Medina is a bilingual reporter covering the Puerto Rican and Latino population for the Democrat and Chronicle in partnership with Report for America. Follow her on Twitter at @nataliarodmed or email her at [email protected] You can support her work with a tax-deductible donation to Report for America.