Your Neighbors Are Counting on You to Support Small Businesses This Holiday Season

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Yarn from Woven Art, candles from Clever Clover, and a pink spinel set from Sundance Jewelers.

Just like that, the holiday season has arrived. To make sure your gifts arrive in time for your many celebrations, here’s a simple life hack: shop local. Before you hop online for the illusive “two-day shipping,” think about crossing items off your shopping list by heading to downtown East Lansing’s unique offerings.

If post-Turkey Day shopping is an annual tradition that you look forward to, now’s a great time to support locally. And even better yet, some of your favorite boutiques even have online shopping available, perfect for making purchases on Small Business Saturday.

Here’s a little rundown of a few deals you can grab – and support your local business-owning neighbors – as gifts or for yourself. (We’re not here to judge!) and in turn, support your neighbors, local business owners.

Curious Book Shop (307 E. Grand River Ave) and Archives Book Shop (519 W. Grand River Ave.) are offering 20% off gift certificates, which can be used on the same-day or for a later purchase. On Green Friday/Saturday – an effort within East Lansing on Dec. 3 and 4 – the shops are offering a similar promotion in addition to 25% off used hardback books.

Owner Ray Walsh said shopping locally is important because many nearby shops are really struggling to survive.

“Even small sales help,” he said. “Using cash makes it a little bit better too, because of the fees that the credit card companies charge the retailers. Supporting your local downtown is a great idea, it makes a lot of sense — and cents.”

Read last year’s Spend Locally Series spotlight on Curious Book Shop here.

Photo courtesy of Ray Walsh

Roy Saper, owner of Saper Galleries and Custom Framing, said “small, locally-owned businesses [are] to downtowns like East Lansing Info is to the corporate alternatives.”

“It is really small, locally owned, unique businesses which define the character and desirability of a downtown,” Saper said. 

Saper said local businesses take on great risk to provide for their neighbors and serve their communities – something the gallery has done for 43 years in East Lansing.

“A locally-owned and operated small business is created for the community by those who live here, have children in our schools, contribute to local organization fundraisers, serve on local boards, commissions, city and school boards, and may worship and contribute in the community,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Roy Saper.

“Small business owners are always working for their business and community. When they close shop at night, they are still working, planning, scheduling, creating, ordering, communicating with suppliers, working to make tomorrow better for those they serve.”

As the downtown landscape of East Lansing continually changes, longtime business owner Saper looks back fondly on the small businesses of years past.

“Our downtown was served in the past by many locally-owned businesses – many of us having been awarded the Crystal Award over the years. If more community members shopped at those local businesses, perhaps some would still be around today. I remember Jocundry’s Bookstore, Confection Connection, Brother Gambit, Hankins Gallery, Mackerel Sky, Catellani’s Market, among many others who invested a lot to provide unique and special shopping opportunities for all of us.”

Read last year’s spotlight on Saper Galleries and Custom Framing here.

Please keep in mind some of your favorite small businesses might actually be closed this Black Friday, due to supply shortages, staffing, or health concerns. Locally, Blue Owl Coffee will not be open, and neither will Seams Sewing and Mercantile.

Seams owner Jessy Gregg, who currently serves as the Mayor Pro Tem of East Lansing, said, due to current outbreak numbers and the MSU home game on Saturday, the store’s sales will be 100% virtual for Black Friday weekend.

“Starting on Thursday, we’ll be offering free shipping, free local delivery for all online orders, which includes our extensive SALE! Section,” she said. “We’ve also recently expanded our embroidery area, and stocked up on embroidery kits for all skill levels. The entire embroidery department, including our Japanese embroidery floss and Sashiko supplies, will be on sale from Thanksgiving Day until December 1st.”

Gregg said small retailers are still struggling, and many are trying to find balance.

“There are customers who are comfortable shopping in the store, some of whom are maybe too comfortable, and aren’t very excited about wearing their masks or distancing,” said Gregg. “Other customers aren’t ready to come back out in public yet, and it’s hard for us to compete with the big online retailers in terms of shipping costs and speed, so we’re not sure if we’re reaching those folks yet. It makes it hard to plan ahead since revenue is still very up and down and nothing is predictable yet.”

You can check out Ann Nichols’ adventure to Seams here.

This will be the first holiday season that Wild Birds Unlimited’s new owner Kate Furtaw is at the helm of the store’s deals.

“We are offering 25% off your highest priced item for Black Friday, and $10 off a purchase of $50 or more for Small Business Saturday,” she said. “In addition, we offer a Daily Savings Club year round. For a $25 fee you are entitled to 15% off all food products, earn a $10 “bird bucks” coupon for every $200 in points accumulated and a free gift for joining (or renewing).”

If gift cards are more of your go-to gift, Creative Wellness has you covered year-round. Marketing Director Anne Fedewa Subrizi said gift card sales are always important to their business.

“Many people buy gift cards for their family/friends to use throughout the entire year,” she said. “These sales during the one month of December keep us going, as well as our clients, for the remaining months of the year.”

Image courtesy of Anne Fedewa Subrizi

Creative Wellness gift cards can be purchased online, in any dollar amount, with personalized messages, and sent via email. You can read last year’s spotlight here.

Groovy Donuts is offering 25% off all merchandise from their online store, with code GROOVYTHANKSGIVING.

Owner Andrew Gauthier says supporting local businesses represent the character and uniqueness of the area. 

“It’s so important to support these small businesses, because they are owned and operated by your neighbors, friends, teammates, members of your local book club or theater and more,” he said. “These aren’t nameless, faceless corporate entities, they are the people you ask to buy your kid’s Boy Scout popcorn tin or Girl Scout cookies or to sponsor a sports team or support the building of new equipment at a local park.  Local businesses are made up of members of your community – and when we do it right, we all support each other!”

Check out ELi’s past profile on Groovy Donuts here.

Be sure to check out your favorite local East Lansing businesses like, Sundance Jewelers, Quark!, Constellation Cat Cafe, B/A Florist, and more for special sales.

The City of East Lansing is also celebrating with their version of day-after Thanksgiving sales with alternative dates of Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3 and 4 with Green Friday and Winter Glow event. Shopping small this season can make a huge impact.

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