Six Local Stores to Shop Small and Celebrate Big for the Holidays

With Thanksgiving in sight, it will soon be time to thaw the turkey and throw on your stretchy pants. And after a day filled with gravy and grazing, you might be tempted to fall for the glossy ads featuring the hottest holiday items and load up the minivan for a day spent chasing deals. But with supply-chain issues putting a damper on traditional shopping patterns, you could easily come up short and come home empty-handed.

So how can you skip the stress and avoid shortages? Instead of following the same old Black Friday routine, embrace a shop-local strategy and enjoy stocked shelves and unique gifts at small shops across Southwest Michigan.

Here are a few spots to help you celebrate big while shopping small:

Forever Clean Soap Works, Inc – Offering handmade bath and body products for the whole family, this small business in St. Joseph has everything you need to help Santa deliver on his big day. There’s no shortage of skincare products here, as body wash, bath bombs, hand soaps, sugar scrubs, and shower steamers line the shelves. While you’re there, check out their line of men’s products like shaving soap and beard oil. And every kid on your list would volunteer for bathtime with a “soapycupcake” in their stocking. In addition to normal business hours, stop in on Small Business Saturday (November 27) for Customer Appreciation sales throughout the store, cookies, hot chocolate, and more!

Flowers by Anna – It’s more than just flowers in this charming Buchanan gift shop specializing in locally-made, high-quality items for everyone on your list. Give yourself extra time to browse because you never know what treasures you’ll find amongst the ever-changing inventory. In addition to gorgeous seasonal decor, shoppers will love the variety of options from dishware and decorative cloths to succulents and spices. If you love to fill a gift basket with goodies, this is your new go-to shop. There’s a table of kid gifts, a corner of candles, a collection of colorful headbands and notebooks, a shelf stocked with coffee, a counter of jewelry, a whole wall of fun signs, and even a growing section of products for men. You’ll find every gift you need for the teachers, co-workers, family members, and friends in your life…and probably a little something for yourself as well. If you stop by on Small Business Saturday, you can enjoy their holiday open house with special deals, appetizers, beverages, and the chance to win a $100 gift card.

The Bobbypin Boutique – Tucked inside Rana’s New Generation Hair Salon in Niles is the best-kept secret in small shops. With flourishing style and fresh design, this hidden gem features clothing and accessories, accent furniture, home decor, and so much more. From room to room, the colorful displays pull you in and the appeal of the artfully arranged items far surpass the standard shelf endcaps of the big-box stores. Ginger Hopper from The Bobbypin Boutique says, “We’re a small boutique with over 20 local artisans. We hand select all our inventory to ensure we have the best quality items available. When you shop local you make it possible for makers to do what they love most – create unique items for a lasting impression.”

Urban Garage Market – Described as a “gathered style boutique and home decor shop” specializing in vintage goods, upcycled treasures, antiques, and handmade items, this Benton Harbor business is a fan favorite during the holiday season. Check out their Hot Toddy cocktail kits, holiday greenery, and serving sets that would make any hostess happy. And if you’re in the mood to make your own gifts (with guidance by the experts), they also host a variety of DIY classes including:

Zick’s Meats – This Berrien Springs store offers locally made, specialty meat products ranging from jerky and snack sticks (the famous “Zicks Sticks”) to bacon and sausage. The flavors are endless and the variety will satisfy even the pickiest carnivores on your list. And, if you’re feeling like trying something new, choose from venison, elk, duck, buffalo, alligator, or ostrich. Pair their products with a personalized apron and stainless steel tongs, and you’ll make your partner the happiest grillmaster on the block. Their products aren’t just perfect for gifting, as their selection of steaks, salmon, chicken, and beef will turn your Christmas Day dinner into an event to remember.

Chill Hill Winery – A holiday gift basket isn’t complete without a bottle of wine or two. Pick up a Dry Reisling or Rose’ at this Baroda-based business where it always feels like a day at the beach, regardless of the cold weather outside. Check out their canned ciders (perfect stocking stuffers for the over 21 crowd) and take home colorful drinkware or whimsical logo shirts to support this small business throughout Southwest Michigan. And, if you’re making a day of it, have a seat at the Tiki Bar and enjoy a tropical slushy to help keep the winter blues at bay. Stop by from 11-3 on Small Business Saturday to peruse the local vendor booths set up for Sip & Shop Local at Chill Hill Winery’s Pop-Up Shop! $2 off drinks while you shop!

With so many small shops to choose from in Southwest Michigan, you can find what you’re looking for without waiting in line or chasing down cargo ships. And you can still celebrate big this holiday season by staying local and shopping small.

About the Writer: Stacey Martin is a local author and freelance writer with a passion for promoting Southwest Michigan. She is the author of We Grow Kids Here and New Girl at Church, and the creator and host of “The Folks Back Home” podcast. She’s a former marketing executive and current Domestic Director of a house full of kids.

Buy Local Berrien’s Holiday Shopping Series is brought to you by Forever Clean Soap Works on Cleveland Ave in St. Joseph. Shop handcrafted soaps, bath bombs, candles, lip balm and more in a festive, fun, and delicious-smelling setting!

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