Competing with the big boys at Target and Amazon can get tricky this time of year. Small Business Saturday (on November 25, 2017) is just one way we can show some much-deserved love to the local organizations that bring that special touch to our community while supporting our economy all year round.
As the big day approaches, we at the Chamber met up with six local West Michiganders and asked them about some of their favorite local spots that they’ll be hitting around the holidays. Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday – support local this holiday season!
SHOP, DINE, AND SUPPORT GRAND RAPIDS
With the help of six West Michigan locals:
Vice President & Managing Director, AHC+ Hospitality
Favorite local spots: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t eat, drink, or shop at Aperitivo in the Downtown Market. How can anyone resist some wine and cheese and all the other goodness Aperitivo includes on their “Monger’s Choice” board? When you’re on the West Side, you have to try the ginormous roasted chicken at Butcher’s Union and the Spicy Supreme pizza slice at Fratelli’s on Bridge Street (preferably after 2 a.m.).
Holiday gift ideas: For the hip guy in your life, go to Apothecary Off Main. I bought a Bawston & Tucker “solid cologne”, an old school razor, and replacement blades that only cost three dollars. Nobody would turn down booze as a gift – so splurge on three bottles at Gray Skies Distillery, like their Utility Vodka, Michigan Single Malt Whiskey, and their BFH Gin. While you’re at it, why not throw in a shirt too?
Why he supports local: I love to support local as long as the quality is there. Fortunately, we have quite a number of local establishments that are worth supporting. But let’s not pinhole every “chain” as a foreign entity because a lot of these chains are owned by locals and employ locals like you and me. They are just as much a part of the local ecosystem as the small business retailer or food truck operator. Maintaining a balance is the key to a successful model for business success in downtown GR.
Administrative Manager, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Favorite local spots: My favorite is Parsley, the fabulous Mediterranean restaurant downtown. The two owners and staff are amazing. They work super hard and are nice to everybody. That’s what I appreciate about small businesses: You come in, and they remember you and what you like. Another one is Dear Prudence. It’s a beautiful little boutique. They have great jewelry, clothes, and other unique little things. I love the way they take care of their customers.
Holiday gift ideas: 6.25 Paper Studio always has unique items. I know I’m going to find something super cool as either a gift or for my own personal use. One time I bought these hilarious birthday cards with cuss words on it!
Why she supports local: I feel better spending my money locally because I feel like I’m supporting my neighbor, friend, or coworker. I’m helping somebody grow their business and hopefully helping them stay in business!
Supply Chain Guru, The Stow Company
Favorite local spots: Terra is a great spot for a healthy brunch. Emonae has amazing and authentic Korean food and it provides you with that whole indoor barbecue experience. Field & Fire is a lovely breakfast spot with fresh croissants and other pastries. For staying in shape, I go to FZIQUE for cycling and CKO Kickboxing when I really want to go all out.
Holiday gift ideas: You can’t go wrong with the Downtown Market. With all the shops there, you’ll get a wide variety of choices from fancy olive oil, pink sea salt, or even a selection of cheeses. If you’re feeling lazy, you can just get gift cards from basically any of the stores there, like Pho 616, Fish Lads, MadCap, or Aperitivo.
Why he supports local: Supporting local means supporting Grand Rapids, and I’m all about that.
HR Business Partner, HR Collaborative
Favorite local spots: I love Sovengard as I’m of Swedish descent. It reminds me of my grandmother’s cooking – only better! The Rockwell Republic is another favorite. While they’ve been around for a few years, their sushi and cocktail menu is always on point!
Holiday gift ideas: Due to the proximity to HR Collaborative, I enjoy the West Side. It’s an up and coming area! I like shopping at Denym. There’s also a great secondhand store over there called the Conscious Collective.
Why she supports local: As the wife of a small business owner, I am pleased to support our local businesses. I think you can find the best hidden gems and unique items in smaller organizations. Amazon is great, but there are a lot of locally made and cultivated things that you just can’t find on Amazon!
Banking Center Manager, Old National Bank – Downtown Grand Rapids
Favorite local spots: The JW Marriott’s six.one.six has incredible flatbread and excellent service. Angel’s Thai Cafe, right downtown, has delicious shrimp rolls. I can easily eat two orders of them in one go, with an extra side of shrimp rolls! Indian Masala has out of this world butter chicken and garlic naan. Cafe Boba is great for their tapioca pearl drinks if you’re looking for something sweet after a heavy meal.
Holiday gift ideas: Boxed GR gives you the best local items all in one neat box – delivered right to your doorstep! Vault of Midnight is a good spot if you’re looking for a present for one of your nerdy hipster friends. They have fun board games, comic books, and other cool trinkets. Eastern Floral is nice for when you want to impress that special lady in your life. For me, that’s my wife!
Why he supports local: Every dollar that you give to a local business owner feeds our local economy. $50 spent at Eastern Floral (vs a website like proflowers.com) supports the local expert who arranged the flowers and the local clerk who handled my transaction. They both have jobs because of customers like you and me. They get paid by their local employer and, in turn, they hopefully go out into the Grand Rapids area and spend that money locally. In the end, that helps all of us.
Owner, Lindo Mexico
Favorite local spots: El Pollo Loco is one my favorite Mexican restaurants. Another place I go to a lot is Bistro Bella Vita. My son loves it there! I also really admire Jason and Kris Spaulding of Brewery Vivant. To me, they’re an inspiration for being so involved with the community.
Holiday gift ideas: If you’re thinking of getting me a gift, I’d say go to Wealthy Street Bakery! It’s awesome. For ice cream and other sweet treats, Furniture City Creamery and Love’s Ice Cream in the Downtown Market are very good.
Why she supports local: All the money stays in the community! That is the most important thing. It allows us to grow together because the money doesn’t go somewhere else.
DID YOU KNOW?
Over 80 percent of our 2,500 Chamber members operate companies with 50 or fewer employees? Check out our Business Directory if you’re looking for more local gems!
Don’t forget to hashtag all your new finds with #SmallBizSat, #ShopSmall, and #SmallBusinessSaturday when you post online!