Shopping small this holiday can boost local businesses and find you unique gifts

Rhonda Abrams
Special to USA TODAY

Okay, small business owners, it’s time to put your money where your heart is. Let’s shop small this holiday season.

Small businesses offer some of the most original, highest quality and delicious gifts. You can delight your family and friends and support your fellow entrepreneurs at the same time.

To spark your interest, I’m listing some favorite small businesses of mine. All of these companies take online orders. So, start shopping!

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Everyone loves food

Full Belly Farm: My favorite farm is located in the Capay Valley in Northern California. They are certified from the “Real Organic Project” meaning they stick to the most rigorous organic practices. Fortunately, you can order lots of their goodies online. My nephew has tried more than 20 different almond butters and swears Full Belly’s is the best!

Prevedelli Farms: Every Sunday, I see Nick Prevedelli at the Palo Alto farmers market where I stock up on some of his 40 varieties of apples. His family has been farming in California since 1945. As the climate has changed, they’ve branched out (pun intended) from apple orchards. Shop their “farm pantry” for goodies such as fruit jams and even organic cocktail mixes.

Your local independent grocer: Most cities still have a few independently owned grocery stores, and they’re a great place to find gift baskets, unique and/or gourmet food items, even full meals. Most now deliver, too, at least in their local area. Me? I shop at Piazza's Fine Food. Not only is it a terrific, right-sized grocery, but the owner is married to my book designer!

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Bloombox: Personally, I hate bottled salad dressings except … I LOVE Bloombox dressings. I discovered them when visiting Colorado and have ordered online. They craft dressings for the greens you’re using, e.g. spinach, arugula, kale, lettuce. Their gift boxes are a terrific choice for the healthy salad eater you know.

Gneiss Spice or Penzey’s: If you have anyone who likes to cook on your gift list, then they’ll love getting some high quality spices. I’ve got two great small businesses that curate some of the freshest, finest spices you can find. And they both ship!

Lots of other wonderful stuff

Any independent bookstore. Independent bookstores – ‘indies’ – aren’t just bookstores, they’re centers of your community. When you shop at a real bookstore, you’ll get great advice and find all kinds of gifts as well as books.

I shop at Kepler’s in Menlo Park, California, and Books Inc in Palo Alto. In Denver, I go to Tattered Cover. You can also support your local bookstore by shopping online at

ACE Hardware: Here’s something you probably didn’t know: your local ACE Hardware store is probably a small business. ACE is a cooperative of independently owned companies – not a chain or a franchise. I love my local ACE Hardware store. There’s lots of helpful, knowledgeable salespeople and all kinds of cool stuff like gadgets, home goods, candles, plants as well as tools and hardware.

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RVL Skincare: If you want to rise above those drug or department store skincare products, why not turn to skincare developed or selected by a noted female dermatologist, Dr. Rita Linkner. Her products are a whole other level of fabulous.

Nicole Marie Paperie: Like many women and men, I’m a sucker for beautiful and/or cute stationery products. So I was delighted when I discovered this great source for happy, pretty cards, prints and other gifts. I have their print of a vintage typewriter in my office. And it’s a Black-owned, woman-owned business too!

Jelt: Everyone – or almost everyone – can use a belt. And Jelt makes all their belts from recycled plastic and packages them in recycled cardboard. They make belts that feel good, and you can feel good about wearing. They’re made in Montana and a portion goes to veterans, kids and the environment.

Kiwi Crate: True confession that this company isn’t small anymore. But my two little nieces adore the monthly crates with arts-and-crafts projects that come every month. A subscription is a perfect gift for a grandparent or aunt or uncle to give a little one. Kiwi Co. is a woman-founded company that’s grown to something like $100 million in revenue, so I’m taking the liberty of including it here.

OlyverApp: If you have an aspiring or actual entrepreneur on your gift list, why not help them take care of their basic and ongoing legal stuff, such as incorporation, trademarks and managing contracts. Here’s an all-in-one stop shop that’s also a small business, OlyverApp. It says, “Entrepreneurship made easy.”

Capiaux Wine: Let’s finish this off with a toast to the new year with a really terrific bottle of wine at a surprisingly affordable price. My favorite Pinot Noir in the world is made by a boutique winery in Napa Valley, California, Capiaux Cellars. In fact, I gave a case of it to my niece as a wedding present years ago (all gone now!).

It’s our family’s go-to Pinot and has won every blind tasting we’ve held. That’s a favorite thing of ours to do at holidays – we like wine!.