by Patheresa Wells
Now that we are through the hectic online shopping seasons of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many find that they are still looking for items to cross off on their shopping lists. And while the issues of inflation and bare shelves might make it harder to find what you need, especially for last-minute shoppers, they also provide a great opportunity to support local small businesses by shopping directly from Black, Indigenous, and BIPOC-owned businesses that could benefit from your hard-earned dollars. Remember, in order to move toward equity, it is paramount that we shift our funds into the hands of those who have been systematically shut out from acquiring wealth. If you are looking for somewhere to start, here is a guide to help you in your quest (but remember to check with sites or stores for shipping deadlines):
Gifts for Self-Care
Noir Lux Candle Company is a small Black-women-owned candle shop whose mottos like “Life’s short. Order that Candle. Stay Lit” inspire you to relax with your favorite music playing in the background while the scent of their CinnaBAE candle enlivens the atmosphere. They also offer 90-minute Sip + Pour candle-making classes that are available virtually or in person. Candles can be found both online and at select local retailers.
Owner Colina Bruce says, “When you look at the data and statistics, there are definitely disparities in terms of who small business owners are and the advantages or disadvantages that small business owners have based on things like socioeconomic status, race.” Bruce, who is planning on opening a brick and mortar location in 2022, shares, “Some of my non-Black counterparts might have more access to capital, whether it’s through friends and family, or whether it’s through loans, grants,” which makes it challenging for BIPOC-owned businesses like hers. She says she relies on support from her village of customers and supporters in order to create sustainability. She also says that because small businesses of color “are often creating products that are handcrafted, that are sourced from our own resources, there’s also a little bit of extra love and intention that goes into everything that we put out.”
Gifts for the Food or Coffee Lover
You may have heard of Boon Boona coffee or visited their Renton or Seattle locations, but this local coffee company — that ties our local love of the beverage with the owner’s East African roots — offers a great selection online, including their Three Origins Within An Origin sampler box, which makes for a perfect gift. If you are looking for even more variety in terms of coffee, Intentionalist’s Coffee Like It Matters gift vouchers allow you to visit different BIPOC-owned coffee shops in the Greater Seattle area. If you’d like to pair that gift of coffee with some artisan chocolate, check out Hot Chocolat, which offers assorted chocolates for those who love to indulge in yummy treats. You can also give the gift of grazing with a gift certificate from Irene’s Grazing, which offers beautiful artisan cheeses and specialty meats, or order a bread subscription from Moon Village Bakery.
Gifts of Jewelry and Art
For those looking for art, there are a lot of great local collectives featuring BIPOC artists, such as Native Works and yəhaw̓ Indigenous Creatives Collective. Another option which features art, cards, gifts, and a variety of apparel from a local watercolor artist is Yardia, whose offerings can be found at a plethora of local shops if you check the store locator. Or, if jewelry is more your style, check out the handcrafted silver workings from AYA Jewelry Design.
Gifts for Kids
The Sacred Circle Gifts and Art gift shop has a variety of online offerings crafted by Indigenous artists, including a wide array of toys and games for all ages. You can find everything from plush animals and puzzles to games like Cards for Decolonization: The Unsettling Card Game. And if you’re looking for gifts that combine education and art, numerous titles of children’s books can be found online at the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse Store. These books cover everything from learning to count to animals of the Salish Sea and are sure to engage your little one’s attention and imagination.
Gifts That Recycle or Reuse
Because it’s always important to be mindful of the environment, here are a few ideas to upcycle and create your own gifts, like this DIY laptop case or this video that shares how to make reusable food wraps with just a few supplies. Or, consider gifting someone your time or a thoughtful letter, or find other ways to get crafty, like recycling socks to make sock puppets. Material is easy to repurpose; instead of sending it to a landfill, use it as a gift wrap!
Upcoming Pop-Up Markets Featuring BIPOC Businesses
Below is a listing of upcoming events where you can get some last-minute shopping in.
- Heartful rootz BIPOC Makers Market, December 11–12, Saturday (10 a.m.–6 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m.–5 p.m.)
- Africatown Soul Holiday Market, December 11–12, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
- United Indians Native Art Market, December 18–19, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
- The Liink Project Sunday, every Sunday ’til Christmas, 12 p.m.–5 p.m. at 2002 E Union Seattle, WA 98122
In no way is this list meant to be a comprehensive guide to local BIPOC stores, artisans, and pop-ups but instead an encouragement to look within your communities to shift how you spend. Hopefully this change will continue throughout the year. When you are deciding on goods to purchase, instead of heading to corporations like Amazon and Target, focus your efforts on building a network of other options. One way to do this is by checking out guides like Intentionalist’s Spend Like It Matters, or Seattle Good’s Buy Black Listing. Another is to reach out to your friends, family, and neighbors; those within your own network may have businesses they have been purchasing from. And finally, stay informed and look to the organizations working to address these disparities, as they will often share BIPOC businesses that you can support during the holidays and all year round.
The normal stresses of the holidays might be exacerbated by an increase in the cost of goods and the current supply chain shortage, but these challenges are a great opportunity for us to focus our spending power where it matters most. Many BIPOC businesses do not benefit from having a storefront or rely on the support of customers during this time to keep going. These small, locally owned BIPOC businesses are the least likely to benefit from the heavy online sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so it is even more important to find ways to help sustain their ability to bring products into the world and into our homes.
Patheresa Wells is a Queer poet, writer, and storyteller who lives in SeaTac, Washington. Born to a Black mother and Persian father, her experiences as a multicultural child shaped her desire to advocate for and amplify her community. She currently attends Highline College in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter @PatheresaWells.
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