Thanks to American Express for sponsoring my writing today about small businesses. American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy, this Saturday, November 27. They’re offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for “Likes” of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook. Join the celebration by clicking the “Like” button and then visiting the Facebook page to learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply.
If my last few posts are any indication, I feel very strongly about supporting our local economy. Mostly, I do this through the food I buy, subscribing to two local Community Supported Agriculture programs and purchasing most of my meat from within a 100 mile radius. But, woman does not live on organic veggies and pork alone!
As we move into the holiday shopping season, I am thinking about presents for kids, presents for family members, presents for me, and naturally, I will be turning to my local marketplace. Living on the Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, I find many local shopping options and sharing them is so satisfying. Money spent in the local economy stays in the local economy, which helps provide jobs, services and support in my community. In addition, knowing the owner, building a rapport and knowing I can count on them to provide interesting and unique items and services makes shopping local a great decision.
Menlo Park has three local shops that I frequent quite a bit, three that are worth seeking out this holiday season:
Formerly Calla, Alys Grace changed ownership in 2008 and almost immediately, suffered a fire that caused the shop to move temporarily while the building was retrofitted. Back in their new space on Santa Cruz Avenue, Alys Grace has reestablished itself as a cornerstone of downtown shopping.
With over 25 designers represented in the store, Alys Grace is a great place to go when you are looking for an outfit for a special occasion, or everyday attire. Personally, I have been in a few times when my wardrobe seems to have hit rock bottom and I always find a piece or two to perk things up.
I also love to shop their sales, and fortunately, Black Friday brings a pretty good one. Alys Grace is offering 15% off any regular priced merchandise in the store. Plus, many items will be marked down from already nice sale prices. Shop online, too. Free shipping on orders over $150. Great time to pick up something for the holidays!
I remember when Cheeky Monkey Toys was a small little place on Santa Cruz Avenue – family owned and operated, the store first opened in 1999. In 2007, they moved down the street to bigger digs and I must say, having a toy store in town is so handy. Birthday presents, treats for the kids, even a new game for the family.
Cheeky Monkey has a great selection of toys, including Legos, science kits, dress up outfits, and first-toys for new babies. I head right to the board games in the back of the store, where they have a great selection of Game Wright, Thinkfun and Blue Orange games, perfect for almost everyone on my holiday list.
I also like Cheeky Monkey’s commitment to their community. Through their generous fund-raising program, I can support a number of charities and foundations in our local community. And, if I cannot make it down to the store to shop, I can order online for pickup, or free delivery if I order over $100. Time to get shopping!
photo courtesy of Keplers.com
Kepler’s Books has been around forever! Or at least 54 years. In 2005, Kepler’s abruptly shut their doors, announcing they were going out of business. With the help of the local community, they reopened and Clark Kepler has committed to making sure other local businesses don’t suffer the same fate and started a independent business alliance, Hometown Peninsula.
Today, Kepler’s is a strong anchor for downtown Menlo Park, and serves our community as a first-rate bookstore, with a diverse offering of speakers and visitors, as well as support for the local community. Kepler’s partners with local schools and encourages adults, children and family to expand their reading potential. And with the addition of used books, Kepler’s keeps things green.
As the holidays approach, I like to visit Kepler’s to browse their awesome collection of calendars, as well as non-literary gifts. I think they have one of the best selections of jigsaw puzzles, and have found several for the puzzle hounds in my family. And you can never have too many Kepler’s gift cards! Lets the reader on your list choose their favorite new book.