Friday, November 25, 2011

Buy, Shop and Support Local: Small Business Saturday

This Christmas I intend to do my best to stick to shopping at local shops, through Etsy sites, and online retailers that are PGH-based or independently owned and operated. It should be easy, because between the Strip District on weekend mornings and the plethora of small shops or awesomely creative people in this city, I should be able to achieve my goal. (And hopefully bring smiles to loved ones' faces.)

This means, I will be spending the entirety of my Black Friday bumming around, maybe taking in a movie, but I will NOT be shopping anywhere like the mall, Target, Best Buy, etc. On Saturday, however, I will be taking part in Small Business Saturday visiting a few local shops around town. Here are three that I adore and will probably be handing over some cash on Saturday and throughout the month to come.

Kards Unlimited
Shadyside: 5522 Walnut Street

I would say that Kards Unlimited looks innocent enough from outside. But it doesn't. The windows are covered in t-shirts for sale and when you walk in the door you are hit with a blast of awesome. The store is long and skinny, but it is full of awesome books, cards, gifts, and stuff. Just really great and fun stuff. If you want a really FUN present, this is where you need to go. My friend from Boston was visiting me for the weekend, and her birthday had just passed, so I picked her up a ton of goodies on my visit. But I've already made mental note of some awesome stuff that my friends may find in their stocking.

Lawrenceville: 4209 Butler Street

Walking into Wildcard is dangerous. I want to leave with everything. (Except the baby stuff, but only because I don't know any babies. If I did, they would have one of everything.) I went in this past Saturday to show my friend from out of town around and ended up walking out with a t-shirt (the blue city of bridges tee in the photo above) and the zombie magnet below and a really nice Steelers button below.

This is a fantastic place for quality and creative Pittsburgh gifts. They have plenty of other items that are also really amazing, but this is my go-to place for a really nice Pittsburgh-themed gift. Really, anything you find inside of Wildcard will be interesting. Lots will be handmade. Much will make you go "awwwwww!" It's a fantastic place; it's going to cause me to go broke.

S. W. Randall Toys and Gifts
Downtown: 630 Smithfield Street

Okay, remember what I said above about Kards Unlimited looking totally unassuming? Well, S. W. Randall's Toys and Gifts was so unassuming-looking to me that I literally passed it by for a year and a half every day before walking in. I have biked and walked past this storefront hundreds of times, always thinking: "dolls, ew." But, around Halloween this year, I got the sudden urge to go inside. Man, oh man. Am I ever glad I did. This store being directly down the street from my office building is likely the best and the worst thing. Toys only a block and half away? Four floors of toys? (This blog is less about Pittsburgh and more about me proving to my friends that their theory of me being the main character of Big is spot-on.)

This is the place you need to go if you need a straight-up toy. If you need a board game. If you want to find an awesomely difficult puzzle. If you need a Nutcracker. If you fancy a doll. This place is like walking into a child's overactive imagination, and therefore it is heavenly.

Buy local! Shop local! Support the places in your neighborhood that keep your main street looking like a plethora of awesome rather than a sad-looking string of chain stores. Start with your holiday shopping, and keep it going throughout the years the come.

Plus, you don't have to wake up at 3 a.m. and wait in a line of crazy maniacs who want a bigger TV.

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