We already know many of the benefits of shopping local on Small Business Saturday. You keep money in your community, end up with one-of-a-kind finds, and help a Southeast Minnesota creator while you're at it. But COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into many peoples' in-person plans this holiday season.
Here are the best ways to make your dollars count this Saturday — safely.
Feast! on local foodstuffs. The yearly Feast! Local Foods Marketplace has moved online this year. You can order from makers like Squash Blossom Farm and The Bee Shed, Norsland Lefse (and other baked goods), Bootlegger Brewing (kombucha), Infusion Gardens (Bloody Mary mixes), Slide Gourmet Potato Chips and many, many more. Pickup will take place Dec. 6 at Graham Park, using the same drive-thru as the Rochester Farmers Market.
Local musicians are businesspeople, too! You’ve probably listened to a few new artists in the past nine months of quarantine — but have you gotten merch, CDs, or digital albums to match? Now’s the time to invest in those T-shirts, vinyls or stickers you’ve been eyeing.
Shop local artists. The Rochester Art Center, SEMVA, Gallery 24, and Fox and Swan Arts all have pieces by Southeast Minnesota creators for sale this Saturday. Here are a few more places to pick up decorations: Quarry Hill’s Nature Art Show, which has posted contact information for its participants on Facebook (catch last week’s featured artist Sandy Hokanson on the list). Closer to Houston? Check out an art fest at the local community center for photography, ceramics, stained glass, and more. Don’t forget bookstores as well! Red Wing’s Fair Trade Books will hold a meet-and-greet with historical fiction author Bethany Borgschatz — it’s a great time to browse for your next page-turner.
Look for safe shopping and dining hours. The Rochester Downtown Alliance has asked several local businesses to allow hourlong sign-ups for browsing wares or grabbing food. See their list at www.downtownrochestermn.com. Many of the shops will continue the sign-ups through mid-December. Keep an eye out for multi-seller markets at downtown businesses, as well — like Bleu Duck’s brunch and market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a trunk show 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Austin Artworks Center, and a Junktion Market/cupcake pop-up (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) if you’re in the Albert Lea area.
When in doubt, shop ahead. There’s nothing stopping you from grabbing a gift card from your favorite restaurant or brewery — even if they’re closed for the moment. Get one now to help keep them in business, and use it once in-person dining and drinking is back on the — heh — table.