2020 has been an uncertainty-filled year for everyone. But it’s also proved the power of community, the importance of cultivating a collectivist mindset, and the need to support the people and companies we care most about. As we enter the holiday shopping season, we feel it’s important to help celebrate the small businesses that are near and dear to our hearts. Businesses that have found a way to keep going and helped make these past nine months a little more navigable.
In honor of Small Business Saturday, we asked a handful of writers and editors to shout out small businesses they love. Companies with both a brick & mortar and an online presence (in case our readers feel inspired to shop from afar). Our picks cover everything from comics to fashion to music. That said, these are just a few of the dozens of small businesses the UPROXX team is supporting today. And while you might find something on the websites of one of these companies that resonates with you, don’t spend so much that you’re not able to support your own local small businesses today and throughout the year.
Tucked away in the small town of Georgetown, Texas (approximately 30 minutes outside of Austin), is a quaint independent bookstore called Lark & Owl Booksellers. The inclusive, women-founded shop sells books that reflect a diverse range of voices offering a glimpse into other worlds outside of our own bubble.
Beyond books, Lark & Owl also doubles as a bistro and hub for unique gifts. I personally love their variety of cards and stationery sets because I love being the recipient of a nice handwritten letter.
Amoeba Music, thanks to its three locations statewide, is probably the most widely recommended (and visited) record shop in all of California. This popularity means that if you’re looking for hard to find releases or rare pressings, you’re probably not going to find them there. Luckily, California has no shortage of lesser-known but just as amazing independently owned record shops, and Long Beach’s Fingerprints is a gem that rivals juggernauts like Amoeba and Rasputin.
Tucked away in Long Beach’s artsy 4th street corridor, Fingerprints is stocked wall to wall with LPS, CDs, tapes, and more and the store’s online shop features all the same goods, from new releases, to harder to find gems, all neatly organized to still give you that bin-diving feeling you get from shopping in person.
If you find yourself in need of a break from the swirling new norms of the world, I highly recommend falling into the broad array of fantastic worlds conjured by the likes of Jeff Lemire, Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue Deconnik, and others. For years, Zapp Comics has been my bridge to that kind of escapism and my accompanying fixation with all manner of toys and statues.
It’s hard to replicate the breadth of options at Zapp’s two physical locations in New Jersey — Wayne and Manalapan — but some truly choice collectibles are up on their eBay page and they regularly post wall books and other nostalgic treasures on their social channels, all of which you can buy and get shipped to you if you aren’t local.
From handbags to DuRags to jewelry to shirts to bucket hats to caps… hell, and even bundles of sage — LaRayia’s Bodega has everything. This woman-of-color-owned-and-operated cafe in Downtown Los Angeles’ Koreatown has an online merch store packed with dope streetwear and accessories sporting the bodega’s slogan, “Love Without Reason.” Proceeds go directly to support store owner LaRayia Gaston’s mission of addressing food injustice through her Lunch on Me program, which helps to serve 10,000 monthly organic meals to homeless communities in cities like Los Angeles and New York.
Thalia Surf Shop was ahead of the curve on two major movements.
- The resurgent popularity of the slow surf, 70’s throwback, hippie California look.
- Shops differentiating themselves by collaborating directly with artists.
The combo of those two elements, plus an incredibly friendly team, has made Thalia Surf the standout surf shop in a town literally teeming with them. This is one of the few outlets where longtime friend of UPROXX Tyler Warren sells his boards. He also does tee shirts for the shop, alongside other famous surf-artists like Thomas Campbell and Alex Knost.
If you dig on the cruisy-throwback look of surf culture — when candy-colored VW busses lined the parking lot at San Onofre State Beach (who are we kidding, they still do that) — then this spot is your paradise.
Looking to get your hands on a pair of Nike SB Dunk Turdunkens? What about that Atmos Nike SB collab from earlier in the month. You know the one with the elephant print and teal colorway? Want to build your own skateboard? You can do all of that and more at the Long Beach Skate Company.
Skater owned and operated for a decade, the LB Skate Co is any skater’s one-stop hub for all things to do with the culture. Their online store is stocked with all of the same goods as in-house, so while you won’t be able to chop it up with the team of local skaters who run the shop, you’ll still be able to set yourself up with everything you need from your deck’s trucks to wheels, to bearings and hardware thanks to LB Skate Co’s intuitive webstore.
I did the West Coast launch for my first novel at Green Bean, so I’m biased, but in a city where Powell’s Books takes up a lot of oxygen, Green Bean definitely deserves your love. Statistically speaking, the chances are pretty good that you have a niece, nephew, godchild, friend with a kid (that you actually like), or are a parent yourself. If so, Green Bean carries books from across the wide world of children’s literature — with a long history of supporting new authors and industry-wide diversity.
Thanks to Green Bean’s incredible staff, you might go in (or onto the patio in COVID-times) looking for a boxed set of books on wizards that you loved as a kid, but leave with a whole different set of magic-filled books by an author sure to excite (who isn’t already a billionaire). If Indiana Jones-style throwbacks are your vibe, you can also find autographed copies of the novels of yours truly at the shop or order them over the phone.