In November, American Express ran TV ads about "shopping small." Instead of competing with the consumer crush of Black Friday, AmEx urged shoppers to spend their holiday money on Nov. 26, Small Business Saturday.
"Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. ... If millions of people shop small, it will be huge," the ad said.
And while a credit card company suggesting its customers shop small is a little like R.J. Reynolds pushing nicotine patches, the message rings true. And this season, the Treasure Valley is taking it a step further. Local small businesses are bringing together even smaller businesses to create some big holiday markets and a campaign to help those businesses long after the holidays are over.
Flying M Coffeegarage's annual Hip Holiday Market celebrates its sixth iteration on Saturday, Dec. 3. With approximately 24 vendors signed up, it promises to be a don't-miss event again this year. Last year, Coffeegarage owner and Hip Holiday founder Lisa Myers spread the event out into a few downtown Nampa shops, but apparently, people didn't want to leave the warm, vibrant Coffeegarage atmosphere. So this year, the only non-site-specific participant is florist Oopsy Daisy, which is directly across the street from the M.
This year, shoppers will not only be able to buy hip handmade items but can become gift makers themselves with help from two of Nampa's stylish stores: The White Pine and Puffy Mondaes.
Designer Elise Vaughn (former owner of Nampa clothing store Brass Razoo, which closed earlier this year) and Diana Shafer, owner of The White Pine, will host a DIY Design Loft in the Coffeegarage's conference room. Budding fashionistas can take advantage of the women's apparel acumen--as well as some industrial sewing machines--to create cool clothing. Keren Brown from craft boutique Puffy Mondaes will help keep little hands from being idle by hosting ceramics and ornament-making activities for kids.
Myers wanted the Hip Holiday Market to reflect the booming DIY/indie craft movement and to grow with it. She feels that starting Hip Holiday six years ago was perfect timing.
"We started it at the right time and grabbed the right [vendors] to start it with," Myers said. "Now their friends are coming. I don't go out and seek people. The people I have are bringing their peers. It's pretty awesome."
For each of the local artisans exhibiting at Hip Holiday Market, there are hundreds more out there. And plenty of them are selling their handmade creations at other similar markets.
On Nov. 5-6, BW contributor Amy Pence-Brown and interior designer Kristin Montgomery put on the inaugural Wintry Market in a space donated by Ballet Idaho. The pair had 30 vendors and, by Pence-Brown's estimation, close to 1,000 shoppers. While many holiday craft markets don't happen until after Thanksgiving, Pence-Brown said they held Wintry Market early for a couple of reasons.
"We wanted to catch people before they got burned out on holiday shopping," Pence-Brown said. "We also wanted to be the first market, to kick off the holiday market season."
She said that because of space limitations, they turned away more applicants than they accepted. She and Montgomery charged a $30 booth fee and didn't take a commission. The proceeds from booth fees went to marketing, so it wasn't exactly a money-making venture. But Pence-Brown, who had her own booth selling up-cycled vintage items, managed to bring in a few holiday dollars. She and Montgomery received such a favorable response they're already gearing up for next year.
On Nov. 26, downtown Boise DIY boutique IndieMade also rallied around the idea of Small Business Saturday and combined it with the store's popular monthly pop-up shops. IndieMade took over the entire first floor of the Pioneer Building, where more than 30 vendors filled every nook and cranny.
While planning the holiday market, IndieMade and two other local-focused businesses discovered that, with "shop-local" messages so prevalent this season, it was a prime opportunity to start something that could aid local small businesses well beyond the holidays.
IndieMade co-founder Sara McClaran got together with Think Boise First and local marketing company Adrian+Sabine to come up with a concept that will help small businesses get some exposure.
"There are people who want to shop at and support local businesses but they don't know which businesses are local," McClaran said. "[Those businesses] need a local identifier."
Enter Love Local, a visual campaign that includes posters small businesses can put in their store windows to indicate that they are local. An image of Idaho with a heart and word "local" on it sits beneath the phrase, "Show your love for small Idaho business and shop your favorite local merchants." IndieMade called its market the Love Local Holiday Pop-Up Market and invited other local businesses.
If you missed the Wintry or Love Local holiday markets and can't make it out to Hip Holiday, there are still some other upcoming holiday market options. The long-standing Capital City Holiday Market runs each Saturday through Christmas. Another option is Adrian+Sabine's inaugural outdoor Procrastinator's Holiday Market on Sunday, Dec. 11, which runs from noon-5 p.m. at Bown Crossing. There is also an indoor version on Monday, Dec. 12, and Tuesday, Dec. 13, from noon-8 p.m. at 418 S. Ninth St., Ste. 201. Procrastinator's will feature more than 30 vendors selling everything from art and jewelry to pastries and wine.
The idea this holiday season may be to "shop small" but you may need to rent a moving truck to get all of your local purchases back home.