Small business shopping– not just for #ShopSmallSaturday

Small business shopping– not just for #ShopSmallSaturday

The recent shuttering of Marty’s Market and announced relocation (or closing) of Pittsburgh Public Market have me sad, but even more so, have me frustrated.  Mr. Beez went to the liquidation sale at Marty’s last weekend, and he told me how people kept going up to the owner, Regina, saying how much they loved the place and how sad they were to see it closing, but you could just see it in her eyes, the thought that “That’s very nice, but if you loved it so much, shopping here would have kept it open!”

#ShopSmallSaturday is a cute idea and well intentioned, but it has facilitated a “Shop Small” mindset that is restricted to novelty, or increasingly, self-publicized social media posts announcing “LOOK I AM SUPPORTING THE SMALL BUSINESSES!”  Yes, I too am guilty of such self-congratulation. (Here and here). Small businesses do not survive, much less thrive, on a single day of celebrated shopping or blog posts filled with praise.  Small businesses survive on dollars.

At the beginning of 2015, I set a resolution to transition all my grocery shopping to the East End Food Co-Op.  This goal was grounded in several reasons, (1) it is a local, member owned, community supported business and I decided I needed to step up my real, dollars and cents, support of that endeavor, (2) the principles that the co-op applies in selecting the products it offers are consistent with my own principles concerning health, fairness to employees, and local-focus, so shopping there dramatically cuts down (if not eliminates) my need to sort through information about the brands and products themselves, and (3) Mr. Beez has long been on the board of the co-op and its success is important to him, so I wanted to step up our financial support from occasional shopping to regular shopping.

Co-op snacking

At a month in, I found that I had to make some tweaks to how I shopped, but that otherwise it was all going swimmingly.  Now, over a year in, the co-op has become our regular grocery store and the thought of shopping at the normal chain places is exhausting to me.  Sure, occasionally I have to shop at a larger grocery chain because there are things that the co-op just doesn’t have (see: ingredients for buffalo chicken dip).  But the mainstays of our diet now come from the co-op.

Throughout 2015, we continued to make changes to make sure that our dollars stayed in the community.  I guess the co-op principles really struck a chord, and we applied those principles more broadly in our lives.  For the last several years we have had summer farm shares.  In 2015 we got our fruit & vegetable farm share with Clarion River Organics, and then expanded to also get a beef share. I’m not going to fill this post up with links about factory farming, you can go find that yourself. But I decided that if we were going to continue to cook meat in the house, I could at least make sure that I was getting it from local farmers, focused on the quality of life of the animals.

We also made the Pittsburgh Public Market a regular part of our lives– every Saturday we go there for lunch after Baby Beez’ ballet class is over.  She gets her chocolate milk from Family Farm Creameries and a hot dog from Bull Dawgs.  Mr. Beez gets his pint of Red Star Kombucha, and we pick our lunches based on whatever we happen to feel like that day (usually Ohio City Pasta, omg amazing). While we used to only go to the Public Market as an occasional outing, we have since turned it into a regular part of our lives.

Public Market

I’m not writing this to be sanctimonious. Shopping local can be expensive and sometimes inconvenient.  I am not asking everyone to abandon Target and only get non-bleached paper towels at the co-op. I don’t shop local all the time. I’ve got a Starbucks coffee on my desk right now.  But what I’ve been working harder at over the last year is making local businesses a routine part of my family’s every day life, so that supporting a local business isn’t just what we do in our day to day lives, not some isolated novelty.

If our community wants to see these small businesses move forward, we have to spend our money at these small businesses. Yelp posts about how charming the business is doesn’t go very far. It is a kick to the gut, watching small businesses that are so important to us, have to close when the public’s spending doesn’t match its professed fondness.

Public Market 2

So start making small changes. Make small business the priority you claim it to be.

When you are going on a coffee date with a friend, instead of immediately offering to meet at the ‘bux, consider instead: Commonplace Coffee, Zeke’s, Big Dog Coffee, Constellation Coffee, Coffee Tree Roasters, 21st Street Coffee, Anchor & Anvil Coffee Bar or Lili Cafe.

When you are picking up coffee to brew at home, instead of grabbing the bag of Dunkin, consider instead beans from: Coffee 19, Caffe D’Amore, La Prima Espresso or Nicholas Coffee Co.

When you’re running out to pick up lunch on a workday, instead of grabbing Subway, consider: Umbrella Cafe, Madonna’s, Bluebird Kitchen, Market Square Grocery or Craftwork Kitchen.

When you’re picking up beer for the game, instead of grabbing six packs at Market District, consider: picking up bottles at Carson St. Deli, getting a case at Vecenie Distributing, or filling growlers at Grist House, Arsenal Cider, VooDoo Brewery, Full Pint or at Houghs.

When you’re picking up a birthday gift & card, instead of running to CVS, consider: Wild Card, Kards Unlimited, or make a point to stop over at one of the many sessions of I Made it Market!

When you’re ordering pizza for Superbowl Sunday, instead of calling Domino’s, consider: Rialto’s, Fiore’s, Cestone’s, Spak Bros. or (if you’re feeling fancy) Pizza Taglio.

It’s a little tougher in the suburbs, but when you’re in the city, there are small businesses everywhere. It’s not enough to profess our love for them on the internet. If we want them to thrive, we need to spend our money there as part of our everyday lives.

If you’re so inspired, please share your favorite local spots. I’m always up for new ideas for keeping our dollars in the community.


NaBloPoMo Day 26: Black Friday

Does JC Penney still make its massive holiday catalog? As a kid, I looked forward to that behemoth ALL YEAR LONG and then it would finally come in the mail, and I would page through the toy section, over and over again, circling things I wanted.  We don’t get that legendary tome in the mail now, but various toy and book catalogs have been trickling in. I’ve handed them over to Baby Beez along with a pen, and she’s enjoyed the process of “window shopping” through those pages just as much as I have.  It’s adorable to watch her curled up on the floor, chattering away to herself as she makes her selections.  She told me that the one thing she wants the most this year is a Singing Elsa doll.  I have a feeling she’ll end up getting it (and I’ll end up wearing headphones around the house even more, because my mind is going to Let it Go if I have to hear that song again).

I didn’t grow up participating in the Black Friday shopping frenzy. Even though it wasn’t nearly as insane in my childhood as it is now, my family preferred to stay as far away as possible from crowded, crazy stores. A few years back I went to the mall at the midnight kickoff and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  I think the most crazy is concentrated at electronics stores and Wal-Mart. I had not intention of going to either of those places.  There were a lot of people at that mall shopping and a lot of good deals, but no one was trampled.

This year I decided to try bringing Baby Beez. We visited family in Maryland for Thanksgiving. We drove there and back in the same day (ouch) and got home around 11.   I brought up the late night shopping thing to Baby Beez earlier in the week to see what she’d think. She did have some birthday money and gift cards left over, so I decided she could do some shopping for herself, too.  Mr. Beez and I had talked with her a few times this week about how there are kids who don’t have toys, so we are getting toys for them so that they can have a happy holiday season.  I told her that I needed her help in picking out those toys, but she would also get to spend some money she had from her birthday, and get some toys for herself.

As I expected, she slept through almost the entire drive back from Maryland. She woke up when we got home and said she still wanted to go (I wasn’t going to torture her–and everyone else who was out shopping– by dragging her out if she was exhausted and unhappy). I did let her go shopping in her pajamas. Because why not?

We went to Toys R Us and Target.  Since both stores actually opened at 5, they were fairly busy but certainly not crowded.  This, however, also meant that we missed out on some of the best deals, because those products had sold out hours before. It was fine though, we still got lots of great deals and lots of toys for the kids.


She’d been asking for one of these stuffed animal purses every time we went to Target, so she finally got one tonight. Baby Beez was impressively well behaved and enjoyed picking out the toys. We also managed to cross off a number of Baby Beez’ friends off the “to buy presents for” list tonight.  She liked talking about what kinds of things other people like and picking out toys for them.


Once we got to the checkout she was pretty punchy and it was clear that it was time to go home. She didn’t actually fall asleep in the car on the way home. I asked her if she likes Christmas music (in case you are wondering, NO I DO NOT LIKE CHRISTMAS MUSIC. Except for “All I Want for Christmas is You” because there is no one, not even me, who can hate that song). She replied that No, she only likes Nightmare Before Christmas music. So I put on the soundtrack, and we belted out “THIS IS HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN!” on the drive back home.


NaBloPoMo Day 24: Not Much to Say but Sweatshirt Dresses.

It’s 9:42 and lately I’ve been wanting to go to bed around 8pm. I don’t have anything to say, but I don’t want to fall behind on NaBloPoMo either. So I’ll leave you with this: Today Baby Beez asked me when it’s going to be summer.

I had to give her the honest, but tragic answer.

I hate winter.

But I’m not so sad that it will soon be time FOR ALL THE SWEATERS NONSTOP.

So in lieu of actual content, I am going to share with you various sweatshirt dresses that I love. Click on the pictures to go to the websites where you can buy them.

Angie Roots Cabin Hoodie

traverse city sweater dress

Tobi Renegade Sweatshirt Dress

Mesh insert sweatshirt dress

All sweatshirts. All day long.


NaBloPoMo Day 20: @sephora Gift Set time!!!

NaBloPoMo Day 20: @sephora Gift Set time!!!

It’s the most WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! The time when Sephora swells with glorious holiday gift sets!! I know I’m supposed to be focusing on gifts, but the sets! Such deals! And I love them so much!  Last year I was much more into lips & eyes. This year I’ve got a thing for skincare. There’s something about a face mask on a Sunday night (with TV and wine) or a rich face cream that adds a tiny bit of luxury in my frantically hectic routine.

These are my picks for my favorite Sephora gift sets this yea (click the images to go to their listings on the Sephora site)r–

Velour Silk Lashes lash book. This looks SO fun. I don’t often have occasion to wear false lashes, but I do like to don them for fun parties. I love the variety of this set! So many options for fun, different looks!

Atelier Orange Sanguine gift set. I love this scent. It’s spicy and citrusy. It’s a highly unique scent, but the moment I whiffed it, I knew it was perfect for me.

Dr. Jart+ The Book of Masks.  I thought these masks sounded dumb, until I tried one. I’m hooked.

Peter Thomas Roth Mask-A-Holic set. Another for my mask addiction.  The Dr. Jart+ masks are cloth masks that you drape on your face, and the Peter Thomas Roth ones are creams or gels that you spread on your skin. I like the cloth masks better, but I think the gel/cream ones do a more thorough job. But I love them both.

Caudalie Favorites Winter Set. Oh my skin in winter. It’s a mess. The Caudalie vinosource products add ample moisture without being oily or sticky, and the scent is light and lovely.

Korres Best of Body Butter Decadent Body Butter Collection. These body butters are so soft, and the scents are delicious. I spent my high school and college years slathering myself in Bath and Body Works saccharine scents. Then I discovered Korres body butters and I was like “OH, this is what I’ve been missing!”  Korres is decidedly more sophisticated, and just gorgeous in feel and in scent.


NaBloPoMo Day 17: Holiday Party Time

Most of the holiday parties I go to are right after work, so I have to take the day-to-night outfit approach. Usually sparkles and sequins are too much to wear in the office, even with all the holiday cheer. This means that I usually end up wearing some kind of black ensemble to about every holiday party I go to. Still I can’t resist window shopping for sparkly things.  I’m in love with all the gold and rose gold stuff out there right now. These are my top picks for party wear this holiday season, and not an ugly sweater in sight!


Sea of Gold Sequin Maxi Skirt at Nasty Gal

French Connection Tulip Hem Gold Dress

French Connection Tulip Hem Gold Dress

Champing at the Glitz bag from ModCloth

Champing at the Glitz bag from ModCloth

Mustard Seed Tulle Skater Dress with Sequins at Charlotte Russe

Mustard Seed Tulle Skater Dress with Sequins at Charlotte Russe

La Vida Luxe Heel at Modcloth

La Vida Luxe Heel at Modcloth

Banana Republic Monogram Gold Fit & Flare Dress

Banana Republic Monogram Gold Fit & Flare Dress

Jaded London Sequined Mini Dress with High Neck & Long Sleeves at asos

Jaded London Sequined Mini Dress with High Neck & Long Sleeves at asos