Small business Saturday is this weekend, just after the insane rush of Black Friday. Skip fighting the crowds and buy local.
Why? Because it puts your money back into your community. It supports your neighborly entrepreneurs. And because you can only find unique, one-of-a-kind gifts from small shops.
Our area is full of interesting places to browse and buy. In fact, 90% or more of West Virginia’s businesses are small and locally-managed.
Southern WV has a smorgasbord of specialty shops to support this Small Business Saturday, here are just a few from our list:
Gauley River Pottery
Not only does Gauley River Pottery have a full range of ceramic gifts on the shelves, Mary Bethune and John Ackison, the owners
and artists, create more pieces daily in the shop. Visitors can
watch the process.
“They can see it go from a lump of clay to art,” Bethune said.
“Not a lot of people get to see pottery ring made anymore. The
traditional arts are becoming lost arts.”
The pair have been molding mugs, serveware and dishes,
ornamental fish and birds, wave bowls and more for 20 years at the shop and studio.
“They’re all decorative, but everything we do is functional as well,” she said. “We use a lot of greens, and a sort of runny blue-green. But we have a lot of solid colors to go with anything.”
In addition to an array of great gifts that grows each day, including many for $25 or less, Gauley River Pottery creates custom works. It takes about a month to complete a custom piece, so Bethune said there was still time to get orders in for the holidays.
The Cheese N More Store in Monroe
From food to furniture, the Cheese N More Store is full of homemade treasures.
The shelves are stocked with top-quality spices, savory lunch meats and an assortment of fine cheeses. You can stop in for a fresh sandwich, or take home jams, relishes and candy. You can even try a handmade pepperoni roll, a WV favorite.
After you’re full, there’s more to explore in the shop. Handcrafted lawn furniture and gazebos are among the artisan works.
The drive in, scenic and beautiful, is part of the experience, as is the friendly, attentive staff, who will help you find the perfect gifts.
Harmony Ridge Gallery in Greenbrier County
Walk into Harmony Ridge Gallery, and you’ll be immediately
struck by the diverse and unique selection, from towering
re-purposed metal sculptures to quirky layered clocks.
“Everything we sell is made by people, not companies,” said
Aaron Maxwell. “Our business is about people. People making
things. With small businesses like ours, you find unique items
that are special.”
The award-winning, American-made only gallery was named the top
large gallery by Niche in 2011 for curating such an interesting
and diverse selection of handcrafted pieces.
Other items you might find as you stroll the 4,000 square feet
of artistic display are jewelry, ceramics, authentic Blenko
glass, artisan purses, and toys for children, which Maxwell said
it can be difficult to find American-made.
“We’ve been in Lewisburg for 9 years, and we pride ourselves on the fact that if someone wants to buy handcrafted American goods, whether they have $2 or $200, they can find it here,” he said.
For the holidays, they’re offering complimentary gift wrap, and serving up hot cider to sip while you shop, from their in-house coffee boutique and wine bar.
Wisteria’s Gifts in Fayetteville, WV
Find the gifts you seek with a Southern twist. Wisteria carries internationally-renowned brands like Pandora, Vera Bradley and Glory Haus alongside locally-made crafts from WV Grown, Fenton Glass and others.
From limited edition brand names to one-of-a-kind local woks, Wisteria’s Gifts is packed with unique items to browse.
You can also look through a hand-selected offering of antiques, prized pieces of the past, handed through generations, with stories to tell and more memories to share.
Dazzle someone with specialty jewelry, or surprise them with a lovely local work from Wisteria’s.
The Otter & Oak General Store & Art Gallery in Hinton, WV
In a renovated building standing since 1906, the self proclaimed
“not-so-general store” at Otter & Oak has a full local art
gallery upstairs, which overlooks the little-bit-of-everything
shopping selections below.
You can find boldly flavored local foods, artisan pottery, durable outdoor gear, handmade soaps, Snoozies slippers and apparel… a sampling of quality finds of all sorts.
The shop caters to local crafters, with soaps, eyewear, cards, clothing and more from artists nearby.
“If people support these smaller businesses in town, the town itself will prosper and grow,” said Linda Seldomidge. “People will want to move in and visit, and it will make Hinton a better place to live.”
Seldomidge noted that some of her favorite holiday gifts at the shop were the ones that keep you cozy for winter: the locally-made texting gloves that allow people to use their phones while keeping their hands warm, and the Snoozies slippers. She also said the all-natural soy and beeswax candles were popular around the holidays.
There are hundreds more unique, small shops to support this Saturday. Coffee Beans & Books in Beaver will have discounts all day long. The Beckley Art group will be bringing together independent local artisans for a Gift Fair at the Cynthia Bickey Gallery, which will run through Saturday.
If you look at the official Small Business Saturday map, you’ll can find shops near you. If you register your American Express card and purchase $10 or more at a participating small business, you can get $10 back.
Stop in somewhere local, and tell us about your unique finds.
Who are you supporting this Small Business Saturday?