Holiday shopping season often conjures up visions of hordes of people stampeding into a Best Buy to get the best deal on a new TV on Black Friday or a lifestyle YouTuber vlog showing off all of their new Bath and Body Works candles. In 2021, consumers spent an astounding $886.7 billion on Black Friday. 

Did you know that the day following this explosion of mass consumerism is Small Business Saturday? This relatively new shopping holiday was founded by American Express in 2010 and has been officially cosponsored by the United States Small Business Administration since 2011. Shopping from small and local businesses is a great way to support the owners and their staff. They are often home to more unique gifts than you may find at a national retail chain — and we have an abundance of Rochester artisans to shop from this holiday season.


The Market at the Armory (THEMATA) holds juried pop-up markets featuring makers from across Upstate New York throughout the summer, along with a few winter dates inside the Culver Road Armory. Their first indoor holiday market this year takes place on Nov. 25 and 26. THEMATA was founded in 2016 by the owners of Peppermint Boutique, which is another great gift-finding spot with many Rochester-themed items made by small local businesses.

The Op Shop

The Op Shop, located downtown at 89 Charlotte Street, features 32 different vintage and handmade vendors, making it a great spot to find some truly unique gifts. They will be hosting their annual holiday market, Secondhand Wonderland, on Saturday Dec. 3, at the Nazareth College Field House. I went last year and found two great winter sweaters and some fun vintage ornaments. 


Parkleigh is a gift-shopping staple in Rochester located on Park Ave. They feature a wide variety of items from skin care and candles, novelty socks and oven mitts, Rochester-themed items, fudge, and my personal favorite: Jellycat food plushies. The store features a mix of large and small businesses and is always a fun place to check out.

Buffalo Bleached

If you are in need of any cute and fun Buffalo Bills gear, stop by Buffalo Bleached in Greece. Started by Hali Rockow, a SUNY Brockport student, and Rochester native, the store features many local vendors, many of whom are women. Despite the name, the store doesn’t exclusively sell Bills items; there’s also a selection of boutique women’s clothing and other giftable items, such as candles and glasses.

The Lucky Flea Market

I can’t write an article about shopping local and small without mentioning The Lucky Flea. This year they are hosting indoor markets throughout the colder months at Radio Social every Sunday, featuring dozens of local vendors. Many of the vendors sell thrifted clothing but there are also jewelry makers, sticker shops, crochet artists, and specialty foods. Check out their first indoor market of the season on Sunday, Nov. 20! 

Record Archive

Look no further than Record Archive for your music and video needs. They host a massive collection of vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, and even VHS tapes along with a selection of kitschy items. 

The Pasta Shoppe

Recommended by CT’s resident foodie, Illustrations Editor Rachel Kamata, The Pasta Shoppe sells fresh handmade pasta and sauces, making a great gift for any pasta lovers in your life. 

Central Rock Gym 

Looking for an experience gift versus a material object? Buy a gift card from Central Rock Gym for a day pass with all climbing gear included. My friends and I went last year (thanks to free day-passes handed out at Roc Holiday Village) and it was a lot of fun learning how to rock climb and bouldering. This can also be an option for any fitness class at a local gym or specialty fitness center, such as Vault

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