Shop Local for the Holidays

My favorite thing to do everywhere I go is to visit local artist markets or farmers markets and chat up the vendors, learn about what they are creating, and support them! Why? Because it just FEELS GOOD to support a local artisan, buying from a person, face to face, and getting unique information on how something has been made. I like to know where materials come from; I like to know the reason someone got into wood-working or ceramics, or where they source ideas for their screen prints. I just like it. Besides the good vibes, the reasons to shop local rather than at a big box store are endless. According to the research firm Civic Economics, for every $100 you spend:

  • In a local small business $68 stays in your community
  • At a local branch of a chain store only $43 remains local
  • Online, virtually no money stays local

Locally sourced goods means less fuel consumption in transporting the goods and increasing demand for these local goods, which will in turn increase supply. It is important to support local during all months of the year, but it’s particularly important during the holidays when gift-giving is in full swing and larger businesses are typically supported on a greater scale.

Small Business Saturday was created in response to Black Friday, which is typically in favor of larger big box stores. Small Business Saturday promotes shopping local and keeping your dollars in your community. Our very own Penn Avenue district is promoting “Proud to be Penn” as the theme for this year’s Small Business Saturday. Participating businesses will have balloons and welcome mats outside their establishments so that they can be easily identified. As an added bonus, shoppers can pick up items from these businesses such as tote bags, pins, pens, and pet bandanas that say “Support Local”.

If you have an American Express card, on November 29, if you spend $10 at a participating small business, you can get $10 back up to three times on your statement. Check to see if your favorite places are participating.

If you haven’t made it to one of Pittsburgh’s local markets yet – this is the year! They surely just keep getting better and better. The Handmade Arcade at the convention center is on Dec 6th and the I Made it Market on November 28th and 29th at the Heinz 57 Center, or on Walnut Street above Shady Grove restaurant on November 29 & December 6, 13, 20. In addition, the Pittsburgh Public Market is open every Wednesday – Sunday and features an array of great food and gifts made by local artisans.


The evolveEA team shares our favorite local places to shop for gifts:

Elena: My favorite women’s clothing boutiques are Jupe and Pavement in Lawrenceville. I think local beer also makes a wonderful gift – you simply cannot go wrong bringing a growler of Arsenal Cider or Roundabout Brewery beer to your next holiday shindig. Or how about the gift of a healthy body and mind with a gift certificate to the best yoga studios, Salt Power Yoga or the Yoga Hive!


Christine: Marty’s Market in the strip is a wonderful place to gather local goodies for a gift basket, order holiday meals, or create a Pennsylvania cheese plate. I should also give a shout out to Tazza D’Oro and The Commonplace Coffee Co.  A gift card is a passport to a wonderful conversation. Also they have roasts to take home, and don’t forget the art on the wall is probably for sale too!

Chris: I recommend The Shop in East Liberty run by local resident Julia Reynolds. Really beautiful handcrafted goods. Perfect for gifts.

Daniel: Here are three different ideas to suit different personalities. Refresh PGH  – This sneaker cleaning, restoration & consignment gallery just up the street from our office helps reduce waste by salvaging your favorite vintage kicks! GreenSinner Floral and Garden – Plants make great gifts and this sustainable florist has displays at Pittsburgh Public Market and Marty’s Market in the Strip District, plus customized arrangements by appointment at their shop in Lawrenceville; their terrariums and specialty potted plants will freshen any home or office space. Ujamaa Boutique – Ujamaa Collective, a Hill District non-profit organization with a social mission to create spaces, opportunities, networks, education and support for women of African descent, operates a shop on Centre Avenue, where they are holding a special Black Friday event that includes a t-shirt printing workshop and live music; The Ujamaa E-Boutique also allows customers to order fair-trade products online.

Marc: For the men in your life, a great place for menswear is Heinz Healy’s downtown; I especially enjoy shopping here because it’s located in a restored historic building for which evolveEA helped to earn a LEED Gold certification!

Anna: One of my favorite local shops is Kards Unlimited, a family-owned gift shop on Walnut Street that has been around for decades.

Ashley: I recommend Cultural Oasis in East Liberty (100 Sheridan Square, Ground Floor). Mama Dana or Sister Dana (depending on your age) is an energy healer that has been using the art of frequency, vibration, sound waves, herbs and essential oils to assist people in mind, body, soul and spirit healing for over 30 years. She supports fair trade made by local and international artisans and all of her products are made from organic materials internationally imported from certified non-GMO countries.

Eileen: A recent addition to Penn Avenue is Robin’s Nest, a great little gift shop featuring all locally made art and gifts. This place is uniquely Pittsburgh!

Joe: I like Goodwill; everything is recycled! Books, junk jewelry, depression glass, and Pittsburgh sports teams T shirts that say things like “On ice or grass we’ll kick your ass” are possibilities.


Evolve EA