By David Kraus

Finally. The time has arrived for holiday music to flood through the ceiling speakers of  local shopping malls, unleashed from its eleven-month-long hibernation. And that means one thing–you have shopping to do.

It can be immensely difficult, especially during the holiday season, to peruse shelves and online catalogs without feeling like you’re buying into the commercialization that feeds off of the holiday spirit you cherish so much. In light of that difficulty, we at CO.STARTERS want to suggest that this holiday season, you support small businesses!

Obviously, shopping on a local scale benefits the businesses themselves, but there are a number of other advantages to shopping small business:

  • Personal connection to the entrepreneur. When you buy from a local/small business, you forge a bond with the owner, whether you are aware or not. The product has gone from their hands into yours, minimizing the middlemen. This connection is nearly impossible when you purchase from a large corporation, where the labor that brings you the product remains anonymous.
  • Uniqueness of the gift. More often than not, purchases from small businesses are one of a kind, adding a personal touch to the gift itself. If you need to find a special gift, chances are you’ll be more satisfied with an item or service from a unique small business as opposed to a giant seller.
  • Feeding the local economy. You don’t need a degree in economics to understand how shopping locally supports the local economy. Instead of your capital being consumed by big box stores that have little to no care as to how well your community thrives, your money lands in the pockets of the owners and employees of small businesses–people just like you.

With all that said, take a look at these amazing small businesses, who have all graduated from the CO.STARTERS program!

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Jewelry & Apparel

Dak&Co Apparel // Fargo, ND

Denny Creative // Wabash, IN

Garner Blue // Jackson, TN

Genesis Gifting // Holyoke, MA

Handsocks // Richmond, VA

Handy Ma’am // Richmond, VA

Kinky by Nature // New Orleans, LA

Life of Pearls // Greenville, SC

Maasai Chic // Birmingham, AL

NextGeneration Enterprise // Holyoke, MA

Question the Answer // Memphis, TN

Reunion Shoe Company // New Orleans, LA

The Rainy Day Studio // Birmingham, AL

The Stamped Shop Company // Baltimore, MD

Upscale Socks // Holyoke, MA

Woven Futures // Tallahassee, FL

Yogi Dada // Birmingham, AL

Pets, Active & Outdoor

Best Sesh Boards //  Chattanooga, TN

Color Cloud Hammocks // Chattanooga, TN

Gourmet Pup Club // Tallahassee, FL

Swayy Hammocks // Chattanooga, TN

Creative, Arts & Culture

BeMoreColorful // Fargo, ND

Bobbie Lovell Fine Art // Sevierville, TN

McLane Guitars // Jackson, TN

Seasick Records // Birmingham, AL

You’re Whalecome // Richmond, VA


Artesana // Holyoke, MA

Atlas Handmade Beads // New Orleans, LA

Battat Glass // Holyoke, MA

District 78 Candles // Cincinnati, OH

Dixie Belle Paint Company // Pasco County, FL

Forman Pottery // Chattanooga, TN

One Fresh Pillow // Tallahassee, FL

Random Pieces of Wood // Jackson, TN

Rangemark Textiles // Chattanooga, TN

Sage Robotics Company // Memphis, TN

SAW Pottery // Jackson, TN

Sierra Estes Ceramics // Jackson, TN

The Rustic House // Chattanooga, TN

Paper & Gift

Fine Company // Jackson, TN

Fox & Lamb // Chattanooga, TN

Gifted // Richmond, VA

Winslet & Rhys // Birmingham, AL


3 Sweet Girls Cakery // Cincinnati, OH

Benji Bars // Greenville, SC

Domestique Coffee // Birmingham, AL

GiGi’s Kitchen // Cincinnati, OH

Golf Park Coffee Co. // Lynchburg, VA

Good Karma Tea Co. // Lynchburg, VA

Goodman Coffee Roasters // Chattanooga, TN

Green Guy Gourmet // Birmingham, AL

Hot Chocolatier // Chattanooga, TN

Ms. Lillian’s Louisiana Pie Spice // Greenville, SC

Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. // Birmingham, AL

Personal & Self Care

Cool Towel // Pasco County, FL

Deep Roots Apotheké & Clinic // Birmingham, AL

Fly Mouthwash // Tallahassee, FL

Gifted Hands Artisan Soap // Greenville, SC

Infinite Soaps // Birmingham, AL

Left Hand Soap Co.// Birmingham, AL

Nana Afia’s Art Expo // New Orleans, LA

Scent-Sational Body, Bath Bombs & More // Sevierville, TN

Stem to Stern // Chattanooga, TN

The Love of People // New Orleans, LA

Vapers Edge // Holyoke, MA