Thanks to Cherokee Service for their support.
With the pandemic resurgence and new restrictions for local businesses, it’s more important than ever to shop local this holiday season. Our West St. Paul businesses need your support. We’ve got some tips and ideas to help you think local as you prepare for the holidays.
10 Ways to Support Local Businesses
We’ve got 10 ideas for ways you can support West St. Paul businesses and organizations, if you’re able (and we realize not everyone is in a position to help).
1. Thank Yous
Talking to teachers during conferences recently, it was apparent how tired and overworked they are. It’s a good time to give them a thank you gift to acknowledge how much effort they’re putting in.
Giving a holiday thank you gift to the important people in your life—whether it’s teachers, barbers, therapists, mail carriers, co-workers, first responders, babysitters, dog walkers, etc.—is a time-honored, if sometimes forgotten, tradition (who me? oops). Whether you’ve done it in the past or not, this is a good year to do it. It’s an especially good year to support local businesses when you do it.
Give gift cards from local businesses as thank you presents. Support the important people in your life and help local businesses at the same time—double bonus!
2. Shop Local for Holiday Gifts
Think of local shops you can support when you buy gifts for your friends and family. This is so obvious, but it’s easy to click over to Amazon or shop at the national chains. It can take some real effort to track down local gifts.
Gift cards are always a simple treat for local folks, but there are plenty of options for your out-of-town family and friends as well: Cardinal Corner for the birders; Amore for the coffee aficionados; Twin Cities Magic & Costume for the, um, uniquely talented; Regina’s Candies for the sweet tooth—we even have three different specialty music shops in town (Eclipse Music, Modern Day Music, and Rex Music).
There are also tons of talented locals who make and sell their own creations. Check out our holiday gift guide for more.
3. Ask for Local Gifts
You can also go local for yourself. Instead of just buying local for your family and friends, ask them to do the same for you. Many West St. Paul establishments sell gift cards online (or they’d be happy to do so over the phone—give ’em a call). There’s no better way to start the new year than with a freshly topped account at Amore or Saturday night steaks from Mike’s Butcher Shop.
4. Be Creative
Be sure to think creatively when you shop local, whether it’s for your favorite teacher or your nephew. Gift cards for restaurants are obvious, and we’ve got some favorites from 5-8 to FoodSmith to El Cubano. Or try something new like Tii Cup. Or go away from food and give something super practical—like auto service at a local shop like Pace’s, Cherokee Service, or Zak’s Auto Service. Or you could pamper your favorite person with a massage. A gift certificate to Picture Perfect Framing might be ideal for your friends who just bought a house. Lessons—from music to martial arts—might be another way to go. Or maybe give the gift of dance.
5. Make a Donation
Another way you can support the local economy is by making a donation to some of our local nonprofits. As more and more people need a safety net, these organizations are stepping up. Let’s make sure these nonprofits are strong and ready to help.
As a bonus, you can always make a donation as a gift. Some people appreciate a donation made in their name more than another sweater they don’t need.
Another option might be a membership to YMCA.
Check our recent Give to the Max Day post for a list of local nonprofits you can support.
6. Buy Extra
Another simple way to help local businesses is to buy extra. When you pick up coffee for yourself, grab an extra for your coworker. When you’re picking up takeout supper, maybe get an extra gift card for next time.
Maybe you’d buy that extra item sometime in the future from the same place, but stocking up now helps them through a hard time.
7. Support Workers
Last spring, West St. Paul residents organized efforts to support medical personnel and essential workers by providing food and gift cards from local restaurants. Both efforts raised over a thousand dollars, which is amazing, but it doesn’t have to be a large organized project.
You can support frazzled workers on your own. Maybe you buy extra and drop it off at city hall on your way home.
8. Good Reviews
It’s not the first thing we think of, but positive reviews can make a huge difference. If you like somewhere local, talk them up. We’re really good at complaining on the Neighbors page, but maybe we can post positive stories instead. Visit the Google or Yelp page for a local establishment and leave them some kind words and all the stars.
As an extra bonus, this is a way you can help local businesses without spending any money.
9. Try Something New
One of the challenges of supporting local businesses is it often requires trying something new. Many of us get stuck in a rut. We want something familiar and easy, and that’s often the same ol’ chain we always go to.
Sometimes the local places don’t have a slick app for online ordering or there’s no convenient drive thru. Go the extra mile and overcome a little inconvenience to try something new. It’ll be worth it.
West St. Paul has a lot more than chicken. We’ve got Cuban and Dominican, Greek and Lebanese, Irish, more Lebanese, all kinds of Asian, a wealth of Mexican (here’s a a sampling of just the tacos), and more. What are your favorites?
10. Think Local
It’s important to think local even when you’re not buying gifts for other folks. Our small businesses need our support. National chains will likely weather this storm just fine, but it’s the local shops that may or may not be around next year.
Case in point:
- The drive thru line wraps around Cane’s twice. Not so much at Thai Pepper.
- Try Plaza TV & Appliance instead of Menards or Lowe’s.
- Instead of Applebee’s, get a gift card from Jameson’s Irish Bar—after rebranding and remodeling they’ve now closed until late winter/early spring.
- When you want a treat, go for Michoacan—which closed for a couple weeks in November—instead of Baskin-Robbins.
- And when Taco Tuesday strikes, forget Taco Bell—we’ve got a whole list of local taco options.
There’s nothing wrong with the national chains in West St. Paul—it’s better than ordering from Amazon. But small businesses keep things local and help strengthen our local economy.
Just think about the local impact these businesses have when you decide where to shop. Which businesses take good care of their employees? Which ones give back to the community?
For example, MGM Wine & Spirits may be a Minnesota chain with more than 25 locations in the metro area, but they also organized a string of food truck festivals this summer and fall. That’s a great way to support the community. Supporting them is a great way to think local.
We tried to link to a number of local establishments in this post, but we also left a ton of them out. We can’t include them all, but it’s a good illustration of how easy it is to overlook local shops.
Stay healthy, hopeful, and local this holiday season.
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