9 ways to think big and shop small by supporting Detroit businesses this holiday season

This year has been an extremely challenging time for small businesses in Detroit, but many entrepreneurs have risen to the occasion to find innovative ways to stay afloat. Now more than ever it’s important to support small businesses, which are the lifeblood and cornerstones of our neighborhoods and city.


While it’s easy to order from the large chains and websites, these creative and resilient businesses have embraced online platforms, making it easier to shop online and keep your dollars local. Not only will your purchases help local, independent businesses weather this storm, but your friends and family will truly appreciate a one-of-kind-gift that wasn’t bought at a big-box store or online retailer that's having its most profitable year ever.

All events take place Saturday, Nov. 28 unless otherwise noted.


Look before you buy

Get to know the faces behind local small businesses and get some gift ideas through Detroit Experience Factory’s Shop Detroit: Small Business Saturday virtual tour at 12 p.m. A guide will take participants to different Detroit’s neighborhood shopping districts where they will hear the stories behind the small businesses. RSVP for the free tour here. Can't make it Saturday? Detroit Experience Factory is doing another tour on Dec. 12 with updated highlights.


Shop online and in-person

Incubator and accelerator TechTown is showcasing clients and alumni through its Limited Edition Store: Shop Local for a Cause. Find unique items created through custom collaborations, such as cast resin and graffiti coaster set from Rebel Nell and a skincare bundle from Ilera Apothecary. All proceeds from these custom collaborations made for TechTown benefit its programs and services to help even more small businesses and entrepreneurs. For more information, go to techtowndetroit.org, shop the store here, and check out virtual shopping events on Fridays.

Pick up provisions, gifts, and some festive holiday decor like these wreaths at Eastern Market.


Eastern Market’s Holiday Markets are back. On Tuesdays, pick up provisions to round out your holiday meals on Nov. 24 and Dec. 22. Find unique, artisanal, and locally sourced gifts from beauty products to jewelry at the Sunday markets, starting Nov. 29 and running until Dec. 20. The markets take place in the sheds, where additional sanitization and safety measures in line with COVID-19 guidelines set by the state put in place. Mask wearing is required. For more information on the Holiday Markets, click here. And get to know a few of the vendors in our story published earlier this fall.


After doing an open-air market over the summer and fall that garnered a positive response, the E. Warren Development Corporation has shifted from its original in-person market plan to a virtual marketplace and Facebook Live event on Small Business Saturday. “Our community has an amazing entrepreneurial spirit and is constantly finding new ways to innovate during a time when nothing is normal,” says E. Warren Development Corp. Executive Director Joe Rashid. “Many of our local businesses on the E. Warren commercial corridor are finding new ways to adapt, but many of our businesses do not have a very visible web presence. We’re taking an ‘It Takes a Village’ approach and creating one site that can highlight and uplift multiple businesses, both brick-and-mortar and home-based, on one platform for a collective impact that will keep dollars in our local community.” The kickoff event for Shop E. Warren will take place from 12-3 p.m. Nov. 28 on Facebook, and the online shop is open anytime.


Eastside Community Network is holding a silent auction on Cyber Monday. Bid on items such as paintings by Marcus Glenn, a David Yurman bracelet, gift cards to Sindbad's Restaurant and Marina, and more while supporting a good cause. RSVP here for the Nov. 30 live event.


From books to works of art, Grandmont Rosedale’s Small Business Saturday event should help you cross some people off your list. Tune in on Saturday for the event and come back throughout the shopping season for specials and discounts. Participating businesses include Detroit Kids Matter, Body Zeal Products, Glastonbury Arts Collective, Pages Bookshop, Detroit Vegan Soul-West, House of African Prints, Cutz Lounge The Grooming Shop, Spa-a-peel Studio, Mahogani Collections LLC, Mint Artists Guild, Prima Jewelry Designs, 44 Burrito, Love Travels Imports, and Norwest Gallery of Art. For more information, go to grandmontrosedale.com.

Jennyfer Crawford

Shop from 25 local businesses including Blackfok Apparel, Detroit Respect, Sasha Sass Candles, Cevanna Naturals, Centurium’s Creations, and more at the All Things Marketplace Holiday Pop-Up and Fulfillment Center. Shop virtually and in person at The Build Institute @ The Corner, 1620 Michigan Ave. Shoppers can pick up items curbside or have their orders shipped directly to them. When the pandemic hit, Jennyfer Crawford, owner of Ask Jennyfer and founder of All Things Marketplace, saw a need among local business owners who were experiencing challenges in connecting with customers and were looking for safe ways to help sell and ship their products. Check out the market 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays from now until Jan. 4.

Need more inspiration?


Check out the Michigan Local Gift Guide for the person on your list who loves good food and drink. Choose a locally sourced treat from over two dozen Michigan businesses and 50 products, such as Zingerman’s Bakehouse's virtual cinnamon roll baking class, Les Cheneaux Coffee Roasters Signature blend, Farm Club's delightful gift baskets, and more. Are you more of a DIY gifter or looking for recipes? They’ve got you covered there too.

“It’s more important than ever to support small businesses, and keep our local culture alive,”

says Tricia Phelps, CEO of Taste the Local Difference. “These gifts are ideal for any local food

and drink lover in your life and they're a great way to connect with each other while far apart.”


For a list of businesses from arts and culture to retail and restaurants, check out Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s website. Throughout the month of November, DEGC and Detroit Means Business are highlighting local small businesses on Facebook and Instagram.


Have a shopping event or market to share? Email us and we’ll add you to this list!


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Read more articles by Dorothy Hernandez.

Dorothy Hernandez is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes about food at the intersection of culture and business. She has contributed to NPR, Midwest Living magazine, Eater, and a variety of other publications. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter @dorothy_lynn_h.