Think locally, act locally: Where to shop small for holiday gifts in Detroit

This holiday season, you could leave your family dinner on Thanksgiving or wake up at 5 a.m. on Black Friday to make sure you get that doorbuster deal on a new 4K TV or an Xbox bundle. Or you could skip all that and support a local business on Small Business Saturday. Originally conceived as a shopping day by American Express in 2010, local businesses, including many in Detroit, have embraced the day and made it their own with unique events and experiences.

Small businesses have a big impact on the local economy, from putting money back into the community to filling a need for residents of the neighborhood.

Some businesses help make their communities retail destinations, and this year businesses have taken a hit with construction projects on major commercial corridors Grand River Avenue and the Avenue of Fashion. The streetscape work has forced a few businesses to close up shop, others to shutter temporarily, and some to delay opening.

Here are a few ideas to support local small businesses this holiday season. Did we miss one? Please help us out and your fellow shoppers by sharing in the comments. Unless otherwise noted, all of these events are taking place on Saturday, Nov. 30.

Grandmont Rosedale

The Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood features several shopping opportunities for locally made, unique gifts.

More than 30 vendors from several businesses on Grand River will be represented at Shop small in GRANDmont Rosedale, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Grand River WorkPlace,

19120 Grand River Ave. There will also be food trucks, free childcare, free DDOT bus rides, neighborhood tours led by Detroit Experience Factory, and more. Check out the Facebook event for more information.

Around the neighborhood, businesses are hosting their own events, such as Town Hall Caffe’s Shop Small Saturday event at the coffee shop, 19180 Grand River Ave. Featured vendors include Monster Foods (cookies and sweet curry popcorn), Shanta Ambady Ceramics (mugs and ceramic arts), Soap Stone (handmade soaps and body butters), Bohemian Bakeshop (pies and cakes), Brightmoor Flower Farm (handmade wreaths), Hell Money Warrior (3D printed jewelry and apparel), Swizzy Stuff (handmade knitwear and baked goods).

Need to switch from coffee to mimosas? Pages Bookshop is offering free mimosas to get your day of shopping started on a festive note. The bookstore is also playing book matchmaker with “blind date with a book” all day. Buy a book and pick a blind date book to take home.


Shoppers can get a free bon courtesy of Bon Bon Bon while supplies last on Small Business Saturday.

Hamtramck is home to a diverse array of retail and restaurants, and more than 25 of these businesses will run special promotions from free sweet treats to 40% discounts off clothing and bags all day as part of Small Business Saturday. Shoppers can pick up a passport from one of four businesses (Oloman Café, Tekla Vintage, Wheelhouse Detroit, or Polish Art Center) and receive stickers for making a purchase at any participating business. Super shoppers who gather at least two stickers will have a shot at a $50 gift certificate to one of the participating businesses.

Jefferson Chalmers
Women-owned businesses are the focus of this Small Business Saturday event. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at POST, 14500 Kercheval St., the event features a day of pop-up shops, handcrafted product launches, mimosas and refreshments, and demos from businesses such as Bringing the Happy, Christine Bossler, Electric Pink Crafts, and more.

Neighborhood HomeBase will host pop-up holiday shopping on Small Business Saturday.

From 1-6 p.m., Live6 Alliance and Detroit Sip are teaming up on “Shop the Smalls” and “Market at HomeBase.” The pop-up market will feature Market on the Ave favorites. There will be live music and food, and free shuttle service on the Avenue of Fashion and McNichols. The shuttle will ?run a fixed route between both commercial corridors with stops at Neighborhood HomeBase/Detroit Sip, 7420/7426 W. McNichols, and Good Cakes and Bakes, 19363 Livernois, via a Soulcial Scene powered shuttle experience.

Debuting on Nov. 30, the Holiday Pop Up at the Alger Theater will showcase local businesses and makers offering leather goods, jewelry, ceramics, prints, candles, and more. At the same time, organizers hope to drive support of efforts to bring back the historic theater at 16437 E. Warren Ave. Participating retailers include Pingree Detroit, Rebel Nell, Featherstone Garden, York Project, Two Canoe Candle Co., Present Douglas, Circus Studio, Detroit Dirt Rock, Drawings by Renee, Kenzie’s Cookie Co. Stitch Witch, U x A. For a uniquely Detroit gift, shoppers can buy limited edition prints of the Desiree Kelley murals on the Alger’s rooftop. To support The Alger’s renovation efforts, shoppers purchase or renew a membership or buy one as a gift. A percentage of the sales will support work to reopen the theater. Memberships start at $35 and can purchased onsite or at

Pop-up hours Nov. 30- Dec. 22:

  • 4-8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays
  • Noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays
  • Noon to 4 p.m. Sundays



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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.