Shop local: 15 small businesses to support for last-minute Christmas shopping

The countdown is on. Christmas is just around the corner, and today, Dec. 23, is expected to be the second-busiest shopping day of the year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

If you’re among the millions of Americans still looking for last-minute gifts or other holiday items, consider shopping local rather than rushing out to the crowded “big box” stores.

Many small business owners say the holiday shopping season is a make-or-break for their business.

By spending your money at local businesses, you ensure that more dollars stay in our community, and you help support the creation of more quality jobs. The Small Business Administration reports that small businesses employ 47.3% of the private workforce, making them the backbone of local economies.

According to LOVEVA, a branded marketing and shopping app that supports local retailers, “When you shop at a local business, you’re building your community, standing by your neighbors, and making sure you have a stake in the success of your neighborhood.”

For every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, more than half stays in the community, whereas for every $100 spent at a chain store, less than 15% is re-circulated, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

In addition, small businesses play a key role in supporting the unique feel of our community. Local shops aren’t reliant on a national sales plan like the big chains. Instead, they’re tuned into the wants, needs and interests of local residents.

Independently-owned businesses abound in and around the Historic Triangle, and many of them offer one-of-a-kind gifts you simply won’t find anywhere else.

Below are some local businesses to consider shopping at this holiday season – and all throughout the year.

1. Perfectly Natural Soap

Category: Bath and Body

Location: 2021 Richmond Rd. in Williamsburg

If you appreciate natural products with clean ingredients, you’ll find plenty to love about Perfectly Natural Soap. This small business focuses on artisan soap-making in small batches, and their products are made right in Williamsburg with high-quality ingredients.

Aside from specialty soaps, you’ll find all kinds of other gift options, like scented candles, men’s grooming supplies and products for babies and kids.

Perfectly Natural/Instagram

2. Danforth Pewter of Virginia

Category: Handcrafted & Unique Gifts

Location: 417 West Duke of Gloucester St. in Williamsburg

Located in cheery Merchants Square, Danforth Pewter of Virginia has been a Williamsburg tradition for fifty years. The shop – which features carefully crafted metal Christmas ornaments, jewelry, gifts, holiday decor and more – was founded in 1964 as the Shirley Pewter Shop. In 2013, it became Danforth Pewter after an extensive renovation.

All items sold there are created by hand in a Vermont workshop. You’ll also find a history wall at the store which documents Danforth’s roots from the earliest days of Colonial Williamsburg.

Danforth Pewter/Instagram

3. Yorktown Bookshop

Category: Books

Location: 328 Water St. in Yorktown

Brick-and-mortar bookstores are few and far between these days, but the Yorktown Bookshop – a veteran-owned shop – is a refreshing exception. The store, located in the Riverwalk Landing area, offers high-quality used books of a variety of genres at 50-70% off the publisher’s price.

The warm, inviting atmosphere makes it even more enjoyable to browse for the perfect book.

Yorktown Bookshop/Facebook

4. Flipping Flea Marketplace

Category: Handcrafted & Unique Gifts

Location: 6927 Richmond Rd. in Williamsburg

This independently-owned shopping destination is a favorite of many local residents, and it’s not hard to see why.

Over 100 vendor booths sell all kinds of goods here, including antiques, crafts, candy, collectibles and much more.

Flipping Flea Marketplace/Facebook

5. Virginia Living Museum Store

Category: Handcrafted & Unique Gifts

Location: 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd. in Newport News

Did you know the shop at the Virginia Living Museum is a small business? Stop in to find a wide variety of science and nature-related gifts for all budgets. Some of the store’s most popular items include handmade jewelry, glass and pottery, wildlife sculptures, unique home decor, plush animals and craft kits.

Virginia Living Museum/Instagram

6. The Cheese Shop

Category: Specialty Foods

Location: 410 W. Duke of Gloucester St. in Williamsburg

The Cheese Shop is an ideal gift destination for the food lover on your list. Shop for local honey, specialty wines, savory sauces and oils, and a wide variety of cheeses. Gift cards are also available.

Tammy Schumacher, cheese board manager, takes customer orders in Williamsburg, Virginia. Schumacher has worked at the Cheese Shop for 39 years. (Photo by Julia Rendleman for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

7. Historic Hilton Village

Category: Handcrafted & Unique Gifts

Location: Corner of Warwick Blvd. and Main St. in Newport News

Historic Hilton Village, built in 1918, consists of a collection of locally-owned, eclectic shops. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes stores featuring home furnishings and decor, artisan jewelry, one-of-a-kind artwork, antiques, vintage and consignment clothing and more.

You’ll also find several dining options, including Indulge Bakery & Bistro, The Hilton Creamery, Circa 1918 and Kismet Bistro.

Historic Hilton Village/Facebook

8. Auntie M’s American Cottage

Category: Art & Unique Gifts

Location: 330 Water St. in Yorktown

On the hunt for a handcrafted gift? Check out Auntie M’s American Cottage, located in the heart of historic Yorktown.

The store is run by a local artist who carefully selects pieces made by local and regional crafters and other creators from throughout the U.S. You’ll find jewelry, art, figurines, home decor and much more here.

Auntie M’s/Instagram

9. The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg

Category: Specialty Foods

Location: 414 Prince George St. in Williamsburg

Stroll through Merchants Square and stop at The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg, where you’ll find an array of seasonal favorites, like Holiday Snowfall Virginia Peanuts, nut brittles and festive gift sets.

The Peanut Shop/Instagram

10. Nautical Dog

Category: Pets

Location: 5102 Main St. Suite B in Williamsburg

Located in Newtown, the Nautical Dog is a great place to stop if you’re looking for the perfect gift for the dog or cat lover on your list. The store features pet-related home decor, t-shirts, socks and breed-specific merchandise, as well as toys and treats for pets.

While you’re there, you’ll also be able to stop by Schwartzy’s Cat Cove – the store’s newest addition – and visit with adorable, adoptable cats.

Nautical Dog/Instagram

11. Heroic Apparel

Category: Apparel/Military

Location: Online

Looking for an active-duty-owned business to support? Check out Heroic Apparel. This clothing and accessory shop, operated in Williamsburg, was founded by Jason McNeely. McNeely joined the U.S Navy in 2007 and continues to serve on active duty.

McNeely says his wife, Brandi, and his daughter, Kherington, also play key roles behind the scenes in keeping the business running smoothly. You’ll find locally-printed t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, key chains and more here – many of which feature patriotic-themed designs.

Expedited shipping options are available. If you need a gift in time for Christmas, Heroic Apparel offers gift cards you can instantly print or send to your recipient via text or email.

Heroic Apparel/Instagram

12. Spoke & Art Provisions Co.

Category: Unique Gifts, Food & Treats

Location: 3449 John Tyler Hwy. in Williamsburg

This locally-owned café is located on the Virginia Capital Trail. You’ll find sandwiches, snacks and pastries that are perfect for sharing with family, friends or guests during the holidays.

Additionally, Spoke + Art sells unique bicycle-related gifts and apparel in the café’s gift shop.

Spoke + Art/Instagram

13. Gangsta Dog

Category: Pets

Location: 319 Water St. in Yorktown

Shopping for your dog – or a dog lover? Check out Gangsta Dog, a shop in Yorktown that opened in April 2021. The store features specialty dog items like gourmet cookies and chews, bones, supplements and gluten-free dog food.

Gangsta Dog/Instagram

14. Virginia Gourmet

Category: Specialty Foods

Address: 5699-24 Richmond Rd. in Williamsburg

Virginia Gourmet offers a selection of gourmet and specialty foods, including salsas, pasta sauces, chocolate, all-natural and organic spices, savory dips and more. Gift cards are also available.

Virginia Gourmet/Instagram

15. Discover Teas

Category: Fine Teas

Location: Online

This locally-owned tea shop is based in Williamsburg. While operations were moved online amid the pandemic, Discover Teas is still open for business. You’ll find a broad selection of teas and teaware, all of which can be shipped directly to you or your recipient.

Discover Tea’s shipping window to guarantee delivery by Christmas has already passed, but the shop is running a sale on e-gift cards through Dec. 26, 2022.

Discover Teas/Instagram

Dine local this holiday season

Want to support local restaurants for the holidays this year?

More of your dollar stays right in the community when you dine locally.

The Williamsburg Area Restaurant Association has compiled a helpful guide that lists the availability of area restaurants on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Check it out here.

Find additional small businesses to support all year long

Find more locally-owned businesses to support this season – and year-round – by using the American Express Shop Small Map or visiting Local LoveVA Hampton Roads.

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