Showcasing Local Shopping Gems

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It’s not a very old tradition, in fact it was started in 2010, but tomorrow’s Small Business Saturday is quickly becoming one of my personal holiday shopping traditions.

Originally conceived and promoted by American Express, Small Business Saturday is the counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and typically falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, encouraging holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local.

I avoid Black Friday like the plague but embrace Small Business Saturday for a variety of reasons. For one, my parents owned retail stores, and having worked for them growing up, I saw firsthand the extra mile small businesses have to go to in order to compete with the big box stores and mega malls. I love the personal service I typically receive, and the unique items I find in boutique stores, and I am a believer in supporting local small businesses simply because I like what they bring to our neighborhoods all over Newport. It’s a quaint warm-fuzzy that promotes a sense of community.

And because the holidays can make or break some businesses, especially in these tough economic times, I like to shop small ones first and when I can’t find what I need there, turn to the larger retailers.

Don’t get me wrong, I think corporate retailers are just groovy and that they add much to our fine city, but for me, the experience of shopping the great Corona del Mar Village, Mariners Mile, Peninsula, Lido Marina Village, Westcliff Plaza or Balboa Island small businesses takes away that harried, hurried, encroached-upon feeling and turns the experience in to one that takes picking out gifts less of an obligation and more of a pleasure. It puts me in the holiday mood we all seek this time of year, especially when I find just the perfect personal gift for my friends and family with the hands-on help of a business owner or committed employee.

When I asked friend Pame Schmider, owner of the uber-adorable Bauble on Balboa about tomorrow, she told me “Small Business Saturday is about spending time in your community and supporting those shops that make shopping in your neighborhood unique.  While we love our big stores and malls sometimes it is a bit impersonal.  Small business stores often reflect a little more personality to them.”

Perfect example, I recently spied some too-cute coasters that read “What Happens on the Duffy, Stays on the Duffy!”

Pame added, “I opened Bauble with the desire to provide Orange County, and those visiting, with great accessories and gifts that are not only unique but also reasonably priced. We want our guests to enjoy and get that thrill of finding the perfect item. We like to see our customers smiling as they shop around the store. Even though we are a small cottage boutique but we have an amazing variety of inventory and many of our items are specially made for Bauble on Balboa.

Pame travels all over the world to find fun and unique items and very time I walk in to Bauble, I not only find the gift I am looking for, I usually find something for myself or our home. It’s a great place for hostess gifts and for time-crunched folks like me, the decorative gift wrapping they provide at no charge is an extra bonus that keeps me coming back.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention just a few of my other local shopping favorites including Island Home, Via Lido Drugs, Toy Boat, the shops at The Cove, Francis-Orr and Charlie’s Locker, to name a very few.

As Pame pointed out, “Day-to-day life can be a grind, so we like to think of ourselves as a cheerful oasis to enjoy and find something that gives our patrons joy each time they visit.”

So even if you only go to one local retailer tomorrow, I think you’ll find the effort worthwhile and I hope you’ll let them know you support the personal service and unique personality they contribute to our community.

Note: I would like to thank our fearless leader, Founding Editor Roger Bloom, for his support and encouragement since the launch of the Indy in Summer 2010. Your easygoing spirit and professional talent has been the backbone of this publication. I wish you all the very best in your new venture! LS

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