Does the thought of getting up at 1 a.m. on Black Friday after your turkey coma give you the cold chills? Would you rather not risk leaving your child orphaned because you have been trampled by crowds trying to claim that last cheap plasma TV? Do you love seeing the smile on your loved one’s face after she opens the thoughtful, one-of-a-kind gift you scoured little shops to find? Then have we got the guide for you!
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** FRIDAY — Don’t want to shop? CTUL offers an alternative: “Join us on Black Friday as we unite with WALMART workers to take action against WALMART, then take action outside another store in support of Retail Cleaning workers across the Twin Cities! We will meet at the Midway Walmart at 11am then bus together to another location with CTUL and bus back around 1pm.” (For more on Walmart workers, see Erik Hare’s blog post.)
** SATURDAY — Shop small businesses in North Minneapolis, with special deals advertised by the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition. Check their website for coupons and deals.
** SATURDAY — Central Corridor businesses, slammed by months of construction, will welcome customers back on Go Green Saturday. The train is not running yet, but buses will be free (click here to download a free Metro Ride pass), or you can get around on a horse-drawn trolley. Participating businesses range from Steady Tattoo & Body Piercing to Blackdog Coffee & Wine Bar, and the day’s activities include balloon animals, hot cider and hot chocolate, music and more.
** SATURDAY – Cash Mob St. Paul will descend on a local business and restaurant, cash in hand.
** SUNDAY — Regla De Oro Gallery will also host a local artist holiday trunk show on Sunday, November 25th from 11-3pm. NOTE NEW LOCATION: 2743 S. Lyndale, Minneapolis
** MONDAY — On Cyber Monday, watch out for the fraudsters! The Better Business Bureau has some safe-shoppping tips here.
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We put out a call for readers’ favorite local and fair trade shopping options and you responded. Many of the places listed are readers’ suggestion. (If you don’t see your submission listed, that’s probably because the business didn’t return phone or email messages and/or their website lacked clear indication that they sold local or fair trade products.) If your favorite is missing from our list, just add it in the comments, with contact and address information to help people find it.
We’ll be updating this article from time to time — check for new businesses and holiday fairs. We’ll mark new additions with a **double star to make them easy to find.
Besides businesses (listed in the left-hand column below), you can shop at holiday fairs and festivals. The weekend of November 17-18 is packed with events, offering conscientious shoppers an opportunity to choose from a number of local artists, vendors and fair trade retailers. Check out our listings in the right-hand column below — and feel free to add your own listings in the comments.
We focused on businesses that either had a store presence or had products easily available through local shops. Why? Because there’s a clear benefit to supporting local physical businesses.
“This year we’re really emphasizing not just shopping locally, but supporting the bricks and mortar stores in our communities. If we don’t use them we lose them,” said Mary Hamel, executive director of the Metro Independent Business Alliance.
“These stores are present in our communities. They are supporting local charities, they are sending their kids to local schools, they are employing your neighbors, their tax dollars and profits are staying in the community.”
According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, depending on the type of business, the money reinvested in the community by a small independent business amounts to two to three times that of a national chain.
Please note that this article offers just a sampling of local or fair trade businesses. The list is by no means exhaustive. The Twin Cities region is fortunate to have a vibrant small business community.
For this article, we focused on businesses that, in addition to being owned locally, sell a fair portion of products that are locally designed or produced.
What’s fair trade?
According to FINE, an informal association of four international fair trade networks, in its simplest terms, fair trade is defined as a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade.
See the sidebar for a smorgasbord of local arts and fair trade events starting this weekend.
Bibelot — Various locations
The organization pledges 100 percent of its profits to youth programming through the Urban Ventures Youth Leadership Foundation. In addition to coffee, they make custom gift baskets that feature local foods.
** Pacifier’s 2nd Annual Green Friday Sale
251 Snelling Ave South, St. Paul, MN 55105
Note: Regla D’Oro is in the process of moving to its new location at 2743 Lyndale and will re-open for business on Tuesday, November 20.
Your Local Food Co-ops are not just a source for wholesome food, but many of the local co-ops, including Mississippi Market, Seward Coop and The Wedge offer an amazing array of fair trade pottery, glassware, scarves, jewelry, cookbooks and more.
Gift display at Wedge Co-op
Buy Local Holiday Gift Guide — Produced by the Metro Independent Business Alliance
Made in Minnesota Gift Guide — Produced by Minnesota 2020
Fairs and festivals
2012 Minneapolis Craft’za at the Soap Factory
Brought to you by the organizers of the St. Paul Craftstravaganza, this inaugural event in Minneapolis will host more than 70 vendors, mostly from Minnesota, with a few from the upper Midwest.
7th Annual Green Gifts Fair at Midtown Global MarketLake Street & Chicago Ave., Minneapolis
The event hosts more than 70 local eco-vendors offering green, recycled, fair-trade and organic gifts.
Fair Trade Market at Colonial Church of Edina
Organized by The World Jubilee, a volunteer-driven nonprofit, with proceeds from the sales benefit community development efforts around the world.
Plymouth Arts Fair
The free event returns after a two-year hiatus. According to Parks & Recreation Supervisor Travis Karlen, all of the artists featured are from Minnesota, with 95 percent hailing from Plymouth or the Twin Cities area.
Sad that your weekly trips to the farmers market have ended for the season? Here’s your chance to get one last trip in while perusing a holiday-focused version of these popular local markets.
Fair Trade Gift Fair
The fair features vendors from 17 countries including Haiti, Nepal, Somalia, Peru, Ecuador and Palestine. Gifts for purchase include dolls, tote bags, olive oil, coffee beans, chocolate, jewelry, purses, note cards, hats, gloves, scarves, shawls, holiday ornaments and art work.
Ten Thousand Villages Benefit Events
Want an easy way support local causes while shopping? Now through mid-December, Ten Thousand Villages has 18 scheduled benefit events with 20 percent of evening sales proceeds going to a variety of local nonprofit organizations. Some of the organizations include Advocates for Human Rights, Great River Greening, Land Stewardship Project, Neighborhood House, Sarah’s Oasis and Teatro Del Pueblo. View the schedule and full list of nonprofits on the Grand Avenue store’s online calendar.
Holiday Bazaar at Color Wheel Gallery
“Dump Wal-Mart! Skip the Mall of America! Come & Support our Local Artists” urges Tammy Ortegon’s gallery page. The local artists include Tammy Ortegon and Ricardo Levins Morales, as well as many more artists and artisans with a variety of art work, jewelry and other products.
Fair Trade/Union Made Holiday Sale
Based on turnout at this inaugural effort, organizers hope to make this an annual event. Items for sale are provided by Ten Thousand Villages, Regla De Oro Gallery and Union House. Proceeds benefit the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition.
2012 Holiday No Coast Craft-o-Rama!
Midtown Global Market, Lake Street & Chicago Ave., Minneapolis
**Milton Square Artist Market in the lower level of Milton Square on Saturday, December 1. Many of the artists (but not all) will continue the sale on Sunday, December 2, from noon to 4. Milton Square is at Carter and Como Ave., St. Paul, Minnesota.
**California Dreamin’ at the California Building, 2206 California Street NE, Minneapolis. Thursday, December 6th 5-9 PM; Friday, December 7th 5-9 PM; Saturday, December 8th 12-5PM. Artists, music, more.