Shop (or protest) locally on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Go Green Saturday and beyond


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.

** SATURDAYCash Mob St. Paul will descend on a local business and restaurant, cash in hand.

** SUNDAYRegla 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. 

What’s local? 

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.

Local businesses

Bibelot — Various locations 
Offering a full range of gift options from household, to bath and beauty to fashion, the Bibelot shops showcase numerous made-in-Minnesota products from local sustainable organizations like Wood from the Hood.

CityKid Java
 — 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.

EggPlant Urban Farm Supply
1771 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104
The business focus is on edible seeds and plants (vegetables, herbs, berries, fruits), but they also carry garden tools, soils, fertilizers, and supplies, with a primarily organic focus, as well as decorative pots and books.

I Like You
501 1st Avenue NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
This funky Nordeast gift shop showcases products from local and independent crafters and artists, so the inventory changes frequently.

The Mill
2300 Kennedy St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
A member-based collaborative that “celebrates the do-it-yourself culture and creative communities,” the Mill has some items for sale and can custom make gifts of any type. 

Moss Envy
3056 Excelsior Blvd, Minneapolis, MN 55416
The business describes its products as “recycled, reclaimed, natural, organic, sustainable, fair-trade and local.” Choices are numerous including household, apparel, baby products, bathroom, kitchen, health and beauty. 

Peace Coffee
3262 Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55406
Founded locally by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in a partnership with Mexican farmers, Peace Coffee has grown into a household name for local coffee lovers. These fair trade beans can be found at numerous local groceries and food coops, and their website has fun coffee-themed “giftables” like mugs, t-shirts, baby onesies and bike apparel. Did you know that whenever possible and wherever accessible, they transport their local wholesale beans by cargo bikes?

2290 Como Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108
A mother-owned family store that offers a range of natural baby products including wood toys, cloth diapers, books and more. Whenever possible, they source from other small, family-based businesses and specify exactly where each product is made.

** Pacifier’s 2nd Annual Green Friday Sale
310 East Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Friday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Offering an eclectic collection of cool and modern baby gifts, clothes, wooden toys and more. Note: their City Center and Edina locations are also participating in the sale.

** Poppy Togs and Clogs

251 Snelling Ave South, St. Paul, MN 55105
Get your fashion on at this funky new boutique that just celebrated its first anniversary this fall. At least 15 percent of merchandise in the store at any time is local designers. Owner Jill Henderson hosts popular sales parties complete with food and drinks, like the “Faux Black Friday” party this Friday, Nov. 16.

Regla D’Oro Gallery
2743 Lyndale Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55408
The name Regla D’Oro is Spanish for “the golden rule.” A majority of the gallery’s products sold are global fair trade, and they are a Ten Thousand Villages alliance story. Owner Jessica Smith does promote numerous local artists through gallery showings and sells local ceramics, glass, jewelry and paintings.

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.

Ten Thousand Villages
867 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105
They are self-described as a “nonprofit, fair trade retailer of artisan-crafted home décor, personal accessories and gift items from around the globe.” The St. Paul location is host to numerous “benefit” nights where, from 5–8 p.m., 20 percent of sales revenue goes to a designated local nonprofit. See the sidebar story or visit their website for more details.


Other Resources

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
514 Second St. SE, Minneapolis
Sat., Nov. 17, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

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
Sat., Nov. 17, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

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
6200 Colonial Way, Edina, MN 55436
Sat., Nov. 17, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Organized by The World Jubilee, a volunteer-driven nonprofit,  with proceeds from the sales benefit community development efforts around the world.


Plymouth Arts Fair
Plymouth Creek Center, 1400 34th Ave. N., Plymouth
Sat., Nov. 17, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 18, noon–5 p.m.

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.


Holiday Fair
Co-hosted by Kingfield and Fulton Farmers Markets
4310 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
Sun., Nov. 18, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

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
Westminister Presbyterian Church, 1200 Marquette Ave., Minneapolis
Sunday, Nov. 18, 9 a.m.–10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

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
867 Grand Ave., St. Paul
Various dates between Mon., Nov. 19–Fri., Dec. 14

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
West 46th Street and Grand Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
December 1-2, 2-8 p.m.

“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
Sun., Dec. 2, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
CWA Local 7200 Hall, 3521 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis

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!
Fri., Dec. 7, 3–8 p.m. and Sat., Dec. 8, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Midtown Global Market, Lake Street & Chicago Ave., Minneapolis
Since 2005, Crafter Local 612 has been hosting twice yearly events that feature a variety of artists and crafters.   


**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.