25 Local Small Businesses to Support This Season
Though Small Business Saturday just passed, the holiday shopping season is still in full swing. More and more people are supporting small businesses around the world these days, especially with sites like Etsy making it easier than ever, but it's also important to support local small businesses to keep the folks in your community going strong. We had a blog last year that covered a whopping 22 local businesses across categories from membership-based experiences to outdoor gear to food, but I realized that I knew of at least another 25 that hadn't been featured yet!
For this year's blog, I also organized businesses by category and put them in no particular order. My conditions for being included were that the small biz had to have a physical store in the area (or we'd be here forever going through my Etsy likes), couldn't be too niche, and I tried to avoid businesses focused around food simply because I have multiple food allergies and it wouldn't be fair to recommend a place I wouldn't be able to personally try and vouch for. This did rule out countless amazing local folks who have a very specific market or sell exclusively online or at pop-up events, so checking social media and local craft fairs/farmers markets are great ways to find even more small businesses to support. As a final note before we get to the list, keep in mind that supporting does not always equal shopping. If you're already done with your holiday shopping or strapped for cash right now, don't fret! Supporting a local biz can be as easy as following their social media, viewing their website, or recommending them to a friend, like this list! Every little bit of attention helps when you're small, so don't feel pressured to buy something to show your support.
Now without further ado, here are 25 more local small businesses to support this holiday season (and beyond):
Bad Apple Vintage is one of our many local gems strung along the streets of Midtown here in Reno. This little spot is much smaller than some of the other clothing stores in the same area but it's also much more curated, leading to a distinct look and feel to all of the products they carry. Their main focus is clothing, both vintage and newer speciality, but Bad Apple Vintage also carries a delightful variety of accessories and knick-knacks made by other local small businesses. I've seen them have pins, patches, earrings, necklaces, rings, sunglasses, bags, candle holders, puzzles, blind bag toys, flower pots, and even VHS tapes and Nintendo64 games for sale over the years. If you're into that Y2K aesthetic or 80s/90s vintage, this should be on your list of places to check out this holiday season. Give their social media a look first though, they sometimes close for a few days so they can go source more vintage goodies for the shop in person to keep their brand tight!
So while Bad Apple is more stylized, where do you go when you just need an every day wardrobe staple? Turns out, just up the street! FreeStyle Clothing Exchange is a newer shop in Midtown, but their other stores over the hill in Northern California have been established for a while now. FreeStyle Clothing Exchange offers thrifted and vintage clothing, as the name implies, but also buys some speciality stuff similar to Bad Apple Vintage for a great mix of both eclectic statement pieces and base pieces you can wear until they wear out. FreeStyle doesn't do all the extras of Junkee (who we'll talk about in a minute) and Bad Apple, but in return their store is packed (in an easy to browse manner) with tons and tons and tons of clothes and some relevant accessories like bags, sunglasses, and shoes that are a bit more wearable than some of the options at the other two. A giftcard to FreeStyle is a safe and easy bet if you're looking for a local business to support for the holidays, so give this new neighbor some love!
It's become almost an unspoken rule here at the Parks Foundation that when someone new starts who isn't originally from the Reno/Sparks area, they have to go check out Junkee Clothing Exchange as soon as possible. Junkee is a Midtown staple that, as you may have guessed, specializes in thrifty and vintage clothing. However, Junkee also specializes in costume wear including Halloween costumes, period pieces for decade themed parties, and "playa wear" for Burning Man. Their massive store is also split in two with one side being all clothes and accessories and the other being a huge collection of consignment goods. They lovingly call it "the antiques side" but it has so much more than just antiques these days it'd be a genuine challenge to list off everything they offer. It's knick-knack, furniture, vintage, antique, retro, tchotchke, collectible, jewelry, handmade heaven on the antiques side. I often spend at least twice as long on the antiques side as the clothing side which is no small feat when the clothing side is as well stocked as it is. If you have a themed party coming up, are looking for a cool new thrifted or vintage piece of clothing or furniture, or need another trinket, Junkee is the Reno go-to.
Pets, Plants, & Kids
Need a small biz alternative to PetSmart/PetCo? Pet Station is your new best friend! Pet Station offers a great array of big name brands of pet food, treats, supplements, toys, leashes/collars/harnesses, and even items for the not-furry friend in your life like birds, fish, and reptiles. They now have multiple locations in Reno/Sparks, Truckee, and Tahoe so chances are you're never too far from one. Their prices are competitive and I've found they even have a wider selection of certain supplements than the big box pet stores. If you have a pet on your holiday shopping list this year, their stores of course allow pets in-store so take them with you to pick out their own gift from a great local business!
This is a fan favorite among our Programming Team here at TMPF. Sierra Water Gardens is an absolutely beautiful curated local plant shop with a solid variety of indoor plants, occasional outdoor plant offerings, gardening tools, soil, fertilizer, pots, and a rad selection of more artsy goods as well. They carry handmade clothing, greeting cards, soaps, candles, and inspirational little doodads in addition to all of the plant stuff so if you're shopping for a plant person who needs a new green buddy plus a pot, a pick-me-up, and a beautiful card to match, this is going to be a one-stop-shop for you. My favorite part about them personally though is that they also have a stem bar. A stem bar is basically a way for you to build your own bouquet by the flower stem/branch, they have them grouped by species and priced individually so you can make it however you want! I just got some beautiful red maple branches, wheat stems, and purple yarrow flowers from them for a Thanksgiving centerpiece that came out to only $12 total, and they rotate out the stems available on a regular basis to keep things fresh and interesting. If you want to see what all the hype is about from our Programming Team (and trust me on this one, you do), then head down to Dickerson Road near Oxbow Nature Study Area to peruse Sierra Water Gardens!
Moana Nursery is the all-around local place for all types of plants. They have 3 locations now, each with a ton of outdoor plant options, plenty of indoor plants ranging from common must-haves to rare selections, and seasonal plants, as well as everything you could ever need to take care of them. If you need to buy tulip bulbs, a hanging pot, and a Christmas tree all at the same time this year for some reason, Moana Nursery has you completely covered. They have all the tools, soil, fertilizer, and pest-repellent you might need too while you're at it. During summer, this is my go-to place for succulents by far, and when October rolls around their pumpkin and gourd prices can't be beat, though you have to be quick or they sell out fast. As I mentioned, right now they're offering Christmas trees, as well as more color varieties of poinsettias than I thought existed. They also use some of their indoor space at each location for artsy homegoods and random things that are good for gifts, as well as whole sections devoted to different types of birdseed and bird feeders for the birdwatcher in your life. Moana Nursery can't be beat in selection and prices when it comes to anything and everything gardening or green-thumb related!
I'll be honest, this is one of the few places on the list that I haven't personally visited but when I saw that last year's blog focused on their workshops I felt like that didn't quite give them a fair shake. Yes, Space Cadet offers a variety of fun and interesting art workshops year round, but they also offer indoor plants and plant supplies. They have some offerings that Moana Nursery and Sierra Water Gardens don't carry, and on some of the plants they do have in common Space Cadet offers the best price. They also offer multiple sizes of the same species of plant, so for example if you specifically need a small ZZ plant for space reasons or if you're looking for the biggest Swiss Cheese Vine available locally, Space Cadet has those options for you. You can even buy select species with googly eyes attached to their leaves for the extra fun factor. What's a better white elephant gift than a small, easy to care for indoor plant with googly eyes staring at you? And that's not even getting into the great selection of pottery (and tiny hats if you decide to pick up a pet moss ball) that they also offer, from elegant to simple to silly designs. Let's all give Space Cadet a fair shake this year and check them out for the holiday season!
Don't have a green thumb but looking for flowers? Fret not! Emmy's Flower Truck is all about building your own bouquets. As the name implies, this is one of two mobile stores on this list! Catch Ms. Daisy, a tricked out VW Bus, out and about to build your own bouquet by the stem. Emmy's Flower Truck also has a warehouse location for those days when the weather just doesn't cooperate, and offers some pre-made options on their site as well if you're really in a pinch. Ms. Daisy and the gang also love supporting fellow small businesses and will often set up shop at other local favs such as Pangolin Delights cafe, L'Essence Day Spa & Salon (who will be making an appearance further down the list), and Perenn Bakery, among others. Keep an eye on their social media for weekly schedules and see if you can find Ms. Daisy and her flowers in the wild.
If you're like me and still mourning the loss of Toys R Us despite being well into adulthood, Toys N More is here to fill the hole in your heart. Toys N More is not only a local toy store, but touts being the BIGGEST toy store in Reno. They carry a pretty good variety of toys, building sets, and stuffed animals but offer something even Toys R Us couldn't: a built in candy store! Half of Toys N More is all about sweets, from vintage candies to caramel popcorn and lots in between. Toys N More also offers a "wish box" program where kids can go around the store, pick out toys they want for their birthday, and then Toys N More will set their selections aside for friends/family members to come buy at a later time so the kid gets exactly what they want while still keeping an element of surprise. There's even a little play area right inside the store! Since they're located right next to a Starbucks, there are also the occasional Cars and Coffee get-togethers in their shared parking lot, so if you're more into big kid race cars then this might be a spot for you too.
I don't know about anyone else who grew up in town, but for my friend group this was THE place for birthday parties. The premise is simple: walk in, view their vast array of unfired ceramic pieces, select a piece you want to paint, and the Playful Potter staff will take it from there! They'll run you through how to paint your piece, get you all set up with paints and tools, and when you're done they'll take the piece and fire it, then let you know when it's ready for pick up. They've also started offering other fun make-it-yourself crafts in store like glass fusing and canvas painting, but the pottery is their bread and butter. This is a great way to celebrate a special occasion or just hang out with friends, of any age. Parties organized with them in advance even have special party packages and access to exclusive ceramic options so if you have a kid or kid-at-heart birthday coming up, keep Playful Potter in mind!
All Fired Up is another local take on a place where you can paint your own pottery. Their ceramic piece options are different than Playful Potter's though, plus they offer an even wider array of creative options with candle making, succulent gardens, bath bomb making, and slime making as well! I haven't personally checked this store out yet but I've been really wanting to go and make a succulent garden (especially since Succulents and Wine closed a while back, if you loved them too then pour one out with me). They're located in the Legends so this may be closer to you than Playful Potter as well. Maybe next time you run to Scheels or stop to see a movie at Galaxy IMAX consider stopping in and giving this newer local place some love while making something one-of-a-kind!
The Finer Things In Life
Here's another one on the list I haven't personally visited (yet! I will soon though, mark my words!) but I have caught them at a few pop-up events so I can still speak on what they offer. Dragonfly Bath & Body is another Midtown neighbor that offers a range of face, body, bath, and beard products. Pretty much any bath and body staple you can think of from bath bombs to scrubs to moisturizers to shaving gel they offer. They also occasionally offer workshops so you can learn how to make your own bath and body products, and I've been told that you can custom make some bath products right in store so they're exactly to your liking and chosen scent. Skip the overdone bath and body care gift sets from the big box stores this year and give Dragonfly Bath & Body a try instead, your local community (and your giftee) will thank you!
Amour Gourmet may sound like a chocolates shop but I'll do you one better: handmade soaps, bath bombs, and candles. I love this place for gifts! If I'm not 100% sure what someone might want (like maybe for a holiday gift exchange at work...?), it's always gone over well when I get them a lovely handmade soap from Amour Gourmet. They have more traditional bar soaps with a variety of beautiful patterns and scents, or they have fun soaps like cake slices and cupcakes, sometimes even with a little toy on top. They also offer candles that look like foods or drinks and a solid range of bath bombs. Last time I shopped with them I left with an elegant cake slice soap, a cupcake soap with an alligator toy on top, and a beer-scented soap of all things. And they were all a hit! This one I must confess has found a little bit of a loophole in my conditions for the list though: unfortunately they don't currently have a physical location in Reno! They do have a physical location at the Roseville Galleria according to their site but I was heartbroken to find out they no longer have a storefront in Meadowood Mall. It does say they have a Reno location "coming soon" though so let's rally around Amour Gourmet online in the meantime and hopefully we'll see them in-person again soon! I have my fingers crossed for Valentine's Day...
There are so many incredible local photographers, it's hard to choose just one. Personally, the one I keep coming back to time after time though is Mindful Images. Photographer Andy Horstmanshoff focuses mainly on local landscapes and events and I must have going on three dozen prints from them at this point. The way Mindful Images captures Nevada (and other nearby states') landscapes throughout seasons and special events, both manmade like Hot August Nights and the Balloon Races and celestial like meteor showers and eclipses, also captures the feeling of being there at that exact moment to me. Their online gallery honestly doesn't do their incredible variety of shots justice, so I'd say start there to get a feel of the types of prints they offer and then go check them out in person at their booth in the Buy Nevada First shop (more on them later). I think it'd be a true challenge for anyone to go through everything Mindful Images has and not find something they think is beautiful.
L'Essence is a great local salon located in a historic building on West Liberty Street that may seem a bit unassuming from the outside, but is rocking with hair styling, massages, and spa services inside. They offer such a wide array of services, I still can't quite figure out how they fit everything into the one building! Their prices are also set on a sliding scale for some services, so if you're getting not as much hair cut off and are ok with someone a bit newer to styling you'll pay less than if you want a lot of hair chopped off by one of their more experienced stylists, which is a nice option to have depending on what you're looking for. I personally had my hair cut here back in Spring it was honestly my first haircut in at least 3 years so I had kind of forgotten what the haircut experience is like, but my stylist that day (and I'm sure all of their staff) was very understanding in walking me through the process and making sure I got what cut I wanted to a T. They're also happy to give you a tour and run down of what they offer in person, especially for their spa services so you can see the area where you'll be getting your facial, massage, or wax ahead of time, or you can find a full list of services, prices, and available appointment times online. Pro-tip: schedule through their website if you can! It makes things easier on both ends and I don't know if this is still a thing but when I went in spring they gave me a discount for scheduling that way.
If you love bookstores that feel jam packed in a cozy, find-a-nook-and-hunker kind of way, Grassroots is going to be the place for you. They have tons of offerings across all genres, a dedicated room for the kids section, comics, manga, DVDs, and even some CDs and vinyls, plus free wi-fi and tea. Their prices are impossible to beat in most cases, they sometimes offer signed editions of books, and best of all they have a huge sale every Saturday where you're given a full sized paper grocery bag and can fill it to the top with books from their outside section for only $5 total. They also buy books if you don't want to donate those ones on your shelf that you haven't read yet but are in good shape. I also just noticed that they do school book fairs and give 25% of the profit to the hosting school, how cool is that? Whenever I hear of someone looking for a specific book who doesn't want to buy from Amazon, this is the first place I recommend to them!
This one's kind of an oddball on the list but let me explain: the real entry isn't Friends of Washoe County Libraries necessarily but their monthly booksale which takes place at Sierra View Library in Reno Town Mall. The sale runs for a week each month, with a sale within sale on the last Sunday of each sale where you fill an entire bag with books for $5 a la Grassroots, and offers a big selection of books, some of which are rare or even first editions. There are also some assorted related things like magazines, DVDs, VHS tapes, and CDs, but regardless of what you buy the money goes to support our Washoe County Libraries! Supporting libraries is the only thing I can think of that's cooler than supporting local small businesses. It might be a little tricky to line up at this point (their most recent sale just ended on the 21st) but if you need some books for your holiday shopping list, or were looking for a cool spot to bring your bookworm friend in the future, definitely try to check out one of these booksales!
Here are three words for you: mobile book store. Is your interest piqued? Golden Owl Bookshop is like a foodtruck for books. It's just as cool as it sounds! Even though it's on wheels, Golden Owl Bookshop has the same atmosphere as your stationary bookshop with shelves full of books organized by category, some little extras for sale on the side, and even a couple potted plants to keep you company as you browse the back of this converted box truck. It's a really neat experience and the prices are pretty competitive, what else is there to say? Check out their social media for where they'll be parked at next then swing by and support this groovy little local offering!
Books and music really just go together like coffee and cream. Or salt and pepper if cream isn't your thing? Either way, Sundance has them both in a stunning historical location on California Ave in Reno. If the gorgeous bright white exterior of the mansion built in 1906 doesn't catch your eye, the red walls and herringbone patterned wood floor will make you feel like a book protagonist as you check out their selection of books, vinyls, CDs, and more. They pride themselves on a mix of big name and local authors/musicians at Sundance, and regularly hold signing events plus have their own publishing branch: Baobab Press. Sundance is truly an all around part of the art community here in Reno/Sparks, so if you're looking for a place to support that also supports local writers and musicians, look for the white mansion!
"Recycled Records, it doesn't suuuuck... thank you very much." If that discordant, Elvis impression jingle doesn't regularly come back to haunt you then I know you didn't grow up owning a TV in Reno/Sparks. They were right though, it doesn't suck! Recycled Records is still the local home to tons of vinyl records, as well as cassettes and CDs. They also sometimes sell tickets to concerts that will be in town or even every once in a while will host their own mini concert inside the store. If they don't have what you're looking for, they're also totally willing to order it for you to come pick up later. This place is a Reno classic so if you're shopping for the vinyl obsessed in your life, head to Midtown and try not to get their jingle stuck in your head!
Speaking of Reno classics, let's talk Bizarre Guitar. This place is a staple if you're a musician looking for an instrument or gear, though they don't focus too much on classical instruments. If it's guitars, drums, amps, and pedals you're after though? You've come to the right spot. Bizarre Guitar is the local authorized dealer of pretty much any major brand of modern instrument that you can think of, and they carry instruments ranging from the lower hundreds up to five digit price tags on their online shop. If that's not rich enough for your blood, they're also home to The Vault: a collection of special and one-of-a-kind pieces including vintage models and instruments formerly owned by celebrities, all of which are available for purchase at the right price. Ok, time for another loophole: Bizarre Guitar does still have their long running storefront off Oddie Blvd, HOWEVER it hasn't been open to the public since the start of the pandemic. Last time I stopped by though the staff said their online endeavors were going very well, so I don't think they're going anywhere business-wise at least. As far as I'm aware, they'll still let folks go see The Vault in person upon request so if you're a serious collector it might be worth it to look into your options there. Otherwise, their online shop is kept well stocked if you need a gift for a musician this holiday season!
Of all the entries on this list, Kid Rocker is the one I can vouch for the most. Kid Rocker is in fact not a local business but a local non-profit that offers music lessons. While they mostly focus on kids, as the name implies, I'm personally taking vocal lessons with them at my big age of 25 and I don't think I'm even the oldest person in the program! Kid Rocker offers guitar, vocal, piano, ukulele, bass, and drum lessons currently, all with incredibly skilled local instructors that do one-on-one lessons either at your house or over Zoom. This is such a great local resource no matter if you're a kid already enrolled in music at school and just looking for an extra boost, if you're a teen wanting to learn how to play your favorite songs, or if you're like me and are an adult finally pursuing a longterm interest and getting a confidence boost to boot. Check out their different programs, instructors, and pricing on their site and if you want to see their students in action, keep an eye out for their live shows. That's right, taking lessons with them also means you get to perform live at a local venue for an audience, and at no extra cost! It's such a unique program for the budding music lover in your life, definitely check out giving lessons as a holiday gift.
If you're trying to knock out your holiday shopping in one fell swoop, this is your spot. Buy Nevada First has over 300 local vendors that rent out space within their massive store attached to the Reno Town Mall. It would take me the rest of this blog to list out everything they carry, and it's all supporting both local vendors and this local store itself. Their vendors also rotate out from time to time so if you by some improbably chance don't find anything there now, try again in a few months and you might just get lucky. Photography, books, furniture, food, clothing, knick-knacks, seasonal items, toys, rocks & minerals, jewelry, bath & body products, vintage goods, vinyl records, signs, you name it and they probably have it. I really can't explain just how large their variety is. Go check it out and if you can't leave without buying a couple things then thank me later and thank yourself for shopping local!
Now my first instinct was to put Stone Age Quarry under The Finer Things category but honestly they fit just as well into Pets, Plants, & Kids, so here it is under Misc to compromise. Stone Age Quarry is a local rock shop that has an absolutely amazing variety of rocks, minerals, crystals, fossils, sculptures/carvings, and jewelry in every price range. Have a kid who likes cool rocks but also have a small budget? They have tumbled rocks and crystals starting at 50 cents a pop. Have a rich relative that owns everything? Bet they don't have a fossil worth thousands of dollars, because it's literally one-of-a-kind. If you need a gift for a jewelry-wearer, a witchy type who collects crystals, a college kid pursuing a geology degree (hi, that was me once!), or are just looking for something interesting and inherently unique, this is the place. I haven't seen better prices on the vast majority of what they carry anywhere else, including online stores and Etsy shops. Need something specific? Let them know and they'll let you know if they have it, even if it's in the back. They also have a second location with somewhat different stock in Virginia City, so if you're really on the hunt and willing to make the trek, I can vouch for both stores equally. Give them a look, you won't be disappointed!
Last year's blog had a dedicated section to places that offer workshops and the only major one I felt that they missed was Copper Cat Studio! Copper Cat Studio offers a variety of artisan workshops, especially mosaic and glass-related art but plenty of others as well, at their studio in Sparks. Their instructors are all well-versed in their respective artforms whether that's alcohol inks, wire art, silk painting, needle felting, or another speciality you don't hear of as often. On top of workshops, they also sell products made by their artisans and other local small businesses in their gift shop & gallery, and offer mosaic and stained glass supplies. If you know someone whose New Years Resolution is to start a new hobby, it might be worth pointing them in Copper Cat Studio's direction!
Again, this isn't an exhaustive list, and maybe this style of blog can become a yearly tradition so new local businesses can be featured each holiday season, but I hope you learned about a new place you'd like to support! Remember: supporting doesn't have to mean shopping. Even just giving these businesses a site visit or a follow on social media helps them immensely. If you are looking to shop small though, at any time of year, keep these names in mind and shop local too!