By Maureen Wittmann
Nearly 40 years ago, economist EF Schumacher published Small is Beautiful. It criticized gigantism. It criticized big. In short, Schumacher suggested we need to downsize and reorganize how we make products and how we live.
I like to support small businesses whenever possible. My vocation as a Catholic homeschooler has been largely supported (and blessed) by small businesses. Businesses that created quality products and curricula I couldn't find elsewhere.
Small Business Saturday is today, the day following Black Friday. It's a great day to get outside and visit small, family-owned companies in your town. It's also a great day to see what's online. The internet has been a boon for many small businesses. Entrepreneurs who can't afford a physical location, can reach customers in innovative ways. You can create a website, get on Etsy, build a marketing email list. Some people are even using Facebook as a storefront.
Below are just a few small businesses online to check out. I've included craft shops, book sellers, publishers, and more. These are just some of my favorites. Please share your favorites in the comments.
Harp and Shamrock Croft
If you need a skirt for your Christmas tree yet, head to this Etsy Shop pronto. You'll also find other hand sewn items such as aprons (I like the mother-daughter ones!) and table runners, as well as handcrafted goats milk soap.
My Little Felt Friends
You'll have to save this Etsy Shop to your Favorites to visit after Christmas since, due to it's popularity, it's all sold out right now. I've stocked up on the little handmade felt dolls for my grandchildren. They're perfect for gifts for littles.
Laney Bell Designs
I love the hand painted wood signs. Laney also designs beautiful stationary. Just for Christmas, she recently added hand lettered Christmas ornaments. Everything is very reasonably priced.
Punch and Judy Pegs
Wooden peg dolls are all the rage right now. They're small for a child's hand and fairly indestructible. However, these are works of art and so don't come cheap. You can place custom orders. In fact, I recently place my own custom order for a set with St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Sweet Oak Gallery
Have you ever seen an abacus style rosary? Me neither! Go check these out - such a fun, original idea for praying the rosary. Another neat idea at Sweet Oak is the Novena Reminder (something I need!!). Lauren also has watercolor and beautiful hand-lettered prints.
Robin's Soap Shoppe
This is where I buy all my bars of soap. Yes, $5 for a bar of soap sounds pricey compared to a bar of Dove. However, these handmade soaps last incredibly longer. So, in the long run, they're money savers. And they are heavenly to boot.
Hair Bows for Life
If you have a little girl in your life, don't waste a second and head over to Hair Bows for Life. Cute, cute, cute! And really well made to boot. The best part is that Ceci donates part of the profits to pro-life organizations.
Loreto Rosaries and Catholic Jewelry
This is my go-to place for heirloom rosaries and religious jewelry. It is expensive, but that's because Ruth only uses the best materials and meticulously handcrafts every piece. I'd rather own one quality piece that I can hand down to my children than a drawer full of cheap items. When I need a special gift, I call on Ruth as she is terrific about doing custom orders.
Cajun Cottage Press
From Catholic homeschool author and speaker Cay Gibson comes the Season Book of Days: "a redefined almanac. It's a planner...an organizer...a journal...a plotter...a menu chart...a meditative prayer...an accountability coach...a tutorial...a drawing board...a reflection...a blend of mindful intention in essays."
Banners By Chris
These are custom banners, hand-crafted from high-quality card stocks and fabrics for your next celebration. This is an example of the new trend of small business selling through Facebook.
New to You Books
Here is another business that operates out of Facebook. Join the group to get updates on great used books. Perfect for the homeschool mom who is always on the search for her home library.
Catholic Daily Planner by Michele Quigley
These are not only functional but pretty. I know this is picky, but I like my planner to start the weeks on Sunday. I love that these planners are also filled with inspirational quotes, feast days, and Mass readings.
This small business is especially known for publishing Connecting with History. Sonya's latest publication is Knights of Art: Stories of the Italian Painters, which is a collection of biographical stories with beautiful illustrations. It's on sale right now if you purchase two, so head on over and stock up for Christmas.
Margot has been dedicated to helping Catholic families homeschool for a long, long time. Here you will find literature guides, homeschooling and liturgical books, and language arts curricula.
This is Regina Doman's publishing house where you'll find loads of fun Catholic fiction. You can even purchase a gift certificate if the reader on your Christmas list would like the joy of choosing his or her own book.
True North Reading
Erin Brown Conroy, Homeschool Connections' Master Writing Instructor, is also the creator of an innovative, online, reading program. Get face-to-face, video lessons for your child. This is a good resource too if your child struggles with learning disabilities.
Veils by Lily
You can find a wide selection of beautifully handmade (and to-order) veils at Veils by Lily. They can only be described as lovely!
Beautiful rosaries, tenners, and chaplets. Jennifer also provides repair services for broken rosaries (if you have all the parts, it's almost free).
These are for the man in your life. Made from paracord, these are definitely "rugged rosaries". Military receive a nice discount.
This small publishing house is run by Catholic homeschool dad Tony Schiavo. I love his selection of historical fiction, especially the Paolo Belzoni books.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. I'll be skipping the lines at Walmart, do most of my shopping online, and make sure to order from many of these small businesses for Christmas this year.
Again, please let us know about your favorite small business in the comments.