This year, it’s even more essential to support small, independent businesses. It’s soothingly mechanical to click over to Amazon and wait for a brown box to arrive — but that’s not going to help the thousands of families around Boston who’ve poured their hopes into a small shop, a tiny studio, a life’s passion. Shop local isn’t a hashtag; it’s a lifeline.
It’s not just about altruism, either. These places are genuinely amazing. Handmade bibs, 3-D earrings straight out of Studio 54, thoughtfully curated books, on and on. We live in an area brimming with creative people who possess outsize talent. Now it’s on us to support them.
In that spirit, here’s a local shopping guide for families. This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s a mere sampling of the wonderful, diverse places in our area that local parents have recommended and loved (me included). Have a favorite? Let me know at email@example.com.
Can’t find your favorite title? The friendly folks at Belmont Books are happy to special-order it for you (and an actual human will e-mail you to update you on shipping!). A kids’ book club, an in-house cafe, and a jam-packed calendar of virtual events make this shop feel like a social and intellectual hub, even during pandemics. www.belmontbooks.com
In ordinary times, this cozy Arlington shop is perfect for a rainy day perusal; now they offer browsing by appointment, plus curbside pickup and delivery. But the true distinction? A wonderful trade-in program that allows you to drop off your gently loved books for store credit. www.book-rack.com
Book Shop of Beverly Farms
At this 50-plus-year-old shop in a bright-yellow house, browse by appointment, enjoy a curated list of YA and younger readers, and snag signed copies. www.bookshopofbeverlyfarms.com
This dynamic independent Roxbury shop stocks an eclectic list of titles with an eye to politics, current events, and activism. www.frugalbookstore.net
This independent bookshop anchors West Acton Center, which is slowly transforming into a cute downtown. They offer curbside pickup, free delivery to certain ZIP codes, and insightful staff picks. Of note: a deeply curated list for teens. www.silverunicornbooks.com
2020 Holiday Collective at Legacy Place
This weekend and next, visit Dedham’s Legacy Place for the Black-Owned Bos. Holiday Collective, featuring local makers with tons of family-friendly treats: Fusion Dolls, House of Art and Craft, Stinky’s Kittens & Doggies Too, and more. For the full lineup, see black-owned-bos.square.site/s/stories/2020-holiday-collective-at-legacy-place.
Holiday Cr[EAT]or at Boston Public Market
Visit BPM this weekend and next to browse indie makers: Get handmade baby gear at Knotted by Coco; paintings from Erin Jackson Art (proceeds provide feminine supplies to those in need); snuggly winter apparel from Plainview Farm, knitted from alpaca fur; and lots more. It’s open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. through Dec. 20. www.bostonpublicmarket.org
Union Square Holiday Stroll
Visit Union Square in Somerville on Saturday, Dec. 12, when local storefronts offer promotions and giveaways: gift-making sessions for kids and parents at Artisan Asylum; peppermint stick ice cream at Gracie’s; letter-writing to Santa at 4GoodVibes. See the full roster at www.unionsquaremain.org. Want even more ways to celebrate the city’s indie businesses? Check out their Diversity Catalogue to see the true breadth of the city’s offerings. www.somervillema.gov/sites/default/files/diversity-catalog.pdf
QUIRKY & FUN
Best of British
If you have a child who loves tea parties, Best of British is a must: This proper British sip shop in Newburyport has authentic imports from the United Kingdom and Ireland, from teas to treats to proper table settings. www.bestofbritishnbpt.com
Fawn Over Me
Handmade baby accessories crafted by maker Christine Brown in her Worcester home studio, from bibs to organic wooden teething rings to rattles shaped like hamburgers. fawnoverme.squarespace.com
Henry Bear’s Park
Indie toy shops are getting harder and harder to find these days, but Henry Bear’s Park continues to thrive, with locations throughout suburban Boston and Rhode Island. Check out their thoughtful At Home idea guides designed to stave off stir-craziness. www.henrybear.com/
Joy Street Life + Home
This adorable storefront in West Concord stocks lots of baby gifts — plus a section of unicorns and mermaids (jewels, puzzles, key chains). Adults will enjoy the snarky 2020 memorabilia and cheeky sock collection. www.joystreetgifts.com
Locals love this Melrose spot, which is a toy store wonderland as in days of old: shelves brimming with puzzles, classic games (Parcheesi, anyone?), Calico Critters, and more, all with curbside pickup and delivery. www.lilahrosemelrose.com
The Merry Lion
This Wakefield shop sells funny kids’ clothing (why not buy a “Pies Before Guys” sweatshirt for your tot?), plus toys like dinosaur play-dough and gifts for grown-ups too. www.shopthemerrylion.com
Mom of three Andrea Romito owns this preppy hideout at Hingham’s Derby Street Shops, your spot for matching kid-and-parent pajamas, plaid seersucker bow ties (for next year’s parties), and sea-themed toys. www.nantucketkids.com
Omar’s World of Comics and Hobbies
This cheery Lexington shop is run by Omar Masood, a young man with Down syndrome who absolutely loves superheroes. His store is filled with comics, board games, and trading cards. www.omarsworldofcomics.com
Owen + Sage
Shop baby goods curated by local mom Sarah Taylor DeHaan at a pop-up in Natick (Wednesdays through Sundays) and at new brick-and-mortar Nan’s Market in Stow. The focus is on small makers, eco-friendly artisans, and brands that give to charity. Toys? Bibs? Loungewear for mini-activists? It’s all here. Delivery throughout MetroWest is free, too. www.owenandsage.com
Happy shopping — and supporting.