Indies First


It was on Small Business Saturday (#shopsmall) that I started seeing the posts. It was simply a series of photos of great local authors supporting our city's independent bookstore. They were at Auntie's to sell signed copies of their work directly to the public, and they were smiling and holding up reusable shopping bags labeled "Indies First."

This is a message I can get behind, because I've experienced the difference many times. Instead of jumping on Amazon Prime, it's not that hard to simply call and talk with a friendly human at Auntie's first. They almost always have what I need, or can easily order it. When it's time to pick it up, it's a great excuse for me to head down there to spend some time reading, shopping, asking the staff for recommendations, and drinking a hell of a cup of coffee. In short, independent bookstores are good for my soul. Even if I could've gotten my book thirty six cents cheaper online.

I think this feeling extends beyond bookstores, too. More and more, people I know are choosing to avoid the big box stores and actually enjoy their holiday shopping. They are finding better gifts, having fun interactions with store owners, and feeling good about supporting local. This week, I asked Spokane Short List retailers which unique items their customers are raving about this holiday season. Choose indies first in your locale as you're finishing up your own shopping.

The Kitchen Engine (Eric Frickle): "This year, people are loving kitchen appliances that make healthy, gourmet cooking possible even for those with very busy lifestyles. The Fagor 3-in-1 Multi Cooker is hard to keep in stock. Also, Spokane is now fully on board with having great coffee at home: espresso machines are a big seller right now."

Lolo Boutique (Lainey LaRue): "The item flying off our shelves this year is the selection of books we have ordered. As part of our expansion to include Lolo Home.Gift, this is my first experience ordering books... but we keep selling out and having to reorder! Some of the favorites are The Little Book of Mindfulness, I Can Pee on This, and You Need More Sleep (Advice from Cats). People are responding to these because they are either whimsical/fun or filled with thought-provoking tidbits.

Wonders of the World (Pamela Barclay): "In September I made a fantastic purchase of 57 miniature amethyst cathedrals. They are magnificent, and every one is different. My customers love them as they make a wonderful gift that celebrates the beauty of the earth. And they are totally unique... they cannot be found in any big box store!"

Pottery Place Plus (Tori Chamberlain-Bailey): "We don't have any ONE thing that is flying off the shelves... it is everything! More and more, people are seeing the benefit of handmade and shopping local and shopping small, and it is paying off for us! Our customers LOVE it when they find out that everything in the shop is handmade by local artisans, and that they are meeting one of them right now."

Tossed and Found (Leslie Fleischmann): "As always we are selling plenty of mid-century furniture right now. But our best-selling holiday items have to be vintage wool blankets (Pendleton, Hudson Bay, etc.), Nordic wool sweaters, and our great selection of vintage Christmas decor."

Revel77 Coffee (Kaiti Blom): "Bags of specialty coffee beans are always our top seller, and it's a great gift. I always recommend a variety from our current guest roaster (next week it's Spokane's up-and-coming Vessel Coffee Roasters). As for other retail items, the Spokane Doesn't Suck mugs have been going fast."

Uncle's Games (Kyle Kemble): "Codenames is a big seller for us right now. It's a spy-themed word association game for teams (4+ total players), and it runs about a half hour. It's quick to set up and easy to understand, so it's a good one to bring people together during a holiday gathering."

-Ross Carper