Shop at small businesses to make your holiday spending more meaningful - RED - Relevant. Essential. Denver.

Shop at small businesses to make your holiday spending more meaningful

Want your favorite Colorado companies to be around next spring? Then you need to shop at them this holiday season. PLUS: Find great holiday gifts at these 6 Roadrunner-run businesses.

December 9, 2020

By Mark Cox

Santa’s advice in 2020? Forget Amazon. Give Walmart a swerve. Just say no to Macy’s.

This holiday season, more than ever, it’s so important for Coloradans to support local and small businesses. Denver’s independent retailers have taken a pummeling this year, and they need our help.

“The money you spend with local businesses stays local, and that’s the key thing,” says Darrin Duber-Smith, senior lecturer of marketing at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Buying from small companies helps the local economy, and giants such as Walmart and Amazon just aren’t part of that picture.”

It’s not as if local businesses don’t make it easy for us. Virtually every one these days is set up for online sales. And ordering locally means you can often arrange a handy (and safe!) curbside collection, rather than have to wait for deliveries and run the risk of porch pirates.

Tough holidays

Another advantage for gift hunters is that Denver’s smaller businesses generally have much more original and quirky selections than the McProducts of the big-box stores. And something else you might not know: Scores of them are run by MSU Denver alumni. “Lots of our graduates go on to start their own businesses,” says Brandi Rideout, director of Alumni Relations. “And by embedding the college’s can-do culture in their approach, many go on to make a big contribution to their communities.”

Even still, it’s going to be a tough Christmas. “This simply won’t be a great holiday season, revenue-wise, for small businesses,” Duber-Smith says. “And their fate is really out of their own hands by this point.”

RELATED: 9 cool Colorado holiday gifts

Duber-Smith says buying local gifts this year could help save some businesses that are already on the brink. He also suggests maybe getting your food at smaller delicatessens or a growler from your local brewery instead of the grocery store.

“Stuff like that really adds up,” he says. “Heck, if enough people support their local businesses this holiday season, many of them will still be around come springtime.”

Find great holiday gifts at these 6 Roadrunner-run businesses


Knotty Tie Co.

WHY: Ever wondered how you might buy a stylish accessory gift while also supporting resettled refugees? Problem solved. Not only does this innovative company use sustainable fabrics for all its custom-designed ties, bowties, scarves and masks. It also works with local refugee-resettlement organizations to create jobs for refugees so they can earn a fair living wage and develop promising careers in their new home. Send someone a Knotty Tie gift, and they will not only look good; they will be doing good.

BUY: Just when you thought it couldn’t get any cooler, Knotty Tie Co. also sells three designs of branded MSU Denver masks.

COVID-SAFE: During this time, the company is operating online only – so order via the website.

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Tammy’s Handcrafted Candles

WHY: When Tammy Matson left MSU Denver in 2014, she followed her heart and created this little gem of a company. All of her candles (made from 100% all-natural soy wax) are poured, labeled and packaged by hand. The company uses ethically sourced ingredients and also gives back by donating a percentage of profits to a range of worthwhile charities. Best of all, customer feedback overwhelmingly suggests these candles last a long time and feature delicate scents to die for.

BUY: The Mahogany Teakwood scented candle, incorporating an intoxicating mix of fragrances, is a firm favorite.

COVID-SAFE: This is an online company, so order via the website.

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Longmont Florist

WHY: Here’s a little piece of local floral history. For 50 years, this family-owned company has been making Colorado smell just that little bit sweeter. One day, general manager and MSU Denver alumnus Nate Golter will take the reins from his owner parents, but for now everyone’s priority is getting through the pandemic. Fortunately, the family’s beautifully designed bouquets and gifts are still proving irresistible to customers, and their festive range will bring a flush of joy to anyone’s holidays.

BUY: The fabulous selection of Christmas-themed bouquets, including one that comes in a mini-sleigh.

COVID-SAFE: The company is taking phone and website orders only and provides no-contact delivery and curbside pickup.

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Savory Spice

WHY: Since dining out is currently, well, challenging, maybe consider a gift that will help someone bling up their home cooking operation. This Boulder store, owned by former Roadrunner Dan Hayward, is packed to the brim with hundreds of fresh ground spices and handcrafted seasoning blends. How delicious are they? Just ask the countless local restaurants, breweries, food trucks, chocolatiers and coffee shops that beat a path to his door every week. The best bit: Dan’s spice gift sets make the perfect, thoughtful present for loved ones craving some new and exciting flavors after a dreary old year.

BUY: The One Pot Wonders Spice Set provides the perfect seasonings for your winter casseroles.

COVID-SAFE: The store is open with strict safety measures in place and offers in-store or curbside pickup of purchases.

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The Queen Anne Pillow Co.

WHY: After graduating from MSU Denver, Travis Luther saw his weight balloon and he started suffering debilitating back pain. Worst of all, he couldn’t sleep. Long story short: Travis ultimately launched a luxury pillow company, with an emphasis on educating people to make the best choices to ensure a good night’s sleep. And so this year, with record numbers of people enduring terrible sleep problems (coronasomnia is a real thing, folks), what better gift could there be than a scrumptious, perfect pillow?

BUY: The original Queen Anne Pillow is hand-filled with 100% pure goose down – no feathers – for an unbeatable night’s sleep.

COVID-SAFE: This is an online company, so order via the website.

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Idea Chic

WHY: In 2009, husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Julie and David Sandusky set up a cozy boutique in Glendale where they could design, manufacture and sell stationery and small gifts. Pride of place in their little kingdom led to a 1930s letterpress (affectionately named Hazel), which enables them to create unique greeting cards. But these days, the couple – both Roadrunner graduates – have expanded their operation to also include calendars, coasters, note pads and even herb sachets. Only one thing stays constant: They still design and make everything themselves.

BUY: A lovely selection of vintage-style sachets to freshen up your home – with aromas including lavender, cedar and mint.

COVID-SAFE: Just order online, and the Sanduskys offer free shipping for everything over $12.

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