It’s December, which means the holiday shopping season is in full gear. I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me lose my Christmas cheer more than the thought of spending a weekend in a crowded mall. Instead of dealing with the throngs of mass-produced goods, people, and lackluster customer service at the typical big box stores, save your energy (and keep your sanity) by supporting our local independent retailers this holiday shopping season.
Small businesses are so important to a thriving community and we are fortunate to have many unique shops right here in the Lake Norman area. As I talked about in this post about a recent local Etsy Maker’s Market, I am a strong advocate for supporting local independent businesses for several reasons. For the most part, small business owners live right here in the Lake Norman area, so they have a vested interest in the health and vitality of our local economy; they want to build lasting relationships with their customers, support other small businesses, and contribute to local charitable organizations. As consumers, the money we spend at local businesses goes back into the community – we help increase our local tax base and create jobs. Small businesses also spur healthy competition among others in their industry. When businesses are constantly striving to offer the most unique and innovative goods and services, consumers benefit with a healthy local marketplace.
What better time to support many of our local brick-and-mortar retailers and creative entrepreneurs than by #shoppinglocal this holiday season. Here are a few of my favorite Lake Norman area businesses and ideas for unique and personal holiday gifts.
Black Powder Roasting Company
Hands downs, one of my favorite local businesses is Black Powder Roasting Co. Based out of a small production facility on Raceway Drive in Mooresville for the past 2 1/2 years, Melissa and Dave Stalhman have been on a mission to source the world’s highest quality coffee beans, then harvest the beans in small batches, offering Lake Norman a truly dynamic and delicious product.
After discovering Black Powder Coffee in our local Lowes Foods shortly after I moved to the area in 2014, I found their shop and have been a loyal costumer ever since. Melissa and Dave are amazing at explaining the differences in their beans and the roasting process, making it easy to pick the beans best suited to your taste. Whenever I stop in, it seems like there is always a group of people learning more on a tour or taste-testing a new batch. Black Powder has 13 different origins of coffee in stock at all times, an annual Christmas blend, and several gift baskets for the holiday season. Personally, my favorite products are their single-origin batches including the floral and fruity medium-light roasted Ethiopian Yirgacheff and the rich, earthy, and smooth medium-roasted Mexican Chiapas. Once you’ve tasted some Black Powder Coffee I assure you, you’ll never waist time standing in line (or at the drive-thru) at Starbucks again. What’s more, you’re wallet won’t believe the savings! With a yearly membership (like I have) I get one free bag of beans each month and 10% off all of my purchases.
Stop in and see my friends Melissa and Dave and get on the local craft coffee bandwagon this holiday season. After picking up a few bags of coffee for yourself, a simple gift idea would be pairing a bag of their 2016 Christmas blend with a cool Black Powder mug. I’ve done this gift for many non-local family members, giving them a real “taste” of the Lake Norman coffee scene.
It wasn’t until I started doing research for this article that I found out about Sweet Grass home and gift shop, and boy, have I been missing out! This little gem, tucked in the back of Mooresville Town Square by Lowes Foods and The Fountains apartment homes, has an astonishing assortment of homewares, jewelry, boutique clothing, lake-themed items and even a kids collection, all beautifully curated and artfully displayed. Seriously, I think I could find something unique and special for every woman on my shopping list this year!
I particularly love these Ella B candles, which are poured locally in Charlotte and have a huge following across the country. Ella B candles are unique because their makers partner with local retailers in each city, creating scents that are representative of customers in that area. Sweet Grass has candles representing many of our local towns including Mooresville, Davidson, Huntersville, Statesville, and Lake Norman. Besides being a great holiday idea, these would also make an amazing housewarming gift.
Sweet Grass also has a large room in the back of the shop and hosts a variety of craft events, from wine-night get-togethers, to tween birthday parties (awesome idea!). Here, my pals Heidi and Robyn are showing off their hand-crafted artsy Autumn decor.
Charlotte Running Company of Lake Norman
Ok, this one shouldn’t be a big surprise. Anyone who knows me knows I spend a good part of my life in the gym or on a running trail, so I need some quality gear to keep up with my daily adventures. I could go to the nearest big box athletic store or even buy sneakers on Amazon, but it’s just as easy to head over to the Charlotte Running Company of Lake Norman right off I-77 at exit 33.. This fitness specialty store may be small in size but they are big on customer service and high-quality apparel and accessories. I especially love their assortment of unique workout clothes including all the funky-style capris by Dona Jo Fitwear.
Charlotte Running Company prides itself on offering personalized service, utilizing a treadmill to assess each customer’s gait, then offering options from a variety of manufacturers. Personally, I’m an Asics girl and am always excited for the newest generation of Nimbus kicks to hit the shelves!
Evelyn Kay Club – All Natural Deodorant
This may seem like an odd choice for a gift item, but I’m here to tell you that Evelyn Kay Club all natural deodorant could be the most important gift a friend receives this year! After learning that the top ingredients in most deodorants contain chemicals that can be toxic to our bodies, my friend Jessica Benningfield was on a mission to create a safe alternative. Her creation is an all-natural deodorant that really works!
As Jessie describes on her blog, most deodorants contain chemicals such as parabens, triclosan, phthalates, and aluminum. These first three chemicals can disrupt our body’s endocrine system, mimicking hormones like estrogen. Changes in estrogen levels can make the body more susceptible to breast and ovarian cancers. Aluminum (specifically aluminum chloride and aluminum chlorohydrate) is also known to interfere with estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells.
As someone who just lost a family member at the age of 42 to breast cancer, I cannot overestimate the importance of actively taking preventative measures in your daily health and beauty routine. While not all cancers can be prevented, the choices we make every day can go a long way, and Evelyn Kay deodorant is a great place to start! After I had made the switch to this deodorant a few months ago, I was immediately surprised at how well it kept my underarms dry and fresh smelling (I can’t believe I’m writing about the smell of my armpits in a Christmas blog…). The ingredients include coconut oil, beeswax, lime oil, and grapeseed oil, giving it a pleasant, neutral smell. In fact, the smell is so neutral, I got my husband to make the switch too! (I suggest picking up a few sticks for the men in your life as well!)
Jessie and her team make it easy to purchase. After creating an account on her website, you can set up recurring shipments every 4, 6, or 8 weeks. You can even purchase as a gift option and take part in their #GetOneGiveOne campaign. You can also find this great product at many local retailers. Not only is this a great stocking stuffer but the perfect jumpstart for your own healthy New Year’s Resolutions!
Davidson Restaurant Scene
Looking for the perfect gift for the foodie in your life? You can’t go wrong with a gift certificate to a great local restaurant, and the up-and-coming Davidson restaurant scene offers a wealth of options for every taste right here in Lake Norman!
I admit, when it comes to eating out in restaurants, my husband and I are definitely food snobs. We steer clear of the chains and are always on the lookout for establishments offering fresh local food, a hip environment, and great service (Oh, and a delicious house cocktail is a must!). The majority of our favorite local eateries are located on Davidson’s “Restaurant Row,” on historic Main Street. Many of these establishments have gained national attention and for good reason. Here are a few of our favorites.
Located at the fork in the road in the Stowe’s Corner Building in downtown Davidson, this restaurant is named after the famous Flatiron Building in NYC and focuses its menu on seasonal and locally sourced meats and produce. We love going on a Saturday night to sit at the bar, watch some sports and share a few top shelf cocktails and wagyu beef burgers.
Kindred has only been open since February 2015, but has gained serious national attention. Like Flatiron, Kindred focuses on offering a seasonally-based menu using locally sourced ingredients, but in small-plate, shareable dishes. Besides going to sample some of their world-class culinary creations, go to enjoy the restaurant’s modern apothecary-style ambiance. (I’m not gonna lie, I wanted to check out those awesome Schoolhouse Electric pendants that hang above the bar in person!)
Just a few doors down from Kindred on Main Street sits this fun Mexican hot spot. With a charming brick courtyard and views of Davidson College’s campus green, Mestizo is a popular place to enjoy some house-made margaritas (they’re amazing!) and truly authentic Mexican cuisine. And don’t think you have to wait until the warm summer months to enjoy their patio – heaters in the table umbrellas will keep you warm and toasty. (Those margaritas don’t hurt either!)
Not to sound too big-city snobbish here, but after living in the Washington D.C. area and having access to the best Japanese and sushi anywhere, I thought we’d be out of luck here in Iredell County. Sabi Asian Bistro off of the traffic circle on Griffith Street in Davidson does a good job at satisfying our sushi cravings. Not only is a great option for takeout, but with their large menu of traditional Asian fare, it’s a fun place to go our little guy. Here’s my sushi secret – make any roll better by adding fresh mango!
There you have it – a few ideas for some unique gifts and a great way to avoid the malls and support our local independent retailers and business community. Did I miss a great shop or gift idea? Let me know your favorite local business in the comments section below.