In the midst of the excitement surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s easy to chase deals from big box retailers to score the most savings. But the most meaningful purchases often come from small businesses that are closer in touch with their customers.
Since 2010, the Saturday between the two mega deals days has been dubbed Small Business Saturday, an initiative launched by American Express in the middle of the recession to remind shoppers to look toward smaller stores for their holiday shopping needs.
“Small Business Saturday brings attention to brands that still remember and honor service and quality,” Andy Krantz, the CEO and co-founder of sustainable travel brand Paravel, says. “Small businesses are the most important engine of the American economy; they are the brands devoting themselves to providing the best possible quality and care at the best value for the customer.”
This year in particular, the unprecedented worries of getting that gift to its recipient on time may be an extra incentive to shop small. “With supply chain delays, unprecedented shipping volumes, and intense demand, a small business that truly knows and values each customer is going to be much more committed to satisfaction than a global mega-corporation,” he adds.
Below, we rounded up a few of our favorite small businesses to shop for travel gifts on this Small Business Saturday—and throughout the year.
Krantz and Indré Rockefeller were both avid travelers and environmentalists when they realized there weren’t any products they liked at the intersection of the two. So in 2016, they launched Paravel, an eco-friendly travel accessories company, best known for its monogrammable cabana totes and Aviator luggage. It also offers backpacks, belt bags, vanity cases, and packing cubes. (Product bundles are available for easy gifting.) And it’s all made from earth-friendly materials, with the company already upcycling 3.5 million plastic bottles, offsetting 8,150 tons of carbon dioxide, and planting more than 85,000 trees through the Eden Reforestation Projects.
“At Paravel, there is no such thing as an anonymous customer, and our dedicated team is able to be a human voice of calm amidst what is gearing up to be a very chaotic holiday season for shoppers,” Krantz says.
Every kind of traveler and adventurer will revel in the usability of Cadence’s trademark capsules to carry essentials from toothpaste and medication to vitamins and lotions in a spill-proof organized fashion. Each hexagon is magnetic, so they can attach to each other in a honeycomb shape, topped with either a written label or emoji-like icon. But the best thing about the refillable containers, created by Stephanie Hon, is that they’re made of recycled ocean-bound plastic—and are easily giftable, with bundles ranging from three to 12 containers.
An outdoor gear company named after one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Cotopaxi stands out for its bright color-block products that instantly bring a smile to shoppers’ faces, with everything from travel packs to apparel to accessories, including packing cubes and face masks. Better still, founder Davis Smith is working on tackling global poverty through the Cotopaxi Foundation, inspired by the inequality he lived through growing up in Latin America.
The very ethos of NxSTOP is encouraging interaction between cultures through travel while keeping sustainability and fair economic practices top of mind. The result is a slew of products made for gifting travelers, like the compact reusable water bottle, merino wool travel socks, organic cotton and cashmere blend beanies, and hoodie with a built-in mask. And now’s the time to shop, with free domestic shipping and 40 percent off sitewide for Black Friday.
Akeelah Kuraishi and Tim Minnick quit their advertising jobs in 2011 and went backpacking around the globe, living with a tribe in Laos and trekking through remote Borneo. They returned home with a newfound appreciation for the goodness of humans. Now parents, they created Little Global Citizens, boxes available via subscription (which are currently on sale for Black Friday) or as single orders, to teach kids that it’s a small world after all.
Bestow upon your favorite campers and outdoor-loving friends the gift of good sleep. Hest is of the belief that just because you’re out enjoying Mother Nature doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the comforts of your bed. So, they came up with memory foam camp mattresses and pillows to ensure sleeping under the stars is as cozy as sleeping under the covers back home.
Travelers can stay eco-conscious on the road—where it’s often hardest to avoid those drive-thru cutlery packets or coffee shop straws—with Final’s line of portable essentials that cut down on single-use products. The FinalSpork is a full-sized fork-spoon hybrid that folds up into a small container, while the Biggie Straw is a thick boba-sized straw that also packs back into its reusable case. They even have a line of FineWipe Kits with reusable cleaning wipes, including in a portable travel kit.
Evergoods is dedicated to making bags that work for both the outdoors and urban settings—especially useful for travelers with a short packing list. Its mountain collection is focused on fit—both how the items can be packed efficiently, as well as how they sit on the body when worn. The civic collection places an emphasis on compartments for laptops, notebooks, and water bottles—all the must-haves of a home office on the go. Both are durable and suitable enough to be used in either setting.
Business school pals Sarah Cusumano and Maria Harrington shared the common problem of endlessly fumbling through their purses for what they needed, so they created Truffle to help people on the go stay organized. From cases and pouches to totes and packing cubes, everything in the collection offers easy access to essentials. As part of its Black Friday sale, select products are up to 25 percent off.