Big rewards when you shop small

Visitors and holiday-goers are invited to explore and shop original drawings, paintings, prints, ceramics, tapestries, and more at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Creativity Explored.

In 2010, with the country edging its way out of The Great Recession, the first Shop Small® and Shop Small Saturday® was initiated the day after Black Friday, when Americans head to the mall in search of holiday gifts. The idea was to counter the mass exodus folks made to chain stores in search of great deals. This year’s event is Saturday, November 27.

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The initiative, now embraced by both merchants and consumers nationwide, encourages shoppers to patronize their local independent businesses. It might not seem like much, but every time you spend a dollar close to home, be it a cup of coffee or a gift for a special someone, you are reinvesting that hard-earned dollar back into your community. Besides keeping a business alive, shopping at your local store or business corridor keeps your friends and neighbors employed and tax dollars recirculating into city-funded programs like recreational centers, after-school sports, and libraries.

Cities across the Bay Area have become Shop Small Saturday® champions and have encouraged downtown corridors and commercial districts to actively participate by hosting pop-ups and makers markets. We’ve compiled some exciting and unique shopping experiences that are BARTable and easy to get to. Consider making a day of these shopping events and exploring the area to and from each BART station, as you are bound to pass by other businesses who might be offering special incentives on this day.

Check out the holiday market at Berkeley's Fourth Street Makers Row. Photo courtesy of Maker's Row.

Fourth Street Makers Row | North Berkeley

Berkeley’s Fourth Street shopping district has continued to evolve since it first took shape in the ‘80s. Today, it remains a bustling place to shop and dine. Artists and makers take over makeshift stalls in a nearby parking lot and display their wares for the holidays. RSVP here and you’ll receive “five dollars” in maker money to spend at any of the vendors. Take BART to the North Berkeley station and walk 25 minutes to 1901 Fourth St. On your way to or from BART, stop by some of the many shops on San Pablo Ave, or grab a snack at Casa Latina Bakery at 1805 San Pablo Ave to fuel your walk. Yum!

Creativity Explored Pop Up | Embarcadero

Some of San Francisco’s most coveted art comes from the non-profit Creativity Explored, an art center for the developmentally disabled. Though the artists display and sell their art through the organization’s website year-round, it’s great to also see the art in person. Original paintings, prints, and work in clay will be on display and for sale in one of the Ferry Building’s indoor pop-up spaces. They’ll also be selling gift-wrapping supplies like custom paper and greeting cards.  Look for Creativity Explored artists to be present, excited to engage with the public. Shop from 8am to 3pm. Take BART to the Embarcadero station and walk five minutes to 1 Ferry Building.

Black-Owned Marketplace | 12th St/Oakland City Center

Support black-owned businesses by shopping for gifts for yourself and others. Sponsored by Afro Soca Love, a movement supporting the African diaspora through arts and creativity, this pop-up event will be stocked with apparel from Tribe Supply Store, based in Atlanta, Ga., and other global and local black-owned brands. There will be good music and food, and it’s an outing for the entire family. The event starts at 11am. Register here. Take BART to 12th St/Oakland City Center and walk five minutes to 341 13th St.

The Modern Makers Festival in San Francisco runs from 10am-4pm. Photo courtesy of Union Square Business Improvement District.

Modern Makers Festival | Powell Street

Dear Handmade Life, a modern maker organization, hosts this holiday shopping event on the top floor of Westfield San Francisco Centre. Grab your holiday shopping list and make this your first stop. There will be DIY craft stations for kids and adults, so check those out as well. The pop-up runs from 10am-4pm and is free. Take BART to the Powell Street station and walk one minute to 865 Market St.

BIPOC Small Business Saturday | Civic Center/UN Plaza

Youth Advocates for Change, a San Francisco-based youth organization that encourages social change, hosts this holiday shopping event at District 6. The goal is to provide exposure to businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Many of these entrepreneurs were economically affected by Covid-19, and spending your dollar here helps not only those local businesses but also the young organizers of the event who gain practical experience. The entrance fee is $1 and runs from 12pm-6pm. Enjoy the afternoon at District 6, grab some food at one of the in-house food trucks and enjoy the day outside. Take BART to the Civic Center/UN Plaza station and walk 14 minutes to 428 11th St.

The ICA Concept Store will be held at Concept 47 from 11am-9pm. Photo courtesy of ICA.

ICA Concept Store | MacArthur

ICA helps to close the gender and racial wealth gap by providing resources, funding, and mentorship. Through workshops, loans, and training, businesses that partner with ICA gain traction and knowledge to compete in the startup space. Many well-known food makers like Renewal Mill, Don Bugato, 4505 Meats, and Oaktown Spice Shop benefited from ICA’s programs. The organization’s holiday shopping pop-up will be held at Concept 47. Check out the goodies and then head over to Temescal Alley for a drink or a meal. Free. Shop 11am-9pm. Take BART to the MacArthur station and walk 11 minutes to 4727 Telegraph Ave.

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Where are you shopping small? Let us know via social media, @SFBARTable #SFBARTable! Keep up with us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to see all of the best BARTable (virtual) events, places to eat (grab take out from) and have fun (outside) around the Bay. 

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