No matter what town you're in, you likely have a small business you support, whether it's the coffee shop on the corner you scurry into before work or the bookstore where a rainy Sunday morning turns into night. These are the places we feel most at home, places that have cultivated an environment of welcome and warmth. In celebration of that feeling, we've scoured every U.S. state and highlighted an exemplary small business that's serving its community with local love and unwavering hospitality, sometimes against difficult odds.
BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA: WAGS 'N WHISKERS
What you're getting: Anything and everything your dog could need, from baths and boarding to day care and rides.
Unlike a groomer or boarding house, Wags 'N Whiskers is a full service animal spa. You can drop your pet off daily, weekly, or monthly and choose from an array of services (nail trimming, haircut, bath, etc.). It'll even pick your pal up if you're within five miles.
JUNEAU, ALASKA: TRIPP'S MT. JUNEAU TRADING POST
What you're getting: Antique and unique Native American goods such as masks, jewelry, totems, bone carvings, and scrimshaws.
The "oldest Native trading post" in Southeast Alaska, Tripp's takes pride in its handcrafted goods. The owners are of the Tlingit Nation (native to Alaska) and have been close with local crafters for more than four generations. Every item it sells is hand-selected to ensure authenticity and true skill.
HOLBROOK, ARIZONA: THE WIGWAM MOTEL
What you're getting: A night or two in a kitschy wigwam surrounded by classic cars ($69 nightly).
About three hours northeast of Phoenix sits humble Holbrook, with its Wigwam Motel — 15 large wigwams (aka teepees) designed to sleep two to four people with bathrooms, heat, air conditioning, and cable. Open since 1950, it remains one of the most recognized attractions along Route 66.
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS: IZARD CHOCOLATE
What you're getting: The craft chocolate variety pack.
Only four years old, Izard Chocolate has made a name for itself in the Little Rock community. In fact, it's the first chocolate-making company in the city. Ultimately, its goal is establish/maintain a sustainable chocolate industry across the nation by making delicious and natural chocolate bars using only the finest fair-trade ingredients.
LOS ANGELES: HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES
What you're getting: Products that run the gamut of locally made bags and shirts, books, and baked goods.
Homeboy Industries gives previously incarcerated people a chance to re-enter the workforce. With social enterprises such as a coffee shop and bakery, Homeboy Industries shows what can happen when you bond a community "through transforming pain, not transferring it."
DENVER BICYCLE CAFE
What you're getting: Beer. Bikes. Coffee.
It's almost too easy: a store in Denver that specializes in bike servicing, craft coffee, and beer, the mile-high trifecta. And Denver Bicycle Cafe isn't a hack operation — the coffee and food comes from local purveyors, the beer is curated from Colorado breweries, and it'll do everything from change a tire to give a bike a full tuneup while you relax with your drink of choice.
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT: HARTFORD PRINTS!
What you're getting: Apparel, prints, gifts, custom letterpress.
Hartford Prints! was started by three sisters in 2011. They started by doing letterpress stationary but soon branched out to clothing, accessories, and posters. Now they're sourcing local art and retailers from around the community and using their space as the showroom (while still creating their famous custom cards).
DEWEY BEACH, DELAWARE: DEWEY BEACH SURF SHOP
What you're getting: Local apparel, surf lessons.
If you're in Delaware, hopefully you've made it over to Dewey Beach (one of the most fun coastal towns in the state) and can pop into Dewey Beach Surf Shop — a local hangout and purveyor of skateboards, surfboards, skimboards, and apparel. Should you find yourself wanting to take your stoke from store to sea, Dewey offers rental boards and lessons.
TAMPA, FLORIDA: MICROGROOVE
What you're getting: New/used vinyl records, vintage cassettes.
Microgroove sits in one of the most historic neighborhoods in Tampa Bay (and by a great pizza joint called Cappy's). The store, in a former auto shop, boasts an eclectic collection of new and vintage vinyl in a variety of genres, with featured records displayed on pedestals.
ATLANTA: REFUGE COFFEE
What you're getting: A cup of delicious coffee (or a donation!).
Refuge Coffee's goal is to help refugees build a life in the States. Refuge has a couple of trucks and a garage they operate out of, but hopes to expand into a bricks-and-mortar site in Clarkston and maintain its own roaster helmed by members of the immigrant community.
HONOLULU: ART + FLEA
What you're getting: Local eats, clothing, and handmade art from more than 60 vendors.
Art + Flea is an assemblage of people working with locals to put an "emphasis on connecting creativity with community" in the form of a huge market of vendors, food trucks, and live music. The market runs every second Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. with all ages welcome.
KETCHUM, IDAHO: THE GOLD MINE THRIFT STORE
What you're getting: Vintage jackets, antique home goods, maybe a book.
What started almost 60 years ago as a library has blossomed into one of Ketchum's best-kept secrets: a veritable treasure trove of secondhand items. The Gold Mine offers discounted prices on thrift shopping such as for cashmere sweaters, ski gear, and antiques, as well as a healthy amount of home goods and furniture.
CHICAGO: THE PUBLIC BARBER
What you're getting: An affordable and excellent haircut in a cozy, comfortable space.
Every cut from the pros at Public Barber runs $29, a low, predictable fare designed to bring people in the door and foster the sense of community that barber shops used to propagate. You'll also be able to (sometimes) catch in-store musical acts.
INDIANAPOLIS: THE SHOP
What you're getting: An awesome shirt for any Colts or Indy fan.
If you're in Indiana, the chances are high you know a Colts fan (or hey, an Indiana college sports fan). For a shirt they'll wear over and over again, hit up The Shop. All the shirts feature modern fits, modern (and vintage) logos, and are comfy as hell thanks to a 50/50 cotton/polyester blend.
DES MOINES, IOWA: RAYGUN
What you're getting: A mug, a beanie, a shirt, a table … whatever you get, just make sure it reflects how you feel.
Everything at Raygun is a bit off the wall and tongue-in-cheek. Take its line of shirts saying "Iowa: 75% vowels, 100% awesome," for instance. This humor stems from the owner, who quit school to sell shirts on the street in 2004. Four stores richer, Raygun's become the definitive brand for Iowa pride.
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS: 5B & CO. CANDLEMAKERS
What you're getting: Candles and candle “tube” samplers.
Candle shopping is actually incredibly tough. There are so many scents to pick from, and once you do, you're locked in for 50 to 100 hours of that specific smell. For something a bit more pleasing on the wallet and the nose, check out sets from KC candle pros 5B & Co. Right now, they offer over 144 individual scents to pick from, as well as gift tube samplers for $25.
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY: LAST GENUINE LEATHER CO.
What you're getting: Custom leather goods from wallets and belts to jackets and bags.
Maybe not the last leather shop you'll find in Kentucky, but worthy of being the last one you need to look for. Formed in 1975, Last Genuine Leather has been making quality goods (key loops, belts, jackets, bags, etc.) for more than 40 years. It's carrying brands managers love, but fear not, also still handcrafting accessories and clothing.
NEW ORLEANS: BYRDIE'S POTTERY
What you're getting: Community-made pottery goods, from charming mugs to clever pots.
This nonprofit ceramics studio opened in 2010 with classes for wheel throwing and hand building and a small shop in the front where members can sell what they make. Each month Byrdie's Pottery donates a portion its to local charities.
PORTLAND, MAINE: PORTLAND DRY GOODS
What you're getting: Some warm clothing to get you through winter, from people that know winter
Maine is a cold, wet place where the wind blows faster and the snow falls harder. So of course residents know how to dress for winter. Portland Dry Goods literally has you covered, with garments for men and women looking for Maine-made quality guaranteed to help you look good and keep teeth from chattering when you accidentally lock yourself out in February.
What you're getting: Original art, eccentric book, weirdness such as crying baby masks and old-fashioned gags such as two-headed nickels.
What kind of place is the American Visionary Art Museum? Well, it's owned and run by Uncle Fun — real name Ted Frankel — to host the work of self-taught artists with unique visions. Of course its gift shop, Sideshow, will be just as weird and wonderful.
What you're getting: Athletic wear whose proceeds benefit a great cause.
In 2012, after running marathons, the founders of Janji began to think critically about the lack of drinkable water in the world. They decided they'd create a sustainable business that would get people excited about running while helping developing countries to research and implement clean-water initiatives. Five percent of every sale goes into one of those initiatives.
DETROIT: OCELOT PRINT SHOP
What you're getting: A limited-edition, custom-made print for your room, or classes on how to make one yourself.
Ocelot, formed as a collaborative workspace for community member, specializes in all things print (T-shirts, cards, posters, etc.) and works with the community on large projects. The shop's prints and clothing come and go with featured artists.
MINNEAPOLIS: FORAGE MODERN WORKSHOP
What you're getting: Custom-made home goods from local artisans.
One of the coolest things about Forage is its local-artist showcases that mean chances to buy one-of-a-kind works (drawings, paintings, sculptures) directly from them. Not looking for art? Forage also has an extensive collection of modern, hard to find homewares that would look great in everything from a dorm to a mansion.
JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI: OFFBEAT
What you're getting: A unique toy, custom shirt, graphic novel or book.
A place that absolutely stands up to its name, OffBeat is an alt-culture store dealing in comic books, records, and designer toys. There's also an art gallery featuring the work of young artists from around the state.
ST. LOUIS: TED DREWES
What you're getting: A base of frozen custard, customized with whatever toppings you want.
Ted Drewes does frozen custard, but has still been called among the "World's Best Ice Cream." The seasonal shop has become an institution in St. Louis, serving up concretes, shakes, sundaes, floats, and ice cream sodas.
WHITEFISH, MONTANA: THE TREASURE OUTPOST
What you're getting: Mounds of legitimate dinosaur bones or fossils.
Or minerals, or jewelry, or insects. The Treasure Outpost is an actual rock shop that sells fossils worthy of science fiction. The products they offer are extremely rare — yet not that pricey — and will look great in a garden or aquarium.
OMAHA, NEBRASKA: BENSON SOAP MILL
What you're getting: Custom soaps, body washes, and bath bombs.
To make these products, two guys living just outside Omaha went around gathering up as many natural products as they could from restaurants, farms, and coffee shops and turning them into soaps. Thus Benson Soap Mill was born. (Vegan hand soaps and body washes are available.)
LAS VEGAS: MINT LOCKER
What you're getting: Your dry cleaning put safely in lockers so you can pick it up anytime.
Mint Locker is an easy answer to the question "When can I pick up my dry cleaning?" Anytime you want. You get the app, place an order (and dry cleaning in a locker), type in a code, and get notified when you can pick the order back up (with your locker number). Most orders are ready within one to two days; alterations and repairs are offered too.
KEENE, NEW HAMPSHIRE: PRIME ROAST
What you're getting: The Roaster's Choice subscription (or a cup of joe, if you're passing through).
Prime Roast started in 1993 and has only gained strength and followers. It serves primarily African, Latin American, and Indonesian/Pacific blends and bags of beans for purchase from all over the world. Inside the shop is ample seating, an ungodly amount of coffee to sort through, and extremely helpful and patient staffers to make sure you pick the perfect brew.
HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY: LITTLE CITY BOOKS
What you're getting: Books, dogs, and events in one of America's best indie bookstores.
Little City Books hasn't been around for that long (it opened in 2015), but what it lacks in age, it makes up for in passion. Not only does it carry the most sought books across all genres, but also hosts book readings, release parties, and other events, and will let you bring a pup in with you to browse titles.
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO: THE OCTOPUS AND THE FOX
What you're getting: Unique and whimsical handmade items, from pillows and shirts to embroidery and stuffed animals.
An eccentric store with an eccentric staff, The Octopus and the Fox is operated "by local artists, for local artists." This means it has a rotation of handmade gifts, art, and clothing with a special eye for only the most unique items, truly embodying local shopping.
NEW YORK: CATBIRD
What you're getting: One-of-a-kind, handcrafted jewelry made by locals in Brooklyn.
Catbird is one of the most well-known artisanal jewelry stores in New York City. The staff consists largely of craftswomen who often make jewelry in the store. They know their product and will help you find the perfect item. If you can't find it, they'll work with you to create what you're envisioning.
ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA: ASHEVILLE BEE CHARMER
What you're getting: Delicious, pure raw honey from a slew of North Carolina purveyors.
At Asheville Bee Charmer, they love bees — so much that they went around the state sourcing honey from local beekeepers to create the most delicious raw honeys on the East Coast. And because people always want more, they went ahead and created a hot honey, a chai-infused honey, and even honey-based skin products.
FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA: UNGLUED
What you're getting: Something from one of the 200 local artists, crafters, and DIYers who set up shop here.
Unglued has a bricks-and-mortar site in downtown Fargo loaded up with all sorts of tchotchkes, gifts, coffee, and cupcakes — and able to host adult craft parties (basically crafting with drinks). If you can't make it into Fargo, shop online (and read up on its adult summer camp).
CLEVELAND: CLE CLOTHING CO.
What you're getting: An actually awesome Cleveland shirt for your out-of-town friends.
A Cleveland icon, CLE has been making clothing in its hometown for around 10 years. What started as a passion project for two friends grew and garnered attention quickly from artisans all over town. Some 98 percent of CLE's products are made in the U.S., and the company now employs more than 50 Clevelanders.
OKLAHOMA CITY: SECOND CHANCE BOOKS & COMICS
What you're getting: Very into comic books … especially if you start talking to the staff.
The largest bookstore in Oklahoma City, Second Chance just so happens to be a comic book emporium as well. At any given moment, it has more than 250,000 books in stock, including new and used comics, graphic novels, manga, and a kid-friendly selection. If you can't find a book, it'll happily track it down for you and make sure you can continue your book learning.
PORTLAND, OREGON: MAAK LAB
What you're getting: High-end beauty products (for men and women) that are made using all natural ingredients.
It isn't easy to build an international brand of soaps and candles, but Maak Lab would make you believe otherwise. One of the founders had a minimal background in soap making, the other in design. After some tinkering, the business grew some legs and started to take off. It helped that the Pacific Northwest is rife with high-scent items such as cedar, peppermint, lavender, and fig (as well as distilleries where the duo could pick up juniper berries for soaps).
PITTSBURGH: KLAVON'S ICE CREAM PARLOR
What you're getting: Delicious ice cream treats and a taste of history that goes back nearly 100 years.
James and Mary Klavon's original ice cream parlor and apothecary opened in 1923. Though it closed in 1979, two decades later the shop was resurrected by their grandchildren, who restored classic features such as marble countertops, wooden phone booths, and bar stools fashioned to look like bottle caps. Now under new ownership, Klavon's sells paninis in addition to soda fountain floats and creative sundae styles such as pineapple upside-down cake. It's one of the oldest ice cream shops in America.
PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND: WHITE ELECTRIC
What you're getting: Delicious coffee, a bagel, and good vibes in an expansive, brightly lit space.
More than just a coffee shop, the 17-year-old White Electric will keep appetites in check with fresh bagels, muffins, a varied selection of doughnuts, and a slew of breakfast sandwiches (available on those aforementioned bagels). They've also collaborated with Revival Brewing on a coffee stout that uses their brew.
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: GOAT SHEEP COW
What you're getting: Gourmet cheese, charcuterie, and wine sourced from the best locales in the world.
Goat Sheep Cow began as a passion project between two best friends over a bottle of wine. Their space is small, but that's intentional: To the owners, a smaller space means more specified curation and attention to product. That includes a number of Italian and Spanish cheeses, as well as more than 200 wines.
SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA: RUSHMORE MOUNTAIN TAFFY SHOP
What you're getting: Thirty-seven flavors of fresh taffy, and another dozen flavors of sugarless taffy.
The Rushmore Mountain Taffy Shop has been in the Black Hills for generations — in Keystone, near Mount Rushmore — making its taffy fresh daily from generations-old recipes and entertaining visitors with its old-fashioned taffy-pulling machines.
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: EAST SIDE STORY
What you're getting: Exclusively local books by Nashville writers.
The first "all local" bookstore, East Side works to foster a community of aspiring writers as well as published authors who want to come together and share their stories. Said stories are often told the first and third Tuesday of every month at an event called "East Side Storytellin'."
AUSTIN, TEXAS: TEXAS HUMOR
What you're getting: Clothes, art, and stickers that help show off Texan pride.
Like most clothing companies, Texas Humor started small. This time, it was a husband and wife team who wanted to leave the worlds of advertising and marketing and start something of their own — something that could show their unwavering love of their home state of Texas. The products are typically satirical homages that show love in the form of shirts, hats, decals, and more.
LOGAN, UTAH: COX HONEYLAND
What you're getting: Raw honey in just about every form imaginable.
We had honey covered in the East with North Carolina's Asheville Bee Charmer; on the West, enter Cox Honeyland. The whole operation started about 100 years ago with beekeeping on small farm. Today, the operation spans three generations and doles out mounds of honey in its many forms — flavored, pure, as honey butter, honeycomb, beeswax products, and others.
BURLINGTON, VERMONT: PLEASANT RANCH
What you're getting: Handmade wood gifts, from Vermont-shaped bottle openers to fancy dog bowls.
Pleasant Ranch is run by Steve Hadeka, who specializes in small-batch one-offs that lean toward home decor, kitchenware, and barware. Aside from the products listed on his Etsy page, Steve takes custom orders for almost anything wooden and has no qualms engraving a product with messages, logos, or names.
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA: SHOCKOE ATELIER
What you're getting: Handcrafted denim jeans with a lifetime guarantee for free repairs.
Shopping for jeans is not easy. Shockoe Atelier understands. Should you get a pair of jeans you're not completely satisfied with, Shockoe offers hemming services as well as free repairs for the lifetime of the jeans (just pay shipping).
SEATTLE: EIGHTH GENERATION
What you're getting: Authentic wool blankets from a legit Native-owned company.
Founded in 2008 by Louie Gong of the Nooksack, Eighth Generation is the "first Native-owned company to ever produce wool blankets." It started way back when Gong would draw traditional Nooksack design on skating gear and sneakers. Gong decided to give blankets a go because he wanted to make something utilitarian that people would use daily, much like his ancestors.
MOUNT LOOKOUT, WEST VIRGINIA: GAULEY RIVER POTTERY
What you're getting: Handmade mugs, bowls, and other pottery with custom glaze coloring.
Every piece from Gauley River Pottery is hand-thrown on a wheel, meaning no two are exactly the same. Each piece is also microwave, dishwasher, and oven-safe, meaning as beautiful as they are, they're meant for everyday use. Check out the shop for beer mugs, plates, coffee mugs, tea pots, even chip 'n' dip platters.
MILWAUKEE: THE WAXWING
What you're getting: Custom necklaces, pins, and other accessories made by local artists.
Billed as a consignment shop, The Waxwing is more like a quirky boutique of new goods fashioned primarily out of reused and recycled materials. Patience is your friend here as you scour through bags, buttons, pins, leather goods, stationery, pillows, and postcards. It keeps prices affordable and updates stock continually.
JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING: MADE
What you're getting: Glass belt buckles, or a monthly pack of four artist-designed greeting cards.
Set in one of the most beautiful valleys in the world, Jackson Hole is a small yet bustling community of skiers, entrepreneurs, and cowboys — all of whom need clothing and accessories by artists from across Wyoming and the West. Made features a range of goods from shirts and hats to necklaces, patches, and bottle openers made from antlers. If you love the West, you'll have to get Made.