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Home to more than 22 million people from a cornucopia of backgrounds, Florida offers a basketful of opportunities to shop at locally owned businesses. Many of the small businesses in the Sunshine State are owned and operated by folks whose ethnic roots are Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Central American or South American.
So, why should Floridians shop at local retailers rather than national retailers?
For one thing, shopping locally supports local workers. One of the most interesting aspects of small businesses is that they still make up the vast majority of businesses in the U.S. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), 99.9 percent of American businesses are small businesses, employing nearly half (46.4 percent) of workers in the private sector. Additionally, a recent Bankrate survey found 61% of holiday shoppers plan to shop on Small Business Saturday.
In addition, locally-owned businesses often purchase goods and services from other locally-owned businesses. This further benefits an area’s economy. On top of that, shopping locally helps consumers celebrate the one-of-a-kind retailers in their area.
Here are 15 small businesses in Florida to consider as you’re wrapping up your holiday shopping.
1. Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Co.
Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Co. has been a mainstay in Winter Park for over 40 years, opening the doors to its cafe in 1980. Here, you’ll savor unique coffee flavors such as Santa’s White Christmas, Creamy Buttery Caramel, Southern Pecan and more.
New Smyrna Beach-based Woodroze specializes in premium, handcrafted wooden sunglasses made with hypoallergenic materials and without plastic. The mirrored lenses are shatterproof, anti-reflective, anti-scratch and antimicrobial. “We’re on a mission to build a company with a magnetism for good vibes over a thirst for profits,” says Woodroze.
3. ARTpool Gallery & Vintage Boutique
ARTpool Gallery & Vintage Boutique is the epitome of a Middle Eastern bazaar. Its quirky assortment of goods includes handcrafted jewelry, vintage clothing, vinyl records and antiques. The store’s website “welcomes anyone and everyone who believes in St. Pete’s creative culture.”
Orlando’s MacroBaby, which stocks more than 40,000 products from hundreds of brands, bills itself as the “Baby Store with a Heart.” The retailer boasts that its high-end products and one-on-one customer experience set it apart “from all other baby stores in the country.”
5. Bill Jackson’s
Bill Jackson’s in Pinellas Park is a wonderland for the outdoors enthusiast. Aside from equipment and gear for backpackers, campers, climbers, gun enthusiasts and other outdoor adventurers, the store features a 100,000-gallon indoor pool for diving lessons, a shooting range and a carpeted indoor slope for skiing lessons.
6. Happy Monkey
Located in Coral Springs, Happy Monkey sells “conscious toys for conscious kids.” The store prides itself on offering consciously-sourced wooden toys as well as infant and children’s brands that support safety, sustainability and mindfulness.
7. Mojo Books & Records
Mojo Books & Records promotes itself as Tampa’s largest independent book and record store. Inside, you can browse the vast collection of books and records while sipping your favorite beverages at the artisan coffee and tea bar. Mojo is “a part-time show venue, full-time coffee bar, and the best trade-and-sell book and vinyl store in Tampa Bay,” according to That’s So Tampa.
Jacksonville’s Cultivate offers eco-friendly and ethically-made products for your home, garden and children. Its vast selection of items includes plants, soil, seeds, gardening tools, home goods, kitchen supplies, body products, toys, books, games and clothing. Cultivate also hosts a variety of workshops.
9. Garnet & Gold
Tallahassee’s Garnet & Gold is the go-to shop for Florida State University fans. Seminole-branded merchandise available there includes tumblers, tailgate chairs, backpacks and an array of apparel. Founded in 1979, Garnet & Gold claims to be the only locally-owned retailer of Florida State merchandise left in the city.
10. Ilene’s Gator Store
We’d be doing a disservice to Floridians if we didn’t also highlight a store catering to University of Florida fans. Ilene’s Gator Store in Gainesville declares that it’s “where Gator passion meets Gator fashion.” Here, you can find Gator bags, socks, belts, hats, ties and a range of apparel for men, women and kids.
Don’t worry Hurricane fans, we’ve got you covered too. CanesWear bills itself as the only locally-owned retail store that sells Miami Hurricanes gear. Find Hurricanes shirts, hats, yard signs, lighting fixtures, footwear and more. While you’re at it, you can also pick up gear for all of your other favorite Miami sports teams.
12. Timeless Items of Interest & Illumination
This gallery in Fort Myers’ River District sells one-of-a-kind vintage steampunk lamps, jewelry, decor, gifts and other items. Founded by Steve Timack, “Timeless blends the rich brass and wood of nautical and Victorian with vibrant contemporary works of over 20 local artists.”
13. Happylicious by Betsy
Betsy Cohen’s West Palm Beach-based Happylicious aims to make your mouth happy. It whips up and sells cookie mixes, edible cookie dough and edible brownie mix in flavors such as Irish cream, boozy amaretto and chocolate chip. Cohen says her store was inspired by her lifelong love of desserts.
14. Verde Market
South Florida’s Verde Market goes green in a big way. Believing that there is more to sustainability than recycling alone, the market sells plant-based, organic and waste-free products in bulk. These include soaps, body lotions, shampoos, beauty products, coffees, teas and spices. “We only sell products that we believe in,” the owners say.
15. Rain Tree Mercantile
Rain Tree Mercantile claims it’s Melbourne’s most eclectic shop for locally produced gourmet foods and specialty gifts. Offerings include hot sauce, seasoning, wine and craft beer. You’ll also find various items like clothing, jewelry, quilts and more.
Source: Google Maps
The bottom line
The range of small businesses in Florida is as diverse as the state’s population. And many of these businesses — from Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Co. in Winter Park to Rain Tree Mercantile in Melbourne — benefited from the $17.9 billion in sales racked up during last year’s Small Business Saturday, sponsored by American Express.
Today, locally owned retailers in Florida and around the country depend on holiday spending to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and offset the continuing rise of e-commerce spawned by retail giants such as Amazon and Wayfair. Every dollar you spend at a local retailer supports friends, relatives and neighbors who work there. Plus, holiday shoppers who buy locally can take pride in giving gifts that often can’t be found at mega-retailers.