Finally, it’s officially time for the Christmas season to begin — not the day after Halloween or earlier, but the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday is not my thing, but if I were a shopper, Small Business Saturday would be the day for me. American Express began promoting this event in 2010 as a day to remember and recognize the local businesses that form the heart of our communities, and it’s been going strong ever since. 

Beat the crowds at the mall by visiting the many small businesses in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs this weekend. Start your day at a locally owned coffee shop like Crema. Then shop for a few hours and enjoy lunch at a locally owned restaurant like Café Pharr or Village Burger. If you’re worn out after Black Friday and Shop Local Saturday, plan a leisurely dinner out at Marlow’s or Vintage Pizzeria.

Try the shops below for unique gifts for friends and family. Eat at one or several of the restaurants on the list and consider a gift certificate from these establishments to tuck in a stocking or wrap in a box. Personally, I find popping into a small local business much less stressful than fighting the crowds at the mall, and I appreciate the friendly greetings I hear when I walk in the door.  Disclaimer:  I have not visited nor eaten at every establishment mentioned, but I’m working on it.

For unique gifts:

• Under the Pecan Tree — Accessories and home décor with a focus on wares from the South

• Enchanted Forest — Gifts, children’s clothing, Nora Fleming Servingware, Christmas decorations, soaps, and more

• Spruill Gallery & Gift Shop — Works of art and handcrafted gifts by local artists, including  ceramics, glass, jewelry, bath & body, and holiday ornament

• Nancy’s — Clothing & Jewelry

• Fragile — Dinnerware & fine gifts

• Belles Choses — Antiques, children’s clothes, linens,, pottery,  home decor, jewelry, ladies’ accessories, & books

• Lauderhills — Fine jewelry

• Camelot Jewelers — Fine and costume jewelry and gifts

• Gramma Bs — Gardening and home decor

For merchandise or gift certificates:

• The Springs Cinema & Tap House

• Robin Groomingdale’s — Dog treats, toys, collars, beds, and more

• Consigning Women — Clothing and accessories

• Southern Comforts Consignment — New and consigned furniture and home decor

• Zukerino Pastry Shop — Cakes and Greek pastries and cookies

For dining or gift certificates:

• East 48th Street Market 

• Dunwoody Restaurant Group

• Porter Brew & Que Brewery

• Vino Venue 

• Vintage Pizzeria

• Crema Espresso Gourmet

• Village Burger

• il Giallo Osteria & Bar 

• Mandolin Kitchen

While not strictly local, the Roswell Road location of Penzey’s Spices is the only one in Georgia. Find unique spice blends and themed gift boxes of spices. Think orange pepper instead of lemon pepper or a box of Caribbean spices. 

The same goes for Amy’s Hallmark at the Forum — not locally owned, but a shop with a local feel. They have a huge selection of cards, ornaments, jewelry, gift books and more.

I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and a successful start to the shopping season!

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