Amid the worry of national supply chain issues, U.S. retail sales surged in October as people started their holiday shopping early. According to Reuters, retail sales jumped 1.7% last month, the largest gain since March, after rising 0.8% in September. Several of the top U.S. retailers hope that it’s a sign of a promising shopping season, one of the best in a while. 

Fueling the local economy by shopping with locally-owned small businesses and artists is just as important. More money is kept in the community helping grow these businesses and the local tax base. Non profits also get more money. Local businesses are more likely to donate to charities in the local community, spreading the wealth well beyond your purchase. 

Plus, you get something unique, often one-of-a-kind and there’s nothing like the personal experience of buying direct – without the fear of shipping delays. As organizers at Starving Artist Market CLT recently posted on Facebook, “The work of local artists is not sitting on cargo ships.” 

Also, consider a gift to one of the many LGBTQ nonprofits this year on Giving Tuesday. You can find a list of nonprofit organizations serving the LGBTQ community here in the Carolinas at qnotescarolinas.com/community-resources/, and Share Charlotte hosts the annual #GivingTuesdayCLT on November 30. For more information, visit sharecharlotte.org

For the 2021 Holiday Gift Guide, qnotes decided to highlight local artists and small business owners and the local community markets that support them this year. Instead of roaming around Target for that last gay nutcracker or scouring the web for that not-so-special gift that might not make it this year anyway, enjoy some open-air shopping with Fido, a local craft brew in one hand and live music in the background, while you mark those names off your gift list.  

Starving Artist Market CLT 

Starving Artist Market CLT at the Metropolitan in Charlotte on December 6, 2020 / Instagram

The popular year round market brings together local, handmade artists and small businesses at pop-ups across the Charlotte area. The group has several events coming up, including three “Small Business Saturday” pop-ups this weekend. Individual events feature from 20 to 70-plus vendors, a variety of food and drink options and local music. 

Locations, dates and times are all listed here. Get more details at starvingartistmarketclt.com.

According to organizers, some LGBTQ options include the following local businesses. 

Prickly Pair Aromas is a vegan plant-based, non-toxic, cruelty-free and eco-friendly fragrance company based in Charlotte. Tess Siler started the company with her wife in May. Realizing the market was flooded with candle companies, Siler took a different approach – making soy-based lotion candles. “My lotion candles are an amazing alternative to other candles that are heavily scented with chemicals,” says Siler, mentioning the benefits of using the warm wax as lotion as it melts. They specialize in candles and body scrubs. Siler announced several new labels in November including Citrus Sunshine (citron and promegranate), Red Oak Springs (oak and hidden springs), Café Mocha (coffee), Cashmere Woods (cashmere and oak), Warm Vanilla (vanilla), Bouqet (lilac), White Jasmine (white tea and jasmine), and Hippie (patchouli and tea tree). You can find Prickly Pair Aromas on Instagram and Facebook

Prickly Pair Aromas set up in Myrtle Beach on May 22, 2021 / Facebook

Kiki Earrings is owned by Kristopher Cox. The brand is based in NoDa and provides clay and gold boho jewelry to individual clients and boutiques across the United States. Originally from Asheville, Co says he started the brand “to give women confidence and joy.” Find more at kikiearrings.com

Polymer Clay Earrings by Kiki Earrings / Facebook

Bonitos Hats offers hand-painted hats for that special gift with any number of customizations. Their motto is “Why blend in, when you can stand out?” The company was launched in July by Jorge González after speaking with his cousin who was struggling economically due to the pandemic. “I remember vividly having a phone conversation with her and brainstorming on ideas to help her out,” says González. From that moment on, the two, González here in Charlotte and his cousin still in Mexico, started painting and crafting hats. Hand painted hats are very popular in Mexico where they have been crafted for generations. Bonitos Hats represent traditional folklore with big bright colors, birds, butterflies and flowers, but with a modern twist. The company has already sold 230 hats since launching and González hopes to be a gateway for Latinx artists as they grow. You can find Bonitos Hats on Facebook and Instagram

@treyklingensmith / Facebook

Black Friday Popup

November 26 from 12-5 p.m. 

D9 Brewing Uptown Charlotte

650 E. Stonewall St., Charlotte, N.C.

Small Business Saturday at the Cow

November 27, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Armored Cow Brewing Co.

8821 W Clay Blvd., Charlotte, N.C.

Small Business Saturday at Summit Seltzer

November 27, 12-6 p.m.

Summit Seltzer

2215 Thrift Road, Charlotte, N.C.

Small Business Saturday in Huntersville

November 27, 1-6 p.m.

Primal Brewery

16432 Old Statesville Road, Huntersville, N.C.

Metropolitan Market

December 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 

Metropolitan

1111 Metropolitan Ave., Charlotte, N.C.

Over 70 local artists and small businesses. 

Christmas at High Branch

December 10, 4-9 p.m.

Gibson Mill Market

305 McGill Ave. NW, Concord, N.C.

A Very Merry 26 Makers Market

December 11, 1-6 p.m.

Twenty-Six Acres Brewing Company

7285 Westwind Blvd, Concord, N.C.

Christmas at Belmont Market

December 11, 1-6 p.m.

Primal Brewery Belmont

52 Ervin St., Belmont, N.C.

Huntersville Market Days

December 11 and 18, 1-6 p.m.

Primary Brewery

16432 Old Statesville Road, Huntersville, N.C.

Christmas at Summit

December 18, 12-5 p.m.

Summit Seltzer

2215 Thrift Road, Charlotte, N.C.

Christmas at D9 LKN

December 18, 2-6 p.m.

D9 Brewing Co. 

11138 Treynorth, Cornelius, N.C. 

Maker’s Market CLT 

Maker’s Market CLT is another group that focuses on local crafters, bakers and artists in pop-ups around the city. They hold events every weekend. Over the past two months, Maker’s Market CLT donated a portion of vendor fees to Transcend Charlotte, a local service and advocacy organization for transgender and gender expansive people. According to organizers, one vendor dropped out when they heard about the fundraiser. “Instead of getting mad, we just donated an additional 25 percent,” said Lidia Werntz, who started Maker’s Market CLT. 

Locations, dates and times for Maker’s Market CLT are listed here. Get more details at makersmarketclt.com

Santa makes a stop at Maker’s Market CLT at Hattie’s Tap & Tavern on December 14, 2019 / Instagram

According to organizers, some LGBTQ options include the following local businesses. 

Twistd Moon Crafts was started by Taryn Pratt as a way to relieve anxiety during the start of the pandemic. Pratt is local to Charlotte and sees her work as a way to find intersections between the LGBTQ and spiritual community with “witchy home décor and accessories.” You can find Twistd Moon Crafts on Instagram

Yule wreath by Twistd Moon Crafts / Instagram

Oddball Critters as created by Anneliese Schaefer. A college student at UNC Greensboro, Schaefer started crocheting with her signature crocheted octopus. She launched her store in 2017 and makes a variety of handmade crochet sea critters, including the Pride Jellyfish. You can find Oddball Critters on Facebook, Etsy, and Instagram

Dreamy Octopi by Oddball Critters / Instagram

Tony Castro has been painting for about 20 years. After suffering from a concussion while in his freshman year at Tiffin University in Ohio, Castro’s style of painting changed from realism to abstract, with additional influences of the pop art movement. Original paintings from Photoburn Acrylics, Castro’s company, are manageable for any size home, and prints are available in three sizes. He plans to introduce original stickers and magnets into his range of goods for the holidays, and accepts commissions. You can find Photoburn Acrylics on Facebook and Instagram.

Painting by Castro, Photoburn Acrylics

Black Friday Pop Up Shop

November 26, 12-6 p.m.

Royal Bliss Brewing

7532 Royal Bliss Court, Denver, N.C. 

Maker’s Market CLT

November 26, 1-5 p.m.

Blue Blaze Brewing

528 S. Turner Ave., Charlotte, N.C. 

Holiday Maker’s Market 

December 5, 1-6 p.m.

Lake Normal Brewery

1753 Triangle Circle, Denver, N.C. 

Sunday Fun Days

December 5 and 19, 1-5 p.m.

D9 Brewing Upton

650 E. Stonewall St., Charlotte, N.C. 

Makers Market CLT

December 11, 1-5 p.m. 

Traust Brewing Company

128 S. Main Street, Mount Holly, N.C. 

Maker’s Market CLT Holiday Market

December 12, 12-4 p.m.

Middle James Brewing Company

400 N. Polk St., Pineville, N.C. 

Maker’s Market CLT Holiday Shop

December 19, 1-5 p.m.

Birdsong Brewing Co. 

1016 N. Davidson St., Charlotte, N.C. 

Other markets around the region include: 

OMB Weihnachstmarkt

The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery & Biergarten transforms into a German-style Christmas village with over 40 local vendors each weekend, traditional spiced wine or gluhwein, hot cocoa, food, fire pits and plenty of beer, including seasonal favorites. Events take place over four weekends from November 26 – December 19. 

Weekends through December 19, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery & Biergarten

4150 Yancy Rd, Charlotte, N.C. 

Cramerton Christmas Village

In addition to the city’s Holiday Bazaar on December 4, Cramerton Parks & Recreation is partnering with local Crowned Sparrow Craft Co. to create a market of local goods and handmade items from local artisans. The event takes place on the day of the town’s annual holiday parade and tree lighting, and promises a front row seat to the festivities along the downtown’s riverfront. 

December 2, 3-7 p.m. 

Cramerton Town Center

100 Center St., Cramerton, N.C.

Winter Market

Local vendors, snacks, hot chocolate, cider, bonfire, pony rides, mini photo sessions with Simply Sweet Stills ($40). For more information blackberryridgefarmnc.com

December 4, 12-6 p.m.

Blackberry Ridge Farm

14820 Beatties Ford Rd., Huntersville, N.C. 

Homemade Christmas Gift Extravaganza

Every years the Gastonia Farmers Market hosts a craft fair focusing on local artisans and crafters’ wares. 

December 4-5, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Gastonia Farmers Market

410 E. Long Ave., Gastonia, N.C. 

Mistletoe Market at Camp North End

Camp North End is hosting a Mistletoe Market on Saturdays in December leading up to Christmas. The expansive venue will transform into a winter wonderland with an outdoor market curated by VTGCLT. According to its website, guests can “fawn over a parade of dogs in sweaters, roast marshmallows by the fire, experience plenty of holiday photo moments, enjoy acoustic sets by local musicians, non on some seasonal food, and sip on a hot drink in a limited-edition enamel mug.” The event will feature 25 regional vintage and handmade vendors. For more information visit camp.nc/events/mistletoe-market/. 

December 4, 11 and 18, 4-8 p.m. 

Camp North End

300 Camp Rd, Charlotte, N.C. 

Christmas Market

Hosted by the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, this new event in “Christmas Town USA” will feature over 30 local artisans and crafters and food trucks. 

December 11, 12-5 p.m.

The Boathouse, 

115 Willow Dr., McAdenville, N.C. 

Mount Holly & The Makers

Hosted by Catalyst Mercantile, the event will feature over 20 local makers and small business, food trucks and holiday tunes. 

December 11, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Mount Holly Farmers Market

226 S. Main St., Mt. Holly, N.C. 

Riverbend Creamery Christmas Market

The event will host 20+ craft vendors, food trucks and photos with Santa. 

December 11, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Riverbend Creamery & Dairy Farm

4391 Ritchie Rd., Lincolnton, N.C. 

South Fork Christmas Market

Hosted by The Wandering Cup, South Fork Brew Project, A Little Bit of Art and District 8 Beer Company, this event features local small businesses in nearby Belmont. For more information, southforkmarketnc.com

December 11, 12-5 p.m.

South Fork Village Apartments

900 South Fork Village Dr., Belmont, N.C. 

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