Welcome to December and cool dates like 12-3-21. In years past I’ve written holiday shopping guides to highlight how we can support POC owned businesses during the holidays. Last year I skipped writing that blog post since websites such as the Intentionalist and other POC shopping guides were abundant. Please continue to use the Intentionalist and consult other lists since each writer and shopper has their biases and will highlight different businesses. I decided to come back to this post since I want to highlight some websites and businesses and sometimes it is nice to get a curated list of recommendations. Many of these recommendations come from friends. All of them have been vetted by either me or someone I know.
We’ll start with an easy category BOOKS! Here are a few favorite POC owned bookstores:
Estelita’s Library, a Black owned organization in Seattle, has a Bookshop.org storefront. Estelita’s recently moved into their own space in the Central District in Seattle. Make sure to check out their social justice library and community space.
Duende District is a popup Latinx bookstore. They also have a Bookshop storefront which makes ordering even easier.
Parable in Tacoma is a community space and bookstore. I’ve linked to their Bookshop storefront.
Mahagony Books is a Black owned bookstore in the DC area. I’ve ordered many books from here for friends and for my annual birthday book drive to donate POC authored books and books about disabilities to public schools.
Birchbark Books in Minneapolis has an incredible selection of Native / Indigenous books. Owned by author Louise Erdrich, Ojibway, her Birchbark book series is a favorite read-aloud for older elementary age kids.
Fakequity has a Bookshop.org affiliate link; Bookshop gives a matching 10% to independent book stores. This has a collection of books I recommend. The proceeds are put into buying POC authored books and books about disabilities to donate to public schools.
Even with COVID giving the gift of experiences is a wonderful way to support POC businesses.
- Buy a gift certificate to a POC owned restaurant. Many restaurants are still hurting because of COVID, coupled with higher labor cost and the increase in food prices, they need our continued support. A few favorites in Seattle:
- Musang – This Filipino restaurant on Beacon Hill is delicious. Make sure to watch Chef Melissa Miranda’s recent TEDx talk too.
- Cakes of Paradise — no gift certificates, just gift an actual cake – so yummy
- Hill City Taphouse – This Asian locally owned taphouse and next to Emma’s BBQ which is Black owned and so delicious, Sam Choy’s Poke is across the street if you want some good Hawaii inspired grinz. Non-alcoholic options are on the menu too. One of the best root beers I ever had was drunk here.
- Métier Brewing Company is a Black owned brewery, one of the few POC brewers in the nation. Rodney, owner, is also a big biker so give some gift certificates to your favorite cyclist friends. They have non-alcoholic options on the menu for those who need sober options.
- Boona Boona Coffee is Black / Eritrean owned and a warm delightful place to get a warm drink in Renton or Seattle. Unsure if they offer gift cards, but you can order their coffee and swag online.
- POC Cultural Spaces and Museums – During COVID shutdowns many of cultural spaces and museums had to shut their doors or pivoted to less revenue generating online programs. Consider buying a membership as a gift for yourself or someone else to keep these cultural holders surviving during the COVID recovery. Some of these museums and spaces are opening back up with COVID precautions in place. Make sure you’re fully vaccinated and be extra kind to the staff if you visit. A few to consider in the Pacific Northwest:
- Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle — BONUS: Check out the Twilight Noodle Slurp December 3 and 17 2021 and the Dumpling Crawl event with the Wing Luke Museum happening Jan – March 2022.
- Hibulb Cultural Center (Native American – Tulalip)
- Please also support POC live arts and theatres.
- Gifts – There are many wonderful POC owned stores
- Retail Therapy – Afghan women owned with fun and whimsical gifts that make you sigh
- Sairen is an Asian women owned business in Japan Town of Seattle. I haven’t been here yet, but several friends said it is worth a visit for gifts. I can’t wait to stop by!
- For those in Northern climates socks make a perfect gift — Posie Turner socks is POC women owned and each sock has an upbeat message. For the Hawaii slippah wearing crowd we’ll have to find some POC spas to get our toes tuned up.
- For the wine drinkers in your life check out Wine Savoy. This Black owned business features Black and Native wineries.
- BT Tram makes AMAZING floral arrangements, Emerald City Flowers. I first met BT through nonprofit work. Recently she’s started a side business making gorgeous flower arrangements. Make sure to follow her social media for pictures that will make you want to treat yourself to flowers.
- For those who like to gift practical gifts my friend Brooke recommends Celsious laundry products from this Black sister owned business. I mean everyone needs to do laundry, right?
- 8th Generation in Seattle is a favorite stop to oogle over their Inspired Native arts and gifts.
- For the cooks, Thyme Well Spent spices from South Sound (PNW) make a delicious gift.
- Andaluz is always fun for gifts if you’re in the Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle.
If you’re on the hunt for a Christmas tree in Seattle, El Centro de la Raza’s Christmas tree lot is open. The trees are farmed from a local Latinx owned farm.
Give the Gift of Time and Stories
Holiday gifts do not need to be material. Consider doing a small or large volunteer job for a POC neighbor, read about how this organization in Portland is helping Black neighbors age in place.
Make donations to Black, Indigenous, POC, and immigrant led organizations.
With COVID still around the gift of time takes on different meanings. Take time to be in nature and slow down. Consider how we can be thoughtful with gift giving and creating less material and other waste. Take some time to listen to POC stories and share your own journey of learning about race. Connecting is always a meaningful gift.
Supporting small POC owned businesses and organizations is an important way to support economic justice for POCs. By shopping at POC owned businesses you’re investing in communities of color and their networks. Many times these businesses supporting other POC business owners and their immediate communities.
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I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice based relations.