By Faye Andris
Christmas lights line the streets, holiday music fills the air, and there is a slight chill in the air. It is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and time to get started on our holiday shopping.
The three Saturdays in December are some of the busiest shopping days of the year. It is always a great opportunity for small businesses to capture some of these shopping dollars and reach out to new customers.
Shoppers in the U.S. spend on average $900 per person on Christmas gifts, with the largest part of the holiday spending used for gifts for the family. This was up from $885 per person last year with the total spending at over one trillion dollars.
This year’s small businesses have been hit hard by shutdowns because of COVID. These are businesses that are owned and operated by our friends and neighbors. They are businesses who support our fundraisers and community activities. This holiday season let’s keep those businesses in mind when we are doing our Christmas shopping. They are very deserving of our support.
Stop in and visit with some of our small businesses like The Olive Bin who features the largest, freshest selection of single varietal extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar on tap in the Bloomington-Normal area. Looking for that unique gift idea? The Olive Bin offers in addition to premium olive oil and balsamic vinegar their own variety of pastas, olives, seasonings, handmade soap, lotions, and so much more.
Another small business in our area is Funk’s Grove Beef. Their beef is grass fed, grain fed, and pasture raised and it is absolutely delicious. Take the stress out of your holiday shopping this year. It is a perfect gift for family and friends. Gift certificates are available.
For another small business shopping experience, head over to OhmFit Activewear in a new location this year at 1520 East College Avenue. OhmFit Activewear is a boutique selling fitness and lifestyle clothing for women of all ages and fitness interests. They represent brands that are fresh and fun and so very comfortable. OhmFit Activewear is also a great place to shop for masks and refresher sprays in this time of COVID. They also carry fun items such as purses, gym bags, scarves, mugs and so much more. You are sure to find the perfect gift for all the ladies on your shopping list. You will love this beautiful shop and the warm friendly service.
Let us move on to a food shop here in Bloomington Normal. One of our favorite businesses is Carl’s Ice Cream. They were and still are the only ice cream store in Bloomington Normal that makes its own premium ice cream. They have locations at 601 West Locust Street and 1500 West College Avenue. The College Avenue location is open year around and has spacious indoor and outdoor seating. They offer a full food menu. They also provide a drive-up window year around for your convenience. Gift certificates are available and make great Christmas gifts. Be sure to check out the great coupon they are offering in this issue of the magazine. What a great stocking stuffer! Visit Carl’s Ice Cream Shop this holiday season and enjoy some of the best burgers and the best ice cream in town.
Head on over to another small business, Ropp Jersey Cheese. They are owned by a family of 6 generations of McLean County dairy farmers. The facility produces Cheese Curds as well as Artisan Cheddar, Colby, and other cheeses. The shop offers other local food such as ground beef, steaks, local honey, candy, ice cream and more. A great shop to visit. Gift Cards are available as well as online shopping.
Lasting memories have always been made with toys. This year will be no different. Stop by The School Shop located at 1224 Towanda Avenue in Bloomington. Established over twenty years ago, The School Shop is your go to place for home resources, art, crafts, books, and toys. It is a place where you will find unique educational toys, games, and puzzles that you don’t find in most stores. Looking for that special gift for someone on your shopping list? You are sure to find that perfect gift at The School Shop.
There are so many wonderful small businesses in Bloomington-Normal and surrounding communities. I have just given you a few examples. Let’s support our small businesses this holiday season and remember how these businesses help impact our communities. Let us show them our appreciation by shopping their businesses all year long.
For additional informative and inspirational articles visit 50 Plus News and Views Bloomington/Normal online edition today.