Why you should be shopping locally this holiday season

Katie Becker from Tasty Good Toffee is a great example of a small, local business owner who cares about each and every one of her buyers and does everything she can to brighten their day.

While Lincoln, Nebraska is often known as a fly-over city surrounded by cornfields, it’s actually home to many amazing businesses, who all care about you. By buying locally for this year’s Christmas gifts, you’ll be able to experience the Lincoln community in every shopping experience.
When connecting with your community at a local level, people have stronger social ties and participate more in civic affairs. You also strengthen your local economy, with local retailers hiring local people, paying local taxes, and sourcing goods locally.
It’s true that local businesses can’t match the low prices of retail megaliths due to the cost of rent and just based on their average income as a whole. However, appreciating the art and love that the owner puts into their products makes up for it.
Katie Becker is the local business owner of Tasty Good Toffee (and is also an East Graduate!). She received her grandma’s toffee recipe in 2002 and began making it for family, friends, and coworkers. By 2013, she was encouraged to sell some at a local holiday craft fair, not believing that anyone would want to pay money for her treat, but they did. After some successful craft shows, Becker made this a regular hobby, until it eventually became a full-time business.
Becker told me about a meme that says, “When you shop local, a real live person does a happy dance!” And as a local business this holiday season, she says she’s been dancing all day.
“Supporting local businesses helps keep the local atmosphere fun, creative, unique and thriving,” Becker said. “When you spend your money locally, a bigger percentage of that money stays in the local economy.” You are showing that you care about your community, support your neighbors, and want to invest in something amazing.
Shopping locally also allows you to get something that is unique, handmade, and one of a kind. Encouraging your neighbors in exploring creating something that means to the world to them is an investment in them and your community. “If what they make/provide ends up also meaning the world to you,” Becker said, “I encourage you to tell them. I promise it will make their day!”
Wax Buffalo founder Alicia Reisinger opened her shop when her daughter was born with a cleft lip and palate, forcing her to pause and reflect on her life. In the process, she slowly found her love of candles again.
“It was a great way to center myself, re-align with my own spiritual journey, and make something safe and beautiful for my family,” Reisinger said.
Makers in Nebraska have so much heart and soul, and it shows in their craft. When you buy locally, you are bringing a piece of that love into your home.
“It’s pretty incredible to see how Nebraskans rally around local makers when they feel equally connected to the maker’s story,” Reisinger said. “Additionally, when these products and stories capture the attention of those from beyond our local community, they have the power to generate respect for the hard work, craftsmanship, and artistry that can be found here in Nebraska.”
Love, the Locals was founded in 2015 by four local women who just really, really loved supporting local makers, businesses, and musicians. While COVID-19 has made it more difficult to shop in-person at pop-up markets, Love, the Locals, like many other Lincoln businesses, has still found ways to feature local creators. A virtual market on their website (linked below) and pop-ups located at Wax Buffalo have continued to encourage shopping small this holiday season.
With local maker events like this that feature and empower small businesses, the Lincoln community has so many wonderful opportunities to discover and shop small on a much more accessible level than ever before.
As a small business herself, Katie Becker loves to support others, not only through her purchases, but also through networking, idea-sharing, and even mentorship. She loves talking with people who have a spark of an idea that excites them.
“There is space for everyone,” Becker says, “and if you love your business idea, there’s a great chance that someone out there will love buying it.”
As you wrap up (or start) buying gifts for your loved ones, take a look at the community around you, and think about how you can support the amazing places hidden right here in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Here’s a few of my personal favorite local businesses that you can shop at for family and friends this holiday season:
Wax Buffalo
Love, the Locals virtual market & pop-ups
Francie & Finch Bookshop
Moose’s Tooth
KD Designs Jewelry
Ruby Red Threads
Footloose & Fancy
Paper Kite
George + Maeve
Tasty Good Toffee
Licorice International
Maize Gourmet Popcorn & Ice Cream
The Mill Coffee & Tea