Saturday, December 9, 2023

Want to support local small businesses this holiday season? Here are four Milwaukee-area places to check out

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With technology, shopping has gotten easier. A person can order a gift on their phone while brushing their teeth.

But what about going to a store, browsing the shelves, and finding that perfect gift tucked away in a place most people miss? Or even if online shopping is your only way to find gifts during off hours, are there local places outside of the typical big retail websites that can take an order that supports local business leaders?

As shoppers enter the holiday season, some businesses are trying to offer gifts that can’t be found anywhere else.  While the Journal Sentinel highlights many small businesses throughout the year, here are some places worth checking out if you haven’t been there.

South Milwaukee Makers Market 

One of the newest places to find gifts is the South Milwaukee Makers Market. Located at 924 Milwaukee Ave., this space is filling up with local vendors that can customize gifts for that special person. 

Chuck Winn, owner of the space, said he’d “love for this space to cross-pollinate customers.” 

Sophia Barry, the leasing associate for the property, said the building is perfect for someone looking to move from an Etsy page to their own physical location.  

“We would like to curate it where the majority is locally handmade things,” she said. 

The market will be cashless, and customers can use Venmo so businesses can get as much profit as possible.  

Bronzeville Collective 

Located at the historic Bronzeville Arts and Culture District, at North Phillips Avenue and North Avenue, the Bronzeville Collective is a place for people to support minority makers.  

Items range from jewelry, books, beauty products, soaps and fashion. The anchor brands are FlyBlooms, a fashion and adornments company; Papyrus and Charms, a jewelry company; BeElegant, a designer bag and sketch book seller.  

Founded in 2016, the idea is to provide a space for Black and brown creators to gain some benefit for their work.  

“This is a springboard for other small-business owners to grow for themselves,” said Lilo Allen, co-founder of the collective. 

Allen created the space with Tiffany Miller and Tomira White.  

The Bronzeville Arts and Culture District received some major funding news when Gov. Tony Evers announced $5 million was going to the facility from American Rescue Plan Act funds.

La Revo Books 

Founded by sisters Barbara and Valeria Cerda, La Revo Books highlights the literature of Black, brown and indigenous authors.  

The store is online but cultivates a rich variety of children’s, young adult, memoir and historical books. And several books are bilingual or available only in Spanish.  

“(My sister and I) always ask ourselves what it would have been like to get our hands on these kinds of books at an early age,” Valeria said. “So our mission is to make our selection affordable, relevant and reflective of our community. ” 

La Revo Books was recently recognized by Milwaukee County for its community involvement.

Rooted MKE 

Former Milwaukee Public Schools teacher Ashley Marie Valentine opened Rooted MKE at 5312 W. Vliet St. 

One of the main purposes for the store is to give minority children a place to find books for themselves with characters that look like them. The space also doubles as a place for creative people to produce quality crafts, private tutoring and classes led by local artists.  

“My thought is that the books and maker activities are catalysts to bring families in to decompress,” Valentine said.   

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