Man Standing in a Pottery Store Browsing Goods

See how small businesses are a big win for Atlanta — and for shoppers

Small businesses are an economic powerhouse for communities, but they’re also the best way to shop.

On Nov. 25, Small Business Saturday will mark its 13th year, encouraging consumers to support independent retailers and “shop small” for products and services during holidays and throughout the year. In 2022, the event contributed $17.9 billion to local shops, restaurants, boutiques, and businesses throughout the U.S. 

The ripple effects of shopping locally can be tremendous for area small business owners, which are a growing and vital part of the Georgia economy. When it comes to entrepreneurship, the state continues to smash records. In 2022, there were approximately 274,000 new business formations, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. Among these enterprises, many are small business owners, which employ 1.7 employees in the state. In fact, 99.6% of the businesses in Georgia are small, according to the University of Georgia

While thinking through your holiday shopping needs, read on to learn how shopping small can make a big difference for entire communities in Atlanta. 

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.

Supporting local businesses helps communities, creators, and shoppers

“Supporting a small business keeps money in the local economy, lowers your carbon footprint, and allows for a much more customer-focused buying experience,” says Lynne Tanzer, small business owner and current interim executive director at the Atlanta Contemporary.  “Shopping small, local, or handmade sparks our imagination and creativity. People don’t buy things; they buy stories and experiences.” 

Tanzer has been a gift shop curator at the museum for over two years after gaining valuable experience and building relationships in the local arts community. During her tenure, she has prioritized showcasing pieces from local artists in the museum’s collection, allowing visitors to connect with the gift shop items on a more personal level. 

”If you purchase a mug at a big-box store, you’re buying a vessel for a beverage. If you buy a hand-thrown mug at the shop, made by a girl named Britni, decorated in a glaze that she developed at her art practice, you have an experience every time you use it,” she says.

With a steady influx of new residents and visitors, Atlanta has seen unprecedented opportunities for entrepreneurs to deliver their products to new audiences. Local business owners are capitalizing on the opportunity with a style that’s all ATL — and leads with the customer in mind.

“The entrepreneurs in Atlanta are unique because they aren’t afraid to take risks, are generous with their time, and genuinely care about their customers,” says Tanzer.

Older Man in a Bakery Preparing Loaves of Bread

How to support small businesses now and throughout the year

For those who want to contribute to the thriving small-business scene, there are plenty of ways to offer your support.

  • Find places near your home to frequent for gifts and everyday needs. Visit the directory of small businesses around you and find shops that you may frequent time and time again. While visiting a local bakery or record store is important, you may also find an automotive repair shop or family-owned restaurant that you may come to depend on. 
  • Leave a good review. Small businesses rely on their good reputations to help earn trust and gain visibility in the area. If you visit a local small business, leave a great review and be explicit about what you enjoyed — from stellar customer service to a favorite new product. 
  • Engage online. Social media is another critical marketplace for business owners. Likes, shares, and comments will elevate their digital profile and even introduce new customers.
  • Refer your friends. Even today, word-of-mouth references are one of the most effective ways to help small businesses. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers about a good experience when you have one. That kind of personal touch greatly influences where others decide to shop. 

Tazner agrees that every little bit counts. 

“No one does a community like Atlanta. Everyone is so supportive and welcoming,” says Tanzer. “When I started my PR company, 3 Magpies Creative, I was nervous I wouldn’t have enough work. My clients told their networks about my services, and my business flourished because of the direct marketing to the people who were my ideal clients.” 

“Most everyone I’ve encountered in Atlanta is making the things they wish existed in the world and finding like-minded people to share in their excitement,” says Tanzer. 

Subscribe to Localite to get more of what you love about where you live.

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.

Distraught person lying on their couch next to a table of holiday desserts and a Christmas tree

Dallas mental health experts give advice on getting through 5 holiday “stress traps”

You're not alone if the holidays are hard for you.

Holiday happiness. It’s the thing we’re supposed to be swimming in by now. But for many, the holidays are a minefield, from money woes to family drama.

“There are a lot of societal expectations and media imagery about being happy this time of year,” said Joel Baskin, M.D., staff psychiatrist at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital and associate professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “So, if you’re feeling stressed and miserable, add onto that the feeling that somehow you’re doing it wrong.”  

Spoiler alert: You’re not doing it wrong. It’s a challenging time of the year for a lot of people. The key may not be finding a way to totally avoid stress. Rather, it’s all about learning to navigate stress in a way that makes life feel manageable. Maybe even jolly. 

A candle lit in the center of a cozy room.

1. Overcommitment and overwhelm

The holidays often bring fun and festivities, but that isn’t always a positive. Routines may go out the window. Work hours and responsibilities can change or increase. Family time can further squeeze our energy or schedules. 

Healthy navigation of overcommitment and overwhelm takes a toolbox of strategies, said Cassandra Holt Kimbell, MSEd, LPC, NCC, owner and lead therapist at Dallas-based Freestyle Therapy LLC

“One tool is learning how to create a mental calm space through grounding exercises that use the five senses,” Holt Kimbell said. “This can get you back in your body, and your coworkers won’t even know what you’re doing.”

She offered examples like keeping a scent close by that has positive associations, spending time feeling the hot water during handwashing, and even sticking your head in the freezer for a few moments. 

Other important tools include creating a realistic schedule that not only accommodates commitments but also includes dedicated downtime. That could mean scheduling proper amounts of sleep and making time for some form of movement — walking is ideal for boosting overall well-being. It goes a long way toward balancing unavoidable stressors. 

2. Money

One of the almost universally experienced stress traps during the holidays is money. Namely, needing more of it. Inflation makes the situation more difficult this year. The average family is spending about $700 more each month on the same goods and services compared to two years ago, according to Moody’s Analytics. Yikes. 

But with preparation, financial awareness doesn’t have to become financial fear. The first step is an assessment of resources and a plan for the season. Budgeting advice is everywhere; one option we like is cash stuffing (also known as the envelope system). This allows you to physically portion out your monthly income into different spending categories and plan accordingly. The hashtag #cashstuffing on TikTok offers a plethora of instruction and entertainment. The key idea is to avoid debt. 

Just thinking about money can be upsetting for many people, Holt Kimbell said. She suggests breaking down negative beliefs and thoughts on paper. 

“You can make a list of them — what are the things that are bothering me?” she said. “Break it down and look for the core belief that’s underneath the fear.” 

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.

3. Family Relationship

Managing challenging family situations and relationships requires a thoughtful approach all year. During the holidays, when expectations and events often increase, there’s an added dimension. 

For some people, the challenge comes from loss, said Dr. Baskin. 

“Many people are dealing with recent losses and bereavement or the end of a relationship through divorce or a breakup,” he said. 

For others, historical or current family dysfunction creates holiday stress. When facing this kind of dynamic during the holidays, one word can make all the difference: boundaries. They are part of self-care and create clarity. 

For Holt Kimbell, boundaries establish limits on the time and emotional energy needed for any interaction. As the saying goes, “No is a complete sentence.” 

“We need to remember that people treat us how we teach them to,” Holt Kimbell said. “For example, some people are stressed because family won’t stop texting or they worry they’ll be mad about something, pick the time of day when you’ll be the calmest to deal with it.” 

Taking time to decompress is also essential. Go back to that schedule you created and make sure there’s time for self-reflection and activities you want to do. Additionally, don’t hesitate to seek free mental health services in Dallas to talk about your feelings and get support and perspective.

4. Overindulgence

During the holidays, overindulging in food and alcohol is a tempting stress trap — delightful in the moment, perhaps problematic in the long run. 

“You can look at overindulgence as a thermometer of your emotional state,” Holt Kimbell said. 

Now is the time to double down on self-care and coping skills. That’s because overindulgence may be a response to stress, loneliness, or other emotional challenges.

By paying attention to what’s bothering you, you can address the root causes rather than relying on excess consumption as a coping mechanism. That awareness shines a light on feelings and creates an opportunity to pause and consider the choices at hand. 

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.

A broken Christmas tree ornament.

5. Sadness and anxiety

Free-floating sadness and anxiety are common during the holidays, Dr. Baskin said. There are ways to manage stress so it doesn’t develop into a diagnosable condition. 

“This time of year, it’s easy to let go of things we do on a regular basis to maintain health, like going to the gym or going for a walk,” he said, noting that exercise is an evidence-based way to boost overall mood, promote everyday health, and help with quality sleep. 

Although adding more activities might seem counterintuitive, Holt Kimbell recommends looking through for volunteer opportunities. Doing something meaningful with like-minded people can offer a big mood boost. Meetup is also a great resource for other stress-reducers, like meditation classes, mindfulness groups, and sound healing, for example.

When is it time to get professional help? “If you’re experiencing problems that impair functioning — work, family, or emotional regulation — those are reasons to seek professional help,” Dr. Baskin said. “We all could potentially benefit from counseling, for example, to manage stress.” 

For those with sub-par or no health insurance, there are options. Some income levels will qualify for services through the North Texas Behavioral Health Authority. Veterans should also check their eligibility for the VA, said Dr. Baskin, who also serves as the assistant chief of psychiatry of the Primary Care–Mental Health Integration Team at the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“Over the last several years, there have been several large expansions of eligibility for care,” he said. “We want veterans to come see us.” 

Holt Kimbell offers several group options, including one planned for January, the “Let That Sh** Go” workshop. It can help decompress after the holidays with writing, yoga, and group therapy.

In the case of acute distress, there is now a National Suicide Crisis Line in the U.S., 9-8-8, which is available by text, too.

Boost your well-being with tips for making life a little better where you live. Subscribe to the Localite newsletter.

Couple Glamping Near a Lake in the Fall

5 ways to create the staycation of your dreams in and around Atlanta

Get the rest and relaxation you want right here in your own backyard.

Want a getaway without actually having to get away? If you’ve got some PTO to burn or simply want a long weekend to escape the grind, there are plenty of ways to simulate the vacation experience in and around Atlanta, from spa-days to road trips to idyllic areas nearby. During the holiday season or throughout year, toss your to-do list to the side and get out of your element while saving some time and money.

Find incredible nature nearby

If you feel like a dose of nature, Georgia offers an abundance of National Parks, nature reserves, trails and bodies of water to peruse. 

Take a trip to Vogel State Park, located at the base of the Blood Mountain, and travel through Neel Gap to Brasstown Bald—the highest point in the beautiful state of Georgia. If you’re looking for an impressive water feature, see a stunning 729-foot waterfall at Amicalola Falls State Park, where you can also enjoy a rustic cabin stay or luxe hotel resort, many with incredible scenic views. It’s even possible to sample something close-to-home in Sweetwater Creek National Park, offering miles of serene wilderness (and excellent fishing spots) just miles away from the city. 

In fact, you don’t even need to leave Atlanta—it’s known as the “city in the forest” for a reason, with trees providing a canopy throughout the greater metro area. Wildlife enthusiasts, grab your binoculars and visit Blue Heron Nature Preserve in North Buckhead, where three miles of distinct habitats are home to a stunning mix of creatures, from butterflies to turtles and, of course, the Great Blue Heron. Nestled in Atlanta’s Cascade Heights, the Cascade Springs Nature Conservancy features springs, waterfalls and 250-million-year-old rock formations. Constitution Lakes is a decidedly unique experience, thanks to the playful (or creepy, depending on your thoughts) Doll Head Trail, where found items, including abandoned doll parts, dot the scenery. 

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.

Relax at the spa or create an experience at home

Is your perfect idea of a vacation to pamper yourself? Jeju Sauna is a Korean bathhouse with various kinds of dry and wet saunas including rooms that utilize crystal, clay, charcoal and pink Himalayan Sea salt rooms, each offering their own healing purpose. Open 24/7, Jeju also has a restaurant and services such as massages, manicures and pedicures for an extra fee. 

If your perfect getaway isn’t getting away at all, why not try a full spa day at home? Visit the beehive to find handmade-in-Atlanta soap, candles, linen sprays and a bath bombs from North/South Soap Company, or find one-of-a-kind candles from A Bearden Project with scents like Rose Garden, Moroccan Cashmere and Nature Walk. You can also stop by Atlo at Lee + White in the West End—a refill station where you can embrace the low-waste lifestyle with natural home and body products like shampoos, conditioners, body oils and more. Many of the products are produced by local Atlantans. 

Take an easy road trip

If a pricey plane trip isn’t on your agenda, you can still travel a few hours out of the city to explore something new while not venturing too far. Helen, Georgia will transport you with scenic outdoor views and Bavarian-style architecture, where among the quaint buildings you’ll find beer crawls, candy and fudge shops and plenty of boutiques. If your tastes run a bit more gothic, try Savannah, Georgia with pristine parks and centuries-old live oaks that frame hip eateries, moody speakeasies and trendy shops. Or, visit any number of quaint centers close to Atlanta, like Marietta Square, where you’ll find a theater with films and live theater, a record shop, antique stores, boutiques, restaurants and farmers and artist markets to explore on weekends. 

Stay among the trees 

Take your glamping and camping up a notch by visiting one of the many spectacular rentals close to the city — with some that will quite literally elevate your overnight experience. A three-story treehouse retreat in Kennesaw is situated among the canopy and even offers a treasure-hunt so you can embrace your inner thrill seeker. For those seeking an adult summer camp experience, enjoy a treehouse in Suches featuring river-front views, an outdoor kitchen, private, spacious balconies and nearby trails to truly immerse yourself in nature. If “roughing it” isn’t in your vocabulary, there are plenty of options for upscale cabins that fuse hygge and modern amenities, like this gem in Tiger in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains — though you may feel like you’re in another country altogether. 

Stay and play right here in ATL

Atlanta is expansive, but you can cover more ground with a guided bike or scooter tour. Atlanta Street Art Tours is an excellent way to gain a new appreciation for the public art around the city, where you’ll hit notable murals while hearing details about the artists themselves and interesting details about the area. For those with a heart for history, Civil Bike Tours makes stops at Atlanta’s iconic civil rights locations. 

After you’re done touring the city, indulge in a stay at one of the many luxury and boutique hotels, from nationally acclaimed brands like the Ritz Carlton Atlanta, The St. Regis Atlanta, Waldorf Astoria Atlanta or the Four Seasons Atlanta to enjoy fine dining and plush amenities for a VIP experience. Or, if you’re looking for more Atlanta-specific stays, consider the Stonehurst Place, where “SoHo meets sweet tea” or The Kimpton Sylvan for beautiful views and a heavenly pool. 

Want to make the most out of everyday life in Atlanta? Subscribe to the Localite newsletter.

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.