2020 has been rough on everybody, but small businesses will soon be facing a critical test of their ability to survive into the new year.

As the weather turns cold, local restaurants and bistros will lose their outdoor seating options, which has helped them keep their business going despite the COVID-19 safety restrictions. Meanwhile, small retail stores and boutiques may see less foot traffic through their doors as people increasingly stay home and shop online to avoid both contagion and the bad weather.

Indianapolis has always been a great place for local, independent businesses to thrive. Indy’s “Indie Gems” are very much a part of the city’s culture and attraction for many. With that in mind, we’re urging people to “buy local” as we head into the fall and the holiday gift-buying season.

Not sure where to start? Check out these local Indy favorites:

Silver in the City

Located on Massachusetts Avenue in Downtown Indianapolis and on W. Main Street in Carmel, Silver in the City is the “whatnot” store of your dreams. If you’re looking for unique gifts that the recipients will treasure, this is a great place to start. You can find a “Racing Possum” game to amuse your kids, intricate puzzles to while away the cold winter nights, artisan jewelry, snarky coffee cups — and more!

Arthur’s Music Store

If there’s a music lover in your life (or you’re looking to pick up a new skill), head over to Arthur’s Music Store on Shelby in Fountain Square. Family-owned since 1952, the store has a huge array of new and pre-owned instruments. You can also get gift cards for lessons, music sheets and more.

Black Sheep Gifts

Just a quick five miles away from downtown Indy, Black Sheep Gifts is the place to go when you’re short on ideas for gifts and want to find something adorable, kitschy and downright fun for a family member or friend. Run by an owner who describes herself as the certified “black sheep” of her family, this shop is a haven for like-minded souls with a great sense of humor and a little hippie in their hearts.

Sun King Brewery

Are you looking for something you can sip with your friends on the cold autumn nights? Head over to the Sun King Brewery in Downtown Indy to test some award-winning craft beers and spirits. Some of their seasonal favorites include Sour and Fruited and Flannel Mist, but don’t forget to also check out their premier white whiskey or rum. To make things easy, you can even submit your pick-up order online, which makes it a snap to grab a last-minute gift when you’re in a hurry.

Indy Artsy

A working pottery studio and gift shop, Indy Artsy is one of the best places to stop if you want to support local artisans and find unique, handmade items. You can find jewelry, bath products, clothing and (of course) pottery items that will enhance your home, make unique gifts and help you find something that you definitely won’t see in every big-box store out there.

The Cake Bake Shop

Everybody deserves to experience a little sweetness in their lives, and that’s not hard to do if you head over to The Cake Bake Shop in Broad Ripple Village or one of its other locations. You can experience the luxury of some high-end confections, including things like Raspberry Champagne Cake, French Cherry Lattice Pie and Turtle Cheesecake Bars. It’s no wonder to us that this bakery has even been featured on The Food Network, and you don’t want to miss out on their hauntingly-delicious fall treats.

Onatah General

Billed as the place for “consciously curated goods,” Onatah General is located in Fountain Square. This is the place to go if you need something to lift your spirits and brighten your day. You can find all kinds of ecologically sensitive housewares and gifts and plenty of self-care items that can help with your stress. It’s also a great place to look for plants, rugs, candles and other unique housewares that will lend a bohemian feel to any home.

Global Gifts

If you love the look of artisan-made items from around the world but want to be sure that your dollars are spent ethically, head over to Global Gifts on Massachusetts Ave. Everything you find in this locally-owned, nonprofit-run store is a fair-trade product, so you know that any money you spend will go to support fair wages for the artisans, gender equality and safe working conditions. Each purchase you make here will help disadvantaged artisans around the world earn a sustainable income, making this a great place to indulge a little without regret.

James Dant

Fellas, we didn’t forget you: If you’re looking for premium menswear in Indy, you can’t go wrong by heading over to James Dant. This isn’t the typical men’s shop that caters only to a formal suit-and-tie crowd. Whether you’re looking for great jeans and a t-shirt or beard balm and some cool pins for your bag or jacket, you can find it here, because this store is designed for men of all ages and aesthetics.

Many of these businesses are offering online ordering and curbside pickup for orders, to make things easier and safer on their customers. If you need any more encouragement to shop local this fall, just remember: Small businesses are a big part of any community’s charm and unique atmosphere. When you buy local, you help preserve the community you love.

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