The weekend after Thanksgiving is the busiest time for U.S. retailers. While Black Friday doorbusters can be hard to pass up, the best gifts are often waiting on the shelves of small businesses.
In 2010, American Express and the U.S. Small Business Administration started Small Business Saturday as an alternative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The day is meant to encourage consumers to do their Christmas shopping at mom-and-pop stores. Every year, shoppers flock to local businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
There are many benefits to shopping small this holiday shopping season.
Of course, it’s a great way to support the local community. You’re also more likely to find one-of-a-kind gifts when you shop at family-owned stores instead of chains. Small Business Saturday also provides a calmer holiday shopping experience than the free-for-all that is Black Friday.
And if you’re spending Thanksgiving weekend in Orlando, then the day is a great chance to explore some of the coolest neighborhoods in Central Florida.
Where to Shop Small in Orlando this Holiday Season
Ready to shop ‘til you drop? Support small businesses by visiting one of these six Orlando neighborhoods.
1. Celebration Town Center
Celebration is an idyllic small town near Walt Disney World. Its quaint Market Street is full of fun gift shops.
Visit Market Street Gallery for Disney and Harry Potter gifts, Loungefly bags, and collectibles like Funko figurines. You can also pick up Christmas decorations to deck the halls of your own home. Dazzling is a cute boutique with bath products, Swarovski crystal jewelry, and coastal chic accessories. Next door, you’ll find GypsyMoon Market, which carries flavorful spices, oils, and vinegars, plus boho décor.
Stick around Celebration late enough to see the Lights on Jeater Bend. In 2021, USA Today readers voted the neighborhood-wide light display as the second-best in the country.
2. Audubon Park Garden District
Audubon Park, northeast of downtown Orlando, is full of charming midcentury homes and tropical landscaping. The area won a Great American Main Street Award in 2016, thanks to its eco-friendly practices and prosperous small businesses.
If you’re not sure what to get someone, start at East End Market.
On the first floor of this marketplace and food hall, you’ll find Freehand Goods. This boutique sells locally made toiletries, leatherwork, apparel, and stickers, all with a fun Floridian flair. You can also head upstairs to The Neighbors, a brightly colored bar and boutique. Enjoy a craft cocktail as you browse displays full of local art, teas, hot sauces, and ceramics.
On the other hand, if you know exactly what to get someone, check out Audubon Park’s specialty retailers.
Orlando Outfitters has great gifts for fly fishers. Palmer’s Garden & Goods has gear for the plant parent in your life. If you have a vinyl collector on your list, find fresh tunes for them at Park Ave CDs.
3. Ivanhoe Village
North of downtown Orlando you’ll find Ivanhoe Village, a scenic lakeside neighborhood.
The “Ivanhood” has long been known for its antique stores and specialty boutiques.
La Jetée carries artisan perfumes and colognes. Ski World sells gear and apparel for board sports. Rare Earth is an upscale New Age store with gemstones, crystals, and essential oils. You can find something for quilters and embroiderers at the Craft Table.
End Small Business Saturday at the House on Lang, a gift shop housed in a bungalow with a gorgeous back yard.
4. Downtown Orlando
If you’re all about city life, head downtown this Small Business Saturday.
Start at Discover Downtown, where you can buy locally made souvenirs and learn about nearby attractions.
In downtown Orlando, you can pick up a stylish new leash for your dog at Eola Pets or grab new kicks for your favorite sneakerhead at Status. If you like to make your Christmas presents, check out Artifact Candle Foundry, where you can pour your own soy candles.
Find gifts for environmentalists at Zero, which carries no-waste products like lotion bars.
End your shopping spree at the Falcon Bar, where you can buy local art while enjoying a craft beer.
5. Park Avenue
For an upscale shopping experience, stroll along Park Avenue in downtown Winter Park.
In this chic Orlando suburb, you’ll find independent jewelers like Jewelers on the Park and Orlando Watch Company.
If you’re putting together gift baskets, visit the Wine Room, where you can sample any wines before committing to them. Writer’s Block is an indie bookstore filled with new and classic titles. Gasp carries Instagrammable gifts for teens and young adults.
If you’re looking for a one-stop shop, visit Frank. This breezy boutique carries everything from home décor to stationery to fun gifts for kids.
While in Winter Park, visit the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum, which has a massive collection of Tiffany lamps. It also has a jam-packed museum shop with great gifts for art lovers.
6. Downtown Winter Garden
Winter Garden is a quaint western suburb on the shores of Lake Apopka. Its downtown district is full of early 20th-century buildings, many of which house thriving small businesses.
Driftwood Market is a must-visit if you’re looking for gifts for babies and toddlers. The store also carries fragrant candles and handmade soaps. Garden Music School sells instruments and music accessories. If your friends and family are into fitness, check out Tri & Run of West Orange.
Buy your loved ones sweet treats at David Ramirez Chocolates. You’ll find this artisan candy shop in Plant Street Market. While you’re there, treat yourself to a snack at one of Plant Street’s food vendors.
Rosen Centre: Your Small Business Saturday Home Base
Once you’ve finished your holiday shopping, take your bags back to your spacious guestroom at Rosen Centre.
Our hotel is in the heart of Orlando, a short drive from the city’s best shopping districts.
Wrap up Small Business Saturday with dinner or drinks at Sam & Bubbe’s or Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill. These on-site dining options are named after the grandparents of our founder and COO, Harris Rosen.
They were small business owners who imparted their entrepreneurial spirit onto their grandson, inspiring him to become Orlando’s largest independent hotelier.