The Leslieville Flea: It is either Buy Local or Bye Local this holiday shopping season

Handcrafted ornaments (note 2020 as a dumpster fire) are among holiday gifts suggested by The Leslieville Flea. Photo: Submitted.


The holidays are quickly approaching and with it comes the age-old question – what to buy for everyone on my list? This is made even more difficult this year with the pandemic.

Case numbers are rising and there is a lot of uncertainty. This year has been pretty crazy and many small businesses have taken a huge hit with so many people turning to online big box stores for shopping.

A great solution for all these problems is to support small, local businesses during the holidays.  Shopping local has never been more important. It’s either Buy Local or Bye Local.

You can shop in your neighbourhood at the small brick and mortar stores, or easily find small, local businesses who are selling online. This year most holiday events and markets are cancelled due to the pandemic, which may make it harder to find a one-stop place to shop at.

Many have shifted to an online/virtual market platform, and we at The Leslieville Flea are no different.

We moved to virtual markets in the spring when the lockdown happened and have decided, for the sake of public safety, to do the same this holiday season. If you are looking for an easy way to get gifts without masking up, hit the keyboard and get clicking!

Retail trends seem to be changing too. People are tired and overwhelmed, plans for the holidays are up in the air. Trying to find a gift that is unique and thoughtful will be the goal. Handcrafted, vintage, local gifts will be really appreciated. Shop consciously and make a difference to small businesses this season.

Here are some great ideas this year for gifts that are meaningful and thoughtful:

Scarves, mitts, hats – these items are always a seasonal favourite to receive, but this year make them even more special by selecting handmade options that are made by a local artisan

Blankets – many will be gathering outdoors as long as we can and a gorgeous, warm blanket is both thoughtful and practical. Brings new meaning to BYOB for any socially distanced gathering!

Donations – make a donation to a local charitable organization. There will be an even larger demand this year for gifts, much needed items, food and monetary donations. Donate in a loved one’s name and spread the joy and give the gift of giving.

Vintage and handcrafted décor – since we will be stuck at home for the next LONG while, brighten up someone’s space with a handcrafted item, original artwork or vintage home goods. Our homes are now functioning as offices, schools, gyms and so much more. Adding a handmade or vintage piece will make it feel more like home.

Candles – it’s dark at 5 p.m. these days so add some warmth and light by giving hand poured candles scented with quality essential oils. Pair it with a book from a local bookstore, a hand made card and holiday cookies for a cozy gift.

Jewelry is always a favourite gift to give and receive, but this year make sure you choose thoughtfully and handmade. Handmade jewelry means your gift will be one of a kind. Many artisans are also using recycled materials for a gift that is not only unique, but socially conscious.

Most spas are closed or limited in services, so make up a gift bag/basket of hand crafted soaps and bodycare to give someone the treat of a day of self care.

With more of us cooking at home, give the gift of specialty food items. Hot sauces, meal kits, spices, small batch preserves and jams, a cookbook along with a bottle of wine or locally brewed craft beer will be very appreciated. Wrap it in a locally made kitchen towel to complete the gift.

Add on a handcrafted ornament to any gift for a special touch that can be hung on a holiday tree year after year.

A gift of eco-conscious items is perfect for anyone. Items made with the earth in mind are both functional and thoughtful. Think beeswax food wraps, wood scubbers, reusable cutlery and more. If you are thinking of giving clothing this year, try to purchase locally made items and pieces that are made with less environmental impact.

Search up businesses that are owned by BIPOC and support these entrepreneurs and artisans while giving original and quality goods.

Gift certificates to local businesses, especially restaurants. Our local, independent eateries are really suffering this year so help them out – and score big points – by giving a gift certificate to a local spot.

You can find all of these, and more, at many local shops and at online markets such as The Leslieville Flea virtual Holiday Market happening on Instagram stories (@leslievilleflea) from Nov. 8 to Dec. 9. Also check out the Shop our Vendors Page on the website ( ) for a full listing of all the vendors participating.

Even if we can’t all gather like we are used to, we can still make this holiday season special for the people we are giving to and the craftspeople we are buying from. Make a difference by shopping small and local this season.

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