Small Business Shopping Guide - Your Sister

In the weeks leading up to Christmas we'll be sharing gift guides focusing on small businesses and organizations that we feel good about supporting.  We only recommend gifts and products that we would actually consider ourselves and hope that you find inspiration.  Please feel free to add other ideas in the comments section - there are so many great businesses out there and we would love to know about your favorites!

You know her better than anyone because you share the same crazy family.  She's allowed to call at any hour and you always trust her insightful advice.  She's seen you at your best and your worst and she still loves you anyway.  Here are some gift ideas for your sister.

Cute crocheted slippers from White Noise Maker travel well, get worn all the time and keep those winter feet toasty.  ($19)

The products and service at LuSa Organics are everything you'd exepect from a small, family owned business.  This Delight Gift Collection is just right for giving.  She'll get to sample some of LuSa's best sellers and you'll feel good about these little chemical free luxuries. ($24.75)

Jewelry is always a safe bet with my sisters.  These brass zulu shield earrings are fair trade and distributed by the good folks at serrv.org.  ($15)

Poppy towel by Madder Root ($18)

I remember joking with my sisters about how lame we thought my mom was for giving tea towels and house plants as gifts (they seemed so boring).  Now that we're all in homes of our own, we totally get it. 

Holiday succulent centerpiece by The Little Succulent Shoppe.  Wouldn't this be a great gift to send ahead of time to a sister who can't be with you for the holiday? ($25)

Tina Fey's new(ish) release is hysterical and unless your sister is obsessed with her (like me) she probably hasn't read it yet.  Shop here and support an independent bookstore.  ($15.99 for paperback)

A very new release that also guarantees laughs.  This one is so new that I haven't gotten my hands on it yet *wink, wink*.  You can find it at the same independent book shop. ($25)

Some other ideas to consider...

  • Planning girls' day out at her favorite small crafty supply shop
  • Buying a gift certificate at her local hair salon
  • Giving her a night out by arranging for a babysitter and sending her on a date with her husband
  • Giving her a night in with a basket full of home meade movie snacks and a DVD she's been meaning to check out
  • Pulling a classic family photo out of the archives and sizing and framing it for her wall
  • Or, if all else fails, do what my sister did for me last year.  Give her a beautiful card with some money inside and tell her that it's an Etsy gift card, to be used for her alone.  Sometimes this is the BEST gift ever. 
    I'd love to hear of any other suggestions that you might have...

    p.s.  The photo of my sisters and I was taken about 10 years ago on my parents' front porch.  My mom took the photo on our header in the exact same spot. 


The Office

While Dave and the rest of our staff are at the workshop cutting, stitching, and creating, my work (which hardly feels like work in comparison) usually takes place off site, wherever I can find a good comfy seat and an internet connection. 

The routine since September has been to drop my kids off (preschool and babysitter) at 9am and then choose a place to set up camp for the next few hours.  Sometimes I head to my in-laws' up the street, but more recently, I've been setting up shop in the dining hall at Wells College

It probably sounds like a strange place to go, but I have a history here.  It started with a year of classes post-graduation to earn a teaching certificate in 2002 and has since included 2 years of working in Student Life, and in the midst of all that, a wedding. 

So if you ever wonder what's inspiring my blog posts, you can imagine me sitting on an antique couch in the heart of this tiny college campus, sipping local coffee and surrounded by student artwork, young energy, and good memories. 

It's a great place to be.


Our New York

It's funny how when you're travelling and you tell someone that you're from New York they automatically assume that you mean New York City. Sure, there are A LOT of people in NYC, but there is also a lot of real estate north of the Tappan Zee Bridge.  We're a full 5 hours north of the City and it would take another 5 hours to reach the Canadian border, so we're truly smack dab in the middle of New York State. 

Our New York is small, rural and just the way we like it.  It's a place full of open fields, wooded lots, ample lake views and plenty of vineyards.  Our neighbors are the kinds of folks who share their surplus garden harvests and who bring our dogs home when they've been hanging around on their porches for too long.  It's a wonderful place to raise a family, to grow a business and to settle in. 

Thanks for visiting. 

p.s.  Read more about Dave and his sweet girls.

It's all About Comfort

(photo by Erin) 

After being on my feet all day, I couldn't wait to get home and kick my shoes off.  Now I don't have to worry about that  - I don't even realize I have them on.  
- A local patron describing the Aurora Shoe difference


Veterans' Day

When I'm having a rough day or find myself in a difficult situation, I often think about my grandparents.  They courted each other in the early 1940s and were married just after my grandfather was drafted and before he was sent to Normandy.  I think about the extreme hardship of living apart, not knowing if they would ever see or hold each other again, and the incredible amount of self sacrifice that they endured.  While I have never known the realities of military service, the small fraction that I am able to imagine is always enough to make my own troubles seem insignificant in comparison. 

Dave and Jane Myers with friends on their wedding day
August 21, 1943

Grandpa was eventually wounded in France and spent about a year recovering in various hospitals before being reunited with his wife.  Grandma always said that his wounds were what saved his life.  I really can not imagine...

Today and always, thank you.




We're several weeks beyond what I would consider to have been the peak of fall color here in the Finger Lakes region.  A trip to the woods this weekend made it clear that there is still plenty of color to be found.  As always, the photos hardly capture the reality, but they're the only way I know how to share this natural beauty.

There were no apple trees in sight, but this sweet little poem came to mind as we all enjoyed kicking the leaves and crunching around.


When the sun
Shines through the leaves of the apple-tree,
When the sun
Makes shadows of the leaves of the apple-tree,
Then I pass
On the grass
From one leaf to another,
From one leaf to its brother,
Tip-toe, tip-toe!
Here I go!

A. A. Milne


Meet the Neighbors - Dinosaur Dry Goods

We passionately support small business and handmade and local goods. As a visitor of our blog, we thought that you might feel the same way. In our Meet the Neighbors series we're featuring businesses and people who reflect our own values and whom we feel lucky to call neighbors and friends.

Today I'm excited to introduce you to a small business that I have known and loved since it appeared a few miles from my house.  I would come home from college and peruse the racks for simple and beautiful linen dresses and tops.  I'd usually find a few vintage treasures like aprons or handkerchiefs, and once a vintage white bedspread, which has become a favorite. 

  I stopped in to visit with Jackie at her shop, Dinosaur Dry Goods a couple of weeks ago when the weather was warm(ish) and the sun was shining.  Here are some photos from our visit along with our conversation about her eclectic work.

How did you get into retail?

I always had entrepreneurial aspirations that probably come from various family-run businesses that I was exposed to while growing up. When our kids were little, we shopped for second hand kids' clothes on the other side of Cayuga Lake. When one of the businesses was up for sale, I investigated buying it and moving it to King Ferry. The purchase didn't work out, but the wheels were in motion and I started Dinosaur Dry Goods in King Ferry as a gently-used clothing store. That was in 1999 and Ed was a stay-at-home dad, so he worked in the store with a baby napping in the back room.

Our business and the world of on-line commerce were growing up at the same time and the movement toward on-line sales was natural. Now 95% of our business is from our various e-commerce venues.  Our specialty is the locally headquartered, Flax by Jeanne Engelhart which has a loyal collectors around the world.

How did you come up with a name for your business?

I wanted a name that sounded friendly and would adapt well as the business grew and changed. Dry Goods seemed to encompass a wide range of products featuring textiles. The Dinosaur part worked for used goods because dinosaurs are always being recycled, reused...always making a comeback. And I love alliteration.

Your etsy shop has vintage stuff. Have you ever had something that you thought was amazing, but that didn't sell well?
Everything sells eventually. It is just a matter of the right buyer finding the right item at the right time. That is the downside of 7-day eBay auctions. If the right customers don't find you in that small window of time and bid against each other, you don't get those crazy-lucrative auction prices for your items.

How do you balance work with motherhood and all of the other competing interests in your life?

I try to do only things that I enjoy. I make my business my life and my fun. My family likes to roll their eyes at me when I suggest that work is fun, but I think deep down inside they are learning that a job doesn't have to be something you complain about and dread going to each day. It is all about choice. You can choose to be busy and unhappy, or you can choose to find balance and contentment.

Why do you think it is important to buy local?

I like to buy local so I don't have to pay the added transportation costs to the product and environment when something travels across the country. Local food is generally fresher. Buying from local businesses keeps the money in the neighborhood and I'd prefer my neighbors prosper before I see large corporate businesses prosper.

Do you have anything new or anything you'd like to share?

I went to a dinner for Wells College's new Center for Business and Entrepreneurship and was reminded of how perfect my liberal arts education prepared me for running a business. I am able to combine so many of my interests...economics, art history, sculpture, marketing, graphic design, computers as I manage my business

Thanks to Jackie for welcoming us into her business and her home.  I had no idea she was so multifaceted - there were crafty and creative surprises everywhere.  As you can imagine, I didn't walk away empty handed and indulged with a few new linen shirts and dresses.  
You can shop Dinosaur Dry Goods online here.  She's also got a vintage shop on Etsy and hosts regular Ebay auctions.   Local folks can contact Jackie to make an appointment. 

I like to keep up with Jackie on Twitter.  If you're there give her a shout @DDG (give me a shout too while you're at it: @AuroraShoeAlys).

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