Supporting Local Businesses

Give Local Shops a Glance this Season

Lurissa DeJesus, Staff Writer

It is a cold December evening and you are getting some last minute shopping done. Once you step foot into Target or Walmart, you automatically get trampled by a group of eager, grouchy shoppers, and it ruins your plans of having an enjoyable evening. You try to grab a cart, but the last one available is covered with something sticky on its handle. You turn and walk out of the store, because you’ve had enough with multi-million dollar companies.

In anger, you drive away and see smaller plazas lining the road. You decide to take a look around, and find a variety of local businesses. As you walk inside each store, you find a calming holiday environment with friendly employees who want to help you find the perfect gifts for those on your list.

Even though local businesses provide more personal service, they tend to struggle more than the bigger box companies. When you support local businesses, you’re supporting owners in your community who have an interest in the economy of the Erie area.

Here are a few locations that would appreciate some last minute business this holiday and throughout the year.

Homey Décor

The first shop is Nest by Lollie, 3330 W. 26th St. Erie, PA 16506. Deb Dietrich, an employee at Nest, said currently the store is, ”Full of holiday decor and giftables which include baby items, items for your kitchen and items to decorate your entire home essentially.”

Shaefer Santos, an employee at Nest and local business owner of Hey Friends, describes the shopping experience as one of a kind. ”It is more of a personal experience. It’s a very personal approach to everything,” Santos said.

Dietrich added that the shopping experience they provide is different from a bigger box “(Customers) know that we are not pushy, we are not going to sell, just to sell you a product. We want you to have an item that you’re gonna love and cherish,” she said.Dietrich said the reason people should shop there is because Nest provides unique items that can’t be bought in other places. Top sellers include various types of candles, from candlesticks to jar candles, their holiday dishes, bottlebrush trees, reefs, and anything with Santa on it. The store is welcoming as it “provides services to help customers put together tablescapes, decorate a mantle or help find the perfect gift for whoever they are shopping for.” The store operates Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 6 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed on Sundays.

Fulfill Your Sweet Tooth
Around the corner from the Nest in the Village West Shopping Plaza is a business for those with a sweet tooth. The Lake Erie Candy Company was started by Missy Bertges and Greg Fornalczyk in March of 2019 and has something for anyone from chocolate to taffy. There are gummies, sweets, like Candy Blox, and unique tasting items like bacon salsa, sour pickles, and cricket lollipops. Customer Diane Pauli recommends getting their various types of candies, specifically the Beach Glass Candy and Mango Salt Water Taffy.

Though shoppers can get candy at any convenience store around, having a local one is important and inspirational as it shows people local businesses can thrive. Pauli thinks successful small business owners can encourage more people to start businesses around them.

The Lake Erie Candy Company is located at 3330 W. 26th St. and is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but they are closed on Sundays.

Fill Your Sleigh

December gift-giving is all about kids, but there are no local stores dedicated only to toys anymore. In Walmart and Target, there’s only a few toy aisles to choose from but when kids enter Inside the Jelly Jar, located in the Colony Plaza, 2644 W. 8th St., the whole store is dedicated to toys. The store has more than just dolls and bikes; it has educational toys to challenge brains and traditional toys. Everywhere you look, there’s something to catch any child’s eye.

Store employee Martha Spear said the store sells, ”educational toys, teacher supplies, and books.” The store also carries toddler clothing, specific toy brands like Playmobile, stuffed animals, and games. Spear suggested shopping there because, ”it’s supporting local and we have some very unique items that perhaps you can’t find anywhere else in Erie.” The store is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

These and more small stores around town are waiting to help you find the perfect present for anyone left on your list.