gifts they might actually want

Support Small Businesses With These Gift Cards

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

With supply-chain and shipping issues almost a guarantee this year, making sure your gifts arrived on time (or at all) was harder than ever. Unfortunately, the problem has disproportionately affected small businesses. That’s where gift cards come in. Sure, they might seem like an easy, obvious choice, but they ensure that your recipient gets something, and they can pick said thing at their own pace. And now that we’re at the eleventh hour for shopping, a gift card may be your very best option. To help you find the right gift cards guaranteed to delight everyone you know, we pulled together 44 New York–based small businesses, many of which we have written about before.


DIOP makes clothes and accessories inspired by founder Matape Diop’s West African heritage. Most of the brand’s pieces are made using brightly colored Ankara fabric sourced from Nigeria. A $50 gift card could buy them a scarf from the brand (which we’ve written about before) or a patterned bucket hat.

From $25

Abacaxi makes vibrant clothing inspired by travel. During the early days of the pandemic, their masks were in heavy rotation among Strategist staff. There’s lots to buy from the brand, but if you can’t choose we recommend a gift card, which starts at $25.

From $25

For better basics there’s Paper Project, which makes socks, t-shirts and underwear out of sustainable, Japanese paper yarn.

Sandy Liang’s color blocked fleeces are a favorite of Strategist staffers (when she collaborated with Target, we made shopping plans weeks in advance). But the brand makes plenty of other pieces too — like ruffled dresses, sporty socks, and sturdy carryall totes — all of which would make great gifts.

From $100

Brother Vellies — maker of eye-catching shoes beloved by stylish people and ridiculously cozy socks — is a gifting destination. There’s a lot to choose from, but you don’t have to know what to pick: Consider a gift card from the brand, which start at $100.

Judi Rosen, which became famous for selling insanely flattering jeans in the early aughts, has turned into a well-curated hodgepodge of high-quality goods. The store now sells everything from the jeans that made her so popular to speckled ceramic bowls to a tie-dye T-shirt that Strategist editor Katy Schneider has had her eye on.

Neighborhood Spot started selling collaboration merch and artist prints in March 2020 to help support local NYC small businesses. A gift card can get you hoodies, tees, and other goods from businesses like La Bonbonnerie, Casa Magazines, and the Elizabeth Street Garden fund. You can also buy our own Reasons to Love NY print or tote bag, illustrated by Jeanne Verdoux.

The Black-owned vintage shop in the West Village is brimming with one-of-a-kind treasures, from colorful scarves and dressing gowns to shimmery dresses.

Photo: Front General

Although it carries a mix of new and vintage clothing, jewelry, and home goods, this Japanese-owned boutique is best known for ultrarare Levi’s denim from the ’60s, military-issue vintage clothing, and their own line of basic tees, socks, and sweats.

Both a lifestyle store and a café, Sincerely Tommy (a Black-owned business with two locations in Brooklyn) is the place to go for emerging designer clothing and the occasional wacky side table.

You’ll find linen bathrobes, hemp clogs, and nightgowns you can get away with wearing during the day at this Brooklyn Heights clothing and home-goods store.

Jewelry and Gifts

Crown Heights–based Marché Rue Dix is a little bit of everything — a café, a beauty store, a clothing shop, a nail salon. Naturally, their selection is just as eclectic. There’s perfume, oversized metal incense burners, and logoed t-shirts — all of which can be purchased in-store and online. Both digital and physical gift cards are available for purchase.

From $100

Nia Thomas is perhaps best known for their rings, which are crafted from semi-precious gemstones and can bring the wearer everything from peace to stability to eliminating bad vibes. The brand also makes ultra-cozy (and giftable) knitwear, that will keep your giftee warm year-round.

The Primary Essentials sells a mix of meticulously curated home goods ranging from paper moon lights to concrete planters to design-y sconces. It’s a favorite of Fort Pilates founder Ashley Richmond, who says its beauty section in particular is very, very good.

From $25

Brooklyn design staple Lichen sells everything from candles made in-house to bamboo room dividers — all of which would take your recipient’s space to the next level.

From $25

Crown Heights–based Park Deli is a cross between a skateboard shop, flower store, and curated boutique, with items sourced from both local and international artisans. It also happens to make pretty good merch. A gift card here can go a long way, with a pack of very giftable pink strawberry socks starting at $16. One note: The gift card is only for its online shop, so they’ll need to pick from the selection available on its website.

From $50

Coming of Age is known for its tote bags, which are often made from unexpected fabrics — like iridescent silk taffeta — and come in eye-catching patterns. It makes other giftable items too, like oversize checkered scrunchies and reversible bucket hats.

For your craftiest friend, a gift card to yarn studio String Thing Studio would be an ideal gift.

From $25

You’ve probably seen Bi-Rite stuff somewhere on Instagram, be it curved, cylindrical bookends or a sorbet-colored oval mirror. Everything is ridiculously giftable, and if your recipient is local to NYC, they can stop in at the brand’s Greenpoint location.

From $25

Whether you’re shopping for wedding bands, a necklace for your teenage niece, or a cute birthday card, Catbird has you covered.

Home to an impressive collection of Black vintage collectibles, including cigar boxes, political buttons, books, and magazines.

Peace & Riot stocks everything from ’90s hip-hop-themed playing cards to leather-wrapped flasks that feature a map of Brooklyn to a Frank Lloyd Wright puzzle that Strategist writer Jenna Milliner-Waddell owns. A gift card can get you all of these things, plus some tribal-print wrapping paper to complete the gift.

Lolo and Friends carries a wide assortment of artist-made gifts — from Mater soap and incense via Fredericks and Mae to Janie Korn candles to plates by Isabel Halley.

Just off of Union Square, this magical (and aptly named) bead store sells a range of sparkling semiprecious stones and other jewelry-making supplies.

An East Village institution, this tiny shop sells thousands of rubber stamps in the shape of fruits, animals, and alphabets. You can also have stamps custom made from your own designs or drawings.

Since 1971, Manhattan’s sprawling Asian American emporium has been the place to go for imported snacks, velvet Mary Janes, decorative teacups, and art openings.

Opened in 1999, Mexican folk-art boutique La Sirena sells ceramics, elaborately embroidered face masks, woven bags, and party decorations.


This Black-owned bookstore in Washington Heights has been operating for over 20 years. The shop sells its books online via oneKin and recently put together a “Consciousness Reading Book Guide” on Instagram.

With two locations in Brooklyn, Greenlight carries an extensive collection of picture books as well as art books, cookbooks, fiction, and nonfiction.

Pre-pandemic, Cobble Hill’s independent bookstore hosted book signings that regularly drew lines of people around the block. It continues to host community events with local authors (albeit digitally) and offers a monthly book subscription in addition to books and merch.

Beauty and Wellness

If your recipient is local to NYC, consider gifting them a services gift card from nontoxic nail studio Sundays, which has two locations in Manhattan. If they live elsewhere, the brand also has an in-house nail polish brand, so they can give themselves a manicure or pedicure at home.

Golde was opened with the intention of making the wellness space more accessible. Its most popular products include a make-your-own-matcha kit and a chlorophyll face mask.

Park Slope’s coolest place to shop (after the Food Coop, of course), Sounds carries independent brands and artisan-made body oils, serums, tea, incense, candles, and bath salts.


Strategist writer Lauren Ro says Norman & Jules is her go-to for kids’ birthday presents. The store sells a range of things, including high-quality wooden toys, organic cotton onesies, and minimal-looking kids’ furniture. While she admits things can get a bit pricey, the quality is there and most everything is responsibly made.

Also on the kids’ gifts front, contributing editor Jessica Silvester is a fan of Babesta, which she says sells edgy-yet-super-high-quality wares. It was a favorite, she says, even before she had children of her own, and it’s held up across time. “The stuff is pricey, but anything I’ve ever bought there — gifts for friends’ babies, a high chair for my son — has lasted endlessly,” she says.


From $25

Black-owned Bed-Stuy institution Bed-Vyne is a long-loved local favorite. The shop stocks a wide variety of spirits, wine, and beer and offers both pickup and local delivery.

Food and Restaurants

For the coffee fan, Nguyen Coffee Supply works directly with Vietnamese farmers to source their coffee beans, which are roasted in Brooklyn. A gift card will buy them bags of ground coffee and a phin filter, which is used to brew coffee the traditional Vietnamese way.

Noona’s makes ice cream with Asian-inspired flavors like mochi, taro, turmeric, and yuzu. It’s a favorite of author Jenny Han, who says the flavors are spot-on.

This Black-owned grocery store in Bed-Stuy stocks a range of foods — ranging from pints of Ben and Jerry’s to ready-made egusi soup. Gift cards start at $10 and go up to $100.

Established in 1938, this kosher lunch counter is one of the last remaining in NYC. A gift card will get you a loaf of their famous challah, a pile of latkes, or some merch.

This Bed-Stuy tea shop got a boost from Beyoncé this summer when the pop star included it on her list of Black-owned businesses. It offers individual tea tins or staff-curated gift boxes.

From $25

According to Strategist newsletter editor Mia Leimkuhler, Kopitiam’s food is as addictive as its superstrong Malaysian coffee (kopi) sweetened with condensed milk. Her favorites include morning glory sticky rice (it’s pale blue because of the morning glory flowers it’s cooked with) and nasi lemak, coconut rice with dried anchovies fried with sambal. It also sells coffee beans and gifts like tote bags and fleece-lined beanies.

From $25

Located on the border of Prospect Heights and Park Slope, Fausto is known for its pasta and extensive wine list. A gift card will get you one of its DIY pasta kits, a romantic takeout dinner for two, or a couple of very special bottles.

Part of the Diner, Marlow & Sons, Marlow Goods, Roman’s, and Achilles Heel family, this Williamsburg grocery specializes in grass-fed meats, prepared foods, and specialty sundry goods. It also sells tote bags and other gifts.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Support Small Businesses With These Gift Cards