Travel

Where to Shop on Small Business Saturday in Atlanta

Support your community with these local deals.

The Village Retail Holiday Market
The Village Retail Holiday Market
The Village Retail Holiday Market

While Thanksgiving typically gets the rep of being November’s marquee holiday, the end of this month is loaded with plenty of fun, mini-holidays as well. Of course, Black Friday arrives the day after Thanksgiving-even though it technically starts late Thursday evening-but there are also more mindful holidays that pop up over the following days, from Giving Tuesday to Choose Women Wednesday. One of those more conscious calls to shop is Small Business Saturday. Started by American Express in 2010, SBS has grown into an annual phenomenon in which patrons can redirect their sale-driven gazes from Black Friday to the amazing small businesses in their community. As usual, you can head straight to your favorite small businesses-or some from American Express’ Shop Small Map-to show your support, and this year, you can also support many of the city’s best artisans and entrepreneurs by heading to one of the many holiday pop-up markets scheduled for this weekend. Just in case you still need some help figuring out where exactly you should start, here are 10 different markets, shops, and experiences in Atlanta that you can check out in honor of Small Business Saturday.

The Village Retail Holiday Market

Old Fourth Ward
This fall and winter, The Village Retail-a curated, culture-forward shop at Ponce City Market supporting rising Black-owned businesses-is bringing back its ongoing holiday market. The opening day just so happens to be Small Business Saturday, and for its first stint of the holiday season, Village Retail will be hosting a maker’s market that will feature clothing, accessories, and other products made by Black creators. And on the off-chance that you can’t make it on Saturday, you can bring that Small Business Saturday energy into Sunday and shop the second day of Village’s holiday market.

Cake & Sip

Westend Village
One of the most consistently cool small business experiences in the city is Cheffany’s Cake & Sip. A tasty cake decorating class with a boozy twist, the Cake & Sip is perfect for anyone looking for an expressive arts experience, an opportunity to pop open a new bottle of wine, and a foolproof way to secure some delicious post-Thanksgiving dessert. There are still a handful of bookings available for Cheffany’s Cake & Sip, so if you want to spend Small Business Saturday in the sweetest and most creative way possible, this is the perfect experience for you.

Criminal Records

Little 5 Points
Atlanta is home to a wide variety of awesome record stores, and one of the most prominent ones is Criminal Records. The American Express Shop Small Merchant is a staple in the Little 5 Points Community, and this weekend, it’ll kick off the holidays with several highly anticipated Record Store Day Black Friday releases. While it’s highly recommended that you pull up to the local shop on Friday in order to have a shot at securing the really rare RSD releases, it’s also recommended that you go back for a visit on Small Business Saturday as well. After all, there’s no way that you’ll be able to thumb through all of Criminal Records’ crates with just one visit.

3 Parks Wine Shop
3 Parks Wine Shop
3 Parks Wine Shop

3 Parks Wine Shop

Grant Park
Another local business that’s featured on American Express’ Shop Small Map is 3 Parks Wine Shop. The Grant Park wine shop is the perfect place to go for all you wine needs and for all of the delicious wines-like orange wine-that you didn’t know that you needed. Every weekend, 3 Parks Wine offers Outdoor Weekend Wine Tasting Flights, and this holiday weekend is no different. For Small Business Saturday, head over to 3 Parks Wine Shop for one of the best wine tasting specials in Atlanta-just $15 for three half-glass wine pours-and make sure you grab a bottle or two before you leave.

Atlanta Indie Bookstore Crawl

Various Locations
Although it started much earlier this week on Monday, November 21, it’s not too late to get in on the fun of the Atlanta Indie Bookstore Crawl. Over the course of the week, local bookworms are encouraged to visit any of the 20 participating bookstores – including Brave + Kind, Bookish Atlanta, A Capella Books, The Listening Tree, Virginia Highland Books, The Story Shop, and several others. If you’re able to secure stamps and/or signatures from at least five different participating shops during the crawl, you’ll be rewarded with a coupon for 25% off a single purchase at one of the crawl stores during the month of December. The Atlanta Indie Bookstore Crawl wraps up on Small Business Saturday, but make sure that you don’t miss out on the The Georgia Center for the Book’s Bookstore Crawl Afterparty. The event will be held at the DeKalb County Public Library Decatur Branch on Saturday evening, and from 6 pm to 9pm, there will be bookstore swag for attendees and special prizes for crawlers who filled their passports up the most.

TuTu Tufting
TuTu Tufting
TuTu Tufting

TuTu Tufting

Doraville
If you follow any creators on social media, chances are you’ve seen one of those cool customized rugs that bring everything from your favorite cartoon character to your favorite Air Jordan model to life. Needless to say, those things – while certainly impressive – can also be pretty pricey. Luckily, that’s where TuTu Tufting comes in. The Am-Ex-certified small business combines custom rug shopping with hands-on crafting to give patrons all the tools and materials necessary for them to take home their own custom rug creation. Interestingly enough, TuTu Tufting also offers classes in which you can make your own custom BearBrick, too. This Small Business Saturday, TuTu will be open from noon to 8 pm, but make sure that you book your rug-making session in advance.

Sip & Shop Small

Old Fourth Ward
From Black Friday and Small Business Saturday to Cyber Monday and Choose Women Wednesday, a lot of people are going to be doing a lot of shopping over the next several days. And if you’ve ever been shopping for long stretches before, then you already know that it can really wear you out. That’s why you should hit up Sip & Shop Small this weekend – rather than wasting time, gas, and energy while traveling from store to store, you can simply go to Tiendita at El Ponce. This Small Business Saturday, Tiendita’s Sip & Shop Small event will take place from 5 pm to 9 pm, and during that time frame, visitors will be able to shop women- and Indigenous-owned brands at Tiendita’s fair trade store. Furthermore, complimentary drinks will be offered to all 21+ attendees.

Starlight Drive-In

Thomasville Heights
There are a lot of great movies in theaters right now, from The Woman King to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. If you have a film that you’ve been meaning to watch for a while now or if you want to rewatch one of this fall’s biggest blockbusters with your friends, you should definitely go to a small independent theater like the Starlight Drive-In this Saturday. Another American Express-approved small business, Starlight is not only an Atlanta classic, but one of the best movie deals in the entire city. For $10 per adult and $1 per kid, you can catch a double feature with your closest friends, your family, or pretty much whoever you can fit inside of your car. For another awesome alternative cinematic experience, make sure you check out Plaza Theatre, which is also an American Express-featured small business.

Piedmont Park Holiday Gift Market

Midtown
Throughout this guide, we’ve rattled off several local shops and experiences that you can support in honor of Small Business Saturday. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the sheer idea of trying to go to so many different places in one day, don’t even stress yourself out. For those of us who would rather chill at one general location and support several small businesses, there is another major holiday pop-up market being held this weekend. For the first time ever, in fact, the Piedmont Park Holiday Gift Market is taking over Midtown’s favorite outdoor hangout for a festive two-day open-air shopping experience. The market kicks off on Small Business Saturday and wraps up on Sunday, and attendees will be treated with hot cocoa and holiday music while shopping works from over 175 local artists and artisans.

Wylie Hotel
Wylie Hotel
Wylie Hotel

Wylie Hotel

Poncey-Highland
If you haven’t gotten anything else from our Small Business Saturday guide, just remember that supporting local small businesses doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, with small businesses like the Wylie Hotel, your support may result in some much-needed relaxation. Not only is Wylie Hotel another American Express-certified small business, but it’s also downright amazing. Nestled into Old Fourth Ward, the Wylie is a stunning and comfortable boutique hotel with modern decor. Plus, if you book a stay there this weekend, you’ll be supporting the Wylie Hotel right on time for Small Business Saturday, and you’ll also get a $50 dining credit per night as a part of the property’s Cyber Weekend Offer.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Joshua Robinson is an Atlanta-based contributor for Thrillist.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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