A Short Guide to Solidarity Purchasing
Discover these BESIDE retailers and support our local economies.
BESIDE would simply not exist without an invaluable network of North American independent retailers. Several of these local companies—which produce clothing, coffee, books, organic products, and hand-made objects—are keeping their operations running, whatever the cost, through online sales and local deliveries. We want to showcase these entrepreneurs, whose services are more vital than ever in these times of quarantine.
Please note: We will continue to update this guide throughout the pandemic to include more of our retailers choosing to move online. We will eventually convert it into a permanent database to encourage local purchases—a BESIDE-style business inventory. In the meantime, you can also check out our list of francophone retailers, which are just as inspiring.
— East Coast —
Where: Low, Outaouais, QC
The farm name, referencing the owners’ Swedish heritage, means “to love, cherish, and adore.” They produce maple syrup, maple butter, pasture-raised pork, and grass-fed beef. You can also find local products and home goods at their farm shop.
Where: Halifax, NS
Atlantic News opened its doors in 1973 as a family business. For more than four decades, customers have converged there to find magazines, books, newspapers, maps, and print-on-demand newspapers from around the world.
Where: Toronto, ON
Book City was founded in 1976 and is still family-operated. With four stores across Toronto, they pride themselves on being a neighbourhood bookstore. Stores are open, but you can also shop online; they offer free delivery in Toronto for orders over $100.
Canadian Centre for Architecture Bookstore
What: Museum bookstore
Where: Downtown Montréal, QC
The Canadian Centre for Architecture, founded in 1979, is a new form of cultural institution based upon the certainty that architecture is of public interest. While it is not possible to visit the main building at the moment, their online bookstore remains open. Printed and digital publications together make up the vast collection, focusing on modern architectural debates.
Drawn and Quarterly
What: Book publisher
Where: Montréal, QC
Montreal’s most famous independent bookstore and internationally renowned publisher of the world’s best cartoonists, Drawn & Quarterly has moved both its bookstores to an online shop for the duration of the quarantine. D&Q is also organizing virtual readings and book launches.
What: Laundromat and store
Where: Germantown, NY
The laundromat, open 24/7 and powered by solar and wind energy, features eco-friendly equipment, a clothing donation program, recycling and compost services, as well as a sustainable retail shop selling high-quality goods used in our daily lives. Currently offering curbside pickup and in-store shopping.
Where: New York City & Brooklyn, USA
Mcnally Jackson is a wonderful independent bookseller, bringing together books (check out the staff picks to browse its vast selection), independent magazines from around the world, literary events, a bustling café, and a print-on-demand press. They also run a sister store, Goods for the Study, which sells office supplies and stationary. During the pandemic, its (reduced) staff runs the online store, which offers discounts on shipping on orders over 50 USD.
What: Clothing store
Where: Toronto, ON, Canada
Since 2009, Muttonhead has been promoting slow design through North-American made products. In addition to its unisex clothing collection, the store sells home goods and accessories, all sourced through fair trade. During the pandemic, Muttonhead is working with a reduced team but is still filling online orders. To thank its community, everything in the store is currently 25% off.
Where: Kingston, ON
At Novel Idea, which opened in 1988, you can find books (fiction and non-fiction), calendars, journals, magazines, and literary periodicals. For those who don’t want to come into the store, curbside payment and pickup is available, as well as prepaid orders. Delivery is free in the Kingston area.
Surf the Greats
What: Store, community, and coffee shop
Where: Toronto, ON, Canada
Surf the Greats is a community that celebrates coldwater surfing, from coast to coast—and every river and lake in between. Based in Toronto, the company also operates a store with women’s, men’s, and youth clothing, surf gear and publications, and organizes community events, such as beach cleanups. During the pandemic, Surf the Greats is keeping its online store open. Its founder, Brazilian surfer Antonio Lennert, is also giving an online series of free daily mindfulness meditation sessions as well as free weekly tidal flow yoga classes.
The Made in Canada Store
What: Canadian-made products store
Where: Dundas, ON, Canada
The Made in Canada Store features Canadian-made art, design, and fashion products.. Operated by visual artist Alli Boddy and musician Andrew Dawson, the store focuses on nature-inspired, sustainable, and handmade products. When the two owners aren’t managing their business, they can be found chasing waves on the Great Lakes and spreading the word about the awesome things being made by Canadian artisans.
Where: Toronto, ON
Type Books is an independent bookstore catering to Toronto’s eager readers. They offer a “mystery bag” option: for a predetermined amount, the staff will select a stack of books corresponding to your preferences. Their three locations are currently open, but events are on hold. In the meantime they are hosting virtual book launches, readings, and discussions.
— Central North America —
Where: Winnipeg, MB
McNally Robinson is an independent bookseller that is family-oriented, committed to the values of community bookselling, and determined to present an alternative to corporate chain bookstores. During the pandemic, they are offering $5 shipping to anywhere in Canada, as well as many options for online shopping or curbside pickup.
— West Coast —
Where: Whistler, BC, Canada
This family-owned bookstore has everything from new Canadian fiction, Indigenous literature, children’s books, cookbooks, and guidemaps. They are currently offering free delivery as well as pick-up service for Whistler and Squamish residents.
Dog Eared Books
Where: San Francisco, CA, USA
Since 1992 Dog Eared Books has been supplying readers in the Bay Area with new, used, and remaindered books as well as cards, magazines, calendars, and blank notebooks. They describe themselves as a “general interest” store, meaning they have a little of everything, but they do specialize in offbeat, small press, and local literature. The store is open, but you can also fill out their online order form and either pick up your order in person or have it shipped for a small fee.
Elliott Bay Book Co
Where: Seattle, WA, USA
The Elliott Bay Book Company is an independently owned bookstore, which was founded by Walter Carr in 1973. Since then, the bookstore has expanded, adding event space for author readings as well as a bookstore café. Right now you can visit the knowledgeable staff, shop online, or schedule a curbside pickup.
What: Home goods shop
Where: San Francisco, CA, USA
Edith and Brian Heath began a small-scale pottery shop in 1948, which has evolved into the shop it is today. Now an American maker of home goods, Heath also has a concept space, Heath Newsstand, connected but separate from the main showrooms. It features a variety of publications, books, notecards, and flower bouquets. Most of their catalogue of magazines and books is available online.
Hennessey + Ingalls
Where: Los Angeles, USA
Hennessey + Ingalls is the largest art bookstore in the Western United States. The store offers a vast selection of books and magazines in visual art and art history, architecture, photography, interior design, graphic design, architecture, and landscaping. While their physical store is closed, they are still taking online orders and selling gift certificates to stay afloat.
Where: Victoria, BC
In 1963 Jim and Alice Munro (yes, the Nobel Laureate) set up shop in Victoria. Munro’s Books has been a staple of Victoria’s reading landscape for more than 50 years. Have a look at their website to find out details about online events. At the moment, the store is open, but you can also choose to order online and have your order shipped or pick it up at the store.
Where: Los Angeles, USA
Located near Griffith Park and its iconic observatory, Skylight Books serves an eclectic clientele, which includes local artists, musicians, writers, and scholars. The bookstore provides cutting-edge cultural content: literary fiction, books on music, art, film and theatre, and regional culture and history, graphic literature, children’s books, and books on political theory. Their online store is up and running.
Staff of Life Market
What: Natural food market
Where: Santa Cruz, CA, USA
Staff of Life is a natural food market specializing in farm-to-store products. It was opened 50 years ago to address the growing demand for organic produce and bulk shopping. The store is also home to a café and pastry shop.
Where: Bellingham, WA, USA
Since 1980 this community-based, independent bookstore and gift shop has been “building community one book at a time.” They carry new, used, and bargain books, sell ebooks, and offer digital audiobooks via Libro.fm. You can satisfy your literary cravings at the store or on their online shop.
***Please note that the businesses mentioned in this article are responsible for answering questions about their promos, which are subject to change.
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