We asked, you answered: What’s your favorite small business in Pennsylvania?

Domaci in Easton. (Photo: Courtesy of Domaci Facebook)

By Patrick Berkery

November 24, 2023

Neighborhood shopping districts in Pennsylvania’s big cities and small towns are a tremendous source of civic pride, with each area featuring a diverse array of local businesses. Ahead of Small Business Saturday, we asked our newsletter readers to tell us about their favorite local businesses.

Yes, it’s Black Friday, but we’re here today to talk about Small Business Saturday, which will be celebrated nationwide tomorrow to highlight the importance of shopping local and patronizing merchants in your community.

The impact that shopping locally has on a community is significant. According to a report earlier this year from NerdWallet, when you spend $100 at an independent neighborhood business it creates $68 in additional local economic activity, whereas spending $100 at a chain store generates only $43 worth of local impact. The report found that more than $9.3 billion would be directly returned to our economy if every US family spent just $10 a month at a local business.

Beyond the financial benefits, supporting the locally-owned businesses in your area can strengthen community bonds by creating opportunities for socialization and connection. Supporting these businesses also gives your neighbors a chance to monetize a craft, skill, or passion.

Neighborhood shopping districts in Pennsylvania’s big cities and small towns are a tremendous source of civic pride, with each area featuring a diverse array of local businesses. In a recent edition of our newsletter (which you can subscribe to here) we asked readers to tell us about their favorite local businesses. Here’s what your fellow Pennsylvanians had to say:

(Responses have been edited for length and clarity)

Eastern Pa.

The Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen in Lancaster. It’s a great shop with a wide variety of quality handmade items from Pennsylvania artists.”

-Donna L.

The Hilltop Flower Company in Kennett Square. Co-owners Amanda and Dannie are delightful.”

-Richard Rodgers

“I haven’t visited every merchant at the Belleville Market in Easton, but I absolutely love every shop I’ve been to. I have to give a special shout out to Domaci. They’re the reason I first started coming here. I discovered their great mix of unique furniture and housewares when they were in Bethlehem. I know where I’ll be on Small Business Saturday!”

-Tammy Z.

Ali’s Wagon is my favorite local business in Philadelphia. It’s a small housewares/gift/clothing/baby shop with a little something for everyone. The owner lives in the neighborhood and promotes other local businesses. This is the only real gift shop in our neighborhood and we so appreciate having this unique little jewel just a couple blocks away.”

-Kathy Black

“I LOVE the Speckled Sheep in Bird-in-Hand. They have a variety of delicious hand-dyed yarns that will please every crafter, and they have roving for spinners and looms for weavers. They offer classes and you can set up a lesson for a particular project at your convenience. The store is owned by a mom and her daughters. They are so very helpful and welcoming to all. A must visit!”

-Gloria Burgess

“I inherited my love of Carlino’s Market in Ardmore from my parents. Long before “gourmet” grocery stores were a thing, growing up in Havertown, this is where my mom and dad (and grandparents) went for “the good stuff,” as my Italian mom used to call it: Breads, pasta, sauces, etc. I live further out in Oxford, but luckily there’s a Carlino’s that’s only about 45 minutes away in West Chester. I try to make it there every chance I get.”

-Gregory Wright

“I live in Pittsburgh but the Pennsylvania General Store in Philly ships everywhere. They’re my go-to source for Pennsylvania-made snacks and chocolate. I ship their “care packages” with Tastykakes and Herr’s chips to friends everywhere in the country to show them how good we have it here!”

-Tommy Quigley

Kennett Copy and More in Kennett Square. I get art supplies there, and they are the friendliest gals that run the store. Very helpful finding what you need.”

-Kathy Kozak

Central Pa.

Bono’s Custom Leather in Ebensburg. He’s a self-taught leather craftsman, hand crafting leather items since 2016. High quality work. And he’s a super nice young guy!”

-Pam B.

“My love of Otto Bookstore in Williamsport was passed down from my older brother, who was an avid reader. It’s one of the country’s oldest bookstores and the selection and service is always amazing. Give me Otto over Amazon every day!”

-Grace Z.

“I almost don’t want to share my favorite record store in all of Central Pa. because it feels like a well-guarded secret, but I love the RecordSmith in Mechanicsburg so much I have to give them some love. I’m constantly amazed by their selection, and the prices are consistently lower than what you’d pay in Philly or Pittsburgh. I live 90 minutes away but I visit the shop at least once a month.”

-Chris Davidson

Earth Artisan and Outfitter in Carlisle is such a unique store. They have sustainable goods and gear for outdoor enthusiasts, but they also carry garden tools and beautiful art made by one of the owners. You really have to experience the shop to fully understand it. Once you do, you’ll understand why people love it so much.”

-Jenny W.

We asked, you answered: What’s your favorite small business in Pennsylvania?

Char Val Chocolates in New Bethlehem (Photo: Courtesy Char Val Chocolates Facebook)

Western Pa.

Eclectique is an incredible little store in Latrobe — a small business that supports other small businesses! The store is brimming with products from local vendors. You’ll find an eclectic mix of merchandise including handcrafted home decor, furniture, jewelry, clothing, soap, vintage, antiques, wine, and more.”

-Marion Higgins

“I have two local stores that are perfect for holiday shopping. Char Val Candies in New Bethlehem is a family-owned and operated chocolate store where everything is made by hand in house. They ship treats for you and the staff is always friendly and willing to help. This past summer they added ice cream to their business. If your snack tastes run more to the salty side then I highly recommend King Krunch in Brookville. This family business makes a variety of gourmet popcorn flavors, pretzel flavors, and more. They also ship.”

-Debra Boozer

Werner Books and Coffee is my favorite local store in Erie. Not only do they have a great selection of all the latest books, and the classics, but they really do a great job of stocking books from regional authors. I have learned so much about Northwest Pa. from picking up books at Werner.”

-Tom Hertig

“I’ve been in vintage shops throughout the state and no one has a selection like Vintage 416 in Pittsburgh. I found two wedding dresses for friends there! And the people who work in the shop are so cool and helpful.”

-Amanda D’Angelo

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