Here’s where it’s at, folks: Avoiding the big-box retailers and patronizing small businesses for holiday gift-giving. You won’t find door-busters or Cyber Monday deals, but you’ll sleep better knowing that you’ve positively contributed to a better kind of economy.

We love doing business with local retailers, and since our address of record is the Internet, we consider these startups part of that group.

Here are our favorite places online to find one-of-a-kind gifts, all while making sure our small and medium-size business communities can really flourish.


For: The would-be maker/engineer

Price range: $8 for a power module to $199 for a deluxe starter kit


These electronics kits make a fun game out of circuitry and LEDs. They’re great for kids with a penchant for tinkering or anyone who’s young at heart and aspires to be a hands-on maker. We especially like the new Synth Kit for the wanna-be DJ.

Best Made Co.

For: The rugged, no-nonsense, outdoorsy type: Ron Swanson

Price range: $6 for a felt patch to several hundred dollars for axes

You do not need an ax. Repeat after me: “I do not — Do. Not. — need an ax.”

Once you’ve got that through your head, Best Made Co. is the perfect shop to grab understated, high-quality pieces for the camper, cabin-owner, hiker, or miner in your life. Prices can be a bit steep, but these products are built to last a lifetime.


For: The perennial primper

Price range: $10 per month for a box of samples, $10-$100+ for full-size products


With options for both femme and butch types, this subscription service delivers the goods in terms of personal grooming and lifestyle samples. We’ve gotten lotions and potions, cufflinks and city guides, pocket squares and perfume, shaving butter and lipsticks.


For: The pet-obsessed

Price range: $29 per month or $19 per month with a 6-month commitment

barkbox 2

Pet parents will squeal over this subscription. Each box will come packed with edible (and healthy/natural) treats, innovative toys, and grooming and health products. Just brace yourself for a monthly unboxing video on Facebook.


For: The etiquette fiend who’s always throwing dinner parties

Price range: Less than $50 to more than $500, depending on what and how much you’re buying

Some of the art for children that Minted offers can be customized with the name of your child

Luxe cardstock, gorgeous design — what’s not to love about Minted? This stationery store is a step up from Shutterfly (and about 10 steps above Hallmark), with a community of thousands of designers of all kinds. Modern, handcrafted, photo-customizable — you’ll find it all here.


For: Just about anybody

Price range: A few dollars to a few thousand

Cross-stitched Pac-Man ghost hair clips

If you’re buying from individual artisans (read: not mass resellers in China), you can find truly unique, vintage, and handmade items for just about anyone on your gift list. Etsy sellers trend rustic and quirky, and products range from tea towels to fine jewelry and everything between and beyond.

American Giant

For: The startup person in your life

Price range: $20 for a tank to $90 for a heavyweight sweatshirt

To you and me, a hoodie is just a hoodie. But in Startuplandia, a hoodie is part of the code of conduct and daily uniform. For years, this sacred symbol has been monopolized by the dark gray American Apparel classic. But the newer, more expensive, more “artisanal” hoodie has emerged. Let the hoodie fetish renew its reign!

Good Eggs

For: The foodie who’s also a home cook

Price range: A $1 persimmon to a $150 heritage turkey


The delicious, handmade, and organic food from Good Eggs comes from a range of local farmers, chefs, and other legit artisans. It’s surprisingly affordable and hella convenient, with pickup and delivery options. Plus, you can order their premade or mostly made items, such as tamales or pizza dough and sauce, for when you need to impress someone but don’t want to actually make any effort. Good Eggs is on your side! For gifts, you could send a wonderful load of fresh fruit, local honey, crazy-good cheese, etc., or stock your loved one with a subscription of fave foods.


For: The out-of-town coffee aficionado

Price range: $19 for a monthly coffee subscription to $65 for a schmancy coffee mill

Every San Franciscan (and Portlandian? We have no idea) has a dead-set opinion and preference for local coffee brands. But your poor, sad parents in Missouri, though they love their coffee, don’t have access to this ridiculous luxury. Solution: Take advantage of their lack of preference and love of coffee to introduce them to the world of high-class beans.

Bourbon & Boots

For: The transplant

Price range: $10 for crafty gift tags to $1,000 for an heirloom-quality pruner

From L.A. to Maine, in every group of friends, there’s that one person who’s always peppering her conversations with “y’all” and “bless his heart.” Here’s where you shop for that rebel soul. This startup shop curates from even smaller vendors around the U.S. with a special focus on goods from the South, including small-batch whiskeys, Southern-sayings art prints, and every kind of Mason jar you can imagine.

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.