The Finger Lakes are a tourist destination, and it’s the small businesses that make the area unique. With so many interesting places to shop and visit, why not shop at the local small businesses and get something different for your money?

     Every year as Thanksgiving approaches, the hype is about “Black Friday” and all of the great shopping deals. In these difficult economic times we’re all looking to save money, and the big box stores have the means to slash prices, but in the rush to look out for our own wallets, an important element to our economy gets lost “in the rush”: the small local businesses.

     Saturday, November 26th has been established as “Small Business Saturday”. Shoppers are encouraged to take that day to shop small and local at the businesses that anchor our communities. These businesses are the ones who support and give back to the communities through sports sponsorships, donated items for local charities and fundraisers, advertising in playbills and brochures, and so much more.

     For those who are from out of town and visiting relatives for the holidays, or for those who have traveled to the Finger Lakes to get away for a few days, have some fun and turn your shopping trip into a shopping tour that includes shopping and other fun Finger Lakes experiences.

    To give you an idea of how easy this is, I’ve put together two possible “shopping tours”. You could use these or make up your own. (If you go to the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection website, you’ll be able to find dozens of local small businesses to include in your tour.)

Route #1: Canandaigua to Naples

View Tour #1: Canandaigua to Naples in a larger map

Stop #1 - Finger Lakes Gallery and Frame - 175 South Main Street, Canandaigua. Buy a frame for a piece of artwork you already own or purchase a print or painting by a local artist.

Stop #2 -  Wick-edly Scent - 94 South Main Street, Canandaigua. If you or your friends are environmentally conscious and are looking to add fragrances to your home, then you’ll enjoy a stop at this business. The soy candles are hand-poured and burn cleaner. You can also pick up scented soaps and lotions from their bath and body line.

     Food, glorious food! At this point, you can take a little break and grab a bite to eat at one of the many establishments on Main Street before you head south to continue your small business shopping excursion. For some suggestions, click here.

Stop #3 - Cheshire Union Gift Shop and Antique Center - Rte. 21 South, Cheshire. A stop at this business will give you plenty of opportunity to fill those gifts on wish lists with local products from hand-made jewelry and purses to books and antiques. Plan some extra time for browsing at this stop.

Stop #4 - Wizard of Clay Rte. 20A, Bristol. Crystalline, home decorating, lighting and even garden items are available if you’re looking for something unique for your home or trying to please that “hard-to-buy-for” person in your life.

Stop #5 - Arbor Hill Grapery - Just off Rte. 21 in Bristol Springs. Take time from your busy shopping to taste the wines. After, you can browse the gift shop and pick up a gourmet gift box with jellies, juices, sauces, dressings, dips, spreads and special vinegars.

Stop #6 - Artizanns - 118 North Main Street, Naples. How can you lose with gifts and home accessories made by artisans from the Finger Lakes? The selection includes pottery, paintings, photographs, hand-blown glass, soaps, sundries, and culinary treats, to name a few.

     The second shopping tour I’ve designed will take you in the opposite direction and provide you with a whole different shopping and touring experience.

Route #2: Clifton Springs to Geneva

View Tour #2: Clifton Springs to Geneva in a larger map

Stop #1 - Downtown Clifton Springs Shops – This is a great place to start your shopping tour because of the mix of history and shops. Stroll along the covered walkways and you’ll find a variety of shops one after the other. From books to gifts, you could probably check off a number of items on those gift lists your family has handed you.

Stop # 2 - Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery Finger Lakes - 3 Church Street, Phelps. For the art lovers, a visit to the Kinkade Gallery could yield a classic Kinkade piece that you’ll want to keep for yourself. Newly released paintings and prints are also available to purchase.

Stop # 3 - Red Jacket Orchards - 957 Rte. 5 & 20, Geneva. Wow your out of town guests with a taste of the Finger Lakes by creating a gift basket of Red Jacket Orchards products. From fresh fruit, jellies, jams, juices and Amish-made products are just a tip of the iceberg in what’s available in their retail outlet.

     The last stops on this route will take you to three local wineries where you can finish your weekend shopping by sampling native wines and stocking your wine rack with your favorites.

Stop # 4 - Belhurst Winery - 4069 Rte. 14 South, Geneva.  Do a wine tasting before you pick up a Belhurst gift basket, or create your own by selecting products from the gift shop.

Stop # 5 - White Springs Winery - 4200 Rte. 14, Geneva – Sample more wines for yourself, then check your gift list. For your friends or family who are wine enthusiasts, you can purchase truly individualized gifts. White Springs Winery offers personalized labels on certain products. Imagine the fun your friends can have with bottles of wine that appear to be bottled just for them!

Stop # 6 - Billsboro Winery - 4760 West Lake Rd., Geneva. End your shopping spree with one more opportunity to taste local wines, but don’t leave without purchasing some bottles of your favorites from the tasting. Give them as gifts or keep them as a special treat for yourself. You’ve had a busy day supporting the local small businesses, so you deserve it!

     We hope your shopping tour on “Small Business Saturday” is a wonderful day for you, too!