MKE IT Downtown

A Guide to Shopping Local Milwaukee this Season

November 27, 2020 /   Support-Local-Milwaukee-Header

The origins of Small Business Saturday go all the way back to 2009. It started as an idea to bring holiday shopping attention to the local brick-and-mortar shops after large retailer's Black Friday sales and has transformed into a day of celebrating small businesses. When you buy local, you are directly supporting your community and fellow Milwaukeeans that make this the great city it is. Local restaurants, small shops and Milwaukee artisans enliven both our communities and our lives.

It's more important than ever that we support local during the COVID pandemic, so spend your shopping dollars right here so Milwaukee can continue to be strong and vibrant. Remember you can still support local business even if your budget is small this year by sharing a post or telling a friend!

Check out this guide featuring Small Business Saturday events, quintessential Milwaukee gifts and downtown shopping.

Support Local this Small Business Saturday

Scroll & Stroll

This Small Business Saturday, Business Improvement Districts from the Greater East Side have teamed up with Support Local MKE and Yelp Milwaukee to bring you the first-ever Scroll & Stroll. Enjoy seasonal deals and specials both online and in-person this weekend, November 27-30.

Hover Craft MKE

Though it's hard to beat the experience of browsing local vendors in-person, Hover Craft MKE created a fun and safe alternative. From November 20th to December 20th, find a local artist directory where they've highlighted small businesses to make shopping local easy throughout this holiday season.

Washington Heights Artists Front Yard Pop-Up

Just outside of downtown this Saturday, November 29, local makers want you to shop small! Stop by for a fun and safe, mask-on, outdoor pop-up featuring local artists and makers. This in-person shopping experience is great for grabbing holiday gifts, plus there will be lots of space between booths, making it easy to maintain distancing.

Delightful Downtown Milwaukee Gifts

2020 Hoan Bridge ornamenthoan-bridge

Still looking for the perfect gift for the Milwaukee-lover in your life? Look no further than the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival ornament! This year we are celebrating the iconic Hoan Bridge, which has been illuminated thanks to Light the Hoan. Available for $19.95, find the 2020 Hoan Bridge ornament here.

Cozy Candles

Raise your hand if you love the smell of coffee, but can't have a latte later than 3 o'clock. Lucky for us, Stone Creek Coffee collaborated with Milwaukee Candle Co. to create a SCC CAFE SOY candle that embodies relaxing cafe vibes. Sold exclusively in Stone Creek Coffee Cafes and online, this delicious aroma is in high demand.

For the coffee lover on your gift list, the Stone Creek Coffee Factory Cafe has an abundance of glorious coffee-related presents!

Christmas Is Coming Gift BoxesGift-boxes

Channel your inner Santa and have your gifts delivered, pre-packaged and perfectly prepared! The elves at Milwaukee Food & City Tours have made it easy for you by curating limited-edition holiday gift boxes featuring 40+ small, local businesses and food producers. Custom gift boxes and corporate gift boxes are also available.

Anything with the People's Flag

Comfy sweatshirts or knitted beanies are instantly cuter when they have the MKE People's Flag design! Check out Milwaukee Flag Snapback Hat from Urban Milwaukee or grab an Ugly MKE Holiday Sweater from Brew City Brand.

A Sweet Treatbuckleys-cupcakes

Sometimes all you need is a cupcake. Our favorite downtown spots to indulge in a tasty frosted treat come from Classy Girl Cupcakes or Buckley's Restaurant and Bar. You can't go wrong with a cheesecake cupcake from Classy Girl or an order of carrot cake cupcakes from Buckley's!

Milwaukee Holiday Bundles

Looking for a set of Milwaukee and Wisconsin themed gifts? With thoughtful holiday packages for beer lovers, foodies, and travel enthusiasts, Historic Milwaukee, Inc. created an unique experience for everyone on your holiday list.

mke-it-back-guidesPlanning your downtown shopping outing? Milwaukee Downtown's BAR & RESTAURANT GUIDE and RETAIL GUIDE make it easy to dine and shop Milwaukee this festive season. Browse downtown's businesses, in-person or online, as you check friends and family off your gift list. And remember, everyone loves a giftcard to their favorite downtown spot!

Shop Near Downtown

Shoutout to our neighbors with great local shopping!

Sherman Phoenix

Rising from the ashes and harnessing the spirit of this wonderful neighborhood, The Sherman Phoenix transformed the fire-damaged BMO Harris Bank building into a high-quality space for small businesses-of-color. Currently housing twenty-nine local businesses that offer a wide variety of diverse foods, wellness services and cultural activities. Check out their hours of operations here.

Historic Third Ward

Milwaukee's oldest center of commerce, the Historic Third Ward includes more than 50 retailers and salons. Explore the Ward and its local businesses as you shop small during Small Business Saturday and throughout the season.

Brady Street

This eclectic strip offers a mix of vibrant restaurants, bakeries, retailers and businesses. Shop locally-made souvenirs to everyday treasures on Brady Street.

Historic King Drive/Bronzeville

The Martin Luther King Drive is lined with African American and Black-owned businesses. Celebrate the inviting dining and shopping on this historic street as you experience the inspiring energy local entrepreneurs and artists bring to Milwaukee's Bronzeville neighborhood.

Walker's Point

Walker's Point is full of delightful restaurants, shops and more. With many popular spots in this longtime hub of Milwaukee's LGBTQ+ community, search for unique finds in one of Walker's Point's several amazing antique shops!

Want more Milwaukee shopping options?

You'll want to bookmark this: WWBIC's interactive Shop Small Catalog links to gifts, goods and services throughout the state. This gorgeous reference piece will inspire and equip you to shop small and MKE a difference this season.

WWBIC Shop Small Catalog


The MKEFund also created a MKE small business directory with 130+ Milwaukee County local businesses. You can search by location, ownership or business industry and show your support directly with a PayPal donation or shop online (for others or yourself)!

Find a detailed Downtown Shopping List in the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Brochure.


About the Author: Terese Radke is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (graduating December 2020!) and the Special Events & Marketing Intern with Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, advancing downtown's strategic priorities through marketing, events and social media.

Posted in:  Shopping Posted in:  Dining & Nightlife