How to Save Money (And Still Shop Local)

By now, I’m sure all of you know that I love shopping local, but I would be lying if I said I’m made out of money. Because I’m totally not. I feel like I make a decent income for someone my age, but I still think like a broke college girl when it comes to shopping: I try to avoid paying full price for anything and have various rebate apps on my phone. Unfortunately, these rules don’t always apply when you’re trying to shop local, but it’s certainly not impossible to save a buck here and there. And I–or should I say we–are going to show you how.

I collaborated with my dear friend and fellow blogger, Annie Austen to put together the most comprehensive guide we could to help you save money while still shopping local and just in time for the holidays! There are a lot of amazing makers and businesses out there that are pretty affordable and if you can beat the big box prices while putting money back into your local economy it’s a win win. Hope you enjoy our picks!

National Programs

  • Groupon (Annie & Kara’s Pick)
    • If Tiffany Haddish hasn’t made you aware of Groupon, you’ve been living under a rock. Groupon is a great place to go when you are looking for something fun to do around the city but don’t have a lot of money to work with. If you look hard enough you can find discount tickets to festivals, family attractions, escape rooms, spa services, food, etc. Groupon also has a good mix of popular and lesser known businesses around the city.
  • Five Star (Kara’s Pick)
    • Five Star is a cool little app that is marketed towards small businesses who want to offer rewards to their customers. There are coupons for a discount on your next purchase and points for every dollar spent that go towards a new reward or discounted item. Businesses on the platform include Kindred, Dragonfly Tea Zone, Made in KC, Made in KC cafe, Brookside Wine & Spirits, Scoobie, etc.

Local Programs

Food

  • Passport Program book (Annie & Kara’s Pick)
    • The Passport Program has roots in Colorado but we are so glad to be on the list of cities that have a passport program. It offers 2-for-1 cocktails and beers at local restaurants and bars and comes in a Summer and Winter edition. This is a good way to check out that new bar you’ve been eyeing in a low risk way and you can create your very own happy hour.
  • Give & Partake book (Annie & Kara’s Pick)
    • Currently offer a 2-for-1 Mac & Cheese and Brunch book that benefits local charities such as KC Pet Project and FOX4 Love Fund for Children. The books are also valid for a full calendar year so you have plenty of time get in on all the cheesy or brunch-y goodness. Give and Partake is also running a promotion on both books: with the purchase of the new Brunch book, you will receive $5 off and a free Mac & with code 5OFFPLUSMAC
  • Visit KC tap tour book (Kara’s Pick)
    • Offered by Visit KC, the tap tour book offers various beer specials like guy one get one and $2 off with the purchase of an appetizer at breweries and tap rooms across the KC Metro area. Visit KC also offers and incentive to complete the book with commemorative prizes for milestone completions throughout your tap tour.
  • KCUR member card (Annie’s Pick)
    • Valid at more than 200 area restaurants, attractions, and businesses, the KCUR MemberCard offers 2-for-1 savings and other discounts! The MemberCard is available to KCUR Members who donate $84 one time or $7 monthly.
  • KC Originals card (Annie’s Pick)
    • Kansas City Originals is a local organization developed to promote dining in local independent area restaurants. More than 30 Kansas City area restaurants are part of the organization and participate in their rewards program. Cards can be obtained at any of the participating restaurants but you can enroll in the rewards program virtually as well. Every dollar spent at participating restaurants equals one point. At 150 points you receive a $10 reward for use at any of the KC Originals restaurants.
  • KC Restaurant Week (Annie & Kara’s Pick)
    • Every year in January, for a week (ish), restaurants all over the KC Metro area participate in restaurant week, offering multi-course lunch ($15) and dinner ($33) specials. KC Restaurant week is a great way to save money because it allows patrons to splurge at a restaurant they may not usually be able to afford. Profits from restaurant week benefit several local charities.

Clothing

  • Do Good Co. (Annie & Kara’s Pick)
    • Generally Do Good Co, might not fall into everyone’s idea of “affordable clothing,” but they are a non-profit whose sales go to charities like Kid’s TLC and KC Pet Project, so a higher price tag isn’t bad when you’re donating to a worth and local cause.
    • However, Do Good Co. does host a yearly yard sale one weekend out of the year where you can find, jewelry, tops, pants, sweaters, jackets, dresses, shoes and more for thrift store prices. I participated in the year sale this year and walked away with 10 quality items for under $50.
  • Attire (Kara’s Pick)
    • Spring and Fall edition; Vintage clothing event where you can find some unique, trendy, vintage pieces for decent prices. It’s also a good way to support local businesses that do not have a brick and mortar store and operate solely on Etsy.
  • Novaa (Kara’s Pick)
    • An online boutique that does several pop ups at local businesses and craft shows all over the city and is committed to stocking clothes that are either made in the US or ethically sourced. Prices range between $20 and $60 which, again, may not fall into everyone definition of “affordable” clothing but for ethically sourced clothing that’s a pretty good price point.

Beauty/Skincare

  • Polished (Annie’s Pick)
    • Located in the heart of Downtown KC, Polished offers all the services you’d expect from a nail salon with the added bonus of a punch card discount program! You’ll receive a punch on your card for every $20 spent. Fill up the card and you’ll receive $20 off your next purchase!
    • Added savings opportunity: park in the parking garage next door and make sure to validate your parking at Polished or Cosentino’s Downtown to avoid paying the full parking fees!
  • Skin KC (Annie & Kara’s Pick)
    • Skin KC has been around for as long as I can remember and throughout all it’s changes, founder Stephanie Simkins has remained committed to providing safe, non-synthetic and certified organic skincare that is actually pretty affordable. A quick peruse through the website showed the most expensive product to be $44. Skin KC also offers a punch card where five purchases gets you $10 off a Skin KC product.
  • Raw Beauty Minerals (Kara’s Pick)
    • Raw Beauty Minerals is a woman-owned vegan make-up company, based in Shawnee, KS. Raw Beauty offers clean cosmetics that are free of Bismuth oxychloride, Synthetic colors, Formaldehyde, Phthalates, Triclosan, Talc, Toluene, Carmine, Parabens, Propylene glycol, Animal Testing/Cruelty, Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Products range between $3 and $50. I currently own the dusty rose eye shadow and wow is it pigmented. In fact, all of their eye shadows are pretty pigmented. It’s one of the first things I noticed about their eye shadow (because I am a shadow junkie) and the main reason why it came home with me.
    • Interested in clean beauty or transitioning to clean beauty products? Use code KANDACOLLAB to get 20% off your entire order.

Home

  • The West Bottoms (Kara’s Pick)
    • One of the best things about First Friday’s is First Friday weekend in the West Bottoms. You might call it a collective flea market, but what ever you call it, it’s the one time every month when you can find all the best vintage and up-cycled furniture, home decor, clothing and more.
  • Nova Vintage (Kara’s Pick)
    • Nova Vintage is an adorable little shop where you can find unique, vintage, mid-century, up-cycled furniture pieces. The owner, Nova puts a lot of love into restoring all of her furniture finds, if you don’t believe me, check out her instagram Stories. Watching her take beaten up pieces and. restoring them for it’s new owner is genuinely amazing and the price point for her pieces is pretty reasonable. I recently bought a desk from the 1940s that I am working to transition into a makeup vanity.
  • RE: Restoration Emporium (Kara’s Pick)
    • An adorable home goods store, formerly located in the West Bottoms, now on  the Plaza and the Crossroads that carries Magnolia home items along with other unique furniture and decor pieces for your home.

Local Sales

  • 8/16 day (Kara’s Pick)
    • Truthfully, I’ve yet to participate in 8/16 day, but the best way I know how to describe it is like a pre-labor day sale. Most local stores participate in the day of sales and promotions details can be found on the individual business’ social feed. Best way to find these sales? Add them to your “close friends” list on Instagram or pin point what you need most and check the social feed of businesses that would be able to fill that need.
  • Brookside Sidewalk Sale (Annie’s Pick)
    • Home to more than 80 shops, restaurants, and offices Brookside is a thriving Kansas City neighborhood with a storied past. Brookside regularly hosts special events such as sidewalk sales,wine walks, holiday season openers, and more. Shops and restaurants that participate typically have extended hours and offer special discounts that are exclusive to the event. There’s always something going on in Brookside—keep an eye out on their Instagram and Facebook pages for a comprehensive look at their upcoming events!
  • Strawberry Swing (Annie’s Pick)
    • With an event for each season, the Strawberry Swing brings local makers from across the Midwest together for some epic IRL shopping! The events are free to the public and by shopping in person, you can eliminate the potential shipping fees you’d encounter if you were shopping these brands online! Plus, many makers offer event-exclusive discounts, deals, and products you won’t find anywhere else!
  • Small business Saturday (Kara’s Pick)
    • The best way to describe Small Business Saturday? The Black Friday of Small Businesses. Now most businesses aren’t offering “knock down the doors” crazy deals like larger retailers, but it is a good time to discover small businesses, shop for unique Christmas gifts and enjoy a little bit of a discount. Oddly enough, we owe the credit of this holiday to American Express. A little fun fact, in case you didn’t know. 🙂

What items are worth shopping local for?

This is a rather loaded question because, if you ask me, all things are worth shopping local for. But if you’re trying to slowly incorporate shopping local into your life, here are a few tips and tricks Annie and I have learned along the way:

  • The cool thing about a lot of these programs, especially the food programs, is that a portion, if not all proceeds go towards local charities across the community.
    • Everyone’s gotta eat and if you are going to go out, it doesn’t really hurt you to go to a local joint for dinner. The nice thing is that there is such a variety of places to eat that you can easily find a good place to eat at the same price point as most “chain” restaurants.
  • Shopping second-hand is good for local businesses and it’s good for the environment as the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world after the oil industry (fact check this; not sure if it’s the oil industry or the petroleum industry).
    • Overall shopping second hand is a good way to get quality products from brands you love while still helping the local economy.
  • Bath products are an easy, low-cost way to shop local. Most businesses charge $10 max for, say a bar of soap, they are generally hand made and come in eco-friendly packaging and are packed with lots of butters and other nutrients that are good for moisturizing your skin. And, if you don’t like it, you aren’t stuck with something you hate for longer than a few months.
  • When shopping for unique gifts, it’s almost always a good bet to look local first. There are so many unique makers out there that are willing to do a custom commissioned gift or you can select something special from their current stock.

Ultimately shopping local is a bit of a balancing act. While I want to fill my home with mostly local goods, sometimes that can be a very cost prohibitive feat. For me, budgeting for something that is uniquely local is my method of choice. I also like to shop local beauty and bath products because they are generally made with all natural ingredients and contain nothing I can’t pronounce or am skeptical of and have a pretty good entry point when it comes to price.

Whether you are a bargain shopper that likes to save up for unique local goods like Annie or a hardcore budgeter that carefully allocates money in order to shop local like me, or like to mix in elements of both, shopping local should be accessible for everyone. We all love our fair little city and should be able to do our part to give back to it.

So, how did we do? Did we help you discover some new local businesses? Will you check out any of the programs that we listed here? Are there any other local businesses that offer loyalty programs that should be added to this list? Tell us everything.

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