No matter your income level, we all find our wallets a little thinner after the holidays, and pinch our pennies as a result. Sometimes it takes us a full month to get back on our financial feet after the holiday season, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Here we are, a month after Christmas, and almost a full month into the new year. We’ve been frugal long enough, and even if splurging isn’t in the budget, it’s the perfect time to get out of the house and put our money to good use by supporting our local economy.

Here in the Portland area, we have no shortage of small businesses, offering just about every service and product we need. Most importantly, it feels good to spend our money at the local establishments that support our friends, families, and neighbors, while strengthening the region’s economy. Whether you need to stock up on groceries, or you’re looking for a gift for someone special, Elsmere’s Portland Area Local Shopping Guide will make it easy to find exactly what you need.

Service With a Smile
When we think about shopping locally, most of us think of object and items. While the greater Portland area stores have plenty of “things” to choose from, there is also a wealth of services that allow you to support local businesses!

Get or Give Wellness Services
Investing in self care was one of your New Year’s resolutions, so getting a massage, skincare treatment, or other wellness service from a local practitioner (or treating someone else to one) is a great use of your money. Check out Soma Massage and Wellness for a massage, Plum Aesthetics for some skin pampering, or Breathing Room Yoga for a new habit that will benefit your mind and body.

Tune Up with an Auto Service
No matter what you drive, it’s nice to have a place to service your car without driving far. Thankfully the Portland area has some great local mechanics and service centers that will tune up your ride - whether it’s a Ford or an Audi. Before you go for your next scenic winter drive, pay a visit to Duval’s Service Center  or Phil’s Foreign Auto make sure everything is road-ready.

Update Your Home with a Little Help
Whether you’re a DIY-er, or you need a little (or a lot of) help from an interior design service, your home projects are worth investing in! If you prefer to leave it to a professional, then a local interior expert like Jeanne Handy is just a phone call away. If you think you can conquer your Pinterest projects alone, then you can get your supplies, advice, and tools locally at Shopper’s True Value Hardware. If removing that broken and ripped living room set has to happen before you can get started, call The Dump Guy, who offers junk removal with easy pickup and delivery to the dump at a very affordable cost.

Gifts that Keep Giving
Spending your money locally doesn’t have to mean shopping for yourself! If you feel like you have everything you need but you still have to find gifts for upcoming birthdays, Valentine’s Day, or another occasion, then there are plenty of local shops to help.

Give Jewelry or Flowers for Valentine’s Day
The classic gifts of jewelry and flowers for Valentine’s Day mean even more when they were made locally! Skip the boring grocery store bouquet, and opt for a unique floral arrangement that suits their unique personality from a local florist like Ampersands. Floral designer Julie Hews makes beautiful blooms for every occasion that are sure to wow your love. Get her a piece of fine jewelry that’s sure to become an heirloom or design something that perfectly suits her style at D.Cole Jewelers, where creative designs and quality materials combine to create the perfect gift. For eclectic jewelry and other little treasures, visit Earth Angel Arts, where you’re sure to find a colorful keepsake for whoever you’re celebrating.

Give a Class
They say that a lesson is the best gift, and a new experience is always more valuable than an object, so why not give someone you love the gift of a new skill! Kids can get a bit of cabin fever in the winter, so it’s the perfect opportunity to give them an escape with dance classes at Spotlight Dance. From enrollment to performance, they can learn, make new friends, and get great exercise in this supportive studio. For that friend who is always lamenting about their lack of crafting skills, get them a sewing class at Ocean & D, where they’ll leave with something they love and a new skill too!

Give the Gift of a Good Book
A book is a great gift for any age, and the Portland area is home to several independent bookstores who offer a wide selection, lots of knowledge, and great prices. Instead of using Amazon, support a local book seller by visiting Nonesuch Books, located right in South Portland’s Mill Creek Plaza. While you’re there, you can pick up a nice card and cross gift shopping off your to-do list!

From Pantry to Plate
Even if you need nothing else, Maine winters tend to boost the appetite and result in an increased desire for food. Thankfully, you don’t have to brave the busy supermarkets and their slippery parking lots to stock up on the tastiest local eats. No matter what’s on your food shopping list, you can find it at one of these great local establishments!

  • Produce & Meat: Get the best and freshest at The Farm Stand, where seasonal specials are always featured, and quality always comes first.

  • Pasta: Skip the box and try the incredible, freshly made pasta from Terra Cotta. You can even get meal advice and pairing recommendations from the pasta experts there.

  • Bread: Check out Mainely Grains, where Carlos bakes like a boss! From traditional loaves to unique and seasonal offerings, you’ll love carbs even more after you try this place.

  • Treats: Try the Cookie Jar, and satisfy that nagging sweet tooth with something fresh.

  • Dinner Out: Take a night off from cooking and take the family out for a meal at Elsmere, home of epic BBQ and a huge menu.

It’s a new year, and an opportunity to spend your money locally, in the places where it matters most. Whether you’re treating yourself to a little something special, shopping for a loved one, stocking up your refrigerator for the snowy weather ahead, or investing in a service that will make your 2018 even better, you can feel proud of your choice to buy local.