For me, Places to Love is all about the small local businesses, artists and restaurants that make a place unique.

COVID is back, cases are continuing to grow. Watching the news is just so disheartening. A lot of small businesses that believed they could weather a few months are now faced with an unknown amount of time in limbo.

With that in mind, here are a few small businesses featured on Places to Love that could really use some love. Yes, it may be easier to one-click shop from online giants, but before your next purchase, consider spending your money with a small business. It truly makes a huge impact.

Cosanti Galleries in Phoenix, Arizona

We’re all spending a lot of time at home these days. Why not make our houses look and sound spectacular? Cosanti Galleries (pictured above) creates 500 bells weekly! They are, in a word, stunning. In addition to bronze and ceramic bells, they also make pots, planters, bowls and more. Shop here.

The Community Cloth in Houston, Texas

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Community Cloth empowers refugee women by giving artisans the materials and infrastructure to create and sell handmade, indigenous arts and crafts. Think woven scarves, knitwear, household items, children’s hats, bags and more. All of the proceeds go directly to the artisans and the program. This organization does more than provide financial opportunities. It serves as a gathering place for refugee women—from all over the globe—to meet, support each other, talk, build friendships and mentor one another. Shop here.

Granville Island Broom Co. in Vancouver, BC

One of my favorite finds on a Places to Love shoot has to be Granville Island Broom Co. Sisters Sarah and Mary Schwieger make brooms by hand, and they are gorgeous. Anyone who questions why I would get so excited about brooms is too young to remember the TV show Bewitched. Just kidding. One look at their creations and you’ll be a convert, too! They sell over 4,000 brooms a year, and create specialized brooms for all your sweeping needs—big, open spaces; small whisk brooms; even brooms made with a hockey stick handle. Shop here.

Tangled Strings Studio in Huntsville, Alabama

I loved the businesses and artists I met at Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment, the largest privately owned arts facility in the United States. This huge historic factory building has been redeveloped into 148 working studios for over 200 artists and makers. Danny Davis, a former mechanical engineer for NASA, crafts guitars at Tangled Strings Studio. Davis uses knowledge from building rockets to now build guitars. Every single guitar he makes is completely unique. Shop his creations here.

Carmel Honey Company in Carmel by the Sea, California

Most kids dream of becoming a firefighter, astronaut or professional athlete. Not Jake Reisdorf. He simply dreams of saving the world, one honeycomb at a time. This 14-year-old learned about beekeeping through a homework assignment three years ago. Today, he tends to 70 beehives, and started Carmel Honey Company, along with his parents. I had no idea how involved honey tasting can be—it’s like sampling wine! In addition to starting his own impressive company, Jake also gives back to help fund bee education. Shop his honey here.

California Carnivores in Sonoma, CA

There’s no doubt this pandemic has people seeking out the companionships of pets. But if an animal is out of the question how about a pet carnivorous plant? Carnivorous plants are found on every continent except Antarctica, and if you want to see them in action (or one bring home), this is the place to do it. Peter D’Amato founded this nursery in 1989, and one of his first customers Damon Collingsworth (who purchased his first carnivorous plant from Peter in 1988) now co-owns and manages the nursery. I toured the nursery with Damon, learning about what these plants eat (some enjoy animals as large as rats… yikes!), and even fed a few plants. Shop online here.

Books and Books in Key West, FL

I love independent bookstores, and supporting them throughout COVID-19 has been especially important. If you’re looking for an independent bookseller, why not check out Books and Books in Key West, which is owned by none other than writer Judy Blume and her husband, George Cooper. She got me through puberty, so I feel like it’s my responsibility to get her through COVID. Bonus: If you order a Judy Blume book you can have it signed! Shop here.

Dude, Sweet Chocolate in Dallas, Texas

Most chocolate shops treat their craft preciously, placing small confections into luxe boxes tied with bows. Not so at Dude, Sweet Chocolate. Chocolatier Katherine Clapner infuses her chocolates with fun and adventure, and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She views her kitchen as a playground, finding inspiration in the strangest of places. Her flavor shelf boasts everything from sarsaparilla and caramel to blue cheese and Jameson whiskey. Combinations might sound strange, but Katherine has a knack for unexpected pairings that sing. Shop online here.

Northern Lights Music in Littleton, New Hampshire

The expertise and love of guitars is so big at this family owned shop that amateurs to avid players seek out their online shop when they can’t visit the legendary 35-year-old Main Street store. You’ll find everything from American-made acoustic guitars and vintage Stratocasters (there’s one from 1956 valued at a whopping $24,000!) to ukuleles starting at just $40. Anyone who loves playing music can easily spend an hour marveling at the impressive selection in the unassuming space on Main Street. Even if you can’t go in person, you can shop their guitars online here.

AAA Travel has teamed up with Samantha Brown and is a sponsor of Season 3 of Samantha Brown’s Places to Love on PBS. The series takes viewers on a discovery of the emotional heart of travel by highlighting the people who are changing, challenging and strengthening a destination to deliver a decidedly refreshing and enriching travel experience. Learn more at AAA.com/SamanthaBrown.

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