As shutdown orders extend indefinitely, online shopping has become a lifeline for people forced to avoid the outside world. Often times opting to shop with a mega corporation like Amazon, Walmart or Target is the path of least resistance, but there are plenty of reasons to patronize an alternative.
There are the ethical questions currently swirling around things like worker safety, as COVID-19 takes a toll on the often low-paid essential workers who keep these businesses running. It’s also arguably now more important than ever to support small and local businesses, and more and more brick and mortars announce that they simply won’t be able to rebound after the disastrous economic effects of the shutdown.
Not every company listed below is a small business (Chewy, for example, is owned by pet supply giant PetSmart), but the below list compiled by our editorial team should offer a good variety to help you mix up your online shopping.
Thrive Market: Organic and non-GMO brands of food, home and beauty products, including healthy food, clean beauty and bath products, safe supplements and non-toxic home cleaner.
Great for: Stocking up on healthier grocery items for the pantry and other household needs.
Grove Collaborative: Eco-friendly home essentials, including cleaners, personal care, bath, baby/kid and pet products.
Great for: Stocking up on concentrated cleaners that reduce plastic waste and save trips to the store.
Boxed: Online wholesale shopping on groceries, household products and health supplies.
Great for: An online alternative to Costco and Sam’s Club for items you like to buy in bulk. (T.P. is often out-of-stock though!)
Nuts.com: Grocery and dry goods items, focused on nuts and snacks
Great for: Nuts, seeds, snacks, gluten-free flours, yeast, ceremonial-grade matcha powder, and hard-to-find spices.
Chewy: Online pet store offering food, toys, litter and other pet needs, including both over-the-counter medicine and prescriptions.
Great for: High-quality foods and treats and skipping the vet for prescription refills.
The Farmer’s Dog: All-natural dog food delivery subscription service. Food is proportioned for your dog and delivered to your door.
Great for: Fresh food delivery and those who want a “set it and forget it” option for buying dog food.
The Honest Company: Ethical baby and beauty supply company.
Great for: Diapers, baby needs and cruelty-free beauty, bath and body products.
Ulta: Beauty supply superstore offering ship-to-home and curbside pickup.
Great for: Makeup for your Zoom meetings; skincare products for all that indoor air you’re now living in.
Sephora: Online beauty store offering direct shipping.
Great for: Makeup, skincare and self-care items, as well as gift sets for someone who needs a boost.
Glossier: Online beauty brand that’s skin-first, makeup second.
Great for: Skincare, body and makeup.
Books & Entertainment
Bookshop.org: This newly launched offering is designed specifically to support independent bookstores in a post-Amazon age. You can browse a wealth of titles and designate the specific store you want to support and they’ll get all the profits. With so many bookstores struggling to stay afloat well before the COVID pandemic, this could be Bookshop’s moment.
Great for: Supporting independent bookstores while shopping online.
Powell’s: For book lovers, few things beat stepping foot inside this Portland mecca. Until things open back up, online shopping is the next best thing.
Great for: Used books galore.
Amoeba Records: For psychical music releases, going straight to the label is often your best bet. Record stores are a great option, too. California’s Amoeba is one of the greatest small music chains in the world, but it’s among those with an uncertain post-COVID future, having recently announced the expected closure of its Hollywood location.
Great for: New and used vinyl, CDs and books.
Forbidden Planet: This Manhattan mainstay has become a go-to for mainstream and indie comics lovers alike. The store is one of countless currently struggling to stay afloat during the COVID crisis. They’ve started a GoFundMe, but better yet, go order some comics.
Great for: Comics, from superhero to super indie.
Trident Bookstore: This gem of a Boston bookstore survived a fire and finals season, so you know it’s a special one. Its selling books all over the United States right now (and if you’re in Boston, it’ll add in brunch too).
Great for: Well-known titles as well as undercover ones. Also, pro tip: You can purchase a “creative add-on” in your package like a surprise puzzle or a bundle of greeting cards, depending on availability.
Los Angeles Apparel: This site is selling three-pack face masks in a variety of colors, and all purchases help fund their ability to donate masks to essential services and provide living wages.
Great for: A comfortable cotton mask that also does good.
Donkaka.com: Fashionable face masks sold direct to consumer with free shipping.
Great for: Stylist, reusable comfort.
Tiny pleasures and knick-knacks
The Little Market: This nonprofit sells fair-trade goods made by people in need, from individuals with disabilities to women transitioning out of homelessness.
Great for: Candles, tote bags, soaps and sugar scrubs.
Uncommon Goods: Unique gifts, decor, games and more
Great for: Unusual items to break your quarantine boredom, especially kids’ crafts and toys for parents whose children have now tired of every toy in the house.