For nearly 20 years or so, my best friend (and bookkeeper and occasional cookie scooper and slinger) AnnMarie have an annual holiday tradition of going Christmas shopping and having a steak dinner. We would buy each other a steak for Christmas because when we were a lot younger - a steak dinner was a much larger expense.
We would pick out the best coupons, scout the best deals and go with the idea of actually just closing out our list and getting to that steak dinner and doing the whole thing under budget.
We were good at this, it got to the point where AnnMarie would see something that she thought would be a good gift for my sister and I would find something that seemed to be a great gift for her sister in law. We were a well oiled holiday shopping machine.
A few years ago, something really changed for me, I started to realize all these big box stores were selling the same thing, maybe in a different color or variation. Nothing felt special to me anymore. Christmas shopping (outside of a day with my friend) felt frustrating.
Over these last few years, being a part of the Small Business community in Boston, you realize how important it is to support our small businesses and honestly, it's more fulfilling. I've had plenty of people buy our cookies for Bruins fans because they can tell our story to the recipient. That story - our story transforms some cookies into something more special and thoughtful.
After I launched Top Shelf Cookies, I bought some Lyndigo Spice red pepper relish and spice rub for my brother in law, he's in law enforcement. When I told him my dear friend Celeste of Lyndigo Spice was not only the maker of these amazing products but also in law enforcement - he thought that was pretty cool.
My cousin and her husband collect hot sauces and it was fun for me to recommend Alex's Ugly Sauce to someone who was giving them a gift at the holidays!
The examples are endless. A jam can become a more thoughtful gift when you can tell someone about it.
Every day for us is a challenge, running a business is hard work. There's so much to manage. As a business owner, I'm manufacturing, sales, finance, marketing, IT, HR....all of it. My dad owned a karate studio for a number of years and one of his students saw him cleaning the toilet and said he always wondered who did that. That's pretty much it if it's gonna get done - a lot of times I'm doing it. Now that we have a few amazing employees, everything I do is with Top Shelf Cookies in mind. Because we are small, we are limited to how many employees we can have. Just today, we had the two people in - one was doing a lot of graphic design/signage/promotion work and the other was sticking labels on bags, while I was working on a to-do list 57 items long ranging from going to the post office to finishing a presentation on a possible expansion. We never know where the day will take us. Even on the days it's stressful and I want to pull my hair out - I'm so grateful to be my own boss. Sometimes that means I can take a random day off to hang out with my nephew and unfortunately, sometimes it means I miss important events and I hope my family and friends know that I've been working so hard in order to build something that I can be proud of. I'm not looking to become a millionaire, I just want to make enough so I can keep doing what I love and take care of the people that help me do this.
When you support us in any way, I know it. I know our most loyal followers, heck I spent 45 minutes catching up with one of our earliest customers in Stoneham this past Saturday and she gives the greatest hugs. I know when we post certain things to social media who will respond the quickest. I have the uncanny ability to remember what kinds of cookies people like the best. I truly love our customers.
This Nov 24, we want to share Small Business Saturday® with you! It's a holiday shopping tradition, backed by American Express, that celebrates small businesses like ours. And it wouldn't be a celebration without customers like you joining us.
So mark your calendar for Nov 24th — the Saturday after Thanksgiving — and get ready to Shop Small® with us. Grab a friend or family member and come to find TOP SHELF COOKIES
Sam Adams Boston Brewery 1-5pm
Lord Hobo Brewery 12-4pm
Dorchester Brewing 2-7pm
You can help get the word out and celebrate Small Business Saturday by using #ShopSmall on Facebook, Instagram, and all your social networks.
Thank you for all your support, and we'll see you Saturday, Nov 24th! Here's to hoping that next Small Business Saturday we'll have our own home!
TOP SHELF COOKIES