(and 3 small businesses you should totally check out)

At Secret Aardvark, we run only one sale a year, and it’s on Small Business Saturday (this year it falls on 11/26 when everything in our online shop will be 20% off). We’ve chosen that day as a way to honor small businesses everywhere.

What’s so great about small businesses? Here are five big reasons we just can’t resist going small:

  • Small businesses provide more new jobs than all the large companies combined.
  • The dollars you spend with a small business directly support local communities.
  • Want to support businesses owned by women, veterans, and minorities? Then shop small.
  • Looking for something exciting or new? Small businesses breed great ideas and innovation.
  • The phone call that gets answered by a human? Or the email that garners a reply? Small businesses live and breathe customer service. It could even be that company’s owner on the other end of the phone.

Sure, the mega-conglomerates will be wooing you with their big-box-store Black Friday discounts. But if you’re open to shopping small, you might just find some surprising gift ideas. Here are three small businesses that we love. Why not check them out as you’re doing your online holiday shopping?

Three yummy-looking products featuring hazelnuts, sitting on a bed of hazelnuts. There are two jars of hazelnut/chocolate spreads and a bag of roasted hazelnuts.
Your late-night snacking game will be on-point with these delicious specialty nuts and spreads. Bye-bye, Nutella. Photo: Laurel Foods.

Laurel Foods: Hello, Luscious Hazelnut Oils and Spreads

If you love the warm, rich, and toasty flavor of hazelnuts, you’ll love Laurel Foods. Oregon is home to some of the world’s biggest, tastiest hazelnuts. Family-owned Laurel Foods started as a hazelnut farm, and now it offers fabulous hazelnut oils, nut butters, and spreads.

Laurel’s hazelnut chocolate spread is a small-batch alternative to Nutella. Think decadent chocolate with toasted nuts. Low in sugar. Yummy plain on a spoon late at night (you know who you are), spread on apples, or as a topping for cookies, cake, or bread. Once you get a taste of this stuff, your imagination is bound to run wild with ideas.

Love cooking? Give some hazelnut oil a try. You’ll find it has a richer taste and a bigger personality than olive oil. It’s tasty drizzled on meat or fish, and its natural toasted nuttiness adds delicious depth to salad dressings. Hazelnuts are high in omega fatty acids and lower in saturated fats than other oils, meaning you can pour away virtually guilt-free.

Laurel Foods’ website offers recipes to get you started. Plus, they tell us they’ll be offering some great Small Business Saturday discounts, including free shipping on orders over $25.

A very good boy patiently waiting while his master pours him a bowl of delicious Portland Pet Food.
A very good boy patiently waiting for his human to pour a bowl of Portland Pet Food’s Wally’s Salmon & Rice meal. Photo: Portland Pet Food Company.

Portland Pet Food: So Good You Could Eat It

If your furry friend were Internet-savvy, he or she would probably give Portland Pet Food Company two paws up. That’s because the company makes pet food the way it should be made: focusing on human-grade ingredients and homestyle tastiness.

This family-owned company got its start when our friend Katie’s elderly dog Rosie had health issues and lost her appetite. Determined to find something her pup couldn’t resist, Katie began cooking meals for Rosie at home. She used locally-sourced, natural ingredients, and Rosie loved it. Just like that, Portland Pet Food Company was born.

Portland Pet has gotten shout-outs from Outside Magazine and Martha Stewart. Whole Foods Market named them one of its top 10 “Next Big Things” picks for 2023. Their Salmon & Rice Meal Pouch for dogs was designated meal of the year by an independent pet innovation organization. And the company has recently launched a line of meal toppers for cats.

Join the Portland Pet Food Co. email list and get 15% off your “fur-st” order. Or use code FelineFresh20 to get 20% off their new cat meal toppers. They offer subscriptions, too, so if your pet gives the grub their howling endorsement, you can get it delivered on the regular.

Bergström Wines: 1,000 Days of Effort in Every Bottle

Oregon’s Willamette Valley is one of the best wine grape regions in the country. But truly great wine requires more than just sunlight, rain, and great soil.

The team at Bergstrom Wines (all eight of them) show off their Secret Aardvark T-shirts while working at the Bergstrom Winery. Gotta say we love their style.
The team at Bergstrom Wines shows off their Secret Aardvark shirts. Gotta say we love their style! Photo: Bergstrom Wines.

Bergström Wines: 1,000 days of effort go into every bottle

For the folks at Bergström Wines, it takes three whole years to farm, produce, and age their wines, then bring them to market. Every one of those days (all 1,000 of them!) is spent walking the rows of the vineyard, observing the changing seasons and weather, and applying old-school, small-batch wine-making craft.

As a result, the entire Bergström team knows these grapes so intimately, they can tell you what makes every vintage special. These folks live and breathe the details, and you can taste the difference. We’re also proud to note they’re huge Aardvark fans (apparently, there’s always some sauce in their breakroom). Well, cheers, guys – the feeling is 100% mutual. We love to stock the wine case with Bergström.

Fancy a fine bottle of wine for someone on your holiday list? Then, Bergstrom Wine is a winning choice. Choose from bottles and gift boxes on their website.

Small but Mighty

While you’re supporting small businesses during Small Business Saturday, Nov. 26 2022, don’t forget to swing by SecretAardvark.com and take advantage of the year’s biggest discounts (20% off, sitewide). We’ve got merch, like Bucket Hats, Beanies, Totes and Koozies for the Aardvark-lover on your list. Plus, perfectly giftable hot sauce combo packs and monthly subscriptions.