Shopping Small: The Ticker’s staff recommends local businesses to support

The Ticker’s writers came together to recommend small New York City-based businesses ahead of Small Business Saturday, which will occur on Nov. 26.

The holiday encourages consumers to shop from independent and local stores, as opposed to spending at big box retailers on Black Friday. This way, people will spend money to support small business owners and their ventures.

None of the contributors for this piece were paid to endorse these businesses.

Melani Bonilla – Multimedia Editor | The Teapsy

The Teapsy is a local bubble tea shop located in Astoria, Queens.

The shop has a variety of drinks and pastries for consumers. It also has a small glass case with desserts, tea cakes and macarons. Although the storefront seems small, there is ample space inside to accommodate at least 10 people.

What initially drew me into the space was the big lettering on a chalkboard outside, which read “Tres Leches Milk Tea.” In 2018, I had never tried a bubble tea that incorporated Latin flavors. Tres leches is most known for its association with the cake — made up of condensed, evaporated and regular milk.

I grew up eating tres leches cakes, so the combination of my childhood sweet treat and bubble tea was enticing. After I tried it, I knew that I would be back for the drink and possibly many others. The menu also had other drinks I hadn’t seen elsewhere, such as peach hibiscus milk tea, South African rooibos milk tea and Filipino calamansi iced tea.

Going into the shop is similar to stepping into a bakery. There are warm smells of sugar, tapioca balls and fruits lingering in the air. The staff is attentive and always deliver a well-prepared drink, even with long lines out the door.

In more recent times, The Teapsy has added other varieties of drinks to its menu, including seasonal drinks, “frapputeanos” and cold brews. To order, you can visit the shop’s website or stop by its brick-and-mortar 33-17 30th Ave. in Long Island City.

Maya Demchak-Gottlieb – News Editor | La Delice Pastry Shop

La Delice is a family-run bakery that has served handmade sweets using traditional baking techniques since its opening in 1935.

With an expansive menu that includes desserts ranging from brownies and baklava to turnovers and tiramisu. The bakery carries whole cakes and slices as well as whole pies. They make a perfect addition for holiday get-togethers.

Customers also have the option of purchasing smaller batch items like macaroons, marzipan or sugar cookies. These can serve as gifts that are as delicious as they are heartfelt.

The store is located on the corner of Third Avenue and 27th Street. A walk from Baruch takes less than four minutes.

Pricing is moderate, allowing students to afford a sweet treat.

It is open every day of the week. Its hours from Monday through Saturday are from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., while its hours on Sunday are from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Caryl Anne Francia – Business Editor | Justine Gilbuena

Justine Gilbuena is a New York-based illustrator who sells goods that feature her designs through a personal website and Etsy Inc. store.

Gilbuena’s art style uses a palette of neutral but cozy colors that evoke a sentimental vibe. Flowers, animals and books are common motifs in her work.

Gilbuena draws inspiration from her Filipino heritage. Some of her designs feature sampaguita flowers, calamansi fruit, pandesal bread and jeepney buses.

“Some of my designs are inspired by my childhood, growing up in a Filipino household,” Gilbuena wrote on her website, adding she was “surrounded by old Singer sewing machines and danish butter cookie tins filled with needles and thread.”

In addition to art prints, she offers a variety of stationary goods. These include folded cards, postcards, stickers, sticky notes and tape. She also sells accessories, such as tote bags, sewing patches and jewelry.

A major highlight of the shop is her assortment of enamel pins. Some unique designs include a bird dressed as a birdwatcher, a person carrying a bag of clementines, a “jammed with wonder” fruit jam jar and a tomato-shaped pin cushion.

Bookworms will appreciate the artist’s book-inspired pins and bookmarks, which come in brass or paper material. People may also order her zine titled “Did You Eat?”

Most goods are priced between $5 and $10, with some currently on sale. Gilbuena also offers free shipping for U.S. orders with a minimum of $35.

Gilbuena ships her orders in environmentally sustainable packaging. She also includes a thank you note and a paper bookmark.

“I hope that my work inspires the same sense of comfort and nostalgia for you that it does for me,” Gilbuena wrote on her website.

Emanuela Gallo – Editor-in-Chief | R+D

R+D sells jewelry, pins, keychains and decorations made via digital fabrication. The products are made from sustainable materials that are biodegradable and derived from renewable resources.

The 3-D printing method allows for fun and creative designs. Examples of R+D’s unique pieces include paper crane earrings, a jellyfish necklace and a coffee pot pin.

The business also has holiday-themed items, such as a ring that says “happy new year” and Halloween earrings that give the illusion of a spider going through an earlobe. Some products glow in the dark.

Rebekah Thornhill established R+D in 2017, a month after her husband Doug was gifted with a 3-D printer. The business name stands for the initials of their first names.

R+D is affordable, with most products costing between $10 and $20.

R+D can be found at It offers free shipping for orders with a minimum of  $35 and free local pickup for all orders. Alternatively, you can visit the business at the Union Square Holiday Market, which began on Nov. 17.

Arianne Gonzalez – Arts & Culture Editor | Filipinta Beauty

Looking for some locally made, Filipino-inspired make-up? Filipinta Beauty has you covered.

The name is a combination of the words “Filipino” and “pinta,” the Tagalog word for paint. The brand was started in 2019 by Hana K., a New York-based multimedia designer.

The brand started out as a passion project, first known as “Pinta Cosmetics.” Over time, it grew into a small business that melds all things inspired by Filipino culture.

Take for example their Diwata collection — variants of green and orange inspired by Philippine mythology. There is also the brand’s take on classic snacks and childhood items like ube cakes for an eyeshadow palette and an ‘Iskrambol’ gloss collection.

In addition, Filipinita Beauty products are eco-friendly and cruelty free. The business ships worldwide, so students may gift the shop’s goods to their friends around the world.

Adriana Maria Lopez Tavares – Staff Writer | AdornedEssentials

AdornedEssentials is a Brooklyn-based shop on Etsy Inc. that sells accessories, art and decor. Rather than outsourcing its manufacturing, it produces its items by hand and with love.

The business owner, who goes by her first name Liz, gives special care to each piece she creates. She allows customers to order custom pieces. Here, she can bring a customer’s preferred design to life.

Liz’s items are one of a kind to each customer, and they will help their wearer make a statement with their overall look.

She specializes in nose cuff jewelry, so individuals who don’t have any piercings on their faces won’t be disappointed by her diverse selection. The jewelry is made from gold and silver wires that do not tarnish.

Wires can be intertwined to form flowers, hearts, snakes and ship anchors. In addition to selecting a gold or silver finish, you may select the color of your jewel from multiple options.

AdornedEssentials also sells single jewelry, such as an adjustable ring of the evil eye, an abstract serenity earring that reaches to one’s neck and a tiger eye cowry cuff for locked and braided hair.

Prices range between $5 and $15, making them incredibly inexpensive for the unique piece for students to wear. The Brooklyn-based shop currently offers a 15% discount for shoppers.

Reviews for AdornedEssentials are favorable, with comments on quick shipment, smooth contact with the vendor and excitement over wearing each unique piece.

Interested shoppers can also check out her Instagram page, where she provides secret discounts, first looks and giveaways. They can also message her directly to find out about her wholesale shop options.

Alexandra Adelina Nita – Graphics Editor | Bluestockings Cooperative

The best place to buy books is a place that loves you back. For the Lower East side’s Bluestockings Cooperative, supporting the local community is both personal and political.

The bookstore is collectively owned and supported by its staff members, who identify as queer and transgender and part of the sex worker industry. It features a wide selection of self-described radical books and self-published zines.

Its physical space has a sitdown cafe area decorated with pride flags, fairy lights and drawings on the walls by patrons. The cafe’s most charmingly named drink offerings include a “Lavender Menace Cold Brew” and the all-capital-lettered “GAY LEMONADE.”

Its website highlights its catalog by Indigenous creatives and its support of transgender children and their caregivers. It also lists physical and virtual events that include interviews with authors and a monthly queer book club.

The co-op’s staff envision the place as a rare space in New York City where people do not need to buy things to use a restroom or simply exist.

In that spirit, Bluestockings provides free resources on a walk-in basis, including shelf-stable snacks, hygiene products, safer sex supplies, clothing, masks, rapid tests, 15-minute Narcan trainings and fentanyl strips.

Bluestockings is wheelchair accessible. People can visit the store’s website for more access information.

Proof of vaccination and masks continue to be required for all. A negative rapid test from a maximum of 72 hours in advance is necessary to attend events.

Gabriel Rivera – Copy Chief | Chess Forum

The Chess Forum, New York City’s last chess shop, sits in Greenwich Village. Patrons can pay per hour to play chess or other board games.

Owner Imad Khachan likens the shop to a community center, where people of all ages come to teach and learn more about chess.

Since obtaining ownership of the forum in 1995, Khachan has managed under a personal motto: “business with a heart.”

“This is my family,” Khachan said, beckoning to the shop’s narrow corridor filled with wooden tables, where a handful of patrons were playing chess and backgammon on a chilly night.

Walking into the Chess Forum is like entering an evolving exhibit on chess history. Newspaper clippings, movie posters and old photographs of famous grandmasters checker the walls, surrounding glass display cabinets encasing chess books, clocks and wooden sets.

Once owned by grandmaster Nicolas Rossolimo, the space was formerly a chess studio frequented by former world champion Bobby Fischer and art and film giants such as artist Marcel Duchamp and film director Stanley Kubrick.

The pandemic’s onset forced the store to shut down for four months, after which it opened but only with limited hours and patrons restricted from lounging inside.

Khachan didn’t think the shop would make it, but a surge in chess’ popularity following the release of the Netflix limited series “The Queen’s Gambit” in October 2020 revitalized the forum. Khachan said the shop had a very busy holiday season that year, comparing it to the days before e-commerce.

The shop is now open daily to visitors who stop by to play chess, purchase sets and other chess equipment, admire the shop’s antique wooden set collections and, most commonly, chat.