Holiday Gift Ideas From Veteran-Owned Businesses

The holidays are here! If you’re working on your Christmas gift list, consider shopping with veteran-owned businesses. The companies listed below are owned by veterans, most employ veterans, and all give a portion of their earnings to various charities supporting a variety of causes. It’s a great way to complete your holiday shopping while supporting your fellow Americans.

I’m not an affiliate of any of these companies – I just think they’re pretty awesome. If you think I missed a great veteran-owned business, please let me know in the comments!

Delicious Drinks

Counter-Strike Coffee – https://counterstrikecoffeecompany.com/
Buy coffee and coffee-related gear from this Cypress, Texas-based roastery. If you know a true coffee addict, consider giving them a membership to the Counter-Strike Coffee subscription service so they can receive coffee by mail year-round. The owner is a combat veteran who gives a portion of all earnings to veterans organizations. I’ve recently heard a lot of great buzz (pun soooo intended) about this coffee on social media. Lots of people really like them and I’m looking forward to trying a cup or ten.

Heroes Vodka — http://www.heroesvodka.com/
This Nashville-based distillery is crafting award-winning vodka. Founded by a Marine Corps veteran the company dedicates itself “to deliver exceptional taste and superior value to consumers, while honoring Veterans and other American service organizations through charitable contributions.” I look forward to making a Heroes vodka martini and relaxing by the Christmas tree.

Clothing, Footwear, Gear

Bottle Breacher http://bottlebreacher.com/
Looking for a cool stocking stuffer? Then check out Bottle Breacher. This Tucson-based company makes bottle openers and pens from .50 caliber bullets. You can have your purchase engraved or pair it with other Bottle Breacher items like tee shirts, hats, and gear. They give back 20% of their earnings to many types of charities. These are so cool and perfect when you want an engraved gift with a special holiday message. Note to self: great promotion and retirement gifts for military friends.

huib-scholten-403238Combat Flip Flopshttps://www.combatflipflops.com/
Founded by two Army Rangers, Combat Flip Flops is guided by the idea that providing income to people living in dangerous areas of the world provides them with steady income and contributes to regional stability – “business not bullets”. You’ll find flip flops, shoes, clothes, jewelry, and other accessories on their website. A portion of their sales help a variety of charities around the world. I love the unique scarves and jewelry especially. They’re beautiful.

Oscar Mike – https://www.oscarmike.org/
Based in Marengo, Illinois, Oscar Mike sells all kinds of military-themed apparel for men, women, and children. Proceeds support the Oscar Mike Foundation, which “…wants to see all injured Veterans utilize their full potential and live rewarding and productive lives.” Their shirts represent every branch of service and they have tons of unique designs – you’ll be scrolling forever.

Purses, Bags, Jewelry

Sword and Plowhttps://www.swordandplough.com/
Veteran-owned Sword and Plow sells bags, purses, tote bags, jewelry, and other accessories made from military uniforms, bullet casings, and more. This Denver-based company “recycles military surplus, incorporates that fabric into stylish bag designs and donates 10% of profits back to veteran organizations.” Everything they make is gorgeous.

Beauty/Personal Care

Doc Spartan – https://docspartan.com/
Doc Spartan makes personal care items for both men and women – lotions, ointments, scrubs, and even deodorant. They also have a beard-care line for the hairy man in your life. Based in Portsmouth, Ohio this unique veteran-owned business gives a portion of their sales to a variety of veterans-related causes. Their Invader Coffee-Infused Body Scrub is calling my name.

Have an extra- long list and need even more shops to choose from? Find other veteran-owned business using these services:

http://www.buyveteran.com/

https://www.veteranownedbusiness.com/

Here’s to a stress-free holiday season and a very Veteran Christmas!

I can’t take any credit for the awesome photos you see here. That goes to:
Bokeh – Jad Limcaco on Unsplash
Coffee photo – Mike Marquez on Unsplash
Afghanistan – Photo by Huib Scholten on Unsplash

I <3 Lidl

Lidl is a German grocery store chain that recently started opening stores in the U.S. Specifically, they’re starting in North Carolina and Virginia and there’s one not far from my house.

Before I tell you more, I’m going to let you know that I love grocery stores. Growing up my extended family owned and operated grocery stores and I worked in grocery stores as a teenager. The first time I went to California I called my family from Safeway because I couldn’t wait to tell them how cool it was. I even sent them photos of the store’s walk-in wine cooler. I have tourist photos of grocery stores. I mean business, people.

I’ve tried to include photos here, but didn’t take photos in the busiest spots of the store. I didn’t want to be that weird stranger taking random photos of people.

I love Lidl. Lidl is the baby that Target and Aldi would have if they hooked up. It’s well-organized, has great prices on store-brands, and competitive prices on name brands. It sells a huge variety of stuff in a small space. The quality of produce and meat is top notch and the bakery, oh, the bakery. Well, I’ll tell you about that now…

Bakery
The bakery sales breads, donuts, sweet pastries, savory pastries (think mini-pizzas with veggie toppings) and bagels. It’s basically a “serve yourself” bakery, so you grab a paper bag and grab your own items from gigantic bread boxes. You can also use their bread slicing machine which is like magic and proof that Lidl has enough faith in humanity that they think we can handle the decision of bread slice thickness. *fist bump to Lidl*

Meat/Seafood/Dairy…Cheese and the perfect Charcuterie Platter
I find that the quality of the meat, seafood, and dairy items are pretty good. We’ve had a roast and salmon from Lidl that were awesome, ribs that were so-so. The manchego that comes in at about $3 a pound is a bit drier than most manchego I’ve had, but it’s still delish and who am I to belittle a perfectly good cheese?

They also have a wide variety of packaged meats and cheeses that is better than most other grocery stores. You can create an epic meat and cheese platter…or if you want to get fancy, call it charcuterie. Some veggies, a good piece of bread, cheese, meat… I’m getting hungry.

Personal Care and Home Care
They have a limited quantity of personal and home care items. Store brand dish soap, clothing soap, hand soap. Household cleaners, feminine products, hygiene items like cotton swabs, baby items like shampoo, diapers, and wipes. Some of these things are name brands, others are store brand. I’ve found the quality of all the Lidl brand products in this category to be great.

Surprises!
Surprises only last until the store runs out. In any given week you’ll find items ranging from cycling jerseys to coffee makers to plant stands to dish sets. The prices are fair and the items are a mix of name brand and Lidl brand. I’m still mourning an adorable tiered plant stand I didn’t get because I waited too long!

Produce
Produce at Lidl is competitive with local brands and is often from the same sources used by other local grocers. They don’t have a huge variety, but everything is fresh and you can pick up most of what you might need for a week’s worth of meals.

Specialty Foods
In the last month or so my area Lidl has been stocking up on Italian foods – yummy cookies, unique pastas, you name it. It seems like this is cyclical, so maybe at a different time there will be German or Greek delicacies, for instance.

Beer and Wine
The beer and wine section is HUGE! And the prices are very fair. Lidl doesn’t carry overly expensive bottles of wine, but they take care to cover all price points. I’ll let the photo do the talking!

Definitely, check out Lidl when it comes to your neighborhood! It’s fantastic and I think it will change the way Americans grocery shop.

All Lidl photos by me. Featured photo of awesome food spread by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash

Freezer case of awesomeness at Lidl
Amazing beer and wine selection