Santa Claus poses for photos with the public during the City of Mobile’s Holiday Tree Lighting event on November 18, 2022.

Finding Purpose in Your Holiday Purchase

Last Updated: December 20, 2023By Tags:

The Mobile Chamber outlines seven ways to elevate the holidays beyond gift giving.

Text by Michael Dumas

MOBILE, Ala. – The holiday season marks the year’s culmination for so many in the Mobile area because it combines compassion, activity, reverence and joy. What better time to live, laugh and love while supporting others and helping to grow Mobile’s unique culture? Holiday spirit goes far beyond simple gift-giving, and the Mobile Chamber has put together a guide for finding purpose in your holiday purchases, expanding our experiences and bolstering those who keep our economy, and our collective identity strong.

Shop Local

Supporting local businesses is important, and easy, this time of year. Small business is the backbone of any community, and we’re fortunate to have hundreds of companies’ products Mobile’s own flavor. “Innovation, personal connection and the tie to what’s happening, to what’s real, is all local,” said Brent Barkin, 2023 chairman of the board for the Mobile Chamber. “Local businesses, individual merchants — that’s where all the exciting newness comes from.”

Online sales for global merchants have plateaued since spiking during the coronavirus pandemic, as more and more consumers support companies that offer stellar service in addition to competitive prices, he said. Among its 1,700 member businesses, the Chamber supports a myriad of companies that consistently outpace their national competitors, often because those businesses are so dialed in to Mobile Bay area culture and experiences.

Couture is a hot property this time of year as the rapidly approaching Mardi Gras season sparks the imagination of those who value more than “off-the-rack” expressions. For more than three years, Absolutely Allure has draped area beauties, helping them achieve their “next level.” The west Mobile shop is a perfect example of how purposeful retail can not only offer stunning fashion, but also the support and encouragement customers need to look, and feel, their best.

As a comprehensive resource, the Mobile Chamber’s member directory is very helpful as you look to spend your dollars with local companies. Whether it’s delectable gifts from WineKnot, outdoor gear from McCoy Outdoors or home decor from Lush, the directory is filled with businesses that serve and employ, our friends and neighbors.

Event Tickets

Supporting local events is a great way to make a lasting positive impact on the community. Legacy contests such as the Reese’s Senior Bowl, 68 Ventures Bowl and Gulfcoast Challenge are great opportunities to enjoy sports without having to travel for top competition. While Mobile loves its sports, the city is unquestionably a theater town at its heart.

Whether it’s the national performances featured at the Saenger Theater or the numerous neighborhood theaters throughout the city, there’s no shortage of cultural offerings. In fact, fans don’t have to leave the same city block to enjoy the Mobile Symphony Orchestra, the Mobile Ballet and Mobile Opera.

Support Local Artisans

Supporting a small business is an encouraging and inspiring endeavor, and some of those incredible people are also artisans, creating the wares from scratch. A popular stop for many this holiday season is Bellens Soap Company. With two locations in Mobile, the company not only sells homemade items but hosts girls’ night soapmaking parties.

Brick-and-mortar businesses like Bellens are crucial to the local economy, as are those who make items for sale at local markets and fairs. Visit the Mobile Arts Council’s LoDa Artwalk or the Market in the Park to load up on pottery, honey, handmade crafts and maybe some artisanal cheese and bread.

Visit Downtown Mobile

When you shop downtown, you encourage even more retail growth. One such incubation space is Urban Emporium on lower Dauphin Street. Supported by the Downtown Mobile Alliance and operated by the non-profit Springboard to Success, the Emporium offers space to a variety of retailers who combine to offer a hyper-local shopping experience that supports businesses as they grow.


It might stretch the imagination to consider that leaving Mobile for a few fun-filled days still supports the local economy, but that’s exactly the case. As it transitions to become the city’s primary hub, the Mobile International Airport recently landed a signature low-cost carrier in Avelo Airlines. As part of its introduction to the area, Avelo unveiled discounted rates, and non-stop flights to Orlando, which have become a favorite of locals wanting to zip away to Disney World, Universal Studios or some of the best golf courses the Sunshine State has to offer.

As exciting as those flights are for families, access to Avelo is also a boon for hundreds of area businesses, which can offer the flights as corporate gifts for employees and clients alike. The same goes for cruises, now that Carnival Cruise Lines has placed the luxurious Carnival Spirit in dock at the Alabama Cruise Terminal. The floating city can host more than 2,000 guests and, like booking flights out of the Brookley Aeroplex, the more those companies enjoy full occupancies, the more opportunities Mobilians and area visitors will get to travel.

The Mobile Chamber has its own travel program which raises funds to support its overall mission of economic growth for Mobile. Through the Chamber, local travelers relax and enjoy the world’s offerings without having to plan a moment of the trip.

Membership Support

One gift opportunity with tremendous lasting effect is membership to area attractions. Such access gives the recipient an entire season — or the whole year — to enjoy a variety of offerings from places such as Bellingrath Gardens and Home, the Mobile Museum of Art and the USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park, as well as local attractions like GulfQuest, the History Museum of Mobile and the Exploreum Science Center.


If your loved one likes to go and do, cultural excursions have become very popular in recent years, such as Bienville Bites Food Tours, Secret History Tours and the new Mobile Pedal Tours in downtown Mobile. Nearby, the Perdido Queen offers dinner cruises of the Mobile River or guests can enjoy being pampered and spoiled at Hand and Stone or the Battle House Spa. For those who like a bit more action with their entertainment, there’s Top Golf, axe throwing at Grizzly Axes, roller coasters and water slides at OWA Parks and Resort, even improvisation classes through Bay Cities Improv.

Want to learn something new? Wind Creek Hospitality offers a wide variety of culinary classes and the Grand Hotel in Point Clear offers a fun experience with its Culinary and Beverage Academy. Regardless of how you prefer to lend your support this holiday season, with a little direction and intention, what you give can have long-lasting, positive impacts while making someone smile. “By supporting local businesses and attractions, you’ll find it’s going to come back to you in some way, shape or form,” Barkin said. “It’s one of the best forms of community involvement and a major engine of growth in this community.”

Published as part of the December 2023 Mobile Bay magazine, “The Chamber Insider” highlights the Mobile Chamber’s work on behalf of the Mobile business community and spotlights Chamber events and members. Mobile Chamber members receive a complimentary subscription to Mobile Bay Magazine.

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