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Lucky to have the day off from my job here at the Indy, I spent Black Friday cleaning my house. It wasn't a scrubbing-the-toilets and vacuuming-under-the-fridge kind of day, but a massive game of "keep, toss or donate."

Seven hours later, I had five bags of recycling, a car-trunk full of contributions for the nearest wanting nonprofit, and completely re-alphabetized bookshelves. The only thing I bought that day was a vanilla hazelnut latte from a local coffee shop to keep me rolling.

Now don't get me wrong. I like to shop. I enjoy the hunt, actually, as much as the purchase. And what I've really come to appreciate over the years is the community of local shop owners here in the Pikes Peak region.

Want to browse the aisles with your dog? Sure, come on in! Peanut butter cookie while you look? How about two, and a cup of cider? Can't find what you need? Let me call so-and-so across town for you. All topped off with a warm hug or a cheery wave.

It's a community worth supporting, which I did by wandering around downtown and Old Colorado City on Small Business Saturday. I popped into one of my newer favorites, the one-year-old Earthen Artisan House on West Colorado Avenue. It carries the creations of local artist Nadine Sage, whose work graces our cover, and it's just one of 32 local businesses (plus one chain) that we visited for our annual Gift Guide, starting here.

Now who's cleaning up?

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