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All items are local at new Allentown shop

A Little Bit of Local
Samara Ahmed
LeeAnn Bower with her son, Jaxton Bower

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The greeting cards come from Scranton, and are made with sunflower and corn poppy seeds. If you plant one, flowers grow.

"The whole idea is some people don't keep greeting cards, or they throw them away," said LeeAnn Bower, the owner of A Little Bit of Local, which opened at 21 N. Seventh St. in Allentown last month.

  • A Little Bit of Local opened up last month in downtown Allentown
  • They carry items from nearly 60 small businesses
  • It aims to sell unique and handmade items made in the area

"But this way, it all goes back."

The candles are from Allentown, and the salt-free spices are from Easton.

The cutting boards, which are handcrafted in Exeter, source 95% of their wood from Pennsylvania. They're made of pecan, sycamore and hickory.

The leather purses and wallets are made in Orefield, by Michael McGlade.

"He's like, you really think my stuff is good enough to sell in a store?" said Bower. But now, "he was so excited with what sold, he's actually started coming up with new ideas."

Every item in the store comes from just a few hours away. It's a one-stop shop for small, artisanal products made in the Lehigh Valley and its surrounding areas.

Starting a local business with local businesses

Growing up, Bower's parents had an antique shop in their house. However, she didn't immediately follow in their footsteps. Instead, she went to college to become an occupational therapist.

The idea for a store came to her last year, after selling homemade headbands and hair bows for babies at the Chameleon Pop-Up Shops.

"A lot more people are starting to go towards small business," said Bower, "just to be able to put kids through extracurriculars.

"If we're not supporting those smaller businesses, and we constantly support the bigger chains, then all of these little unique things are going to be gone."

Right now, Bower stocks goods from almost 60 different vendors in the area. Part of the reason that number is so high is because of the number of festivals, farmers' markets and craft shows in the area.

"There is a lot of talent in the area."
LeeAnn Bower

"There really is a strong arts piece," said Bower, of the community. "There is a lot of talent in the area."

A family effort

Bower is a full-time business owner and full-time mom to her sons, Jayce, 9 and Jaxton, 3.

"It is a one-woman show," she said. Her husband, Dave, opens the store on Saturday mornings, so she can take the kids to soccer.

Right now, Jaxton spends his days in the shop, getting a similar childhood to the one she enjoyed.

"I wasn't sure how people would react to a 3-year-old being in the store," said Bower. "But I found that most people are really accepting and patient with him. Ninety-nine percent of people, they'll interact with him and talk to him."

Jaxton turned a year old right after the coronavirus hit stateside in 2020, and spent most of the following years at home. "To see him have all those social opportunities is great," she said.

Soon, she plans to hire her first employee.

"It won't just be 100% me anymore."

Plans for 2023

Moving forward, Bower is excited to work with customers to better understand what they want.

"I am totally open to requests, so if there's something they'd like to be able to get closer or locally," she said "I am all about trying to get that in."

She just sourced espresso beans from Honesdale for someone who'd been previously shipping them in from California.

That company also makes drinking chocolate with whole cocoa nibs instead of powder. That's now in the store too.

She also plans to add more Allentown merchandise into the mix and work with vendors to get sweatshirts, hats, pins, wine glasses, and vinyl stickers in the store.

One of them has already made Allentown-themed pillows, which have been restocked four times.

A candle company is working on an Allentown line of candles, with scents like strawberry pie.

"I'm just really excited to be able to do this," Bower said, "and grateful for all the support that everybody has given so far."

A Little Bit of Local will be open this week on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. It will also be open on Christmas Eve from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Up-to-date store hours can be found on www.alittlebitoflocal.com and Instagram.