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These six small businesses serve their community and travelers


When we travel, we aren’t merely visiting a dot on the map, we are immersing ourselves in the nuances that create a destination’s character. The neighborhood restaurants, mom-and-pop shops, and hidden gems are the beating heart of the communities they serve. It’s no wonder we find ourselves delighted by unexpected artwork, wandering into family-run bookstores, or sampling delights from a specialty grocer.

These kinds of experiences are the reason we explore unfamiliar locales – and for that we have independent business owners to thank.

That’s why we teamed up with Lenovo in support of its Evolve Small initiative, which champions small businesses across the US and Canada by providing financial aid, technological resources and mentorship programs. In the spirit of supporting these local mainstays, we reached out to Lonely Planet travelers across our social media channels with one request … to tell us their favorite small businesses. They delivered. Here, we’ve rounded up six can’t-miss businesses that represent the best of what a small business can do for its customers, community, and visitors alike.

The Culture Candy promotes underrepresented and minority artists in New York City © Stefano Giovannini/Lonely Planet

The Culture Candy

New York City, NY

The Culture Candy is a woman- and POC-owned arts organization based in NYC that works to promote underrepresented and minority artists by showcasing their work and providing networking opportunities. It was created by Lee Lee La Cubana and Zalika Zeni to preserve urban culture and provide more exposure for visual artists – especially women of color and other minorities. The collective launched in 2020 with a pop-up event at a park in Long Island. When the turnout hit 300 people, they knew they were onto something special. Since then, The Culture Candy has created opportunities for more than 200 artists and small businesses to be seen throughout the city, with more than 35 events and public curations.

Cubana said she loves making a difference in artists’ lives and showing them they have real career options.

The Culture Candy are (L-R) Zalika Zeni, Vice President; Crystal Bissessar, Director of Art and Engagement; Tayler Hernandez, Director of Technical Design and Finance; Lee Lee La Cubana, CEO; and Danielle Wynter, Director of Global Development and Operations © Stefano Giovannini/Lonely Planet

“We’re here to support local artists and grow our art family,” she…

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