A gift guide for lovers of all things local
Eat local. Dress local. Shop local. Good mantras to live by. We’ve put together our picks for great places in Southwest and Downtown to shop for the holidays if you’re a localvore. Here are highlights of gift fairs and retailers that feature a great selection of merchandise made close to home.
Walker Art Center Jewelry Artist Mart
1750 Hennepin Ave. S.
The Walker Art Center’s gift shop is the perfect place to head for the art lover on your shopping list. The store carries edgy jewelry, fun toys, an extensive selection of prints and posters, clothing, books, home furnishings, clothing and more.
The Walker’s Cargill Lounge will turn into a local-to-global Jewelry Artist Mart on Nov. 14. There will be displays by more than a dozen local, national and international jewelry designers. Local chocolatier B.T. McElrath will also be on hand to chat with shoppers and hand out samples of his handcrafted chocolate treats.
1311 W. 26th St.
Design Collective is a great place to get local designers’ stuff — jewelry, clothing, random gifts. It’s also one of the best locations to find Twin Cities-centric T-shirts ($20–$26) that don’t reference twins or Vikings and has a knack for selling unique attire. One of our favorite items: Tired Ol’ Belts ($25). The handmade rubber wrap-arounds come from 100 percent reused bicycle parts. Labels identify each belt’s source (Schwinns, Serfas, etc.) and the buckles — which come in an assortment of sizes — are cogs and cog spacers.
Another nice find: gifts meant to offend, if only slightly. Most holiday presents don’t tend to come with “jerkface” embroidered on them, but why not? All of that sugary sweet holiday spirit can get to be a bit too much sometimes. Mean Bags ($12) — vibrantly colored, tossable bean bags with putdowns stitched into them — are the perfect way to blow off some happiness-overload steam by capably (but mildly) bruising both arms and emotions. (Be forewarned: Most of the putdowns weren’t fit for us to print, so beware of giving them to children. Not that you’d want a kid in control of bruise-causing toys, anyway.)
813 W. 50th St.
If it’s local you want, look no further than Minneapolis retailer Patina’s new sibling boutique, Shoppe Local.
The store is all about supporting Twin Cities companies and individuals and carries everything from produce to jewelry. The price range is equally diverse.
One notable item is a hip-hop spin on the scarf — a giant fabric chain made by local designer Rachel Schroder, who goes by Ms. Stitch. The chain can be wrapped or hung in a variety of ways and comes in an assortment of bright colors. It’s winter bling at its best. The scarves cost $56 each.
Schroder also makes heavy-knit stocking hats, which Shoppe Local sells for $25.
If winter clothing isn’t your thing, the store carries fruit, wall art, clothing, books, stationery, music and countless other gift items.
2000 4th Ave. S.
There are few record shops in town that do a better job of stocking local music than the Electric Fetus. It’s been that way for years — long before the April launch of MinnEconomy, a campaign to highlight locally produced music and products.
The MinnEconomy display, which changes monthly, is a good place to start when looking for gift ideas. But the little green stickers in the shape of Minnesota make it easy to spot local releases anywhere in the story.
For the pop-loving tween or teen, consider “Ocean Eyes,” the latest release from basement keyboard-tinkler Adam Young of Owatonna. Recording under the name Owl City, Young made headlines when in late October he became the first Minnesota musician in a decade to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Fireflies,” a single off the new album.
The aging ex-scenester in your life might appreciate “Stereo Night” from the Twilight Hours, the last band to take the stage at the Uptown Bar before the landmark watering hole closed Nov. 1. The band includes former members of Trip Shakespeare, a group fondly recalled by many who were around in the local music scene’s heyday several decades ago.
Speaking of heydays, they may be back, judging from the number of little green stickers pasted on everything from conscious hip hop (“The Truth is Here,” the latest from Brother Ali) to quirky folk (“Special Party Time for Everybody,” new from Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles) to danceable rock (“Bodies of Water” by Solid Gold).
Do It Green! Green Gifts Fair
Midtown Global Market
930 E. Lake St.
More than 70 local green artists and businesses will be part of the fourth annual Do It Green! Green Gifts Fair on Nov. 21.
The vendors will be selling all kinds of stuff — bamboo products, candles, floral arrangements, recycled cards, jewelry and much more. The fair runs 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
In addition to the scores of green retailers, the fair will have many other activities. Here are some highlights:
— The launch of the 2010 Do It Green! Magazine, a green-living guidebook;
— The Taste of the Low Carbon Cook Off (noon–1 p.m.), featuring chefs Paul Lynch from Firelake Grill House and Molly Herrmann from Tastebud Tart;
— Demonstrations on sewing a reusable cloth gift bag, wrapping gifts in less wasteful ways and making recycled origami decorative ornaments;
— An eco fashion show (2–3 p.m.);
— Tips on cooking local holiday foods from Chow Girls Catering;
— Advice on hosting green holiday parties at Eureka Recycling’s Low Waste Oasis; and
— Information on green holiday trees, including live, organic and alternative tree display options.
I Like You
501 1st Ave. NE
Much of the work at I Like You — knits, prints, cards, T-shirts, jewelry and the like — comes from local artists. Some of it’s national, but it’s all handmade.
That gives give any gift from the store an aura of uniqueness.
Because there’s so much to choose from, it’s hard to highlight specific items at I Like You. One collection, however, stands out. That would be the wide variety of barrettes and bobbies ($3–$6). They epitomize fun for your hair: some recycle prints from classic children’s books (they’re dubbed “too cool for school recycled storybook barrettes”), while others incorporate individual Scrabble tiles. The under-$10 price doesn’t hurt.
Also cool and recycled are recycling artist Emily Kircher’s handmade frames ($20–$25). From afar, they look just like any other artsy frames, but close up, it becomes apparent that Kircher smashed up cups and plates to use as decoration. They’re thrifty without distracting from the images inside.
Magers and Quinn
3038 Hennepin Ave. S.
In early November, six of the top 10 best-selling non-fiction titles at Magers and Quinn had something to do with food.
There was “Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously” next to “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” alongside “Damn Good Food,” the recent cookbook written by Hell’s Kitchen chef and owner Mitch Omer (worth purchasing for the peanut butter recipe alone). As for what this says about the collective unconscious of Uptown book buyers, draw your own conclusions.
They have other interests besides food, apparently; the number two best seller was “Roadside Geology of Minnesota” by Richard Ojakangas ($23.25). Released in September, the book offers a detailed description of the geology underlying Minnesota’s landscape, from the Arrowhead’s ancient bedrock to southern Minnesota’s sandstone cliffs.
A retired geology professor who taught at the University of Minnesota–Duluth, Ojakangas writes for non-geologists. As the book’s title suggests, it might handy to pack for a long road trip — a guide to the changing scene outside the car window.
208 N. 1st St
Edible gifts are always a winner during the holidays and as its name implies, Downtown food boutique Local D’Lish has plenty of local offerings to choose from.
“Pretty much buying any gift here is supporting the local little guy for the most part,” said owner Ann Yin.
But she has a few holiday recommendations. For the entertainer, she recommends A Gourmet Thyme’s Cayenne Shortbread wafers, advertised as “savory not sweet.” Local baker Donna Cavanaugh makes the wafers from a rich, buttery shortbread with a cayenne kick. Yin said they’re good plain or with cheese or jam. A package of 20 wafers sells for $6.
Cavanaugh also makes killer brownies for $2.50 each. Yin said those were hot sellers last year.
Another gift option is Bliss Gourmet Foods’ granola, made by Leslie Powers from St. Paul. The crunchy, toasty granola comes in a variety of flavors including pumpkin spice. A gluten free granola is also available.
An 8-ounce container of granola is $3.95 and a 16-ounce container sells for $7.95. Gluten-free granola in the larger size is $9.50.
Yin said most of the products in the store are made with ingredients from area farmers.