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We are in the home stretch now before Christmas, and those who do not have their shopping lists made out may wants some good ideas for the hard-to-shop-for people in their lives. If you're stumped about what do get your loved ones for Christmas, but still want to shop locally, check out Etsy's local search feature.
In the Etsy listings for Grand Rapids alone there are almost 35,000 items for sale. Handmade, handcrafted, wildcrafted, chemically concocted, vintage - there's a vast selection of clever and kitsch to choose from. If you can't get enough of Beer City, USA, but don't want to get your grandma booze, there are beer soap and beer bottle candles and deluxe brewing kits.
Does someone on your list love jewelry? There are plenty of handmade and vintage pieces to choose from. Don't have a lot to spend? There are lots of less expensive items like buttons, keyrings, baby bibs and headbands and beauty products to sample.
The Michigan economy has been...challenging for quite some time now, and many people are turning to Etsy to supplement their income or even to replace a lost job. Most of the well paying jobs that were lost will not return, but thrifting, crafting and repurposing are skills that many people have, do not require a huge amount of capital, and can be done at home around other duties like part-time work and parenting. Buying locally encourages art and initiative, puts money in regular people's pockets and keeps money in our community.
You can also be reasonably certain that children have not exploited, animals have not been used as test projects, and resources have been used efficiently in the making of your locally made gift. Local artists and vendors frankly cannot compete with major corporations and big box stores in branding their small businesses and products, so unless we choose to funnel our money consciously and purposefully, at least some of it goes toward exploitative business models and lining corporate pockets.
But, honestly, there's something really, really great in buying a one of a kind item or a vintage piece found, dusted off and given a new lease on life. I've always preferred wooden toys to plastic ones - they last longer, look cooler and can be used for multiple purposes. My son's block set has morphed from fine motor skill builder to construction set to Battle of Staliningrad reenactment background (with toy soldiers). It's gotten so much use over the years, much more so than the Batman plastic cars or any number of out-of-the box Christmas gifts he's received. Of the toys he's outgrown, I've only kept the ones with real meaning, and those have tended to be handcrafted.
Let's embrace it: handmade is the new store bought. Remember that this year during that last Christmas rush.
Rachel Potter has lived with her family in the Riverside Gardens neighborhood for 16 years. She is passionate about better living through food, exercise, sleep, herbalism, and community building.
Reports on: Food, herbalism, dogs, Creston