Shopping for gifts around the holidays can be stressful. Big-box stores are packed to the brim with stuff and people, and parking lots become obstacle courses. If you're in need of gifts but running out of places and time to find them, perhaps you could take a closer look in your own backyard. Not only will shopping locally benefit the people who live in your community, the local economy will get a boost, too.
"When you buy from my store, you are directly impacting the economy right here in the Quad-Cities," says Ann Hartley, of Moline, who owns Hartleystudio handmade jewelry.
"We all buy groceries here, buy houses here, go out to dinner here and shop local here. We are putting that money back out into the Quad-Cities. Plus, in a world of mass-produced, easily attainable goods, crafters lovingly labor over their goods, and it shows."
Additionally, local businesses encourage environmental sustainability because they are located closer to the people who purchase from them, ensuring less traffic and pollution. And because some smaller shops are online only with makers working out of their homes, they aren't adding to sprawl or air and water pollution.
Buying local shouldn't be something we only do at the holidays, however. Nicole Simmering, of Davenport, who owns Warm Fuzzies handmade goods, says that she tries to make an effort to shop local all the time.
"It's important to buy local any time of year because you are keeping your money in the community. Also, you're finding something totally unique. I am very proud to say that I the last two Christmases, all of my shopping was done at local shops and local craft fairs," Simmering says.
For Warehouse Essentials natural products owner Carrie Ware, of Moline, shopping local means directly impacting each and every maker. "It is such a great opportunity to support someone's creative outlet. I am a one-man show, so every sale means something, and I want the customer to be happy."
No matter who you're shopping for this Christmas, these three Quad-Cities shop owners and makers have something for everyone on your list.
Owner: Ann Hartley
Products: Hartley makes a variety of handmade sterling silver and gold jewelry.
Her inspiration for opening a local shop: "While working on my MFA at Illinois State University in 1994, I discovered the metal smithing program and a wonderful art jewelry gallery in Louisville, Ky., where my family lives. It was serendipity. After completing my MFA in metal smithing, I moved to Columbus, Ohio, to work as a goldsmith at a jewelry store.
"When we moved to the Quad-Cities to be closer to family, my Etsy store was born, and I've been working for myself ever since."
Gift ideas: For moms, Hartley recommends the sterling silver bird on a branch pendant, which can be customized to feature mama and baby birdies.
The tiny mother's initial hammered family tree pendant is perfect for not only moms, but also will work for grandmothers, aunts, and even dads, since the sterling silver is gender neutral.
A fun splurge for any of the women in your life are the natural yellow rose-cut diamond stud earrings in 18 karat yellow gold. The sterling silver textured and pinned roughneck oxidized bangle bracelet also has been especially popular at shows, according to Hartley.
Pricing: Bird pendants start off at $64, and go up with each additional bird. The family tree necklace is $36, and may be customized with any initial for $22 per extra initials. The diamond stud earrings are $453. The bangle bracelet is $151.
Where to find them: Crafted QC, 217 E. 2nd St., Davenport; etsy.com/hartleystudio; The Iowa Artisans Gallery, 207 E. Washington St., Iowa City; and craft shows throughout the year.
Owner: Carrie Ware
Products: Warehouse Essentials sells all-natural products, including essential oil-based lotions, deodorants, lip balms and roller bottles.
Her inspiration for opening a local shop: "I started experimenting with making body butter this past January. I had received my first essential oil kit, and while some people are great at multilevel sales, I was not one of them. So, I started working with different recipes for body butter. I loved it, and started making it for my friends to try.
"They loved it. One night, after a soccer trivia night, I met Daina Lewis, owner of Shine Yoga. I was telling her about my body butters and how much I loved making them. She couldn’t wait to try them, and offered for me to sell them at her store. After that, I went on to sell them at the (Radish Magazine) Yoga Fest. That was amazing. Everyone was so supportive and positive."
Gift ideas: For new moms, Ware recommends body butter made with Liquid Xanax essential oils for relaxation and anxiety relief. For men, she recommends the Three Wise Men body butter and The Woodsman deodorant. For kids and teens, she recommends Mint Chocolate Chip and Creamsicle body butter.
She also offers roller balls with several blends of essential oils that would make great gifts for anyone in need of a little stress relief, including Hot Momma for hot flashes, and Calm Your Squirrel for focus. She also carries essential oil diffuser necklaces.
Pricing: $15 body butter; $8 deodorant and roller bottles; $10 diffuser necklaces.
Where to find the products: Warehouse Essentials will open an Etsy shop this month. Until then, you may order products through its Facebook page, Facebook.com/WarehouseEssentials. Some products also are available at Shine Yoga & Bodyworks, 4703 16th St., Suite I, Moline.
Owner: Nicole Simmering
Products: Upcycled sweaters turned into cozy mittens, and hooded towels.
Her inspiration for opening a local shop: "I started Warm Fuzzies when my oldest son was still a little guy, about seven years ago. I was looking for something to keep me busy while at home with him, and I didn't know how to knit or crochet, but I did have a background in pattern making and sewing... So I took an old pair of mittens and made my own pattern, cut up a sweater and started making my own mittens.
"My mittens are all completely hand-sewn and made from upcycling sweaters. Then after a couple years of the mittens, I came up with a pattern for hooded towels. It was something that my household needed since my kids had outgrown their infant towels."
Gift ideas: Simmering says her mittens make a great gift for anyone on your list, including teachers, and they make great stocking stuffers. Hooded towels are ideal for the kids in your life, and can be customized with sports teams, superheroes, characters and patterns.
Pricing: Towels and mitten sets are $20 each.
Where to find the products: Facebook.com/Warm-Fuzzies; Skeleton Key Boutique, 520 18th St., Rock Island; Mint Green Boutique, 2208 E. 11th St., Davenport; and craft fairs in the winter, including Handmade City.