In the consumerist orgy of the holiday season, it's important not to let the cries of "shop local" fall on ears deafened by endless demands and brains dulled by to-do lists, fiscal worries and yuletide cocktails. Patronizing indie businesses keeps more bucks in the local economy than visiting big-box retailers, and preserves the distinct, local character of neighborhoods and cities. In the past few years, the shop-local movement has steadily gained momentum — evidenced this year by the first Small Business Saturday, a counterpart to the traditional Black Friday mall madness. Spearheaded by American Express OPEN, AMEX's small-business unit, and supported by more than a dozen organizations, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Yelp, Small Business Saturday aims to get shoppers packing the mom-and-pops and spending locally on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. And in metro Detroit, there are plenty of opportunities to do just that — cherished local institutions, brand-new storefronts, gallery gift markets and community events all provide plenty of ways to keep your dollars in Detroit. Here's our annual shop local suggestions, just to get you started.
10125 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit; 313-822-0954; pewabicstore.org
The signature ceramics fired at this Detroit institution date back to 1903, when Mary Chase Perry Stratton founded what is now Michigan's only historic pottery. Pewabic's annual Earthy Treasures Holiday Show provides both newcomers and aficionados a prime opportunity to visit the pottery's quaint, cottage-like shop on Jefferson and peruse Pewabic's ceramic ornaments, vases and tiles decorated with images of animals, plants, geometric patterns, the Detroit skyline and more. Tiles can be snagged for as little as $13.95, while vases can approach the $200 mark. Along with Pewabic's signature items, works in a range of styles and prices by ceramics artists both local and national are displayed. For the 2010 holiday, the pottery introduced a number of special pieces, including a snowflake trivet, a six-pointed star tile and a series of collectible snowflake ornaments — priced to give at $18 each or $50 for the set of three. Slip one on a bottle of wine to jazz up a hostess gift or give it to the person you have to buy for but know nothing about (a brother's girlfriend, a picky mother-in-law) — if they know Pewabic, they'll appreciate the gesture. If they don't, explaining the local significance of the pottery will keep the conversation rolling.
Paint Creek Center for the Arts
407 Pine St., Rochester; 248-651-4110; pccart.org
Paint Creek's annual gift gallery features handmade gifts and artwork by artists from throughout the state. Items come in a variety of styles — for the traditionalists, there are hand-blown glass ornaments by George Bochnig and wood bowls by Jim Fuller. For those more prone to whimsy, check out wooden rattles by Sandra Westley, or the plush animals created from distinct fabric and patterns by Cassandra Schoneck. Other goodies up for grabs include jewelry, holiday decorations, toys, wood block prints, scarves, purses, ceramic items, handcrafted paper goods and more. Gifts come in a variety of prices; for a truly big-ticket item, consider signing up the amateur artist in your life for one of the center's classes, which cover everything from clay and painting to digital photography and collage, ranging in price from $100 to $190 for nonmembers. More than just an exhibition space, Paint Creek is truly a community arts center, offering studio classes for all age levels, hosting summer art camps for kids and spearheading a number of community arts initiatives, including Rochester's annual Art & Apples Festival.
GifteD: A Holiday Boutique
99 Monroe St., Detroit
If one-stop shopping has been your excuse for fighting crowds of frenzied shoppers at the mall, this pop-up shop will make you bite your tongue. Located in one of the Compuware building's retail spaces, GifteD has collected a range of Detroit retailers into one convenient spot. It's a boon for downtown workers, who can now take a short lunch-hour jaunt to holiday shop instead of spending their after-work hours waiting in lines and scouring parking lots for empty spaces. Open Fridays through Christmas Eve, GifteD features artwork courtesy of Re:View Contemporary Gallery, bikes and biking gear from Wheelhouse Detroit, and home and office supplies from Bureau of Urban Living. Others setting up temporary shop at GifteD include Leopold's Books, City Bird, Motor City Sewing and downtown clothing stores DSE@Grand and Rags. Onsite services such as dog training from Canine to Five, massage from Re:new Detroit and tailoring from Motor City Sewing are also available.
Dec. 11, at the Savoy, 23 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti; diypsi.com
Metro Detroiters are no strangers to the bar-based craft fair — there are old stalwarts such as Bar Bazaar and Rock 'n' Rummage, there's Handmade Detroit's stellar Detroit Urban Craft Fair, there's the relatively new It's a Craft Thing fairs and there's Ypsi's always kickass Shadow Art Fair. And now there's D.I.Ypsi. This one-day handmade spectacular features 29 local vendors slinging everything from clothing and jewelry to paper products and sculptures. The Ypsi artists behind the event — Cre Fuller, Sherri Green Carroll and Marcy Davy — hope to connect shoppers with indie artists they may otherwise be unfamiliar with, as well as to highlight downtown Ypsilanti as a holiday shopping destination. Highlights of the fair include bags, wallets and other items made from reclaimed fabric by Dang Argyle; cheeky greeting cards and stationery (one card reads "You put the ass in asshole." Enough said) from Junkmail Greetings; shirts, hoodies and bags sporting an outline of our great state, by Great Lakes Shirts; jewelry carved from reclaimed hardwoods by Four Chamber Forge; and beautiful handmade scarves by Ion(a)rt. Along with the local gifts, the family-friendly D.I.Ypsi will also feature local eats, free admission and of course, a full bar.
15 E. Kirby St., Detroit; 313-871-1466; goodsdetroit.com
The ever-increasing hustle and bustle of Midtown is frequently remarked upon, as new events and businesses continually add to the vibrancy of this Detroit hood. Goods came into the mix a few months ago, when its retail space on the Woodward side of the Park Shelton opened. The store features T-shirts, jewelry, photography, art and more, primarily from local artists and designers. Kids' clothing from Wee Revolution, jewelry from So Very Charming, hoodies and T-shirts by Defend Detroit, buttons from Comfortably Lovely and paper products from Junkmail Greetings are just a few of the items lining Goods' shelves and racks. The store also boasts its own line of screen-printed T-shirts and fabric pillows, including pillows decorated with the Spirit of Detroit for only $10. Besides selling ready-to-go goods, the shop also offers made-to-order apparel. T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, onesies, bibs, dog T-shirts and tote bags in a variety of colors can be spruced up with whatever design you please — either select from the artwork Goods has on file or provide the store with your own logo, saying or design. These custom-made wearables won't break the bank — adult T-shirts are only $25, hooded sweatshirts start at $40 and tote bags are $15. You can even book the store for private Tee Parties, where your guests can customize a shirt and then walk out the door with it. Goods also offers graphic design, illustration, website design and screenprinting services, call or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for info.