Gift giving time, and what in the world should I get everyone, well let’s run down to the mall and figure it out. Or you can get a variety of gifts from local spots and really help out your community and your local business. Hear me out on this. Whenever you shop at a chain store or eat at a chain restaurant, yes you are still giving tax money to the state and a local person’s job is being supported, absolutely! However, because it’s a chain based business based in another state, only a small percentage of that stays in your area. Recently I saw a figure that stated for every $100 spent in a chain store only $14 of that stays in the local community. If you spent that same $100 in a local store, $45 of it would stay in the community.
So, you want to buy local for the holidays, where could you go? What could you get?
Local Gift Ideas for the Austin Area
* For the foodie: Gift cards to their favorite local restaurant. Or maybe someplace special they’ve wanted to try. I myself would love to get a gift card to South Congress Cafe, or East Side Showroom. Even if they were getting me a $10 gift card to Taco Deli, I’d be happy! Or if cooking is their thing, get them a cooking class at Thai Fresh, or Whole Foods, or from a local chef.
*For the coffee and tea lover: You can not throw a coffee bean in this town without hitting a local coffee shop! There are tons to choose from , Dominican Joes, Houndstooth, Pacha, Jo’s, Thunderbird, the list goes on. You can buy them a fresh bag of roasted coffee and pair it with a great mug or a gift card. And for tea lovers, let me attest to Steeping Room and the Tea Embassy, some great collections and gifts. You can also find some great coffees and the at the farmers markets.
*For the fashionista clothes horse: There are boutiques galore in this area, and some are pretty affordable. Strut is a favorite of mine that won’t break the bank, Langford Market is getting a lot of buzz lately. But ultimately if you don’t know how to pick something out for the fashion lover you can always get a gift card. Also there are some pretty great local designers that sell via appointment and internet that are actually very affordable they just don’t have a store front. Usually the best place to find these gems are at the Christmas Bazaars and other artisan fairs. Here is a great local artisan fair to hit – the Austin Flea www.austinflea.net – tons of clothing and jewelry and those neat little local finds.
*For the jewelry lover: Once again, artisan fairs and holiday bazaar are the way to go on this. There are some cool spots along SoCo (South Congress) and first that I love too.
*For the book lover: Instead of hitting up the big chain bookstore, why not visit BookPeople or even Recycled Reads as quite a bit of their books are in excellent condition.
*For the garden lover: The Great Outdoors, Shoal creek Garden, The Big Red Barn and loads of other local nurseries have tons of gifts as well as plants – or a gift card.
*For the fitness lover: I got this idea from a local gym, Pure Austin, and I’m sure others would do it as well. You can gift the enrollment fee. If you aren’t sure they want to join that particular gym, you could talk to the enrollment staff to see if you can gift a month, a week etc.
Local Holiday Bazaar and Fairs
This is a great way to shop! The money benefits the organization or artisan directly and it’s much more one of a kind type of gifts.
* The Armadillo Christmas Bizarre is a big one, and it is very popular in Austin. It’s a great way to hit as many local spots at once as you can. www.armadillobazaar.com
* The Farmer’s Markets – just about every town in this area has at least one right now. Austin alone has at least 6 during a given week. And its not just produce. There is jewelry, coffees, foods, teas, jellies and more!
* The Austin Flea is a really fun way to see a lot of local vendors without getting too overwhelmed. It’s also free to go so that helps many who aren’t sure if there is something there they want to buy or not.www.austinflea.net
* The Blue Genie Art Bazaar – this is definitely for that friend or family member that wants something out of the ordinary, a really fun look at some local artists bluegenieartbazaar.com
* The Cherrywood Art Fair – which happens to be December 8th weekend this year, is a great little fair that shows off some local art and artisans, www.cherrywoodartfair.org
For those of you that are internet shoppers, you can go to Etsy.com and type in your town, local vendors will pop up. You can also go to the sites above and contact vendors directly, many of them have websites where you can order.