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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Local Shopping Options in the Capital Region for the Holidays


NEW YORK – Looking for unique‌ gifts⁢ this holiday season? Support local businesses and stimulate the local economy by purchasing items made and⁤ produced by area businesses. Here’s a look at some popular gift items from Capital Region businesses:

Schenectady Trading Company on Union Street in Schenectady

Schenectady Trading Company on Union Street in Schenectady offers a‌ wide variety of products from dozens ⁣of local makers and vendors.​ Owner Caroline Bardwell said many of this season’s most popular gifts have⁤ been self-care products.

“Locally made soaps and candles are popular,” Bardwell said. “A lot ⁣of times people are looking for cleaner-made products with natural ingredients. Handmade ⁤jewelry is often a good gift. One of our ‍big sellers this past week has been heating packs with the rice,‍ and you can warm them up. Self-care items are popular. We’ve‍ got another vendor ⁤who sells what⁣ she calls a pamper pouch, ‍and she’s a vendor who makes ⁤lip‍ balms and skin-care products with ⁤honey‌ in them. And⁣ she’s assembled these little pouches with personal-care items.”

Customers often prefer to give gifts that can be used rather than merely decorative items, Bardwell ⁣said.⁢ Foodie-type gifts such ​as homemade ‍jams, mustards or chocolate fudge are also popular for‍ the holidays, she added.

“The cutting boards are of course from Ali and Tom [Bland, a local couple who will be taking the business over],” Bardwell said. “Those are a great gift. They are beautiful but it’s also functional. It can​ be used.”

Shoppers also appreciate repurposed gifts, items that are recycled and ⁤given new life, Bardwell said. It’s an eco-conscious ⁢way to shop, she said.

Proponents of gifts made locally like to point out‌ that ⁤they help ​the region’s economy by keeping money in the community.

“In​ a store like mine there’s so many layers of local woven into my store,” Bardwell said. “An independent shop like mine is able to afford ⁣people with opportunities for ⁢the creative economy to earn money for what their creative talents ‌are.”

Gifts from local businesses ⁢also offer unique ‍and one-of-a-kind items that ⁢can’t be found at larger retailers, Bardwell said.

“There are many things in my store ⁤that ⁢you cannot find at⁤ any other place,” Bardwell said. “I think ​it ⁢provides access to unique gifts that you cannot find‌ anywhere else. It also allows people to have supplemental income, and it encourages their creative hobbies ‌and pursuits.”

Crafters Gallery in Saratoga ⁣Springs

Crafters Gallery in Saratoga Springs specializes in crafts ​and ⁣local artisanal items, said owner​ Christina Lowes. It offers gifts, home furnishings, jewelry and artwork crafted by ⁢local artisans.

“We’ve got ⁣everything from ‍ornaments [to] unique gifts that‍ are handmade — there’s something for​ everyone,” Lowes said.

This year ‍horse- and racetrack-themed items have been very popular, Lowes said.

“We​ have a lot ‍of people buying gifts for horse racing lovers. Our horseshoe ornament is ‍a big seller. Anything Saratoga-themed is very ⁣popular,” Lowes said. “We have a lot of locally made‍ Saratoga ornaments, ones that are horse-themed. Ones that are actual horseshoes ​are popular.”

Money spent on local items and‍ in⁤ local businesses‌ stays in ⁢the ⁢community, Lowes noted.

“Shopping ‍downtown in general,⁤ not just at my ⁣store, but in downtown Saratoga Springs is really a special,⁣ almost magical experience,” Lowes said.‌ “It really⁢ adds a personal⁢ touch​ to the whole holiday shopping experience. It allows for more meaningful and impactful gift giving, ‌and I⁤ think that’s something that’s really important around the holidays – to remember why​ we’re⁣ doing all this gift giving.”

The Flower⁢ Barn Gift Shop in Northville

The Flower Barn Gift Shop in Northville offers a variety‌ of creative items. ⁢Owner Sally Peck said roughly 70% of the store‍ is made up of items from independent artists from all over⁣ the world, and ⁤about 20% of⁢ those are made within ⁣a few hundred ⁤miles.

“A lot of people like ⁢the locally made candles. And we have Turkish lighting that’s really cool,” Peck⁢ said. “We have‍ so many wind chimes that I forget⁣ to tell people because they’re everywhere. We’re like the wind-chime capital of Fulton County, ​I think. We’ve got bamboo chimes and⁤ metal⁢ chimes, bell chimes — all ‌kinds of chimes made out of all kinds of materials.”

Jewelry, pottery, carvings, ⁤wind chimes and greeting cards are all⁣ among popular items at the store, Peck said.

“I always say‌ expensive ‍doesn’t scare me, but overpriced I refuse to be,” Peck said. “So my ⁣prices‌ go ⁣anywhere from $5 ‌to ​$500. I think ‌it’s important that if a child comes in and wants to buy a gift for his mom, he⁢ can‌ get her something. That’s really important to me.”

Shopping locally is important, Peck said, because it⁢ is ‍those ‍local businesses that support Little League teams, school fundraisers, ⁣and other groups and events. Local businesses​ give back to their communities, she added.

“Supporting⁢ local businesses keep the mom-and-pop stores​ in business,” Peck said. “If we were to all close up then⁤ there would be no downtowns anywhere. There would be no Main Streets.”

According‌ to a recent survey from Capital One Shopping Research, ⁤there are plenty of community benefits ​to ⁣shopping locally. Local retailers retain 289% more revenue for ⁤the area economy than chain stores do, and small businesses make up to⁤ 136% more ⁢charitable donations per employee than do larger ‍businesses ‌— with 500 or more employees do — according to the survey.

Last month ⁢Gov. Kathy Hochul encouraged shoppers to support local businesses by shopping locally on Small ‍Business Saturday. Hochul reported that small⁤ businesses represent 98% of all New York ‌state business.

Rafael Torres
Rafael Torres
Rafael Torres, a native of Schenectady, has returned to his hometown after several years of reporting in the Midwest. A graduate of Missouri School of Journalism, Alex is known for his empathetic approach to local news, covering everything from community events to local governance, always with an aim to bridge diverse perspectives.
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