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Black Friday: Buying Local, Buying Made in Vermont

This holiday season, I’m opting out of the traditional box store shopping binges and foregoing plastic.  I’m not only buying local, but I’m buying handcrafted in the USA, supporting both local businesses and the online handmade mega house Etsy.  Shocking?  Maybe, to some at least.

Beyond the growing “buy local” craze is a growing momentum of buying handmade in the USA from home-based artisans and crafters, many of whom are selling their wares on sites like Etsy and Artfire.  Before discovering Etsy, whenever I thought of “handmade” I used to conjure up images of church sales, knick-knacks, tired knit scarves and granny square crocheted blankets.  But online sites, like Etsy, and an exploding number of home-based artisans and crafters who treat their craft as real businesses, has changed this image.

You’ll also find upscale, luxury versions of almost everything you might covet, need or want in a box store or in the mall.

Buying handmade, buying local, buying new-again products made from real people–moms, dads, teenagers, grandmothers, twenty-somethings, you get the idea–who are making products for a living (or to support a living) is not only cool, but it’s practical and inexplicably exciting.

Clicking over to Etsy, you see handmade and vintage products that are displayed like fancy boutiques–many with delicious and artful product photographs that entice you to buy (or make you think you should) almost everything your eyes see.  The best part, for me, though, is that the goods for sale are practical–sure, you can still find decorative, crocheted or knit things like tissue box covers or old school baby booties, but you’ll also find upscale, luxury versions of almost everything you might covet, need or want in a box store or in the mall.

Here are some  Black Friday Savings Examples Big Store vs. Etsy comparisons:

  • Cashmere Scarf online at Eileen Fisher $198.00.  vs.  Cashmere Scarf at Etsy. $31.
  • Handstamped Mom’s Love Necklace at Red Envelope. $99.95.  vs.  Handstamped Mom’s Necklack at Etsy. $23.
  • Row of Hooks Coat rack at Pottery Barn. $199.00.  vs.  Hooks Coat Rack at Etsy. $40

Not only are the prices often amazing and come as a huge savings, but buying products on sites like Etsy (yes, it’s a corporation, but it’s pretty decent to artisans and doesn’t extract a huge commission, so artisans can pocket more of their hard earned profits) supports real people on the individual level.  People based in the USA.  People based in Vermont.  People based in Burlington.  People based in Montpelier. People even based in the Northeast Kingdom.  Fyi, if you are so inclined, you can search for goods by location.  There’s also a super warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with buying this way.

And then, there’s the excitement of waiting for the package to arrive and receiving it.  It’s kind of like Christmas.

Off to shop… Happy Holidays!

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NEK Moms is the hyperlocal, reader-generated online destination for Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom Moms and Dads. NEK Moms is a Northeast Kingdom home grown and locally-based resource for Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.  Find us on Facebook here.  Follow us on Twitter here.


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