Shop Local: A Rapid Growth holiday gift guide

Phew. Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are finally behind us. But for those of us that have yet to check off everything on our holiday shopping list, there are plenty of local options to feed your desire for gifts friendly to the local economy. Check out the categories below to find just what you’re looking for without having to rely on Amazon or (yet another) trip to the mall. 

If you’re seeking a good deal:
Regardless of your budget, shopping at local consignment shops is always an enticing past-time. With racks of gently-used name brands curated by local business owners and sold by fellow West Michiganders, you never know what you’ll find. On the southeast side? Stop by Rock Paper Scissors for a stroll through their racks, or pop in their back room for clearance and $5 deals. Grabbing a bite near Creston and seeking some gently used outdoor and adventure clothing and accessories (as well as a bike tune-up)? Hit up Switchback Gear Exchange.

Audrey LaneLocated a little farther north? Follow Eastown staple Audrey Lane in their migration and expansion to their new location at 4496 Plainfield NE, where they will expand their kids offerings and even add a new maternity section.

Having a tough time finding the gift you’re looking for? Snag a gift card from any of these local gems and share the shopping excitement with your gift recipient.

If you’re seeking that personal touch:
Here in Grand Rapids, there is no shortage of handmade gifts by local artisans. If you didn’t make it to the artist’s market at the Downtown Market, there’s still time to fuel your shopping craze for local gifts. Jump on the (free) bus and pop into any number of shops during the over 20-years-old Uptown Holiday Shop Hop on December 5, including Woosah, where local legend Erica Lang crafts prints and clothing from hand-carved wood blocks, or Gemini Handmade, where leather-workers, co-owners, and married couple Jacob and Elyse Vroon craft everything from bags to koozies to planters.

Visit and spread the Woosah over the holidays!If your aim is sustainability:
Sigh. Wrapping paper. Amazon boxes. That 220-pound plastic behemoth found in the belly of a whale in Scotland. If you’re into buying gifts but are so over the waste created with the season’s rigamarole, consider opting for a more sustainable option. Committed to sustainable fabrics made from natural fibers like hemp and eucalyptus and working with fair labor manufacturers since 1996, Clothing Matters in East Hills on Diamond is your destination for guilt-free gifts. They even offer a variety of styles to outfit your entire staff with your logo.

Kara HoholikAnd if intentionality and further education in sustainable fashion is your goal, check out the recently transformed Joon + Co., who not only offers a wardrobe of earth-friendly looks, but also capsule wardrobes and educational resources on their website (founder Becky VandenBout wrote for us in 2017). Seeking a further resource to help your friend or family member kick start their own closet? Consider gifting a course or workbook from local sustainable fashion guru, Educated Style.
Feme Naigow of Apsara Spa.
If you (or your loved ones) just need a minute:
The bustle of the holidays can take a toll on us all. Consider gifting (yourself or anyone on your list), a respite from the season with an item from a local personal care shop, like lotions, soaps, and face masks from Fox Naturals or a gift certificate for the Ultimate Relaxation Package from Apsara Spa or an Infared Sauna Session from Wanderlux Beauty and Wellness Spa.

Books and Mortar.If your secret Santa is book lover:
There’s nothing like the feel of a fresh printed page or the smell of stacks of hardcover books. If your gift recipients still appreciate an actual book, stop by East Hills for Uptown’s (and Grand Rapids’) favorite local bookstore, Books & Mortar on Cherry St. With a vast selection and friendly staff that will even offer to special order a title should you not find the book you’re looking for, this shop is a must-stop for holiday hopping.

If you’re seeking a curated list of diverse authors, look no further than We Are LIT, an online bookstore with local pop-ups founded by our very own Innovation Editor Kendra McNeil. “We Are LIT is an independent, multicultural bookshop offering new, diverse books across all genres. Its inventory is hand selected to connect readers of all ages to their interests through thoughtfully curated books,” says McNeil.

We Are LIT's next pop-up will be held at the annual Urban Core Collective Holiday Mixer at Muse GR on Wednesday, December 17. A portion of sales will benefit The Black Book Exchange Box GR, a City of Grand Rapids Neighborhood Match Fund project.

MokayaIf your loved one is a culinary craftsman/woman:
There’s no doubt about it: among the sounds, smells, and experiences, the holidays have a certain taste as well. For cheery gifts for the culinary-minded, stop by local confectioner Mokaya for truffles, pastries, and custom-crafted beverages of the chocolate sort. If your gift recipient likes to craft their own culinary creations, consider cookware or accessories from Art of the Table, or a cooking class like “Epic Classic Gelato” or “Fresh Mozzarella & Butter Making” from The Local Epicurean.

As Grand Rapids retail only continues to grow, each season offers fresh and exciting finds for your holiday gift list. So get shopping!
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