Friday, November 27th, 2009 at 10:00 am

Shop Local Month: Favourite Gifts to Give or Get

In honour of Shop Local Month, Keep Edmonton Original’s campaign to remind citizens to buy local, I wanted to write a post about my favourite gifts to give, purchased from small businesses based in Edmonton.

For example, I love to give: bottles of en Sante, especially to those who are unaware that Alberta had a cottage fruit wine industry; Gabe Wong’s funky Blockheads, “humanoid paper toys for the people of today” that can be punched out and pieced together without glue; and boxes of Chocophilia samplers from Kerstin’s Chocolates, which must include Mocha Bean and Ecuador 72%.

But then I thought – the more the merrier, especially on a topic as subjective as gift giving. So I canvassed several local personalities for an answer to the following question: “What is your favourite locally-purveyed gift to give or get?” May their answers assist you in your holiday shopping in the coming weeks.

Jessie Radies, co-owner of The Blue Pear, and founder of Keep Edmonton Original

To receive: anything from Lux Beauty is awesome; spa gift certificates from Tonic; and Notables has a great line called Russell and Hazel that I love.

To Give:  Really depends on the person, but here are a few:

Standard hostess gift – bottle of en Sante wine, I keep a few on hand for last minute emergencies

For my foodie friends – boxes of local food and specialty items, usually a trip to the Italian Center and the farmers’ market gives me enough variety for a number of gifts.  Sometimes a run through Call the Kettle Black will score the perfect gadget to round out the gift. I also like to do a mix of coffees and teas with honey or a nice mug.  Transcend, Vitalatea or Cally’s Tea and Lola Canola are good starting points.

For the hard-to-buy-for man – A monthly Beer Subscription from Sherbrook Liquor Store

For people I know well, gift certificates for Yoga, Integration Pilates or Pause Massage.

Tickets to the Citadel are perfect for people that have all the stuff they need, and would enjoy a night out. Gift cards from Original Fare are great gifts too, as they can let you eat at a number of local restaurants.

Jennifer Crosby, Global Edmonton News Hour Final Anchor and Producer

I like to give people gifts they can use, as well as enjoy. I’m also a big fan of food grown, raised or produced locally, so I often make up packages of unique food items. I love to visit the H & R Farms booth at the Old Strathcona Market for the beautiful jams and relishes. Right now, between my fridge and my gift cupboard I have their Rhubarb Rose Petal jam (one of my favourite to give), Cinnamon-Pembina Plum jam, Cranberry Apple Pear relish, and Corn relish. I’ve mailed away a few different care packages that include the adorable little jars – to rave reviews. Add some local coffee, honey, and pastry, and you’re just bacon and eggs away from a made-in-Edmonton breakfast.

Cary Williams, financial advisor for Edward Jones and co-chair of Edmonton Next Gen

Not sure I can give one ‘favourite’ but we often get gifts from Red Ribbon in High Street. This year though I’m leaning towards gift certificates from Agency III. They’re a local lifestyle management/concierge company. I think I have people who would love having their own personal assistant to create more free time.

Jennifer Fong, staff writer for the Edmonton Journal and creator of the “52 reasons to love Edmonton”  series

My favourite item to give would have to be a box of macarons from Duchess Bake Shop. They’re light, not-too-sweet sweets that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating, they come in a million flavours, and they’re adorable. Plus, Duchess wraps them up in gorgeous gold boxes. Perfect.

My favourite item I’ve ever received was a pair of earrings by local jewelry-maker Nicole Salvalaggio. I got them at a Royal Bison fair and they’re beautiful silver drop earrings made with heart-shaped lockets that actually open. A friend of mine drew me a picture to put in one of the hearts. It’s amazing.

Michael Janz, Marketing Director for the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues

My favourite locally purveyed item to give is… the gift of talent and knowledge from the really awesome courses at the City Arts Centre. From guitar to art to wellness, there is something there for everyone and the flexibility is awesome.

My favourite locally purveyed item to get is… one of those fancy coffee machines that they have at Leva Cafe on 111th. I’ve never been given one but would love one. So if someone out there really loves me this December… *hint*

Jeff Samsonow, Editor-in-Chef and News Director for The Edmontonian

Something local that I love is Geekware. Nicola Harper has taken our e-waste and turned it into fun, funky accessories. I have a fantastic circuit board business card holder from the collection. It’s locally sourced and locally produced. She’s got the website and is at a lot of craft fairs. (We met her when she had a table beside Sally [also of the Edmontonian] at one such fair.)

If you’re looking for stores alone, we’re big fans of The Tin Box for interesting, helpful and even wacky stuff.

Sarah Bourque, the creative behind the adorable monsters of Belua Designs

My favourite gift to receive (or to treat myself) would have to be a hat from Sugar Soul Studios. I already own 3 but they are so fabulous I need more! They are universally flattering and are made from amazing fabrics. I think I need one for every outfit 🙂

Jeff Haslam, actor and Artistic Director of Teatro la Quindicina

I love love love to give or receive gift certificates from wither of my two fave Strathcona restaurants… Both family run and completely local: Gino’s Italian Kitchen (great Italian fare just south of the Varscona on Calgary Trail… Grandma is still cooking in the kitchen), and Culina (the Mill Creek branch, amazing food – a great brunch – and wonderful service too).

Dave Cournoyer, popular political blogger

My favourite local gift to give and receive is the jam made by the Strathcona Country Kitchen. I first discovered their jams at the 104th Street Farmers Market downtown this summer and I now fill up with their Raspberry Red or Strawberry Rhubarb jam whenever possible. Their jams are excellent with multigrain toast and organic peanut butter. It really is great jam.

Alex Abboud, Executive Assistant to Councillor Kim Krushell

To get – as someone who is gluten-intolerant, I like pretty much anything from local gluten-free food maker Kinnikinnick. While some of their products (and those of other companies such as Glutino) are readily available in grocery stores, the selection at their Edmonton factory store far exceeds that of anywhere else.

To give – I’ve started giving prints of photos I’ve taken. The frames are almost certainly not locally-purveyed, but the photos usually are. Otherwise, I also like to give concert or theatre tickets (or if the recipient is someone with a busy schedule, gift certificates for the Winspear or Citadel).

Nate Box, chef and operator of the forthcoming Elm Cafe

To receive:
– PORK:  Only once in my life has a friend been so confident in how well they know me, that they purchased not one, but two pork tenderloins for me as a gift.  I took it out of the bag and was (I kid you not) overjoyed!  But it doesn’t have to be tenderloin, just about any pork gets me excited.  Irvings Farm Fresh  product is definitely on the top of my wish list.
– MUSIC:  Blackbyrd Myoozik gift certificates are also at the top of my gift list.

To give:
– CLOTHES:  The girls at Nokomis are always more than helpful when it comes to finding a something unique for my wife.  They usually present three of four things, I narrow it to one, and then sneak it under the tree.
– COFFEE:  Most holiday meals, especially Christmas morning, my mom or sisters (whoever is hosting breakfast) usually receives a pound of coffee from Transcend.
– MOVIES: Tickets to the Garneau or Princess are also up their on the giveaways.  I’m always amazed at the number of friends and family that have “been before, but it’s been years”.

Sarah Chan, chic city cycling advocate and blogger

My favourite locally-purveyed item to give or get is Transcend coffee. Their shop smells delicious, the people are divine, and the only setback was their location. I’ll just say that biking on 99 street isn’t all that inspiring. However, this will be remedied with their new location! I’ll be able to enjoy their beans with just a short bike or bus ride. Two of my favourite things, together at last.

A shopping opportunity…

To help you get started (or finish) your Christmas shopping, Jenna Herbut, the organizer of the upcoming Make It Fair (December 11-13 at the Alberta Aviation Museum), has generously provided me with 10 pairs of tickets to the craft show to give away. It looks like it will be a great show, with over 100 designers in attendance offering unique gift ideas.

If you are interested in attending, please leave a comment with a valid e-mail address below (in the e-mail address field, not the comment itself) by noon on December 5. I will randomly select five names and contact the winners by e-mail on December 6.

Good luck!

  • Jason

    Thanks for the great gift ideas and the all-around awesomeness of this blog!

  • http://scientyst.wordpress.com bingofuel

    Wow, great stuff as usual Sharon! Also, I’m hoping for some tickets!

  • Lisa H.

    Great post as usual, and nice touch of adding tips from fellow edmontonians. I’ll be out at Royal Bison this weekend doing some shopping!

  • Terra

    I love that the Christmas season in Edmonton includes Craft Shows. Hoping to make it to Royal Bison this weekend and would love to go to Make It Fair in a couple weeks.

  • Ee

    Thanks for sharing this great list of places I can drop by either to buy gifts for family and friends. Maybe at the same time, pick up a gift or two for myself. 🙂

  • http://www.oviattcreative.com Andrew

    Looking forward to the Make It Fair! I have some friends who will be there with their awesome hand-made, organic, eco-friendly bath & body products (http://www.truffulaorganics.com/).

  • http://www.manascisaac.com shafraaz

    Nice post! Another great spot is the Alberta Craft Council Gallery & Shop- on the corner of 106st/102 ave! They have a great variety of items by Alberta artists/craftspeople! And a local shop I like is Zocalo- on 95 street, near the Italian Centre!

  • Tiran

    Love the suggestions, especially bison and make it, since many of the people I am buying for are not in Edmonton so the gift cert. suggestions don’t really work for me. As much as I would love to be done my shopping before the weekend of make it, realistically it won’t happen, so I would love a pair of tickets.
    Thank you.

  • Designenvy

    These are suggestions are great. Lots that I haven’t thought of before. I love the idea of giving experiences and food rather than just more stuff that the person may not want.

  • Jennifer

    What a great list – thanks for collecting all this great local brainstorming and sharing it. Flattered to be included – and I confess, I’ll be picking up some of these for myself, rather than for gifts 🙂

  • http://www.cwhillphoto.com Bill

    I enjoyed reviewing all the suggestions. If you like the occasional ‘granola morning’, you may want to go to Bon Ton Bakery on 149 St and 88 Ave. They make their own with pecan, almond, cranberry, and raisin. Bon appetite!

  • Sarah

    Love the gift ideas… local and unique– great combo!

  • Elizabeth

    The Beer club is absolutely perfect for my boyfriend and best friend! Hope to score some tickets as well!

    Thanks for the post!

  • tricotmiss

    Great post Sharon! I’m so happy you’re doling out the local love (and helping others to do the same).

  • http://www.mynameispaula.com Paula

    Excellent list! I often buy gift cards at the Italian Centre as volunteer appreciation gifts. I also enjoy purchasing gifts at Zocalo, a funky garden/houseware shop on 95 street, right above my office!

  • http://girlsandbicycles.blogspot.com miss sarah

    Shafraaz, good call on Zocalo. That place rocks!

    I should also add to anybody going to Transcend for gifts, fresh beans are best when consumed within 5 days of roasting? I think it’s something like that. And if you get them to grind it for you I think the fresh-factor window diminishes so don’t go weeks ahead of time. That’s a last minute stop.

  • http://eatingisthehardpart.blogspot.com chris

    What a great post Sharon! Nice work.

  • Dajana Fabjanovich

    Heaps of great ideas! Would love tix to attend Make It!

  • Kim F

    This is a great compilation – Alberta, make wine?! No idea. Thanks for the post!

  • suzanne

    what a wonderful list…thanks for that!

    su 🙂

  • Violet

    Nicola and Geekware are great, I love her clocks! I wish I could have all her 80s.

  • Anna Z

    Great gift ideas! Love that they’re local and can be easily found in town 🙂

  • Michelle

    Great gift ideas! And thank you for the chance to win tickets to the Make It Fair!

  • http://acanadianfoodie.spaces.live.com A Canadian Foodie

    Love this post with all of the ideas – fun, fun, fun… what about Mack?
    Did I teach Jennifer Fong? I know I taught “a” Jennifer Fong….

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  • http://adamsnider.com/blog/ Adam Snider

    I suppose the trackback from my blog doesn’t count as a comment, so I’ll toss my name in here for a chance at some of those tickets, too. 😀

  • CK

    Hey! Thanks for all the great ideas 🙂
    I was wondering where one could purchase en sante wine? I’d like to get some for my sister in law! Thank You!

  • http://www.onlyhereforthefood.ca Sharon

    CK – try both deVine Wines (http://devinewines.ca/) and Sherbrooke Liquor Store (http://www.sherbrookeliquor.com/). EnSante is also at the Old Strathcona and Salisbury Farmers’ Markets.

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