By Terrah Baker
Since the “buy local” movement has taken off across the country in the last few years, we’ve all heard the anecdotes on why it’s important. We also know how hard it can be, no matter how dedicated you are. This Christmas, we’re — along with local artisans and business owners — asking you to rededicate yourself to the sometimes arduous task of buying local. Why, you ask in response? Really, with gifts like these, how could you say ‘no’? And because, frankly, it’s investing in yourself, your community, and a healthier economy for tomorrow.
Why Buy Local?
As one author put it in the book “Small Mart Revolution,” (2006) “Buy a radio down the block, the multiplier is high; buy it ten miles away, the multiplier weakens; buy it mail order and your community gets practically no multiplier whatsoever.” In simple terms, the closer the product is made and sold, the further the dollars you spend on it go in your community. As handmadeconnected.wordpress.com explained, a multiplier is the amount of times a dollar invested will be turned around for another’s investment, and local purchases stretch that dollar much further.
In fact, a dollar spent with a local, independent business produces two to four times more income and jobs for the local community than a dollar spent at a giant corporate chain, according to Think Local (thinklocalseattle.org), a program from the nonprofit Seattle Good Business Network.
And when you’re going quality handmade, your gift is sure to make an impression for years to come, while providing a more stable local economy for the next generation.
Peace, Love and Suds
One fun night of soap making has turned Michael Boyd into a high-quality soap and deodorant connoisseur, using only the best, natural ingredients to create a line he calls Peace, Love and Suds, right in the heart of Fayetteville. It’s not easy being a high-quality soap and deodorant maker in a world full of FDA regulations, but while not being able to claim his products do anything specific, the client reviews have said enough.
The products have helped people clear their acne, they’ve said, and stop using lotion as the soap doesn’t dry out their skin. And of course for anyone who knows the dangers of modern-day deodorant — what with it’s aluminum and petroleum byproducts that some claim help spread breast cancer — a more natural product is bound to come in handy.
Boyd explained some of the common-day practices in creating soap, even many handcrafted versions, which use refined and bleached petroleum and pig fat products; even removing the glycerin produced by the process to use in other products like lotion. Nothing is taken from his soaps, he said.
“Everyone knows that commercial soap has some nasty stuff in it, but even amongst the handcrafted community people are using refined, bleached and deodorized oils. I only use cold pressed, organic oils that don’t destroy the enzymes and nutrients in the oils,” Boyd explained.
This does mean that Boyd’s bottom line is raised, and each of his products range from $5-$7, but if you’ve ever walked into a health food store and seen their prices and then looked at the ingredients, Peace, Love and Suds is a real dream come true.
As of 2014 Boyd plans to start selling his product in places throughout Northwest Arkansas, including Fayetteville, Rogers and Eureka Springs, but for now they can still be purchased through Facebook at facebook.com/peacelovesuds and by contacting him at 479-502-0018.
Disclosure: TFW got to try out Boyd’s soap and deodorant and let’s just say you’re going to be pleasantly surprised with the soothing aroma and the effectiveness of what an all natural product can offer.
Passages Rising has started selling incense bottles created by local artist, Half Awake Arts. Each bottle (some are even vintage) is uniquely designed in support of a central intention (i.e. prosperity, improved health, compassion) by carefully blending elements of color, stones and Feng shui. And while you’re there, Passages Rising has one of the largest selections of incense in NWA. Passage’s Rising is located in downtown Fayetteville.
What does a hot pad and a trivit have in common? A trivet is used on the kitchen counter top to protect it when you put a hot pot on the counter top. The scented round hot pads made by M.W. Designs in Rogers, does that too. But while acting like a hot pad or heavy towel, it has the added benefit of scent and colorful fabric prints. Each hot pad is hand sewn in a small studio in Rogers. They of course have newer stuff, but don’t forget the “End of Summer Sale” — a bargain shoppers favorite section. Find these and more at their website www.shopmwdesigns.com.
Feed Fayetteville is one among the many organizations that are helping to bring fresh, all natural produce and eating habits to Northwest Arkansas. This year, they are offering gifts that support their mission not just through donations, but also education. They’re selling vegetarian chili, and for every jar purchased, 1 family on SNAP will receive their very own. They’re also selling locally grown and produced applesauce. And through their Feed Communities component they have a My Plate kids’ plate that is sure to be a conversation starter with children on the subject of healthy eating. For each one purchased, one goes to a Head Start Child. These items can be found at their upcoming holiday market at the Fayetteville Community Building at 221 S. Locust Ave. on Dec. 12, from 2-6 p.m. If you just can’t wait, or find you’ve waited too long, visit their website at www.feedcommunities.org.
Prepared Vegan Meals
But they’re not the only ones offering vegan, all natural, locally canned and prepared food goods. One local Fayetteville resident offers vegan, vegetarian and healthy meals delivered to your door; on top of the home-prepared canned goods. Buy your loved one the gift of healthy meals, without the hassle. The best thing is: they can choose their favorite dish as every meal is made upon request, and almost anything is on the table (pun intended). To learn more, call 479-713-9074.
Twin Springs Wellness is one of the most all encompassing herb, all natural (really) product line found in Northwest Arkansas (and beyond), and is made in Greenland. All of their products are handmade with organic or wild crafted ingredients, with special attention given to the environment and to sourcing local ingredients, when possible. They recycle what they can, and use sustainable procedures in the making of these herbal products. Their products range from chap stick to herbal teas, from candles to medicinal tinctures, and all is made with the purest ingredients. Most importantly, because they’re local and the owners understand their products, they can match needs to their products. To learn more about where to find Twin Springs Wellness products, or to contact them directly, visit their website at www.twinspringswellness.com. They join other great herbalists in NWA like Birth Song Midwifery that has a special line for pregnant women and mothers.
Kelly’s Sew Unique sprang from the need for independent expression and funding for Tri Cycle Farm in Fayetteville. Each doll is handmade, hand stitched and each is unique. They’re made with Eco-fi felt that is 100 percent post consumer recycled plastic bottles and made in the USA. They’re even stuffed with organic, locally grown cotton. For those who have outgrown dolls, they also have available bird key chains and ornaments. For special orders and more information visit www.facebook.com/kellyssewunique
Since’s Etsy’s release on the web in 2005, home-based artists, crafters and local boutiques have taken advantage of the website’s user-friendly set-up and customers who appreciate that one-of-a-kind hand-made look. While they’re new bylaws as of 2013 allow them to sell “unique factory-made items,” they’re currently still one of the best places to find locally-made crafts and collected antiques. Because you’re likely to spend your entire holiday searching through the thousands of unique gift ideas made by artisans from around the world, we’ll save you some time and keep your dollars local through the following steps: Visit www.etsy.com/localsearch, and where it says “Where do you want to shop?” type in your beloved city in NWA. In Faytteville we found over 6,000 items from local vendors. Not all are created equal, but all are created, or at least distributed, locally.
Hand made jewelry is easy to find in NWA, and while we give just a few examples of what Good Things Boutique on Block St. in Fayetteville has to offer, there’s much to be found. And unlike department store bling, it’s often made with real stones and metal work that lasts a lifetime. Not to mention unique as each piece is handcrafted. Good Things Boutique offers a wide variety of hand-made jewelry that ranges from $10 glass studs to $75 stone and metal work dangly earrings. Like other stores in the area who commission work from the local-likes of Lauren Embree Jewelry (Mayapple Salon and Boutique, Berry Natural, The Mustache), Bella Vita, Ozark Mountain Leather and more, they’re helping keep local artisan work alive by providing a venue where you can find these locally-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry items.