For the past three years, it’s been my priority to buy local for Christmas. It really was hard at first, but now it’s relatively easy. Starting a new job at the Kentucky Arts Council hasn’t hurt, either, because it is currently my job to promote Kentucky artists and businesses for the holiday buying season. Not a bad gig, eh?
When you buy from a local artist, it’s not only personal for you and the person you’re buying for, but also for the artist who puts their heart and soul into each and every unique piece. Artwork brings character to the world around you. Each piece created by a local artist helps you embrace what makes your community home.
Chances are you know why to buy local, but do you know how? Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way:
- Start early
I usually start around October brainstorming, making lists and asking my family what they want. It’s not until November that I start buying. This also helps you budget and find meaningful gifts, instead of absentmindedly throwing things in a shopping buggy because it’s on sale.
- Do your research
Look around your town. Browse the Internet. You can start by taking advantage of the arts council’s online artist directories. Simply go to http://artscouncil.ky.gov/, click Find An Artist at the top of the page, and search based on the artist’s medium. Know someone who seems to have everything? Use this to your advantage! Done and done.
- Talk to business owners
I can’t stress this enough. Have fun making connections with local shop owners. Get to know them. They have a wealth of knowledge of what’s available. They know where to find more unique items. As an added bonus, they’ll be able to share a personal story that goes along with the pieces. How cool is it to pass that story along? It’s like two gifts in one!
To help start your journey, we have more than 20 businesses designated as Kentucky Crafted Retailers. These businesses carry items made in Kentucky by Kentucky artists. This includes those in the arts council’s Kentucky Crafted Program, Architectural Artists Directory and Performing Arts Directory. Many retailers also have special events, promotions and discounts throughout the holiday season. Basically, we’ve done a lot of the hard work for you! You’re welcome. http://artscouncil.ky.gov/KentuckyArt/retailers.htm.
- Follow the trends
You can get a lot of inspiration from social media. Look for certain hashtags, turn on the Google machine, search through Facebook, etc. Tip: Keep it simple! This will help you find shops that have Facebook pages and events. For example, during our Give A Gift Made in Kentucky campaign, the arts council is tagging local artists, experiences and items using #giveagiftky on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out our Give a Gift Pinterest board for even more “Pinspiration.”
Let your gift-giving experience be a journey. Have fun! It shouldn’t be a chore. Here’s some items I’ve found so far: (*Spoiler alert for my family!*)
This is the first time in years I’ve been able to truly enjoy the spirit the holiday season brings. I can actually take the time to search and browse for the perfect item they need and deserve. To say I’m excited is an understatement. Knowing I’ll be showing off the talent of Kentucky artists is only fueling that re-born childlike holiday spirit.
Megan Williamson Fields, communications assistant