LIFESTYLE: Twenty Ways to Buy Local Gifts

By D. Lanier Shook                      December 13, 2014

Christmas is a time to buy gifts and since you’re going to anyway you need to at least consider something with a local flavor. Fortunately Asheville, Greenville, and East Tennessee are a great place to find local gifts. Here are twenty  ways to support the local economy while scoring great gifts. (DISCLAIMER: Yes, I know I’ve missed some, just add a comment and I’ll try to mention them some time in the future.)

1. Food

Christmas involves food, lots of food. Whether you’re hosting Christmas dinner, a Christmas party, or wrapping it up there are lots of local options available for you.

2. Arts and Crafts

You can buy a great gift anywhere, but if you want a unique gift with a local connection (and maybe a story) you can’t go wrong with our local arts and crafts. Here are a few of the many, many choices you have to choose from.

  • The  River Arts Districts has seen a huge expansion recently and you can find out more about the amazing artists that work there by clicking here.
  • Downtown Asheville is full of studios and you can find out more about them by clicking here.
  • Asheville Visitor’s Center Gift Shop is an incredible one stop shop for local merchandise. Its also the go-to place for information about local galleries and studios. To get an idea of what they have to offer click here to read about our Roadtrip to the Visitor’s Center. (If you haven’t been there you have to go.)
  • Surrounding counties are full of studios, galleries, and so many other items that range from quilts to chainsaw art. To find out about some of the following counties just click on their name to visit their website. These include Madison County, Henderson County, Polk County, Haywood County, Mitchell County, Yancey County, Transylvania County, McDowell County, among others. Don’t forget to visit the WNC Farmer’s Market for local crafts. Of course, you don’t want to forget the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s shop in Biltmore and on the Parkway.
  • Two other places to look for local art is online and in local coffee shops. The fastest way to find these artists is to start at the websites of the Mountain Xpress, Bold Life Magazine, The Laurel of Asheville, Asheville Citizens Times, and WNC Magazine. You can also just grab a copy of one of these on the local newsstand. Coffee shops offer art from local artists you might not find elsewhere.

3. Music

Music is a great gift at Christmas and our area is full of incredible artists. Here are some options you might be interested in looking at.

Of course there are some better known groups you’ll want to check out. These include Balsam Range, Red Honey,  and others. The Asheville Visitor’s Center Gift Shop is a great place to start. There are a lot of artists in the local area and whether you buy a CD or an MP3, local music can be best.

4. Books

Asheville is full of local artists and many of them are readily available. You can pick up many of these at our local bookshops and some at national chains.  Amazon.com is a great place to find these. Don’t forget local authors who have published e-books. You can also find a wide variety of local authors at the Asheville Visitor’s Center Gift Shop. Four local authors I’ve enjoyed — and there are many, many more I haven’t yet — are Sarah Addison Allen (click here to visit her website), Susan Reinhardt (click here to read our review of her debut novel), Jennifer M. Fulford’s Blood, Love, and Steel, and Jarrett Rutland’s children’s book I Love You No Matter What (click here to read our review).

5. Tours and Experiences

Western North Carolina is chock full of fun things to do and tickets to these make great presents. Here are just a few of what you can give.

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