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.)
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.
- Earthfare is more than a local place to buy food. Its headquartered in Asheville and its stores are full of locally produced food. Click here to visit their website and find out more.
- Ingle’s Markets are also based here in Asheville and places an emphasis on locally produced foods. Click here to visit their website to find out more.
- Hopey and Company is yet another great locally based grocery that’s full of local food. Click here to visit their website and learn about their three Asheville locations.
- There are several smaller local food stores or producers — most focused on organic or health food— and at the risk of missing some I’m going to list a few, so just click on name to visit their website. They include the French Broad Food Coop, Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Katuah Market in Biltmore Village, and The Biltmore Estate, among others.
- Local coffee shops are full of incredible baked goods, snacks, and sandwiches. Local coffee roasters include Dynamite Coffee Roasters, Asheville Coffee Roasters, Mountain City Coffee Roasters, Mountain Air Roasting, and Biltmore Coffee Traders.
- Don’t forget gift cards to local restaurants from coffee shops to chain restaurants.
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.
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.
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.
- The Biltmore House is the premiere Western North Carolina attraction and tickets to it are always welcome. Click here to visit their website and find out more.
- Cherokee, North Carolina is possibly the second most well known attraction in the area. Click here to learn more about why Cherokee and the surrounding area offer huge opportunities for ticket gifts.
- The Diana Wortham Theater is a great venue in Asheville and you can find out more about their current season by clicking here.
- Greenville’s Peace Center offers a wide variety of quality shows and you can find out more about them by clicking here.
- For a full list of experiences and adventures you should click here to visit ExploreAsheville.com. You may want to click here to learn why to visit their Visitor’s Center downtown where they can sell you tickets for many of these attractions.