Shop Local 2011: Favourite Gifts to Give or Get

Although the official City-proclaimed “Shop Local Month” ended yesterday, I think today marks the unofficial kick off to the real holiday scramble – all leading up to, of course, December 23, the busiest shopping day of the year.

So as I have for the previous two years, I thought I would ask some local personalities what they will be presenting loved ones with this Christmas – shopping locally definitely shouldn’t be confined to a single month! I asked them:

What is your favourite locally-purveyed gift to give or get?

Paul Shufelt, Century Hospitality Group VP Culinary/Managing Partner

When it comes to giving, I treat each of my chefs to a selection of great cook books each year. I like heading down to Audreys Books and rifling through this year’s list of chefs that have released their cookbook. As most chefs are, I am very visual, it’s more about the images, and the creativity, rather than the recipe itself. One timeless book that I highly recommend for the want to be chef is Culinary Artistry. This book is a little different, in that it doesn’t share recipes, as much as it offers classic, and not so classic, flavour pairings, allowing my mind to race with ideas when it comes to creating a great meal. Not everyone in my life loves food the same way I do, so I have to get a little creative. I find that starting at Identity Clothing or Lord’s Shoes is always a good place to start when it comes to picking out something special for my wife. And if that doesn’t work, a little spa treatment at Perugia Salon Spa will always do the trick.

When it comes to receiving, I love the thought that can be put into preparing a gift basket for someone special, and for me, that would include a selection of some of my favourite treats around town. I would probably start at the Italian Centre, grabbing some great oils, pestos, sun dried tomatoes, marinated artichokes, maybe some Proscuitto di Parma, bundnerfleisch, or soppressata, shaved thin. Then I would head to Queen of Tarts and pick up some fresh rustic breads and brioche buns. After that I would head to Paddy’s Cheese to track down some fantastic local cheeses, like the Sylvan Star Old Grizzly gouda, and maybe throw in a box of Rosemary Raisin Raincoast Crisps. I would round out the gift basket with a trip to Baseline Wine & Spirit Co. where Che and his team would gladly help me to pick up the perfect bottle of red to compliment all of these tasty treats. Now that’s a Christmas gift like no other.

Neil Herbst, Alley Kat Brewing Company

I would have to say some Kerstin’s Chocolates washed down with some fine espresso from Transcend.

Dez Melenka, Co-Host, CTV Morning Live

Melissa Dominelli [CTV Morning Live Traffic Specialist] and I love shopping local…I think for me it’s about locally run fashion.  I love Bella Maas…it’s run by two friends and they are both feisty fashionistas!!    If it’s about eating out…and who doesn’t like that…a really great local bistro that is always a treat is La Persaud…a gift certificate from there would be fun!

Melissa knows how popular athletic wear is and tells me it’s a great gift to give friends and family…she recommends Key Lime,  a Canadian company that really makes affordable and stylish work out wear. Above all…we both love the markets…local artisan shows that allow you to find the truly unique gift!!  My favourite is the Handmade Mafia…it’s a fabulous place to find something different and completely local!!

Chris Buyze, President of the Downtown Edmonton Community League

Since a grow a lot of my own food during the summer, and do a lot of canning and preserving with friends, I like to give small tokens of the garden – salsa, jam, canned peaches, zucchini chutney or tomato jam. I make these items in small jars and build small pine boxes out of locally-produced lumber to package them in, along with Coal Lake Honey from the City Market Downtown.

I am also a big fan of giving locally-produced arts and crafts as gifts, especially pottery from the Alberta Craft Gallery or Gabe Wong‘s ‘Endangered Alberta Animal 2012 Calendar’ from the Royal Bison Art & Craft Show. We have so many talented local artists and artisans that produce high-quality products worth supporting!

For my nieces (and kids in general), there is a great selection of sustainably crafted toys at Carbon. And you can’t go wrong giving books from Audreys Bookstore, whether a nice cookbook or local interest book.

Erica Viegas, Singer/Songwriter

Being a lover of music, and especially local music  something from a local record store like Permanent Records or Blackbryd Myoozik would definitely be part of my give or get gift list. I also think there is nothing cozier in the dead of Edmonton’s winter than comfy Cloud Nine pajamas and a cup of something warm.  I’m a big fan of Credo Coffee and Duchess Bakery for a yummy treats, and Red Ribbon or Bella Maas for local clothes certificates.

However, more than physical gifts, I would often rather spend time with someone one over a nice meal, and I think Corso 32 is one of Edmonton’s best (to treat or be treated to)!

 Kara and Nevin Fenske, Drift Food Truck

Two presents we like to give and would love to get would be:

1-any sort of mix of items from the deli counter at the Italian Centre. You really can’t go wrong with meat, cheese and olives. Throwing in a bottle of wine from DeVine wines is always a good idea!   Pairing that with chocolate is a nice touch as well,  which brings us to #2

2-Kerstin’s Chocolates. From their spiced drinking chocolate to salted caramels. ANYTHING from their shop is delightful.

Sarah Jackson, Graphic Designer and Author of A Jam Story

My favourite local item to get: I would love to get a leather purse or wallet from Keri V, a local girl who vends at the Royal Bison and other Edmonton craft shows (she’s also on etsy). I already have this beautiful blue leather purse from her and a custom-made laptop bag, and now I’m addicted to her handmade-leather goods. She has an attention to detail that is rare in today’s world and an aesthetic that I love, lining her purses and bags with vintage patterned fabrics. Each piece is crafted with such care.

My favourite local item to give: The one I give the most often is probably Duchess treats – if I’m on my way to a dinner party or a birthday I’ll stop by and get one of their rich dark chocolate Duke cakes, one of their lemon merengue pies (delish!) or a box of macarons. I also like to stop by The Artworks downtown – they make the most beautiful bouquets of flowers tied with colourful ribbons and I always feel that people know you love them best when you give them an Artworks bouquet.

John Caputo, Edmonton Sun Publisher

Anything from the Italian Centre Shop, and I mean anything. I get so excited when a basket of any kind  shows up from them. And what about the bakery…



Jessica Halabi, Fashion Designer

I’ve given it quite a bit of thought and it was super hard for me to choose just one local gift I’d like. I have fallen in love with many pieces from my designer friends, being such a tight knit community – I always browse their beautiful work. So, I have come up with the perfect compilation of gifts. Nearly everything Gabriela Cruz of CRUZ designs, I adore. She gifted me a top in the summer that I really couldn’t stop wearing. I’ve been drooling over Fridget Apparel’s super cute cardigans for quite some time now. I think every girl should own a corset from Sweet Carousel Corsetry, nothing could make a woman feel & look as beautiful as Elise Troung’s ultra fem corsets. Corinna Chow of Parasol makes the cutest shrugs. To top all those off, a necklace from Rachel Bingham of BangBang Bijoux. Made from vintage finds, or jewels from her grandmothers chandelier, every piece tells a story.

Most of all, at the top of my Christmas list is a gift certificate from Sig Plach Couturier Fabric Store. Rooms full of fine fabrics fill this downtown house. Such beautiful, hand crafted pieces of fabric that come from all over the world. Sadly, Sig Plach is scheduled to close this summer. Unfortunately, too many customers are turning to mass produced fabrics and buying online. Which really hits home for me as a local business owner.

Ruth Kelly, President and Publisher of Venture Publishing

Books are a go-to gift for me and my favourite place to find titles which surprise and delight is Audreys Books. This year, I’ll be gifting copies of Lynn Coady’s fine Giller-shortlisted novel, The Antagonist. I’m also giving subscriptions to 18 Bridges, the magazine edited by Lynn and fellow Edmontonian Curtis Gillespie.

Call the Kettle Black always has some must-have new kitchen item that I slather over. And for host gifts to take along to the many parties of the season, you can pick up one of their cunning little tools, like the wooden juicer, and pair it with a basket of citrus fruits.  You can get a double-hit of local if you go to Awear, the women’s clothing store on Calgary Trail. Owner Leila Gumpinger stocks local designer Kelly Madden’s fashions and Kelly’s pieces are both very unique and remarkably affordable.  One of the best received gift packages I gave last year was a package of hot chocolate from Sweet Lollapalooza matched with my home-made biscotti. The hot chocolate is indescribably good; tears came to my eyes the first time I sampled it.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this list! I hope their suggestions help you this season. Make sure you also check out City and Dale’s shop local holiday gift guides for more ideas.

6 thoughts on “Shop Local 2011: Favourite Gifts to Give or Get

  1. I would like to know about this “locally-produced” lumber to which Chris Buyze refers. The image I have in my head is someone going into the river valley to “source” some “local” lumber, and that is not on. Do we have a coniferous forest somewhere local, and a mill to process the timbers? So confused.

  2. @Neumanic My business partner lives on an quarter section old-growth mixed forest managed on a sustainable yield basis located about an hour SW of Edmonton near Battle Lake. I have helped him horse log it over the years, providing birch for my kitchen cabinets and other wood for furniture projects.

    You can also source locally-produced wood products from Solar Dri Timber Specialties in Rocky Mountain House. We have used their pine and aspen panelling in some of our housing projects!

  3. Love this yearly post! Such great tidbits that I had NO idea of – and cannot wait to explore… smart choices that highlight local designers from Sarah and from Jessica.

  4. Valerie – never thought to include our favourites. Will do so next year! I know you, too, have great suggestions, always. In the meantime – some things under our tree this year are gift certificates from great local restaurants, teas from Acquired Taste, and a beer subscription from Sherbrooke Liquor Store.

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