Global, Shop Local
today’s tough economic times, shop pers are striving to make
their holiday dollars count. This holiday season, Metroland
has teamed with Capital District Local First to create
the Buy Local Holiday Pledge, challenging readers to spend
at least $100 of their gift-giving budgets at local retailers.
Buying local not only can help bolster the regional economy,
it can help you make great use of even the most modest holiday
budget, with gifts that are personal, distinctive, even one-of-a-kind.
Neighborhood retailers provide local sources for typical and
not-so-typical holiday gifts, from home theaters to handknits.
So, here is a sneak peek into the charming storefronts of
some area shops, and a round-up of Metroland’s favorite
shopping districts in the Capital Region.
In search of electronics? Hippo’s can help you customize your
home entertainment needs, while Stuyvesant Photo has all the
equipment and extras a budding or professional photographer
could Christmas wish for. A number of area book stores continue
to hold their own against the megachains—the Book House, Market
Block Books, Open Door, and the Book Loft, to name a few—largely
due to their eclectic selections, and their unparalleled assistance
in helping you find that perfect dinosaur picture book or
collection of artists’ love letters. For the kids on your
list, The Toy Maker, Persnickety and G. Willikers are as chock-a-block
as Santa’s Workshop with unique and creative toys. And for
the child at heart, you can find a wider selection of comics,
toys, t-shirts, and fanboy paraphernalia at your neighborhood
comic shop than at any chain.
For the fashionista, local boutiques offer a stylish and unique
selection; Mark Thomas Men’s Apparel, Some Girls Boutique,
Circles and Main Street are perennial Metroland favorites.
And when it comes to accessorizing that sassy new sheath,
local jewelers offer everything from diamond brooches to plastic
bangles. Fine local jewelers like Frank Adams and Hummingbird
Designs will even help you create a custom treasure for your
sweetheart. Elissa Halloran Designs is an area staple for
funky and elegant original jewelry, and her eclectic Lark
Street shop abounds with artsy treasures that highlight what’s
best about shopping local—the prospect of discovering the
perfect, one-of-a-kind gift that you truly couldn’t find anywhere
Local shops from Broadway to the Berkshires offer that same
opportunity, and a single, thoughtful gift will count more
than 20 pairs of Isotoners. Do you remember gazing into your
grandmother’s long-lost tortoiseshell hand mirror as a child?
Does your dad still wax nostalgic for the old soda fountain?
Hunt through the Capital Region’s many antique stores and
you’re likely to uncover a sentimental gem: a familiar mirror,
a vintage milkshake maker, a well-worn rocking chair for an
expectant mother, or an antique frame for a new family photo.
There are wonderful antique stores tucked throughout Albany,
Saratoga and the Berkshires. On the edge of nowhere, the Coxackie
Antique Center brings more than 100 antique dealers together
under one roof. And Troy’s antique district is so renowned
it was recently featured on Oprah. Take a day to wander
through Bournebrook Antique Center, Living Room, the Antiques
Warehouse, and Troy’s many other repositories for all things
artfully aged. It will provide endless gift-giving possibilities,
and a fun afternoon to boot.
Or, take one-of-a-kind gift giving in a more contemporary
direction by buying handmade. A handful of retailers have
found their niche with handcrafted wares, and holiday fairs
help make finding that singular gift easy and festive. The
Crafter’s Gallery of Saratoga is a local favorite with the
artistic set, offering an array of handmade gifts that range
from metalwork to pottery. Relative newcomer The Paper Sparrow
celebrates its first holiday season in Troy this year, and
the shop is already a huge hit, brimming with handcrafted
wonders—squeezable toys, bold handbags, baby clothes, jewelry,
paintings, pottery and more.
Also new this year, Albany’s Grand Street Community Arts is
presenting the giveHANDMADE! Craftstravaganza for one last
weekend at Albany’s Winter WonderLark celebration this Saturday
and Sunday. The annual Christmas craft fair at the Shaker
Heritage site runs through December 20, and the Arts Center
of the Capital Region has expanded their shop for the holidays.
Or, as another alternative for the art lover on your list,
visit the gift shops of your local museums—The Albany Institute
of History and Art, Mass MoCA, the Berkshire Museum, even
your city’s historic society. Not only will you find creative
gift selections, your purchase will help your favorite museum
Expecting holiday guests from out of town who might not want
to tote that leaded crystal vase all the way back to California?
Give them a gift sure to make their visit even more enchanting:
tickets to a holiday show at Proctor’s, the Palace, the Egg,
or any of the region’s other performance venues. Have friends
you just don’t see quite often enough? Take them out to the
theater after the holidays quiet down. And what new parents
in dire need of a quiet date wouldn’t love a pair of movie
tickets to the Spectrum and a gift certificate for coffee
and cake at the Ulitmate Cafe next door?
While you may have had your fill of mail-order fruit baskets,
thoughtfully prepared gift baskets can make wonderful presents.
For the epicurean, look for herbs and spices, teas, sauces,
sweets and cheeses at your local year-round farmers’ market
or orchard. At the Cohoes Wine Seller, you can find the perfect
New York State wine to pair with those handmade chocolates.
For the artist on your list, bundle up a selection of paints,
palettes and papers from Arlene’s Art Supply or Souve Faire.
And Menges & Curtis Apothecary in Saratoga, one of the
nation’s oldest pharmacies, offers their own line of skin
care and spa products.
Tuck that tortoiseshell mirror between bath salts and foot
balm, or nestle those locally-grown herbs into the pockets
of a vintage apron, and your holiday gift-giving will be sure
districts where local independent stores thrive
Lark Street has changed quite a bit over the years, but the
charm and uniqueness of Albany’s historic Center Square neighborhood
remains. And it’s at its best at Christmastime—complete with
lights twinkling in the trees and wreaths decking the lampposts.
Elissa Halloran Designs, brimming with handcrafted jewelry,
art, and vintage treasures, is a perennial favorite for the
eclectic gift seeker. Romeo’s offers everything from art lamps
and fine boutique candles to pride magnets and candy g-strings.
For the feisty little pin-up girl on your list, you can find
sassy, sexy body jewelry at Lark Vegas. Up the beribboned
steps of Cheeky Tiki Monkey, you’ll find yourself in a haven
of kitsch, nostalgia and novelty. For the art lover, Upstate
Artists Guild gallery offers original work by local artists—or
for do-it-yourselfers, Central Art Supply has all the provisions
for putting those visions of sugarplums on canvas. Flamingo
Antiques, Hodge Podge Books, Downtube Bike Shop, coffee, flowers,
pastries, wine and water pipes, the Center Square strip has
And if you’re willing to head just a few turns off the beaten
path, weekends At the Warehouse on Learned Street enliven
the city’s industrial district with an array of vendors. Dig
for treasure in Silver Fox architectural salvage; peruse the
jewelry, art, pottery, and vintage aprons crafted by Capital
Region artisans. Or create a gift basket of local delights.
Cheeses, honeys, pickles, herbs, wines, mustards, teas and
sweets are all abundant At the Warehouse.
Downtown Saratoga Springs
The downtown Saratoga shopping district (Broadway and its
cross streets) is one of those truly Rockwellian snow globes
that might achieve an even greater level of festivity if only
visitors still parked their sleighs at the curbside. Dotted
with cafes and restaurants, the area not only provides the
shopper with wide and eccentric gift options, but, in stark
opposition to the mall, it makes the process as enjoyable
as the spoils.
True to Saratoga’s international reputation as an equestrian
hub, designer boutiques such as Clothes Horse and Saratoga
Saddlery will get racegoers looking their best. Along with
Lifestyles, Aggies, Violet’s, Rockabella, Frivolous Gal
and Lucia, the area is a veritable fashion district. This
distinction would not be complete, though, without mention
of local jewelers Gemset of Saratoga and Silverado Jewelry
Gallery. For the industrious accessorizer, there’s Saratoga
Beads, and Saratoga Needle Arts for the wool-savvy.
Great vintage shops are hard to come by, but Saratoga has
three in Recycling Red Dresses, Reruns (which borders
on antiquity), and Last Vestige, which is a mandatory stop
for vinyl collectors as well. On the topic of second-hand
wonders, Downstreet Antiques will bring back memories,
and Lyrical Ballad (used and antiquarian books) will
give you something to curl up with.
That earlier reference to Norman Rockwell gets skewed in all
the right ways for the more exotic shopper. A good chunk of
the globe is covered between Saratoga Turkish Bazaar, Celtic
Treasures, Hamada Egyptian Bazaar, Kusikay (Peruvian
art), and Pangea (specializing in Asian gifts).
For specialty items, there’s Saratoga Guitar, the classic
toy store G. Willikers, Blue Sky Bicycles, Dawgdom
designer dog store, Soave Faire gifts, and Putnam
Wine/Market for all things gourmet.
Downtown Schenectady looks gorgeous this winter with its theater
district in full swing. Holiday shoppers looking for an outdoors
winter stroll, punctuated by a cup of something warm, some
crepes, and a good bookstore should start their trip at Proctors
Theatre on State Street. Begin your holiday shopping in Proctors
Arcade with a warm drink at the Muddy Cup, pick up some sheet
music at Schenectady VanCurler Music. Cross the sidewalk over
to Jay Street and pay a visit to the Open Door Bookstore.
While Proctors continually offers an impressive lineup of
shows, the Open Door Bookstore continually has worthwhile
readings and signings by local and national authors that draw
literary types from around the area. After picking up a book
or two, stop by Ambition for a snack and perhaps one of their
emboldening martinis. Finish up with a treat at Chez Daisie.
Just a block over you can pick up gifts for those interested
in home beatification at Experience and Creative Design. Finish
your trip back at Proctors and pick up tickets to stuff the
stocking with or perhaps take a break from shopping to see
a show yourself.
There is a reason why Troy’s yearly celebration of its Victorian
heritage is done in a stroll. It’s what you hear uttered by
loyal Trojans with an awe-tinged sense of hometown pride,
that divine quality that separates their city from so many
other Northeastern treasures: walkability. Troy’s downtown
is so quaint, so charming, such an architectural delight,
and so walkable. When people fall under the spell of Troy’s
central shopping and dining district, they fall hard.
If you don’t happen to watch the Oprah Winfrey Show,
we have some news for you: A top-rate antiques district has
steadily grown among the cool, quirky shops that fill many
of Troy’s historic storefronts. Now, thanks to the mighty
“O” herself, the entire country knows: A new contender in
the world of destination antique districts is nestled in the
promising postindustrial, Hudson River city just outside of
New York’s capital.
Shopping for the hard-to-find antique, or for the unique one-of-a-kind
gift is easy, and fun in Troy. Along with its now-famous antique
shops, downtown offers arts and crafts boutiques, galleries,
bookstores, clothing stores, even a cobbler to fix the holes
you will inevitably get in the soles of your shoes. After
browsing for new or used books, antique or artisan wares,
there are top-notch restaurants for any appetite in Troy to
be discovered and savored. Park your car, and take a stroll.
It’s all in walking distance.
Upscale: There, we’ve said it. Stuy vesant Plaza, located
where Fuller Road meets Route 20, offers an upscale, lifestyle-enhancing
shopping experience. And unlike in the malls, many of its
stores are locally owned: Hippo’s, the place to go for home
theater; Edleez Tobacco; The Book House and the Little Book
House, which, along with the Toy Maker, is the place to shop
for kids; Jean Paul Salon; Circles, for the latest women’s
fashions; and more. There are places to grab a bite or enjoy
fine dining. There are card stores, gift shops, a pharmacy,
a wine store, and a United States Post Office. And wherever
you park, it’s a nice walk ’round the plaza, from one end
to the other.
in Chatham not too long ago meant Main Street, but cross the
railway tracks and you’ll now find a thriving and steadily
expanding bunch of stores and restaurants extending up Route
295. Chatham is a holiday shopper’s delight. Full of the smells
of local bakeries, candy shops and restaurants like Our Daily
Bread, Applewood Barbeque and Chocolate Moose, Chatham is
an ideal small-town shopping experience.
For the happily literate, Chatham offers three worthwhile
bookstores in Chatham Books, Berkshire Books and Dodi’s Books
and Music. For those stylish folk in your gift giving universe,
Chatham offers Re-Wraps, Banner Clothing and Browns. For those
in your life who are talented enough to create their own clothes,
the Warm Ewe offers a wealth of knitting supplies and has
the Baby Pattern of the Month Club.
Chatham also has a vibrant arts district with enough shops
to ensure you can find the appropriate art work for the art
lover in your life at shops and galleries like the Handcrafters,
Groovi, and the Joyce Goldstein Gallery. For the kids and
young at heart there is Chatham Main Street Toys.
Chatham is so small that many Capital Region shoppers probably
don’t know the treasures tucked away there. But if thought
of holiday madness at the malls isn’t doing it for you, Chatham
is pretty much the antithesis.
Great Barrington, Mass.
Over in the Berkshires, the concept of local, sustainable
economies gained traction before it did on the New York side
of the border. And while Great Barrington’s Main Street and
Railroad Avenue at first glance might look like a not-so-local
shopping getaway for Manhattanites, there is plenty going
on in this bustling little commercial district for the non-second-home
set. Although the best new-book store is up the road at K-Mart
Plaza, there’s a great used bookstore in town, as well as
several quality clothing options (the women we know go gaga
over the fashions at Main Street), two excellent toy stores,
a wonderful kitchen store, and Tune Street, where you can
buy CDs, DVDs and the electronic equipment to play them on.
Take a break at one of the upscale eatieres or squeeze in
alongside the locals at the ever-popular Martin’s—then finish
off with coffee or the delicious ice cream at SoCo. Whatever
trendiness you might feel in Great Barrington is nicely balanced
by its old-fashioned small-town charm.
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