Buy Local, Online: The Best of Both Worlds

Holly Chopsticks, photo courtesy A. Drauglis Furnituremaker
Holly Chopsticks, photo courtesy A. Drauglis Furnituremaker

I am on record preferring to do all my shopping online. I hate malls, even when they’re NOT packed with crazed bargain-seekers, stressed about the state of the economy.  But I’ve also spent all year trying to source my food locally and enjoying the intangible benefits of spending my dollars within my own community. Fortunately,, which is a marketplace for individuals to sell their crafts and handmade items, provides a handy Shop Local feature so you can specifically search for sellers in your area.

I have to admit that Etsy’s search isn’t nearly as well developed as I’d like- for example you can search item descriptions for the type of item you’re looking for, OR you can search for sellers in a local area, but you can’t search for a particular kind of item made by a local seller.  Which is kind of lame, and it means that you have to be pretty committed to buying gifts from local artists to make this work.  Or, you can work from our gift guide! Read on for my suggestions:

A. Drauglis Furnituremaker – I’ve got a serious crush on the Pup of Monster Cabinet. But custom furniture is a little out of my budget. Fortunately, Art Drauglis makes projects in all kinds of sizes and price ranges, A simple hanging cabinet would look great in pretty much any house, or a purpleheart and maple side table would be a great gift for someone who just bought a house.  Even more economical, but still every bit as cool, are Art’s kitchen items. He doesn’t waste any wood, so scraps often get made into cutting boards and chopsticks. The cutting boards come in a couple of different sizes, and he has chopsticks available in a wide variety of woods (including holly! how seasonal!), so be sure to click through to his store and investigate. Nothing classes up takeout Chinese food or supermarket sushi like handcarved chopsticks. Also, they’re perfect for those Secret Santa exchanges where there’s a low dollar limit. Starbucks gift cards are lame and require no thought, and you know it.

Card from Simplesong on Etsy, photo by Crystal Calderon
Card from Simplesong on Etsy, photo by Crystal Calderon

Simplesong Designs – Despite my daily reliance on online correspondence, I have a serious soft spot in my heart for pretty stationery, and letterpress in particular.  Custom notecards are an elegant gift for anyone, gift wrapping supplies will make your packages stand out, and library card-themed Christmas and thank you cards would make your elementary school teachers proud.

Peat – Your friend with the acerbic wit and impossibly obscure tastes? Taken care of. I particularly recommend “Dick Cheney Ate My Dog” for the politically-cynical, and “Sweet Jesus on a Biscuit” for the religiously-cynical.

Mannmade Designs – Jimmy Mann is a full-time artist who makes jewelry out of recycled materials. His silver-over-recycled-aluminum pieces are particularly striking, featuring stars, flowers, or bubbles. The cocktail olives jewelry is fun, too.

Art Shark Designs – Alexandria artist Megan Nolton has created a series of prints called “Cities of Love;” two lovers, each with a red umbrella, walk hand-in-hand against the skylines of major world cities.  As you might expect, my favorite is “DC Love.” You can also get a set of any three Cities of Love prints for a slight discount.

And finally, if you were inclined to send gifts to your favorite We Love DC author, might I suggest the “i heart dc” t-shirt by 237inc.

There are hundreds of local artists on Etsy, and this is just a very small sample. I recommend that you poke around in there to see the full range of local artists making their crafts available. And if you have a favorite local Etsy artist (or ARE a local Etsy artist), feel free to link us to the store in the comments.

Tiffany Baxendell Bridge is an Internet enthusiast and an incurable smartass. When not heckling the neighborhood political scene on Twitter, she can be found goofing off with her ukulele, Bollywood dancing, or obsessing about cult TV. She is That Woman With the Baby In the Bar.

Tiffany lives in Brookland with her husband Tom, son Charlie, and two high-maintenance cats. Read why Tiffany loves DC.

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3 thoughts on “Buy Local, Online: The Best of Both Worlds

  1. Simplesong letter-pressed up my new-address announcements when I moved a couple of months ago. She is really great and flexible and I would totally recommend her for gifts or custom work.

    There are so many great crafters and artists making things which are much more meaningful and personal than something from the mall. Last year, I took the Handmade Pledge and I intend to stick with it again this season.

  2. Herban Lifestyle has great soaps and other bath and body products – organic and sweet-smelling, and wrapped in darling, biodegradeable packages.