Buying local is always a smart idea because it’s good for the economy and the environment, but this year helping keep small businesses and independent artisans afloat takes on even greater significance. Holiday shoppers can find a variety of makers right here in Wilmington and its island beaches.
From the river to the sea, Wilmington and its island beaches are teeming with art galleries, studios and holiday craft markets featuring works by local artists. Paintings and photography of local scenes are great gifts for those who want to remember their favorite vacation spot all year long. Coastal and riverfront scenes are ubiquitous at The Golden Gallery, which offers a large collection of watercolor originals, giclée prints, fine art photography and digitally created prints. Ronald Williams Art features pen-and-ink drawings and watercolor paintings of architecture, homes, boats, seascapes and landscapes, including collections of works highlighting Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach. Photographers Mike Bryand and Ned Leary concentrate on local landscapes and venues, and the scenic photography of Peter Doran is available in puzzle form.
Know someone who is hoping for a surfboard from Santa? Give them one handcrafted right here on the coast. Hot Wax Surf Shop makes and sells boards, including an option to participate in making your own one-of-a-kind board via shaping school with surfboard shaper Michael Paul. Other local surf shops carry boards crafted by local makers such as Ian Balding Custom Shapes & Designs, Savage Surfboards, Allison Surfboards and Green Room Board Co.
Jewelry is a popular gift, and who wouldn’t appreciate a unique piece made locally with love? Find an array of earrings, pendants, bracelets and rings from the studios of Mitzy Jonkheer Jewelry, T.S. Brown Jewelry, Melissa Manley Studio and Fishbone Designs. And for something truly out of the ordinary, Era Jewelry Design sold at The Workshop features shark teeth fossils recovered from the Atlantic Ocean.
Gifts for a Cause
Make your gift even more meaningful by supporting a cause. Kids Making It is a nonprofit youth woodworking program that teaches vocational and entrepreneurial skills to disadvantaged youth who sell their creations, including handcrafted pens, cutting boards and stools at their Castle Street shop. Half United designs and sells jewelry, handbags, apparel and straw accessories, donating proceeds from every purchase to help fight hunger. Swahili Coast offers jewelry, sandals, home goods and face masks through a collaborative process between the Wilmington studio and artisan partners in East Africa, with a goal of developing opportunities for women with fair wages and stable employment.
Fun and Whimsical
Have a little fun with your holiday giving. Freaker USA offers its lineup of playful designs on its original Freaker beverage insulator as well as newer products Freaker Feet socks and Slippy sleeves for hot beverages, which are made from plastic bottles. The Pepper Mill Shop has an array of funny and punny gifts, including greeting cards, bottle openers, apparel, tote bags, stickers and magnets. Jodylou Creations showcases lots of color on items such as tide clocks, trivets/wall hangings and light-switch covers.
Give a gift for the senses with locally made scented products. Out of Eden Handcrafted Soaps has herbal soaps, lotions, bath salts, bubble bath and candles. 2 Chicks With Scents offers small-batch handcrafted items such as crystal soy candles, healing salves and balms, sprays, sugar scrubs, essential oil blends and body butter. Glynne’s Soaps lineup includes the following all-natural skin essentials: bar soaps, lotions, lip balms, body scrubs, hand sanitizer and pet products.
Green and Eco-Friendly
Don’t forget about the environment while doing your holiday shopping. Re-eco Design typically offers furniture, home and art goods from a family of four artists with a philosophy to recreate, reuse, recycle and respect natural resources. While the store is currently closed, there is an online shop featuring masks as well as virtual orders and porch pickup for other items. 341 Repurposed gives new life to materials, transforming them into furniture and art such as its popular surfboard tables of various sizes.