Sunday, December 8, 2013

A (Minnesota) Nice Idea

Greetings from the land of snow and cold!  Like me, you’re probably up to your frozen eyelashes in shopping lists for the holidays.  And while it’s so easy to click your mouse from the comforts of home (especially up here, where our high temp was -1 degree Fahrenheit yesterday, thus, eyelash issues), there’s a weirdly nice gratification when you shop in person.  It’s even nicer to drop in on your local merchants.  I know there was Small Business Saturday, right on the heels of Thanksgiving, which was a telling nod towards the promotion of mom and pop shops nationwide.  If we’re going to go cuckoo crazy with the whole commercialization of Christmas, I like knowing my dollars are going to both Nordstrom and the gal from down the block.

I’m not sure about other cities, but Minneapolis (and St. Paul – I love you, too) is arguably a leader in touting the goods made from ‘round here.  And if it’s handcrafted?  Even better.  In fact, a group called Crafters Local 612 puts on quite an annual event known as the No Coast Craft-o-Rama.  Located in the Midtown Global Market (a homegrown success in its own right), this two day show is basically a big old Upper Midwest arts and crafts lovefest, perfectly timed to satisfy the season.  Yeah, it’s a bit cozy as you jostle for space within the tightly packed booths.  But if you want a one-stop shop for unique holiday gifts, this is the place.  There’s the cute stuff for babies and those of us who just like, um, cute stuff.  There’s handmade clothes, found-object fashion, jewelry, and artwork.  And a lot of creations shaped into the state of MN.

Should all of the crowds and retailing makes you hangry, you’re in luck.  The craft bazaar takes place amid the permanent businesses here in the MGM.  Divided into small but welcoming stalls, the array is international, offering both food and retail.  Your tummy can visit East Africa, Mexico, Scandinavia, Asia, and the Middle East in just a few steps.  How great is that?  A large seating area sits in the middle of the merry mayhem.  During the fair, there was a jazz trio playing to packed tables of all sorts of people.

Anyway, here are some pics from this year’s Craft-o-Rama:
The cuteness.  The f***** cuteness.  As in "felted," potty-mouths ;-)
These guys offer snippets of state landmarks.
While MN took up most of the real estate, I enjoyed seeing
my home state (above) as well as my other home state (TX).
An awesome WI icon photobombs in the top right corner.

I love the ideas here.  And I just kinda
like how this picture came out.

Duluth-based The Medium Control got plenty of love
from me last year.  Repeat for 2013.
A gorgeous way to look at limnology.
The crowds bask in a late afternoon sunlight
that betrays the sheer frigidness outside.
I swear that as I get older, large gatherings get less appealing.  But I'm glad I waded into this sea of craftsanity, and I'm hoping those on my Christmas list are happy about their gifts, too.  Which includes me (hey, one for mom, one for me...  right?).  Here's my little haul:
Because the Cat Video Fest started right here.  As for the shirt on
the right...  it's just cute.
Also cute.  Extra points for those who know what
the pic on the left shows off.
Pint glasses that match my t-shirt!

Well, my holiday shopping is about done.  How about yourself?  Did you brave Black Friday or, like me, spend that day in a food coma and pretty much just rest up for the next big meal?  (Seriously, I abstained from my favorite sport on that day...  shocking, I know.)  Are you a fan of hitting up your local crafters for presents?  Or do you define that term via the homegrown brewery down the street?  Hey, that counts, too.
Happy gift-hunting, my friends!
**Want more info on all of this craftiness?  Click here.
All images - my own