Shopping Local & Handmade for the Holidays: A Round-up of Bazaars, Fair, Sales & Other Events

If you’re the person who doesn’t think about holiday gifts until the day before and then runs over to Walgreen’s, this isn’t for you — and good luck!

But if you love to spend time shopping for unusual or handcrafted gifts that no one else around the tree or menorah will have, northeast Ohio has a ton of holiday markets, sales, art walks, open studios and other events where you can find these one-of-a-kind things and often purchase them directly from the artist. In some cases, a portion of the proceeds goes to a worthy cause as well.

You’ll find the first wave of them this weekend, and more each subsequent weekend, all the way through December 20-22 when the Screw Factory Building artists in Lakewood hold their holiday weekend. And keep in mind: arts organizations which have holiday shops, such as Heights Arts, BAYarts, the Morgan Conservatory and Chagrin Arts/Valley Art Center’s Holiday Arts Gift Shoppe on Main, will be open through that weekend as well. So even if you’re a procrastinator, there will be chances to shop local.

Sleep in on Black Friday and then check out some events and shops this weekend. Keep in mind also that Saturday is Small Business Saturday, so it’s also a good time to check out that local storefront shop you’ve been meaning to visit.

Among the biggest events this weekend is the Larchmere Holiday Stroll on Larchmere Boulevard just north of Shaker Square. On Fri 11/29 and Sat 11/30 @ 10am-6pm. The street’s array of boutiques will be decorated for the holidays and have plenty of special merch; Loganberry Books will be hosting author signings all weekend so you can pick up that mystery, novel or local-interest book and have it signed to your giftee. Girl scouts will be caroling and there’ll be horse-drawn carriage rides, cider and cookies to add to the festival atmosphere.

Two old industrial buildings that have been repurposed as artist/entrepreneur hubs will be opening their doors. The above-mentioned Screw Factory will be offering a little preview of their big open house the week before Christmas with their Small Business Saturday, with many of the resident artists opening their doors. They’ll be open from 10am-4pm Sat 11/30.

The less-known Hildebrandt Building, off Clark just south of Ohio City, hosts both artists and start-up food businesses. Holidays at the Hildebrandt Sat 11/30 and Sun 12/1 @ 10am-5pm offers plenty of tie to check them all out and purchase anything from a piece of art — photos, ceramics, paintings and more — to sweets, teas and special coffee blends. There’ll be wood fires in the courtyard, drop-in yoga, kids’ art activities and a ten-foot Santa made out of popcorn. You don’t want to miss THAT!

Down in Akron, the 11th annual Crafty Mart takes place Sat 11/30 @11am-5pm and Sun 12/1 2 11am-4pm at Bounce Innovation Hub in downtown Akron. The huge market is truly an event, with crafting workshops, an Iron Crafting contest, food trucks outside and a café inside, live music, a gift-wrapping station and more than 70 local handmade vendors.

Over at Mahall’s in Lakewood, the monthly Pro Shop Market will take on a holiday flavor on Small Business Saturday as the entire building fills with vendors selling both handcrafted items and collectible and vintage stuff — lots of jewelry and clothing, as well as stuff with a rock & roll flavor befitting the location inside a music club. There’ll be a DJ spinning music and the bar will be open! It runs Sat 11/30 @ 11am-5pm.

The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory opens its holiday market Sat 11/30 @ 4-9pm and Sun 12/1 @ 10am-4pm, offering an array of handmade, paper-based art, from one-of-a-kind fine-art prints, sculpture, paintings and photos, to cards and stocking stuffers. Some of their handmade papers will be on sale, if you’ve got a friend who’s crafty. The market is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4pm through Sat 12/21.

Chagrin Arts & Valley Arts Center’s Holiday Arts Gift Shoppe in the Joan P. Wenk Gallery in downtown Chagrin Falls will have its grand opening Fri 11/29 and remain open after the tree lighting until 9pm. It will be open through Mon 12/23 Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm offering unique art works by area artists including glass, wood, prints, paintings and jewelry.

Both Heights Arts in Cleveland Heights and BAYarts in Bay Village host extensive holiday shops where they expand their usual selection of locally made items, bringing in additional merchandise for the season. You’ll find original art at all price points, along with other items from local creators, including books, CDs, ornaments, mugs and cards. Heights Arts’ holiday store is open through Mon 12/30 seven days a week, except Christmas (You can, however, avoid the trip to Walgreen’s by stopping in on Tue 12/24 @ noon-4pm).

BAYarts holiday shop is also open seven days a week with original art and giftables such as soaps, candles, pillows and wearable accessories. It runs through Sat 1/28 and it too is open Christmas eve day 9am-1pm.

More next week!

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