Black Friday is almost upon us, which means holiday shopping season is about to kick into frantic gear. Why embed yourself into the frenzied lines though? Sounds like pure hell. And you know as soon as Thanksgiving rolls around, your social calendar is going to be littered with family get-togethers and holiday parties, and before you know it Christmas will be staring you and your empty stockings down. Which is all by way of saying, let's get a head start. And as you do, remember that shopping local is the way to go. It supports local artisans and businesses while bestowing upon your family and friends something unique, something that shows you put a little more thought into their gift than five minutes at Target on Christmas Eve.
Below, find our humble and by no means complete list of recommendations of locally made and locally available gifts, running the gamut from foodie desires to art and jewelry to workshops and more. Many of them are available online, so you don't even have to leave your house or cubicle to score the perfect gift. You can thank us when your giftee thanks you.
Stainless Steel Keg Growler
In most cases, it's cheaper to buy a six-pack than to fill a 64-ounce growler full of beer from your favorite local brewery. But draft beer just tastes better than canned or bottled beer. And some draft beers simply aren't available in cans and bottles. Craft beer lovers will like the Great Lakes Brewing Company's stainless steel keg growler. Unlike a glass growler, the thing won't break if you drop it. And unlike a glass growler, it doesn't let in light that might damage the precious fluids inside. You can purchase the growler at the gift store attached to the Ohio City brewpub.
2516 Market Ave., greatlakesbrewing.com
A Year of Ice Cream
If you do the math, buying a year of Mitchell's Ice Cream doesn't really save you that much money. You'd probably spend about the same amount of cash if you were to go to one of the locally owned ice cream shops and just buy a scoop every week for a year. But you're not buying it for yourself and it's not about the deal. It's about delivering sweet, sweet dessert goodness to someone else. The "A Year of Ice Cream" certificates come in a tin, and each one is redeemable for one free scoop of ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt at any Mitchell's. They may be used toward any item of greater value and never expire or lose value. Plus, Mitchell's regularly introduces seasonal flavors and makes its ice cream using dairy from family farms in Holmes and Wayne Counties.
Jim Lanza Woodprint of Guardians of Transportation
Local artist and punk rock enthusiast Jim Lanza can be spotted at most local arts and crafts fairs. He owns and operates the Foundry Woodprints, a local business that specializes in transforming old Cleveland logos and iconic images into artwork. You can find old photos transposed onto pieces of wood perfect for hanging on your wall. We're particularly fond of the woodprint of the Guardians of Transportation, but he also has artwork featuring Euclid Beach Park, Roxy Burlesque, old Euclid Avenue, University Circle and much more. He accepts custom orders as well.
Locally Made Soy Candle from Swan Creek
All candles aren't created equal. Consider Swan Creek, Swan Creek Candle, a division of Ambrosia, Inc., an Ohio corporation that's been around since the 1970s. A family run business, it's located in a 30,000- square-foot factory in Swanton, in northwest Ohio. While the company sells candles to wholesalers around the country, you can pick up the product at the company's various outlet stores. One outlet store is in the factory in Swanton, and there's another in Vermilion. Swan Creek's kitchen pantry jars hold some 24 ounces of "clean burning soybean wax" and come in scents such as bourbon maple sugar and buttercream vanilla.
681 Main St., Vermilion, 440-963-0161, swancreekcandle.com
Wax Mage Records Paraphernalia
Both Heather Gmucs and Sarah Barker work at the locally based Gotta Groove Records, one of only a handful of vinyl pressing plants in the whole country. As a result, they have access to vinyl, lots of it. With Wax Mage, they use Gotta Groove's tools and materials to make what they describe as "insane custom records that are as unique as snowflakes." If you don't care for any of the titles (mostly local acts) offered for sale through their website, they also sell stickers, pins, coozies, patches and T-shirts, all emblazoned with the Wax Mage logo.
Fresh Fork Membership
There might be no better gift for passionate home cooks than a subscription to Fresh Fork, a year-round provider of fresh foods sourced from local family farms and producers within 75 miles of Public Square. The founder has spent years cultivating relationships, establishing food ways and steering the entire farming community in the right direction. Each week, members pick up their shares from refrigerated trucks in communities across Northeast Ohio, along with recipes and tips on how best to utilize the produce, meat, eggs, dairy, breads, canned goods, pastries and grains within. Available shares include summer or winter, small or large, vegan, vegetarian or omnivore.
Michael Symon Knife Set
If you always wanted to cook with Michael Symon, now's your chance — sort of. The Cleveland Iron Chef and host of ABC's The Chew and Food Network's Burgers, Brew & 'Que has partnered with Ergo Chef to create a line of high-quality kitchen knives, which are available online and at every Bed, Bath & Beyond in Ohio. The knives are crafted of German-made, high-carbon steel with a strong and ergonomic fiberglass handle emblazoned with Symon's "MS" insignia. The six-piece set includes a 9-inch chef knife, 7-inch vegetable cleaver, 6-inch serrated utility knife, 6-inch chef knife, 3.5-inch paring knife and a magnetic strip for wall mounting. The cost for the attractive and functional set is $279.99.
The Deck by Cleveland Independents
When you deal your friends into this game, they'll be treated to a full year of savings at the restaurants of their choosing. Unlike a traditional gift card, which is good only at the place it was purchased, the Deck features deals good at any of 49 independent Northeast Ohio restaurants. Pick a card — any card — and you'll get to shave $10 off any food purchase of $30 or more. The deck is stacked with all of your favorite places, new and classic, including 811 Kitchen, Bac Asian American Bistro, Corky & Lenny's, Gamekeeper's Taverne, Flying Fig, Tremont Taphouse, Umami, Jammy Buggars, Marotta's, Luxe Kitchen, Sarita, Pier W, Paladar Latin Kitchen, Luna Bakery and many more. The cards don't just save you or the recipient money, they serve as a helpful resource when trying to pick a destination.
Named after the age-old optical illusion that asks viewers what they see, a rabbit or a duck, this small-scale roastery has some very big ideas about coffee. Located in the same Duck Island warehouse as Forest City Brewing, Duck-Rabbit Coffee is one of Cleveland's newest entries into the quickly developing third-wave coffee scene. The owner directly sources his beans from farmers in Sumatra, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Colombia, paying above Fair Trade minimums. Pick up some earthy, rustic and sweet Lintong coffee, which comes from the south side of Lake Toba in northern Sumatra, or El Angel, farmed on the slopes of the Santa Ana volcano in El Salvador. Any true coffee aficionado will love the gesture and the beans.
Created by two huge fans of the Cleveland Indians' classic film Major League, replica Jobu figurines (3D-scanned from the film's original) are now on sale at bobblehead emporium/sports memorabilia superstore, clarktoys.com. The figurines sell for $34.99 and make for a terrific locally flavored cubicle or mantle decoration. Originally sold exclusively at jobulifestyle.com, the replica figurines are now part of a Major League product line that includes Jobu Rum and Jobu (and Wild Thing) ugly Christmas sweaters. The sweaters are a hefty $64.99, but are guaranteed to win any ugly sweater office competition next year. If you want to give an Indians-themed gift but want to get more creative than the team shop, stop right here.
Plain Dealer Subscription
These days, it's easy to consume only the news posted on Facebook or Twitter or — heaven forbid — on SnapChat. But there's nothing like that good old-fashioned marketplace of ideas, brought to you by a good old-fashioned newspaper. While we at Scene reserve the right to call out their editorial board for stupidity, and roast their editors for suckling at the teet of the city's business and civic elites, we also recognize that the Plain Dealer is this town's only major metro daily, and we ought to keep it in business, especially because its reporters continue to produce quality journalism. You can't get the in-depth reporting on CMSD and public health crises anywhere else, for example. A Sunday-only subscription is just the ticket for a millennial who's never had a personal subscription before, but we promise it'll pay off, in the level of their conversation alone! Plus, it's cheap, just $1.69 a week!
Ash Bowl by Billy Ritter
When the food stylists and photographers at BurkleHagen want to set an impressive table, they reach for one-of-a-kind tableware from local ceramicist Billy Ritter. Each piece of ceramic tableware is made by hand, one at a time. Many are fired in a wood-fueled kiln, which gives the pieces a striking surface with light ash-dusted glazing. Ritter uses only food-safe, non-toxic glazes, and despite their museum-quality beauty, the pieces are microwave and dishwasher safe. "One of the reasons I honestly make tableware is that I love the sense of belonging and meaningful functionality that comes along with that," Ritter explains. "The thought of people sharing their very important and personal gatherings on my handmade tablewares, it warms my heart in a way that I can't explain. When I think of that feeling I want it to last forever, and more importantly, I want to share it with you all."
City Club Membership
Each year, the City Club brings an impressive roster of speakers to Cleveland — people like President Barack Obama, Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen, Sen. Cory Booker, writer Ta-Nahisi Coates and leaders from around the country doing noteworthy work. As the "citadel of free speech," the City Club is all about fostering civil discourse in our society — something we could all use more of after this recent election season. A standard Civic Participant membership costs $200 for the year, and comes with two complimentary tickets, discounted tickets to all other events, invitations to special events, and more —including a dope pin and history book.
A Cleveland Race Anthology
Speaking of the City Club and dope books, why not buy your friend or family member A Race Anthology, lately published to further the national conversation around race. Edited by Cleveland's own R.A. Washington and the City Club's CEO Dan Moulthrop, the book gathers some of the region's sharpest voices to "help define this moment and light the way forward." The collection is a collaboration between the City Club and GTK Press, and is available for purchase, through the Guide to Kulchar website, for $22.
Loganberry Book of the Month Club
Loganberry routinely wins "Best Bookstore" honors in Scene's annual Best of Cleveland awards, and the mesmerizing scope of its collection is only one piece of the puzzle. Another is its programming. Beyond a book club and regular events at its Larchmere location, Loganberry offers a Book of the Month club, a perfect gift idea for the bookworm in your life. All you need to do is fill out a form with the recipient's age and reading tastes, and every month the staff at Loganberry will send them a new book. A curated reading list for $12, $24, or $36 per month! (The pricey tier includes special and out-of-print editions and hard-to-find titles.) It sure beats Netflix.
13015 Larchmere Blvd., loganberrybooks.com