- Artwork by Eric Milikin
You probably have people in your life for whom you must, or at least should, procure gifts this holiday season. You hopefully have disposable income with which to acquire those gifts. You have, likely, not given much thought as of yet to what exactly those fine folks would like to receive from you, but you are a fine person yourself and would like those gifts to reinforce that belief.
Which is all by way of saying you need to buy shit and you, like everyone else, could use some recommendations.
And recommendations do we have. All local, all wonderful. And all guaranteed to make you a hero, or at least not a thoughtless schlub who clearly stopped by Drug Mart on Christmas Eve, this fine, fine season.
Northeast Ohio Topographical Map
Cuyahoga Collective, in Lakewood, is one of the region's more specialized home decor boutiques. Their rugged home goods all loosely adhere to a "roaming and exploration" aesthetic, which means you feel like an adventurer when you're sipping from their patterned coffee mugs or gazing upon their home accessories. It's not unlike how driving a Subaru makes you feel outdoorsy. The store also sells an assortment of prints. Among our favorites are those in the Northeast Ohio topography collection. These hand-cut maps are printed on poly-blend canvas and measure 20-by-24 inches. The colors are subdued enough to mesh with almost any palette, and would be a perfect addition to the home or apartment of any nature, geography or local history nerd. With a distressed wooden frame, these prints will instantly elevate your Cleveland cred. What's doper than an old local map?
$59.99, 15701 Madison Ave., Lakewood, cuyahogacollective.com.
The Women Of Copper Country, By Maria Doria Russell
Mary Doria Russell, of Lyndhurst, is one of Northeast Ohio's most important novelists. Her first novel, The Sparrow (1996), remains a classic of speculative fiction. After devoting years of research to Doc Holliday for two novels on the famous gunslinger, she has turned to the story of Michigan labor activist "Big Annie" Clemenc in her new work, The Women of Copper Country. The book, which brings to life the labor struggles of miners in Michigan leading up to the Copper Country strike of 1913-1914, was published in August. It'll make a perfect gift for the bookworms in your life, particularly those interested in regional lit, labor lit or meticulously researched historical fiction, for which Russell is known.
$27 (hardcover), simonandschuster.com.
Spurcycle Bicycle Bell
Commuting by bicycle through Cleveland's decidedly bike-unfriendly infrastructure is a chore, but little things make it easier. For the stylish, conscientious cyclist in your life, consider the Spurcycle Bell. At just under $60, it's a functional gift that says you care. The brass and stainless steel bell (available in raw steel or black finish) is mountable on almost any handlebar and issues a clear, resounding tone to announce your presence. Riding through Cleveland's sundry construction zones, multi-purpose trails and regular old streets with expanded micromobility options, clearly signaling your approach makes for safer, more courteous roadways. Ding ding! This gift's a winner.
$59, available at Joy Machines Bike Shop, 2605 Detroit Ave., or at spurcycle.com.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Membership
One way to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to locally sourced food is to become a member of a community supported agriculture (CSA) program at a regional farm. These memberships typically include a bag of fresh vegetables every week. Some come with meat and eggs and other goodies as well. Though it would be a substantial gift for a full season, some programs, like the one at Ohio City Farm, which is managed in partnership with the Refugee Response, offer a "half share." At OCF, that costs $200 for a 10-week session. Twenty bucks a week for a cornucopia of fresh veggies is a small price to pay, given the imminent collapse of civilization. The Ohio City Farm's CSA tends to fill up quickly, but others throughout the county also offer a rich diversity of food and subscription packages.
Bridge Avenue and West 24th St., ohiocityfarm.com.
Collin Sexton Throwback Cavaliers' Jersey
The Cavaliers' are actually fun again! Through the early season, they've been in pretty much every game so far and the dysfunction that perpetually hangs over the organization has been lifted, at least temporarily. New coach John Beilein seems to know what he's doing and general manager Koby Altman actually got a contract extension, the first GM to be extended under Dan Gilbert's ownership. To celebrate the team's competence, we recommend grabbing one of these awesome 90s throwback jerseys from the Shawn Kemp-era Cavs. Second-year fireplug guard Collin Sexton is leading the team in scoring so far, and he's definitely one of the more fun players on the squad to watch, so his jersey would be the one we'd grab.
Paper Flowers from Love, Anji
We all have that person in our life who, for whatever reason, just can't keep a plant alive. Whether it's from overzealous watering or lazy neglect, the greenery always ends up in the trash. Well, we have the perfect gift for that person. Love, Anji is a local paper florist specializing in beautiful bouquets that last a lifetime. You can customize this gift or select from one of many pre-arranged flower arrangements and you can spend as little or as much as you want, ranging from just $9 for a single rose up to $100 or more for an elaborate bouquet — and everything in between.
Wallet or Cardholder from Wright and Rede
Northeast Ohio native Jordan Lee started Wright and Rede with the goal of making affordable leather products that were "well made, visually appealing, and didn't cost a week's pay." Seven years later, he certainly accomplished his goal. Out of his workshop in Cleveland Heights, Lee makes beautiful leather wallets that mostly retail for under $100. Some of his cardholders are as low as $32. The natural beauty of the leather and detail really shine through on this great gift. They also sell messenger bags and totes if you really want to impress your loved one this holiday season.
Cleveland's Millionaire's Row, by Alan Dutka
From the renowned local Cleveland historian Alan Dutka, this new work focuses on the stately mansions that used to line Euclid Avenue in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dutka, who has written such histories of Cleveland as Cleveland Calamities, Historic Movie Theaters of Cleveland, Cleveland's Short Vincent, Slovenians in Cleveland and other works, is an expert when it comes to this city's history. In fact, this is his second book focusing on the mansions of Euclid Avenue. His 2015 work, Misfortune on Cleveland's Millionaire's Row, focused on the lives of some of the wealthy Euclid Avenue homeowners; this follow-up focuses on the actual houses and what happened to them. This is the perfect gift for any lover of Cleveland history.
100 Things Browns Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, by Zac Jackson
Ace Browns writer Zac Jackson has seen a thing or two in Berea in his day. Now covering the team for The Athletic Cleveland, Jackson began his journalism career inside the NFL when he landed a post-college job with the team to cover the Browns for their website. Between then and now, with stops at Pro Football Talk and Fox Sports Ohio in between, Jackson has witnessed the supreme dysfunction firsthand and has the receipts to prove how bad it all was. (Well, and good, sometimes, but just occasionally.) In this book, perfect for the Browns fan in your life, Jackson takes you through two decades of weird, wild and mostly winless football with some stories you may know, but many, many others you probably don't.
$15.29, at your friendly neighborhood bookstore or on Amazon.com.
Visible Voice T-Shirt Designed by Local Artist Gary Dumm
Famous for collaborating with the late Harvey Pekar on his American Splendor series, local inker, penciller and writer Gary Dumm continues to draw even as he's battled health issues. A one-time contributor to Scene, the very cordial Dumm drew the graphic found on these special T-shirts that features an image of the Cleveland skyline: All the buildings are made out of books, complete with smokestacks spewing smoke into the sky. Tremont is written in large type across the front. The shirt's a great way to rep one of Cleveland's best independent bookstores and coolest neighborhoods.
$18, 2258 Professor Ave.,visiblevoicebooks.com.
Mark Twain's America Then and Now, by Laura DeMarco
In her new book, Mark Twain's America Then and Now, Plain Dealer reporter Laura DeMarco examines how America has changed since the American author's time by showing what places he visited looked like when he visited them and comparing them to what they look like now. There's a Cleveland connection here — the book includes images of the Cleveland Herald Building and Case Hall. Twain launched his famous Vandal Abroad tour from Case Hall on Nov. 17, 1868. The author of Lost Cleveland and Cleveland Then and Now, DeMarco uses nearly 200 pictures to trace Twain's journey through 69 locations. The beautifully bound hardback book makes a great item for the coffee table.
$22.50, at your friendly neighborhood bookstore or on Amazon.com.
Wigle's Straight Holiday Whiskey Aged in Great Lakes' 2018 Christmas Ale barrels and/or a Special Release of Great Lakes' 2019 Christmas Ale Aged in Wigle Whiskey Barrels
Yes, we know. Clevelanders and Pittsburghers don't get along. But it doesn't have to be that way. This collaboration between Wigle, a distillery in the Strip District near downtown Pittsburgh, and Great Lakes Brewing Co., one of Cleveland's best craft breweries, provides proof that the two cities have much to offer one another. According to a press release, the collaboration came about when reps from each place spent a day at the other guys' production facility and decided it would be great to collaborate on a holiday libation. The Wigle folks have put their Straight Wheat Whiskey into casks used to age Great Lakes' Christmas Ale, and the Great Lakes brewmaster aged Christmas Ale in Wigle barrels. Wigle hosts a release party on Nov. 27, and Great Lakes will release the Christmas Ale aged in Wigle whiskey barrels at its annual Holiday Brewmaster's Dinner on Dec. 10 at the Ohio City brewery. We suspect both items will be available in the Great Lakes store after their respective launches.
2516 Market Ave., greatlakesbrewing.com.
Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll Exhibit Catalog
Earlier this year, Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll opened to much fanfare at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The exhibit comes to the Rock Hall this month. It offers "a rare, in-depth look at the artists and instruments that made possible many of the songs we know and love." The Rock Hall's largest single exhibit ever, Play It Loud will feature instruments from 1939 to today, and many have never been displayed outside of their original concert performance settings. This hardbound exhibit catalog and picture album book features images of many of the instruments. Photographs and essays tell the story of the many iconic guitars and pianos you'll find on display at the Rock Hall.
$50, 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd.,
Cleveland Metroparks Challenge Map/Guidebook
Clevelander Lora DiFranco founded Free Period Press five years ago to make print products that help humans slow down and unplug and focus on what is important. At first that meant designing adult coloring books, but that's evolved. Until now, the company has never released anything Cleveland-area specific. During the summer, DiFranco unveiled the Cleveland Metroparks Challenge map and mini guidebook, which helps people explore all 18 reservations in the system — even during the winter. As people visit a park, they can mark it off on their map and feel good about themselves. The challenge is not officially sanctioned by the Metroparks, but the materials can be found at about a dozen independent bookstores and shops around Cleveland.
Ghurka Leather Travel Bag
It's always fun to include one item on this list that's a total splurge, and this year that's the Ghurka Cavalier duffle bag. While the expertly designed bag, suitable for both men and women, isn't actually made in Cleveland (hello, Connecticut and Italy), the five-decade-old company's headquarters relocated here in the past year under new ownership. The best-selling Cavalier, seen here in vintage chestnut, comes in three sizes and is made with butter-soft leather, and offers plenty of storage space for your next weekend getaway. Ghurka, which has made fans out of Meghan Markle and LeBron James, doesn't have a permanent brick-and-mortar storefront, but offers local pop-up events from time to time.
Restrooms of Cleveland, by Arabella Proffer
For her soon-to-come self-published book Restrooms of Cleveland, local artist Arabella Proffer documented hundreds of Cleveland bathrooms with her cell phone camera, taking in local commodes everywhere from dive bars to nursing homes. The result is a 80-plus page photo book of some of Proffer's favorite shots. Proffer admits these aren't necessarily the best bathrooms in town, but rather the most interesting to her. A book release party is scheduled for Judd's Tavern Dec. 5 and the project will be available on Proffer's website and elsewhere after that. No doubt this book would make great bathroom reading material for any Clevelander.
Little Birdie Knit Fur Pom Pom Hat
Not everyone has a grandparent who can whip up a cute knit stocking hat in minutes. For them, there's Cuyahoga Falls-based handmade knitware company Little Birdie Design Studio. Coming in 17 colors (we hope that's enough for you), the company's knit fur pom pom hat is made of lamb's wool and acrylic, along with a faux fur bauble, and is thick enough to take on even the coldest Cleveland winter while still looking completely adorable. Little Birdie, designed by owner Tori Tedesco, can be found at various makers' markets around the state as well as online.
Teddy Watch Strap
No one actually needs a watch to find out the time anymore. Thanks, cell phones. Instead, as fans and haters of Odell Beckham Jr. can attest, watches have become, more than ever, a status symbol. Clevelander Teddy Baldassarre understands that, and started a YouTube channel a couple years ago to help people navigate the world of high-end and vintage watches. Now with 142,000 subscribers, and videos that have been viewed millions of times, Baldassarre started his own watch strap line called Teddy. Handmade in Cleveland, the straps are made of premium leather and stainless steel, come in a handful of colors and can easily be switched out on your favorite timepiece.
Stir Studio Kitchen Cooking Class
At Stir, the cooking classes held the beautiful commercial kitchen are kept small by design. Charlie Denk wanted to keep things intimate as attendees learn how to prepare a full meal — slicing, dicing and cooking as much or as little as they desire. When most of the work is done, attendees take a break with a glass of wine, or maybe shoot a game of pool, before returning to the now-clean workstations for a healthy, flavorful meal. With a wide variety of seasonal options, Stir's classes are the perfect gift for anyone wanting to further develop their home cooking skills or try their hand at something new. Prices vary, but most are around $60, and a full schedule built months out gives you plenty of options.
various prices, 4461 Lorain Ave.,stirstudiokitchen.com.
Fresh Veggie Box from Chef's Garden
Farmer Lee Jones is the dean of vegetables. As the founder of the Culinary Vegetable Institute, the legendary chef is a beloved and nationally known fixture thanks to his deep commitment to farming and sustainable agriculture. The Chef's Garden, located on the farm in Milan, Ohio, and run by the Jones family — Bob Jones Sr., Lee Jones and Bob Jones Jr. — for the past 30 years, specializes in specialty products and high quality vegetables delivered right to your door. Options change with the season, so you'll see braising vegetables and late fall harvests now, with winter veggies on the docket soon. Boxes start at around $125 for 15 pounds of fresh goods and go up from there.
$125 and up, chefs-garden.com.