Have yourself a merry Michigan Christmas

Great gifts can be found close to home this holiday season

By: Jennifer Sigouin | C&G Newspapers | Published December 7, 2011

 Barbara Stanko of Detroit browses through The Detroit Shoppe’s offerings.

Barbara Stanko of Detroit browses through The Detroit Shoppe’s offerings.

File photo by Deb Jacques

Looking for a few more gifts on your holiday shopping list? Choosing a Michigan-made item or purchasing from a small, local business can be a win-win — recipients get to unwrap something unique, while shoppers help boost Michigan’s economy.

“If we’re going to make an impact with our dollars, this is the biggest impact we can have — at this time of the year,” said Lisa Diggs, founder of Buy Michigan Now.

Diggs created the Buy Michigan Now campaign — complete with a website, and an annual food and gift guide — the day before Thanksgiving in 2007 to encourage shoppers to “Think Michigan First” when spending, not only during the holidays, but all year long.

When creating its gift guide each year, Buy Michigan Now looks for the highest-quality Michigan-made items, and especially likes to highlight lesser-known businesses throughout the state, said Diggs. This year’s guide, available at www.buymichigannow.com, lists items in more than 30 categories, including food, beverages, clothing, jewelry, accessories, music and books. Each item is accompanied by a photo, description and information on where it can be purchased.

Fashionable boot wraps from Huggrz in Troy, a Michigan mitten cutting board from the Michigan Maple Block Co. in Petoskey and all-natural body butter from Marmalade Hills in West Bloomfield are just a few of this year’s suggestions. Diggs also notes that shoppers “can’t go wrong with food items.”

“A lot of people like to send a ‘taste of Michigan’ to folks out of town,” she said.

The gift guide’s tasty recommendations include shortbread from The Malcolm Tradition in Eastpointe, Chocolate Drizzle Caramel Corn from Will Cole in Clinton Township and white chocolate covered cherries from Cherry Republic in Glenn Arbor.

Shop local

According to buymichigannow.com, a 2008 study conducted in Grand Rapids by Civic Economics found that $73 out of every $100 spent locally stayed within the community, as opposed to $43 out of every $100 spent in non-locally owned businesses.

Instead of buying gifts online or at a large retail store, shoppers can make a real difference by staying in their own community. This option was emphasized on Small Business Saturday Nov. 26, which proved beneficial for many small stores in metro Detroit.

“Sales were up 30 percent this year,” said April McCrumb, owner of Catching Fireflies in Berkley. “I’m thrilled.”

After 11 years in business in downtown Berkley, McCrumb said she’s noticed a growing mindset among customers to shop locally. Catching Fireflies, which has another location in downtown Rochester, offers shoppers whimsical, fun items, including Detroit- and Michigan-themed gifts.

“We’re independently owned, and we offer a big variety of goods, including items from local artists,” said McCrumb.

In addition, McCrumb and her husband, Steve, own the Yellow Door Art Market, just two doors down from the Catching Fireflies Berkley location. The store sells handmade items from more than 70 Michigan artists, so not only are shoppers supporting a local business, they’re supporting the artists, too.

Catching Fireflies is located at 3117 W. 12 Mile in Berkley and 203 E. University in Rochester. For more information, visit www.catchingfireflies.com. Yellow Door Art Market is located at 3141 W. 12 Mile Road in Berkley. For more information, visit www.yellowdoorartmarket.com.

Supporting Detroit

When it comes to gifts that are distinctly Detroit, Sanders chocolate, Faygo soda and Better Made potato chips are just a few items that come to mind — and all of these brands and more can be found at The Detroit Shoppe, located at Somerset Collection North in Troy.

Kelly Breckenridge, general manager of The Detroit Shoppe, said that people’s memories and nostalgia make the store a popular destination. Decorative tiles from Pewabic Pottery, food items such as McClure’s pickles and Germack pistachios, and T-shirts from companies such as Made in Detroit and the Detroit Shirt Co. are a few of the store’s big sellers. The store also carries a large selection of books on Detroit, and historical prints and photographs of the city.

Breckenridge added that shopping at The Detroit Shoppe is a good way to support the local economy.

“Even if the product is not made in Michigan, if you buy it from a Michigan store, it saves a Michigan employee their job,” said Breckenridge.

The Detroit Shoppe donates a portion of its profits from merchandise sales to Detroit-based charities. The store also aims to inspire shoppers to visit Detroit.

“It’s a gateway to get people to go back to the city,” she said.

For more information on The Detroit Shoppe, call (248) 816-5470 or visit detroitmovesme.com.