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In the market: Shoppers thinking outside the box

  • Brenda Cann, of Spoiled Rotten Jewelry, organizes necklaces at her booth during the Hanover Parks and Recreation Holiday Market at R.W. Black Community Center in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Cann and other vendors hope that people will be shopping locally for holiday gifts this year. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

  • Allison Alden Riese, left, stands next to her handcrafted pottery booth while she talks to Catherine Anderson, of Catherine’s Sweet and Savory, during the Hanover Parks and Recreation Holiday Market at R.W. Black Community Center in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. The market will be open on Wednesdays from 4-7 p.m. through December 22. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/21/2021 8:44:11 PM
Modified: 11/21/2021 8:47:11 PM

WEST LEBANON — In years past, Candace Matheson would usually start her holiday shopping after Thanksgiving.

But this year the Sharon resident started at the beginning of November and is also changing her shopping strategy.

“I kind of have decided to shop a little more local,” said Matheson, who was visiting the Lebanon Art & Crafts Association’s annual Christmas Show and Sale in West Lebanon, Monday. While there, she was picking out a birthday gift for her husband’s grandmother and Christmas bows for her daughters. “(I’m) trying to make things a little more meaningful this year and not rely on box stores.”

Matheson is focusing on purchasing handmade gifts from area artisans and visiting resale shops. She’s “trying to keep it a little greener this year,” recognizing the amount of materials used in shipping.

Due to supply chain issues, shipping delays and a desire to support area businesses that are still recovering from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some Upper Valley residents are starting their shopping earlier and closer to home. While the region has typically shown strong support for supporting small businesses, this year appears different.

As part of that shift, area organizations are providing more opportunities to connect with area craftspeople, including the Hanover Parks and Recreation Department, which every Wednesday through Dec. 22, with the exception of Nov. 24, at the RW Black Community Center. In some ways, it is an extension of the Hanover Farmers Market, which the department took over this year.

“We wanted to do something that was inside that still supported our community that just wasn’t our fitness and exercise classes,” said Camille Richards, community center program manager. While supply chain issues were not the sole reason for the market, “part of the reason we decided to move forward is because everything is local and we know there is a supply shortage and people are stressing over holiday gifts. Discussing with vendors they also had the same idea that it was a good idea to sell some of their products because there is such a shortage on some things right now.”

That has carried over to many different types of businesses. AnnMarie Smith, who helps run her family’s business, WA Smith Auctionhouse in Plainfield, said that, since the business has added online auctions to its repertoire, their clientele has gotten younger, with more people in the 25 to 45 age range.

“Also the supply chain issues brought a lot of people to us as well because you can’t as quickly go and order a couch and have it show up to your door in 6 to 8 weeks,” Smith said. “People are able to buy them and bring them home instead of continually getting emails about orders being delayed.”

Smith herself started shopping earlier and more local. After learning that Stella’s in Lyme had pottery by Georgia Donnelly, the Norwich resident took a drive to purchase some pieces as gifts a couple weeks ago.

“It was something I’ve been seeing on her Instagram for awhile and I thought I might as well take a ride up there and buy now,” Smith said. “I’m just thinking about it very differently this year. I’m intentionally trying to shop, local small business.”

Smith is also changing the types of gifts she buys, going for items that are more individualized and not mass-produced.

“I definitely will be buying less ‘stuff’ quote unquote and more meaningful, personal gifts,” she said.

It’s not always easy to shop small businesses, particularly when shopping for children. Mary Kelleher, of Lebanon, shopped online and early for her three grandchildren.

“There were certain things they wanted,” she said, citing Star Wars-themed Lego sets and LOL Surprise Dolls. The gifts are already wrapped and waiting for her grandchildren, whom she will see at Thanksgiving.

While Kelleher usually starts her holiday shopping in the first week of November and is finished before December — “I’m not a Black Friday girl,” she said — this year she was more proactive. Its paid off.

“Truly so far I have not not been able to find what I want,” Kelleher said while shopping Monday at the Christmas Show and Sale for prizes for the family’s Thanksgiving Bunco games. “I just have a few stragglers left, my own children.” Any odds and ends will likely be purchased from Upper Valley businesses.

That’s welcome information to Linda Runnion, executive director of the Randolph-based White River Valley Chamber of Commerce, who hopes the supply shortage will send people back to downtowns after last year’s disappointing holiday season.

“Unfortunately retail sort of succumbed to Amazon particularly during COVID times,” she said.

While some businesses shuttered, others have opened like a vintage clothing store and jewelry shop in downtown Randolph.

“We’re anticipating that people will want to shop local,” Runnion said.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at or 603-727-3221.

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