I will admit to not doing a whole lot of local shopping this Christmas. When buying for the Bit, it’s not always possible to find the things I want locally, and it’s just easier to put in a big order at Amazon and get it all done (and black Friday Melissa & Doug sales were pretty awesome).
But when I do shop local, I do it up big. Here, a Fayetteville field trip to two of my favorite local places to shop, and a rundown of some great books by local authors you might want to add to your gift list or your wish list. Buying local authors from a local bookstore: it’s the best kind of local!
Great Gifts from Nightbird Books
Nightbird Books is one of my happy places. It’s such a charming little store, it does actually have birds inside, and it has a really nice collection of local and indie books.
Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany edited by Jay Jennings (Portis is from Little Rock). I have only read True Grit, but I loved it and I want to read all of Portis’ other stuff. This recently released collection includes newspaper writings, essays, short stories, a previously unpublished play and more. The title comes from an awesomely true quote from Portis’ The Dog of the South: “A lot of people leave Arkansas and most of them come back sooner or later. They can’t achieve escape velocity.”I got two copies of this one, but only one is a gift.
Mount Magazine: Looking for the Light by Steven Hunter (Fort Smith). Arkies know Mount Magazine as being the highest point in the state, and this book includes tons of lovely photos of the mountain and its inhabitants. This is a book I didn’t know I was looking for but was glad I found.
Beware of Limbo Dancers: A Correspondent’s Adventures with the New York Times by Roy Reed (Hogeye). Unpictured, because I bought it for me. Roy Reed is such an amazing person and journalist, who went from small-town Arkansas to reporting on the civil rights struggle for theTimes. He has so many wonderful stories and is a true southern gentleman. I can’t wait to read this one.
Up Among the Hills DVD by Larry Foley (Fayetteville). This is cheating because it’s not actually a book and I didn’t get it at Nightbird; I had to go to the library to get it. Larry is an Emmy winning documentarian and this film, which he wrote, produced and directed, is all about the history of Fayetteville and happens to be narrated by Bill Clinton. I haven’t actually seen this yet, but all of his stuff is great and I’m thrilled to be able to support him and share his work with my family.
Bonus round: They didn’t have any copies at Nightbird, but I also heartily recommend Arkansas Pie by Kat Robinson if you’re looking for a fun gift for a foodie. As you might imagine it’s all about the lore and lure of pie in the Natural State. I met Kat at Arkansas Women Bloggers and I’m confident her book is as fun and warm as she is (she’ll be doing a signing at Nightbird in January, they said, so stay tuned for that awesomeness).
The Handmade Market
My go-to stop for gifts that aren’t books is the Handmade Market. This store in Evelyn Hills is such a beauty. I don’t want to show you all the great stuff I got there, but there is some really great stuff.
They have foodie gifts, unique serving pieces, linens, cool bags, candles, soaps, tea and tea pots, fun handmade things… Mim is a weaver, so there’s beautiful handwoven stuff, too.You can buy ready-made gift baskets or make your own (I made one for my sister-in-law with a ceramic bowl, cloth napkins, tri-colored pasta and some yummy sauce).
No matter who you’re shopping for, unless they have no taste at all, you’ll find something they’re sure to love in this store. It’s a great place for little goodies to have on hand for holiday visitors, too. I bought some high-end hot chocolate mix, roasted vegetable tapenade and spicy microbrew peanut brittle (!) to keep at the ready for when people drop by over the next couple of weeks.
What are your favorite local places (even if you’re not local to me) to shop for gifts. I’d love to hear about them. Also, if you know of any great local authors — especially if you’re not local to me! — let me know about them as well.