Our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Local retail renaissance thinks outside the big box

Last November, the Google Calendar app greeted users with a new day of celebration: Black Friday. The holiday in question appeared courtesy of the app’s setting for “Holidays in the United States” on Nov. 29. It hailed the annual retail bonanza sure to come as well as the implicit suggestion, that in this moment of late capitalism, Thanksgiving is pretty much “Black Friday Eve.”

The retail season is upon us, but that doesn’t mean you have to feed the gaping maw of big-box stores and monopolistic online retailers. When you think outside the big box and support local retailers—and better yet, purveyors of locally-made products—you’re doing wonders for your community and its economy.

According to an infographic released by Sonoma County GO LOCAL Cooperative, which “works to grow the market share of locally-owned businesses,” when you spend $100 at a locally owned business, $48 remains in the local economy. Compared to the $13 that stay from big box stores or the whopping zero for non-local online retailers, the advantage of keeping money in the neighborhood, so to speak, is what’s called the local economic multiplier effect. Dollars retained in a community and re-spent within the local economy result in income growth for local people, increased pay and more tax revenues returned to local governments—ultimately providing for better standards of living for those in the community.


In The Making
Among those raising the retail standards of the community is In The Making, located in Petaluma’s up-and-coming American Alley artisanal district. Home to the open studios of both Jenn Conner of Pennyroyal Design and Siri Hansdotter Jewelry, In the Making also serves a small curated goods retail shop featuring a variety of artisanal products made or designed by area artists.

Onsite, Handotter offers its jewelry in limited release, one-of-a-kind and made to order collections as well as custom designs—with each piece designed and crafted by hand in the studio. Conner’s bespoke, handmade leather carryalls are expertly hewn from high-quality, American vegetable-tanned leathers and made to grow old with you. inthemakingpetaluma.com

Made Local Marketplace
Proudly celebrating their eighth year and now home to 800 local makers, the Made Local Marketplace in Santa Rosa is essentially an old-world bazaar brought indoors. Moreover, everything for sale is made in the North Bay. From homewares and functional pottery to jewelry, original artworks, greeting cards and essential oils. Perennial gift-friendly items like locally-produced candles, jars of jam and honey and teas are also on hand. There are even gifts for your pets. madelocalmarketplace.com

With a flagship store in Petaluma, Indigenous proffers organic, fair-trade fashion while wearing its ethics, literally, on its sleeve. Placing a premium on transparent and sustainable practices, the 24-year-old fashion venture has remained committed to fair-trade partnerships with culturally diverse artisans since its inception.

Inspired by a trip to Peru in the ’90s, the founders sought to give “modern expression to the ancient traditions of Peruvian textile design.” Known for its tops, sweaters, dresses and accessories, Indigenous is continuing its pursuit of making clothing with consciousness with the formation of a B Corporation—a certification that for-profit companies can attain that attests to their commitment to social sustainability and environmental performance standards. indigenous.com

Katja Designs
Working in gold, silver, platinum, and precious and semi-precious stones, master goldsmith Katja Whitedeer studied with luminaries in her field throughout the lauded goldsmithing capitals of Germany before bringing her talents to the states.

“In the U.S., I was the first to execute a ring shank in platinum and high-karat gold that no other jeweler could produce,” she writes on her website. “It was painstaking, labor-intensive and audacious—and it created a sensation in the jewelry world.”

That renown, among other accolades, led to commissions from a bevy of movie stars, including Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Diane Keaton and Thandie Newton.

Fortunately, locals need not travel to Regensburg, Munich, Nuremberg or Berlin to enjoy Whitedeer’s one-of-a-kind work—she currently creates her signature jewelry pieces in Healdsburg, near the square. katjadesigns.com


If you’re a regular Amazon shopper, here’s some, ahem, prime numbers for you: In 2016, Amazon and its third-party marketplace vendors sold $18.3 billion of retail goods in California. Good business, right? Civic Economics, an organization that provides a data-driven approach to business and community initiatives, tallied the numbers behind the numbers. Apparently, Amazon’s transactions that year resulted in 6,030 displaced shops (or 52.2 million square feet of retail space), 87,338 displaced retail jobs, and up to $742 million in uncollected sales taxes. Local economists might suggest you keep these stats in mind when you considering where to buy that book you plan to put under the tree.

Copperfield’s Books
There are many bookstores throughout Sonoma and Napa counties, but by far the most ubiquitous is Copperfield’s Books. With 10 locations in the tri-county area (bonus one more for Petaluma Underground, its used and rare books unit, in Petaluma), the local reading retailer has endured not only the onslaught of big-box book stores (it won!) and Amazon but some locations have had to deal with real estate issues, too.

Shelf Awareness, a book-industry blog, reports that Copperfield’s Books in Sebastopol has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help it purchase the building it has rented on Main Street for the past 37 years. Co-owner and founder Paul Jaffe seeks to raise $200,000 for the down payment on the $1.75 million building. The lease expires on Dec. 31, and Jaffe and his team hope to finalize the purchase on Jan. 1, reports the blog. If you find yourself still in a giving mood after crossing all the books off your gift list, you can find the campaign online at GoFundMe.com. copperfieldsbooks.com

“Millennials don’t find buying cars and homes anywhere near satisfying as experiences⁠—and bragging about them on social,” writes Esther Fuldauer on the Smart.City_Lab blog. Fuldauer’s observation echoes throughout the marketing blogosphere, and businesses offering social media-worthy experiential packages have heeded it. Local businesses are paying attention.


Wing & Barrel Ranch
Consider one of the Wing & Barrel Ranch luxury packages, which feature lodging, meals, upland bird hunting and clay shooting with world-class vintners. Or put another way—drink wine and shoot guns? Not quite.

Wing & Barrel Ranch is an exclusive, members-only sporting club for the “discerning outdoor and wine enthusiast.” It offers “Ultimate Sporting Experiences” to non-members that grant them a full day of access to the ranch and include a choice of a guided upland bird hunting excursion or shooting on the acclaimed 25-acre clays course with a Vintner Member. Moreover, the luxurious and all-inclusive packages also include a two-night stay at The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa, food and wine pairings at the ranch, a winery tour and tasting, and an exclusive dinner at one of Chef Charlie Palmer’s two Wine Country restaurants. Packages are available for singles, couples and groups. wingandbarrelranch.com

Napa Truffle Festival
If your experiential yearnings require less firepower but are no less fueled by an interest in the hunt, there’s always tracking and attacking truffles at the 10th anniversary of the Napa Truffle Festival. Give your giftee the experience of learning, firsthand, the gastronomy, history, mysteries and legendary flavors of the lauded mushroom in a series of scheduled events this January. In the seminar “All About Truffles,” Chef Ken Frank of Michelin-starred La Toque will lead your lucky recipient through a two-hour experiential program where they can touch, smell and evaluate various species of truffles. They will also learn from world-renowned truffle scientist Dr. Paul Thomas of American Truffle Company while enjoying samples paired with a flight of award-winning B Cellars wines. napatrufflefestival.com

Haunted by the ghost of Christmas Past? What about Christmas Future? Help your loved ones get a sense of their past, present and future with a gift card for a tarot reading from SparkTarot. Karen Hess (the Bohemian’s community columnist) performs private Tarot readings in her office in Petaluma’s Historic McNear Building or for your guests at your holiday party. Her original deck of modern, diverse tarot cards inspired by the divine feminine is available for pre-order at sparktarot.com.

For a more passive but equally exhilarating aesthetic experience, there’s always the movies. When one thinks of “giving the gift of movies,” however, this often amounts to telling your college student/best friend/ex your Netflix password. You can do better than that. Keep your movie money local by buying a gift card from one of our three local theatrical exhibitors. Cinema West (locally Boulevard Cinemas and Sonoma Cinemas in Petaluma and Sonoma respectively), Rialto Cinemas (Sebastopol) and Santa Rosa Cinemas (throughout Santa Rosa, including the Summerfield Cinemas and Roxy Stadium 14 as well as Healdsburg’s Raven Film Center) all offer premium theatrical experiences—many with wine, beer and gourmet goodies. Get a gift card for the cineaste in your life and enjoy the show together (or savor a couple of hours of alone time). cinemawest.com, santarosacinemas.com, rialtocinemas.com

So, when you’re shopping for presents this gift-giving season, consider how the multiplier effect can help extend the reach of your giving—it will help the local economy, which just might help you. Or, as one retailer’s chalkboard sign succinctly put it: “For it is in giving that we receive.”