A Buy Local Gift Guide (2010)
For those of you who never got over that LEGO or monster phase, you can now celebrate your lingering obsession with local products. First, check out LEGO’s new architectural kits, two of which mimic Frank Lloyd Wright’s most recognizable achievements – Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum. These 10-inch-wide kits celebrate Wisconsin’s claim to fame and make for fun desktop décor, too. If you feel more like creating a monster, be on the look out for a locally developed Hodag model kit that allows you to piece together head, body, and tail, and then paint away. With elements of frog, elephant, and dinosaur, the Hodag is a legendary evil spirit – a remnant of restless lumber oxen – that haunts Rhinelander, WI. Available at Lego.com, Fallingwater is $99.99 and the Guggenheim is $39.99. Hodag models will be available at The Local Store in the coming weeks.
Kitschy Kitchen Accessories
Hey, so right down the street in Chippewa Falls are two companies that have your back when it comes to kitchen accessories. Presto manufactures everything from deep fryers and salad shooters to electric griddles and that timeless pressure cooker – AKA everyone’s grandmother’s greatest tool. And for that special personalized touch, turn to That’s My Pan!, a small local company that’s mastered the art of etching 9” X 13” baking pans. They’re a potluck-goer’s best friend. And they have lots of other kitchen-y products, too – cutting boards, mugs, water bottles, ice cream scoops, serving spoons, etc. Admit it, your kitchen wants to accessorize. Find various Presto products at Blaine’s Farm & Fleet and Kohl’s, and visit That’s My Pan!’s walk-in store at 14949 County Highway S, Suite 2.
Hot & Spicy
Any gift that turns up the heat in the wintertime will be welcomed by your giftee. Warm up those taste buds with a Tailgate Kit from local mustard and horseradish manufacturers Silver Spring. The kit packs a beer koozie, grilling recipe pamphlet, and six different flavored mustards into a sexy shoulder bag that doubles as a cooler. If your taste buds can’t handle the hotness, opt for symbolic heat as a substitute. Try some hot, hot music. Based in Minneapolis and featuring our homeboy Justin Vernon (along with 22 other musicians, several with local connections), GAYNGS is as hot and spicy as they come with their 80s-inspired slow jams. And local author Julian Augustus Finisterre brings you fiery words via his recently self-published novel Cocksmith at the Helm, an “adult fairytale” of sex, myth, and magic. Tailgate Kit is for sale at www.silverspringfoods.com for $30, GAYNGS’ album available at the Local Store for $15 (CDs) or $21 (vinyl), and Cocksmith is at the Local Store for $17.
Local Blockbusters … Oxymoron? Nope.
Two former UW-Eau Claire students who created a national phenomenon with the Found Footage Festival have delved into documentary filmmaking. Their first project is Dirty Country, a film that details the wit, lifestyle, and talents of a raunchy country musician. Local filmmaking company Eight Food Squid Productions made a documentary last year centering on one of Eau Claire’s most popular annual musical events: Decadent Cabaret at the House of Rock. The Story Behind the Festival looks at its 31 years of history. If you’re more in the mood for fiction, reach for The Illegal Use of Joe Zopp, the story of an inventor who returns to his hometown to unravel the story of his rumored death. It all happened here in the Chippewa Valley, folks. FFF documentaries are available at www.foundfootagefest.com (FFF Volume One is available at the Local Store for $15). The Story Behind the Festival will soon be available at the Local Store, along with The Illegal Use of Joe Zopp ($15).
Wee stocking stuffers
You know, some things just won’t fit inside a standard stocking. Instead of wrangling with a bulky six pack this year, why not opt for a more compact Leinie’s product: Sunset Wheat lip gloss. It goes without saying that lips need protection and relief from harsh winter winds … Perfect for beer-lovin’ gals and guys, this natural orange citrus balm contains aloe and beeswax and tastes like Sunset Wheat. Local bumper stickers are also great for slipping in stockings: if you heart EC or WI, or if you enjoy being active in either of these places (e.g. biking, running), get the sticker to show your true colors. And they don’t really have to go on your bumper. Lip balm is available at the Leinie Lodge for $1.50 per tube and local stickers are at the Local Store for $2.
Instrumental to your List
Since 1975, Gordon Bischoff has been collaborating with musicians to make custom-built guitars right at his studio in Eau Claire. For the guitarist on your list this holiday season, consider the highly personal approach and handcrafted designs of this local guru. He can fulfill any dimensional request, use specified types of wood and inlays, and tailor your guitar to the type of playing you do (finger style vs. flat picked). Another local instrument-maker, aptly named The Violin Maker (Scott Hootman) creates handcrafted violins, violas, cellos, mandolins, mandolas, and dulcimers. He specializes in altering the frequency of the wood so that you get the exact resonance and tone you desire. Hootman also repairs instruments. Bischoff operates out of 5150 Deerfield Road in Eau Claire (832-8915) and maintains a website (www.bischoffguitars.com) and Hootman can be reached at 839-7436.
Delong Middle School art teacher Kathy Bareis has been helping students develop marketable art for 10 years now. These kid-crafted vases, ceramic pots, bird houses – even wooden whistles – have been successfully sold at Oakwood Mall, Fanny Hill, and various conferences. These kids are pretty darn good at what they do. In other words, there’s much to like about these carefully handcrafted, usable items, and their appeal goes way past the “cute” factor. The money goes toward funding the following year’s program, and any extra profit (sometimes in the thousands) goes to the Children’s Museum and Humane Association. Look for them again at Oakwood Mall this year, or visit their website. Discs-A-Plenty The past year has been another hugely successful one in terms of local albums. On the Amble Down front, three bands released sophomore albums and chartered new directions. Mike Perry & the Long Beds released Tiny Pilot, an epic country album that stays true to the form instead of pop with a twang. Meridene’s Something Like Blood took a turn for the more serious, while sticking with the pop rock form they’ve mastered. The Gentle Guest’s Cast Off Your Human Form is the band’s best music yet, and might just be the best local album of the year. Other locals put together their best stuff to date as well, such as jam banders Downers Grove and the rock-infused bluegrassers Evergreen Grass Band. Newcomers The Heart Pills and Cadence surfaced and released solid EPs. Some even experienced national success, like the S Carey debut All We Grow and Peter Wolf Crier’s Inter-Be. And, lest we forget, Bon Iver’s appearance with Memorial Jazz made it to the recorded form in the past year. Almost all of these albums are available at The Local Store on CD (or even vinyl!) for between $5 and $20.