The start of the holiday season also means the beginning of holiday shopping.
National retailers will likely dominate the season, but local businesses are preparing for end-of-year sales as well. Eastern Connecticut shops sell coffee and wooden kitchenware, hand-carved prints and other creative pieces, as well as delights for the taste buds, like chocolates and cheese.
Small businesses have adapted during the pandemic, beefing up their online presence and adjusting the products they sell. Some say they’ve already seen Christmas shoppers in their stores.
If you want to support small businesses or add some local distinction to your gift-giving, Connecticut has options. Here are 15 Connecticut businesses making unique food, accessories, and other gift ideas.
Craftsman Cliff Roasters
Located in the heart of downtown Norwich, Craftsman Cliff Roasters micro-crafts batches of coffee and cacao beans and distributes them to local stores, including local coffee shops, such as the newly opened Cream, nearby. According to the company’s Facebook page, items range from $13 per bag for Thinker, made with Peruvian beans, to the $80 Goodie, made with Guatemalan beans.
More: ‘Coffee is an art.’ Cream coffee shop to open next month in downtown Norwich.
Kendra Johnson started the Peter Bone Collection, based in Norwich but sold online, to create clothing with a skull-and-bones motif that also looked classy. The brand’s mission is to help educate people about mental and physical health. While the brand currently has T-shirts and hoodies for men and women, Jackson said she’s also planning to make clothes for dogs. Prices range from $20 to $60. People interested in purchasing can direct message the Instagram page.
Based in Griswold, Wick & Wood started in 2020. The candles, in a variety of fragrances, are handmade using wax from American-grown soybeans. The scents used are from fragrance oils and essential oils, and are without phthalates, which is a family of chemicals that have shown negative impacts on lab animal’s reproductive health, according to the CDC. The wicks are cotton braided and without lead or zinc. As they put it, that “ensure(s) a clean, consistent burn with a high fragrance load.” The candles are sold on Etsy, but can be shipped or picked up at 482 Edmond Road. The scents, from limoncello scone to “sunflower wishes,” range from $5 to $24, depending on scent and size. They also have decorative signs from 482 Supply Co, selling for $18 each .
Owner Amanda Tutto, of Danielson, picked up the art of crochet from her grandmother at 5 years old. While she started making hats and other typical crafts, she now specializes in stuffed animals. The plushes are machine-washable on gentle cycle. Some of her products include a Baby Yoda for $5, a hippo, elephant, or octopus for $10, and an owl, turtle, unicorn or Harry Potter characters for $15. Find her on Facebook.
A company that’s been in the family for over 50 years, Mystic Knotwork uses cords to tie maritime knots as accessories, decorations and more. The company’s Original Sailor Bracelet is only $6, providing a vibrant look with a durable material. For a unique home decoration, check out baskets made of Celtic-knotted rope for $75.
Soaps ‘n Stuff
Soaps n Stuff, LLC in Norwich offers a variety of soaps and other skincare products including deodorants, lotions and more. Individual soap bars, which are made with calamine powder and blue chamomile oil, are $12. Soap gift sets start at $15. To order, call or text owner Damita Rodriguez at 860-574-7202. Free local delivery is availableduring the holiday season.
This seller in Woodstock makes handmade wooden kitchen goods – from serving spoons and spreading knives to cutting boards and even egg-shaped bowls – using New England wood. It also stocks the linseed oil used to keep its utensils looking good. One of the cheaper items is the $15 dabber made of walnut. The most expensive item is the $400 grooved serving platter in curly cherry.
Owner Jannette Velez started PuraElegancia in Norwich to make jewelry that is “designed and handcrafted to foster happiness, protection, confidence and positivity to your life.” Items, including earrings and bracelets, cost between $12-$50, with most of her bracelets priced at $25.
This Plainfield jewelry store, at 131 Norwich Road and opened in 1985, has provided jewelry, repairs, and custom work in a local setting. Owner Jill S. Keith said the store is competitive with big box jewelry stores. While the rings, watches and more have a wide price range, Keith has been focusing on expanding the selection of items $100 or less as of late.
Tunk City Revival
Owner Rena Masson sells the work of local artists at her Danielson shop, but she also makes some of her own. Masson’s own items include wire-wrapped pendants and earrings for mostly under $20, and hand-painted sings for $3 and up. Masson also makes craft kits for $5 and $10.
Norwich-based Sarah Florez went from making art sculptures to prints. She hand-carves drawings into a rubber material, and is able to make stamps to press on paper, clothing and other materials. Florez generally sells at local events in person, including First Fridays in downtown Norwich, and at events in New London. Her prices range from $20-$60. For example, coasters with a design cost $25 and the wall hangings are $40.
If you want to satisfy someone’s sweet tooth for the holidays, why not try Munson’s Chocolates? Made in Connecticut since 1946, Munson’s has multiple locations throughout the state, including one in Olde Mystic Village. You can pick out your own assortment of chocolates in store, or buy online. You can get six pieces for $6.98. Need more? Purchase 2 pounds for $56.50.
If someone in your life wants a local connection to a savory dairy delight, then there are cheeses available from Cato Corner Farm in Colchester that will delight. For example, if you’ve got a blue cheese lover in your life, the Black Ledge Blue starts from $14. Or, if you have someone who counts their snacks as among the finer things in life, the $120 Farmer’s Market Basket includes cheeses, jam, cookies and salami.
Gift certificates to local restaurants
Looking to give someone the gift of a night out or a free lunch? We rounded out our list with a few great local restaurants.
Railside Tavern, Dayville
Owner Glen Ravenelle said his customers describe the fare at Railside as an American bistro which ranges from steaks and pizzas and sautéed dishes, to burgers and daily specials like shepherd’s pie and lobster mac and cheese.
La Stella Pizzeria, Norwich
Open since 2001, La Stella has a variety of pizzas, pastas, burgers, gyros and grinders made with bread from New York City.
The Royal Punjabi Norwich
Another option in downtown Norwich, The Royal Punjabi serves takeout and dine-in for Indian cuisine. The website states it uses a “modern interpretation of classic dishes and its insistence on only using high quality fresh ingredients.” Owner Gurpreet Singh said among the most popular dishes is the chicken tikka masala.
This article originally appeared on The Bulletin: Shopping: Soaps, food, crafts, clothes; eastern Conn has gifts galore