If the Upper Valley has one thing, it’s artistic talent. If there’s a rural community somewhere in the United States that features more creative talent in the arts and crafts per square foot or per capita than we do, we’d like to see it.
The lucky thing about living in a region thick with artists is that it makes gift giving all that more meaningful—and easy! This holiday season, take advantage of all the artistic talent that surrounds you in the Upper Valley and find a handcrafted gift at one of these five local shops.
- League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, on Lebanon Street in Hanover, New Hampshire, has become a fixture in the community, beloved as much for its arts education as for its stellar offering of juried crafts and art. The handcrafted items here represent the pinnacle of regional achievement in textiles, ceramics, jewelry, wearable art, home décor, photography, furniture, and more.
- Through good times and bad, the nonprofit collective Lebanon Art and Crafts Association has managed, for decades, to open up a seasonal brick-and-mortar shop somewhere in the Upper Valley. The holiday tradition continues this year with a storefront in the former Sears space at the Upper Valley Plaza on Route 12-A in West Lebanon, New Hampshire. The shop is open seven days a week through Christmas Eve, with tables and displays stacked high with a wide assortment of handcrafted gifts.
- Gallery at the VAULT, on Main Street in Springfield, Vermont, was born of the notion that local art can play a pivotal role in reviving the economy of a town that once thrived on industrial strength. When the shop opened in 2001, 40 percent of storefronts in downtown Springfield sat empty. But the folks behind VAULT were undeterred. They opened the shop representing 35 local artists. Today, their wares represent the creative talents of 100 artists and craftspeople, whose work, indeed, brings new economic life to the town.
- The men and women of Artisans on Pleasant Street in downtown New London, New Hampshire, have built their business around the simple fact that a handcrafted gift spreads joy and wonder in multiple directions. All the people involved in the life of that item—be it jewelry, pottery, clothing, candles, or soap—have held something marvelous in their hands. It’s amazing, and amazingly fun, to see what wonderful things people make.
- With a shop set up in a historic building and the Kedron River flowing nearby, the artists and craftspeople behind Collective—The Art of Craft, on Central Street in Woodstock, Vermont, offer a shopping experience that is light years removed—and improved—from shopping online or in a big box store at a mall. You’ll find a gift here that you can give with pride as you browse among beautifully honed objects made from glass, fiber, pottery, metal, wood, and paper.