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Shop-local movement grows in New Hampshire

Union Leader Correspondent

November 27. 2013 7:42PM

More and more Granite State residents are embracing Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday, choosing to do their Christmas buying at locally owned stores.

“Part of the reason consumers are attracted to small businesses is because they’re able to find gifts for hard-to-shop-for people,” Amber Harper, spokesman for American Express OPEN, said. She pointed to a 2013 Small Business Consumer Insights survey indicating that 44 percent of American consumers are aware of Small Business Saturday, up 10 percent from last year.

Kimberly Jeffries Graham of Oxbow Farm in Dublin said Plaid Friday plans came together over the past few weeks as she and her husband, Jim, reached out to vendors they’d met at the Peterborough Farmers Market.

Graham said the shop-local event would feature about 20 area vendors, including handcrafted jewelry by Harrisville artist Morgan Cleveland, ironworks by award-winning craftsman Michael John Austin of Austin Forgeworks in Peterborough, pottery by Owen Coursin of Sharon and hand-roasted gourmet coffees made by Mason Parker of Parker House Coffee in Greenfield.

“If you open up your imagination, you can come up with a gift that’s truly thoughtful,” said Graham, whose farm sells pork, chicken and eggs. “Local doesn’t have to mean expensive, either,” she said, noting that there’s plenty in the $30 and under range.

In Goffstown, Brown Graphix owner Jen Brown and her staff members were hard at work printing “Shop Local” T-shirts at the request of their neighbors at the Goffstown Ace Hardware Store. Beverly Powden, owner of Powdens Jewelry, was decorating Brown’s storefront.

Robbie Grady, executive director of Goffstown Main Street, said such teamwork is true to the spirit of Small Business Saturday.

“Everyone sort of helps each other out,” Grady said, noting that shoppers out enjoying Saturday’s festivities may pick up free “Shop Local” tote bags at Putnam’s Waterview and Sawyer’s Main Street restaurants.

“People are realizing it just makes sense to shop where they live,” Grady said. “Because when you support a small business, you’re helping to give back to the community.”

Londonderry artists Elaine Farmer and Verne Orlosk have been spending extra time in their respective studios.

Farmer, a painter, and Orlosk, a glass artisan, are among the 30 or so Granite State artists participating in the East Colony Fine Art’s Holiday Open House. On Saturday the gallery, at 55 S. Commercial St. in Manchester, will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“There will be plenty of small items for sale,” Farmer said, noting that she and some of the other participating painters will be offering original six-by-six inch panel paintings for $75 each. Orlosk said she’d be selling a variety of her handcrafted glass items, including Christmas ornaments, small dishes and small tic-tac-toe boards.

“People like to have something unique, something fun and quirky,” she said.

Funding challenges haven’t dampened the enthusiasm of a group of a dozen or so merchants in Manchester’s Rimmon Heights neighborhood as they prepare for their first-ever Small Business Saturday event.

Resident Kevin O’Meara, owner of an online marketing firm, was unable to obtain the funding to host a parade up Kelley Street as he’d hoped, but is planning to hang signs, banners and balloons to draw attention to businesses such as Auntie’s Attic gift shop, The Bakeshop On Kelley Street and Good Still Pawn.

Saturday’s shoppers will also have the chance to help those in need, with a holiday food collection planned at the Ark Church of God throughout the day.

“Next year this could get very, very big,” O’Meara said. “There are still some area businesses that are a bit apathetic about Small Business Saturday, but the truth is small businesses are the fabric of our community.”

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