Local & Independent ❥ Shopping in Western MA

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 7, Buying Local, Fairs, Markets, Stores

Artisans selling their locally made products at the Hilltown Spring Festival. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

❥ By the time this goes up, the fall’s Twist Fair will have taken place. Don’t worry, though, you can still buy local crafts. If it seems like this is a valley teeming with artisans (okay, and therapists and cafés), I do believe it’s been proven true in the census or something, that our general lofty crafty factor is not just a figment of your imagination.

Peruse this wonderful Hilltown Families resource to see that you can buy local all year round—and certainly in the coming weeks.

Both the Arts and Industries building in Florence and Easthampton’s One Cottage Street have long had open studios. Eastworks got into the act, too. In fact, there are so many I can’t list them, the open studios, the crafts fairs and such. I love RED, though. I have hosted a little home craft show that seemed to mushroom over time into an actual thing. And of course there are two pottery tours each year that feature amazing work, Asparagus Valley and Hilltown 6.

Then, in Northampton, things like the Cup and Mug Invitational at the Artisan Gallery always makes my ceramic-loving self start to swoon.

Plus, having become a Hilltown Charter school family, I learned last year how totally fun the winter craft show there is: it’s really a hands-on for kids (and their grown-ups) event. About sixty-hundred-and-ten other schools have wondrous fairs, too (see listings on Hilltown Families why don’t you?).

❥ I remember when a friend first moved here from Manhattan years ago. She said, “The good thing about living here is there’s no shopping. The bad thing is there’s no shopping.”

There is shopping, local shopping. There is less shopping perhaps than one might find a Gap and Abercrombie-lined street. I fall on the good thing side of this lack of abundant goods to purchase, sure. I love so many of the local businesses here and I feel so good buying local. From River Valley Market to farmers’ markets to Impish and Jackson and Connor (not so many mums can peruse the racks at both stores for their kids!), I prefer fewer options and knowing the owners to an anonymous stampede of consumerism. Even if I’m wearing both an Old Navy skirt and an Old Friends Farm t-shirt while I’m writing this.


Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

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