Handmade, Independent and Local for the Holidays in Western MA

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

To Buy Local is to Buy Well and Eat Well, Too

By the time this goes to press, the weekend of open studios in Florence’s gigantic Arts and Industries building will be over. Mark your calendar for next year, though. But don’t despair. There are some buy local opportunities around these parts that really make winter more delightful (and if you know me, you know I don’t find winter all that delightful, so this is very high praise).

Snow Farm has two weekends’ worth of seconds’ sales upcoming. Cottage Street has its open studios coming up. The same weekend there’s a big craft show at Northampton High School. In Westhampton, there’s RED. At my very own house, there’s a craft show ahead too (for me, that’s buying extremely locally—in my living room). Shameless plug: work by Crispina ffrench, Caitlin Bosco, Lucy Fagella and Liz Ryan, amongst others—and Herrell’s Hot Fudge for sale, too.

❥ Heck, you really can skip all those big-box stores on mall strips or under mall roofs and go local. I adore local business owner and designer Mary Moore Cathcart’s Claw Foot Tub in Amherst (moved to the building on Main Street where Valley Frameworks is—tucked in the back, take a wander and a gander). I love her aesthetic—her gentle eye and also am a fan of her blog, which looks small and big constantly, much as is the case in her design work and describes well how she chooses goods to offer at her shop. Her friend, Eliza, recently of San Francisco but originally from Amherst, opened Kestrel just last month. The place feels more SF than most of Noho. And my pal Colette Katsikas, longtime manager of Essentials, on Main Street in Northampton, just bought the business. With her very own stamp, the store is refreshed, renewed, rejuvenated and oh-so-fabulous (go, shop at locally owned businesses!). Her eye is clean but quirky, and for brides, grooms, brides, brides, grooms, grooms she will pay the kind of attention necessary to make invitations etc. for the big day truly special. And I could go on and on. Remember that Artisan Gallery has its sixth annual Cup and Mug Invitational this month (an annual favorite) and that Pinch recently remodeled so the beautiful things inside are even more strikingly displayed. And I could go on…

But maybe you’ve done your craft shopping by the end of those paragraphs. You’ve made your map and marked your calendar. You could just go have fun: my son’s elementary school has a kid-centered, participatory Winter Fair on December first, if you’re looking for fun chaos with kids (the better chaos; chaos being a given).

Then, there’s local food. Tuesday Market goes until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. A slew of winter farmers’ markets starts up in the here and the now—check CISA’s page listing them all: Northampton, Greenfield, Springfield and Amherst. And there’s an opportunity at each of your winter farmers’ markets to experience a week at the end of January of Winter Fare (as in, more like fair for the winter fare).


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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