So you want to do the right thing and shop locally to support small businesses. But without the Yarmouth Port Stroll or another big holiday event on the calendar this year, you might be searching for a place to begin. And time is getting tight.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
With some pre-shopping research, we’ve compiled a list of great local gift ideas — each one memorable, unique, and available from a Yarmouth-area business. Plus, the stores we’ve highlighted here all provide COVID-safe shopping — whether indoors with social distancing measures, through online sales, or via telephone and curbside pickup. So deck the halls, check your list, and shop local.
Owl betcha they like this!
Got a bird-lover on your gift list? Head straight to Wild Birds Unlimited in South Yarmouth for feeders, foods, bird-bath heaters and other habitat helpers.
One of this year’s hottest items is a screech owl house, said retail associate Patty Donohoe. Owls typically choose their nesting sites before the winter, so right now is the perfect time to set up a nesting box, she said. Donohoe cautions that you’ll need a ladder, as the owl boxes should be placed in a tree, between 8 feet and 20 feet high.
It may take a while for the owls to locate your nesting box, but if you’ve heard the birds in your neighborhood, that’s a good sign, Donohoe explained. As the name suggests, Eastern Screech Owls will shriek at night. But they also make a haunting whinny, much like the sound of a distant horse.
Because screech owls are common on Cape Cod, Wild Birds Unlimited keeps the cedar nesting boxes in stock, says store owner Tom Thompson. The owl homes come with a bag of wood shavings and sell for just under $75. Call the WBU store at (508) 760-1996 or visit the Wild Birds Unlimited website for more info. Or drop by the shop at 1198 Main Street in South Yarmouth.
Crystal power at Instant Karma
Maybe you want to help a friend fight off the creeping negativity. Then consider giving the gift of earth energy with a crystal from Instant Karma of Cape Cod.
The new-age gift shop stocks amethyst, opalite, tourmaline, quartz and “things you could look at for hours,” says Daniel Thibodeau, an associate at the West Yarmouth location.
He says a geode can make a great centerpiece on the living room coffee table, but there are also stones you can carry around in your pocket for personal energy. “Each stone has a different kind of property.”
Thibodeau recommends a free-standing quartz or amethyst cluster, which are relatively inexpensive — priced in the $20 to $50 range. “They’re also the kind of thing that any person is going to stop and look at and appreciate,” he said. “They really do take your breath away.”
Instant Karma also has CBD products and a hippie boutique. Check out the options online at instantkarmacapecod.com.
Something sparkly from Harvest of Barnstable
Put some magic into your holiday gift bag this year, with a glittering home decor item from Harvest of Barnstable.
The Sparkle Tree is a 14-inch acrylic tree, complete with a silver base and star on the top. But the real magic lies in the battery-powered LED lighting, which illuminates the glitter floating inside.
The trees sell for $49.95 and are a big item this year, says store owner Pamela Parker.
Harvest of Barnstable also stocks locally-made wreaths, wall designs and floral arrangements, along with jewelry and bath items. “We make all of our wreaths and baskets and arrangements,” Parker said. “So we’re really pretty unique.”
Call or visit the store at 89 Willow Street in Yarmouth Port, 508-362-4595 or order online.
Gifts from local artists at Design Works
Looking for something completely different — like maybe a set of mussel shell tree ornaments, a Sandy Neck beach towel or musky-scented Sea Clay Soap from the Atlantic Sea Co. in Falmouth?
You’ll find a wide assortment of locally made gifts at Design Works. Shopping local is important, says store owner Margaret Hill, and buying local items made by local artists is even more so. The Yarmouth Port shop stocks hand-made ceramic bowls, hand-painted holiday ornaments, platters, mugs and other gift items — made by New England craftspeople, she said.
Because of the pandemic, local artists who typically sell their ware at craft fairs and festivals haven’t had the same opportunities this year, she explained. There have been some virtual festivals, but people like to actually see the pieces they buy, she said, noting that the small store allows them to do just that.
Need more local gift options?
If you still haven’t found the right gift, here are a few more suggestions.
- Find something in green at Agway of Cape Cod, 686 Route 134, South Dennis. The farm supply store stocks wreaths, trees and myriad items for the gardener on your gift list. If you want a gift that will be cherished for years, consider a dwarf citrus tree, which can be grown indoors during winter months and placed outside during the summer. Meyer lemon trees are especially productive and easy to grow, with aromatic white blossoms followed by large and flavorful fruit.
- For friends with a sweet tooth, try the Toffee Sampler at Robin’s Toffee by the Sea, 12 White’s Path in South Yarmouth. The “deliciously addictive” toffee is made from a family recipe by Robin Costa. The toffee sampler includes original toffee, plus dark chocolate sea salt toffee, Vienna coffee toffee, peppermint toffee, and more. Check out other options at Robin’s Toffee by the Sea website.
- If you’re looking for a special toy, head to Cape Cod Toy Chest, which is running a month of Black Friday specials. Deals include 20 percent off books for kids, as well as 20 percent off items from Mellissa & Doug, Learning Journey, and Wild Republic. Check out the options online and visit or call the store at 529 Route 28, West Yarmouth, 508-593-8699. Finally, don’t forget to grab a Toadally Funky Frog, free with any purchase.
For even more local gift ideas, check out the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce’s Shop Local directory, with a listing of local stores and links to their websites.
Beginning Dec. 10, participating stores will receive visits from Salty Sally, with daily photos posted on social media. Guess the location correctly, and you’ll be entered to win a gift basket of Yarmouth goodies. Be sure to follow and like the YCC’s Facebook page.
Andy Tomolonis is a nonfiction author, travel writer and multimedia journalist.