Popping Up with Local Shopping

By on 16 December, 2013 in Heather Coleman, Holidays, Shopping with 0 Comments

Honestly, I hate Christmas shopping. December always feels like a race to me, and I always feel like I am the one in back, lagging behind everyone else. My oldest kid’s birthday is December 19, which mostly just adds to the sense of failure and impending doom that hangs over the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

I do pretty well with kid gifts — they are easy to buy for. It’s everyone else that is the problem. Friends, family, teachers, random people like the mailman or school crossing guard — those are the people that I put off and put off until the very last minute, thinking that I will make something special and handmade for them, and instead end up ordering something with 2 day shipping off Amazon and praying that it will get here in time, or running out and buying Starbucks gift cards by the dozen. I end up giving tons of gifts that aren’t handmade or personal or awesome or memorable in any way.

Every year I vow to do things differently. Some years I might get a few handmade things made, or a little baking done, but without fail, every year UPS man Santa is delivering packages to my door until December 24.  This year though, this year there is hope, and hope has come in the form of the Tallapoosa Street Goods Artist’s Shop.

Located in downtown Montgomery at the corner of Commerce and Tallapoosa Street, Tallapoosa Street Goods is a pop-up shop, staffed by the artists themselves. Pop-up shops are temporary retail spaces — often they are testing out a concept or location, but sometimes they are just seasonal. Even if you haven’t heard the term pop-up shop before, it is likely that you have seen a myriad of them over the years, from fireworks stands to Halloween costume shops to Pepperidge Farm in the mall near the holidays.

This shop is different than all of those in that everything here is made by local artists and craftsmen. There is no store owner or management, instead the artists have come together into a loose, mutually beneficial co-op. Artists all work a couple of shifts each, and give 10 percent of their profit towards rent and 5 percent towards advertising and other expenses — and that’s it. And so far, that’s working out pretty brilliantly. They worked out a deal with the city to take an unused city- owned shop that was in the middle of a tourist district and turn it into a place that people would want to pop by during the holiday season. In exchange, the city agreed to a percentage of the profits rather than a flat rental fee.

I dropped by yesterday for a visit and was absolutely floored at quality and quantity of merchandise that they had available. The atmosphere was fantastic — lots of local artists and neighbors hanging about and chatting, brainstorming ways to create more connectivity between our communities. This shouldn’t be surprising though, the brains behind this shop are folks that we have seen before — Helicity MGM, which has become well known for the annual Montgomery Street Fair, and Better Block Montgomery (which hosted the recent gathering on Mount Meigs).

There are literally items at every price point — everything from handmade aprons, handknit scarves and hats, to huge paintings and photographs. Some of my favorites included the gorgeous wood necklaces and cuffs from Anchor and Daisy — pop by Andrea’s etsy store for more of her reclaimed wood necklaces, bracelets and earrings. She also has some adorable wooden ornament sets at Tallapoosa Street Goods. Hurry by to grab a couple while they are still in stock. They make a great gift for that hard to buy for friend on your list. Catherine Brawner’s Alabama necklace is another hot seller at the shop. Featured on the cover of Made this month, it is a definite conversation starter and a perfect gift!

Perhaps my favorite thing in the shop were the bags by Chevall Design. Her etsy shop has some brilliant pieces in it, but Tallapoosa Street Goods has a lot more bags, including a messenger bag and some amazing purses with woven fronts that are to die for! Also, her prices in the shop are better than online because there is no real overhead (and no shipping!)

My kids both have tons of teachers. My oldest hit middle school this year, which means at least 6 teachers, and my younger goes to 5 or 6 different specialists, in addition to his two main teachers, so between the two of them they have nearly 20 teachers. After perusing the shop, I decided that handmade soaps by Naturally Rad would make a great  teacher gift (and I think I may pick up a couple for myself as well– they smell fantastic!!).

While researching this post, I dropped by the Facebook page for Tallapoosa St Goods tonight, I saw that Winfred Hawkins brought by a couple of limited edition handmade plushies that will rock your socks off. I can’t wait to see them in person. Hopefully they won’t sell before I make it by!

I cannot wait to get back by the shop — so much amazing work and creativity, and all of it coming from artists who live and work in the River Region. If you want to finish all of your Christmas shopping in one place, hurry by — they will only be there through December 22! Hours are weekdays 2-8 and weekends 12-8, so you can drop in after work and finish all of your shopping without having to hit the malls on the last full week before Christmas. Not to mention, you are supporting local artists!

Heather Coleman is a freelance writer and part-time DIY’er who mostly manages to fit her projects in around her family and her volunteer work. She lives with her husband, two boys and two pets in Midtown. She is on Google+, Linked In, Twitter and Pinterest.

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