Made in CLE: Six ways to shop local this holiday season

It’s that time of year again, when the holiday shopping frenzy commences and shoppers go in search of that perfect gift. Cleveland is a maker town, and there is no shortage of artisans pedaling everything from photographs, paintings, and prints to barbeque sauce, hats, and gloves made from alpaca.

Looking to support local makers and artists on your own shopping list? Fresh Water tracked down some of the more unique events happening around town this holiday season. Here are five that are worth the shopping trip:

Cleveland Institute of Art

Few things are more thrilling than discovering a great piece by an unknown artist, and the Cleveland Institute of Art's Student Holiday Sale is a prime chance to do just that.

<span class="content-image-text">CIA Student Holiday Sale</span>CIA Student Holiday SaleSlated for Friday, Dec. 1, and Saturday, Dec. 2, CIA's annual sale provides not only the opportunity for students to showcase their work, but also for holiday shoppers to score some deals on one-of-a-kind creations.

According to student co-organizer Alyson Hollobaugh, featured works range from glass to metal to ceramics to photography to other media; other offerings include handmade books from bookmaking students or prints and stickers by illustration students.

“It’s really diverse,” says co-organizer Meghan Sweeney. “We make sure we have as many different levels—from freshmen to seniors—as possible to have good representation."

CIA student groups also get involved with the sale, says Sweeney, citing the Game Design club as one of this year's contributing groups.

Though students must pay a nominal fee to participate, the investment pays off in the form of income and reputation-building. “It’s definitely more affordable than if you go to galleries around Cleveland,” says Sweeney. “But it’s the recognition, too. It helps you get your name out there…and see the public’s reaction to [your] work.”

78th Street Studios

Black Friday has become a national holiday in its own right—prompting Americans to sacrifice sleep (and sometimes sanity) in the name of steep retail bargains the day after Thanksgiving. But this Black Friday, Nov. 24, at 78th Street Studios, patrons aren’t shopping for televisions or the newest video game system, but rather for unique works of art within 170,000 square feet of approximately 40 galleries, studios, recording studios, and performance space.

About to enter its third year, the event typically features about 25 artists who open their spaces. “It’s a little more low-key event,” says event organizer Christina Sadowski, comparing it to 78th Street’s regular Third Fridays events. “It’s a little more relaxed so you can take your time and peruse.”

<span class="content-image-text">E11even 2 gallery at 78th Street Studios</span>E11even 2 gallery at 78th Street Studios
Sadowski is the owner of E11even 2, which offers paintings, prints, Christmas ornaments, and jewelry at the event. “We’re competing with big box [retailers], but it’s like a little stop, shop, and get a lot of stuff from local artists,” she says.

Prices cater to every budget—from a few bucks to thousands. For instance, Sadowski features an old cigarette machine that dispenses pocket-sized original works of art for $5. “The price points are really all over, so you can come in and spend $10 or $7,000,” she explains. “You can show people that you can collect art and be an average person.”

To celebrate Support, Connect, Shop: Small Business Saturday at Gordon Square on Saturday, Nov. 25, many of the 78th Street Studios tenants will then set up in the Gordon Square Arcade at W. 65th Street and Detroit Avenue. Artists include Sadowski; painter Eileen Dorsey; Earth-minded artist Susie Frazier; graffiti and pop artist Rick Sans; and Rob Sadowski, creator of repurposed automotive light fixtures, among others.

“The objective is to connect the neighborhood and introduce Gordon Square residents to the businesses at the other end of the area that they may not be familiar with,” says Dorsey. “Events like these that support the community also assist in building them. Homeowners, businesses, and residents all benefit when money stays in the area and artists play a crucial role in the enrichment of a community."

Most of the Gordon Square retail and restaurant businesses will be participating in the event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

ArtCraft Studio Show

Celebrating its 30th year, the ArtCraft Studio Show has long been a holiday shopping destination for a wide variety of handmade products from both local and regional artists.

On Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3, the ArtCraft artists—along with visiting artisans from around Ohio and Pennsylvania—open their studios to offer tours and sell their creations. Event organizer and ArtCraft artist Mark Yasenchack says the artists involved span “young artists, senior artists, street art, and very high-quality art. We’re trying to make it as diverse as possible.”

<span class="content-image-text">ArtCraft Studio Show</span>ArtCraft Studio Show

The event originally began in the Tower Press building down the street and immediately drew a crowd. Today, 10 artists share 5,000 square feet of studio space as part of a co-op on the sixth floor of the ArtCraft building. Once known as the “Bohemian Department Store,” some of the artists in the building have participated in the show for decades.

Not only do the 10 resident artists participate, but so do five other studios in the building, as well as more than 50 invited artists. "It’s grown from [a small group of] artists who wanted to share their space to almost 70 artists [participating],” says Yasenchack.

Yasenchack says about 20,000 post cards are distributed each year, and the turnout reflects that marketing. Fount Leather owner Jackie Wachter, who has a studio on the sixth floor and recently opened a storefront in the Gordon Square Arts District, says the attendance is amazing. “I think we had 5,000 people through last year,” she says.

Heights Arts

Like the ArtCraft show, the Heights Arts Annual Holiday Show has also blossomed in its 16-year run. What started as a pop-up event in 2002 to showcase a handful of local artists now hosts than 100 area artists for two months of perusing and shopping.

Held in Cleveland Heights, the 16th annual show opened on Friday, Nov. 3, and runs through Saturday, Dec. 30. The show spotlights visual artists, crafters, writers, and musicians from Northeast Ohio. Almost 20 of the artists are new this year, according to store manager Courtney Young.

<span class="content-image-text">Heights Arts Holiday Preview</span>Heights Arts Holiday Preview

“I think you can find a little bit of everything here,” she says, noting that the shop has items such as handmade soap, jewelry, ceramics, and glass. “And all of the artists volunteer their time here, so you might see them when you come in.”

Furthermore, the store is open seven days a week, “so you don’t have to fight all those crowds on that one day,” Young says.

This year, the Mandel Foundation provided funding for Heights Arts to commission a ceramic and metal menorah made by Seth Nagelberg and three pewter mezuzots made by Pamela Argentieri and Matthew Hollern. All three are instructors at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Members of the Jewish Community Center and the National Council of Jewish Women receive 10 percent off the Judaic works, while Heights Arts, Bay Arts, and Valley Art Center members receive 10 percent off of all their purchases.

Also new this year is a gift registry. Shoppers can write down what they want, and Heights Arts will keep the list on file for potential gift-givers who stop by the store.

Special holiday shopping nights are planned throughout the season, including “Manly Mondays” on Friday, Nov. 20, and Monday, Dec. 11, when significant others can savor local brews, shop from gift lists, and enjoy complimentary gift wrapping for all purchases.


Later in the shopping season, on Saturday, Dec. 9, the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) will host its second annual Wintertide—a celebration of small businesses and the winter season in Gordon Square.

The event actually began three years ago, in 2015, with a pilot program called Fall Fest. The event became Wintertide last year, and returns this year with fun for the whole family.

“We thought, 'Let’s showcase businesses in the neighborhood while also playing up what is unique in Gordon Square—our five live theaters,'” says DSCDO director of economic development and marketing Adam Rosen. “Cleveland doesn’t take advantage of winter enough. In regions of the world further north, they encourage people to get outside in winter. We treat it like, 'Oh, no. It’s Northeast Ohio winter.'”

<span class="content-image-text">Wintertide in Gordon Square</span>Wintertide in Gordon Square

The day begins with a viewing of A Christmas Story for only $1 at the Capitol Theatre, followed by pop-up music, theater performances, holiday vendors, and kids’ activities from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. “We invited all performing arts in the district, and they are all participating,” says Rosen. “The idea is everyone can take advantage of Wintertide and relay that into dinner and some theater at night.”

Additionally, Lolly the Trolley will shuttle participants back and forth to 78th Street Studios, where Cleveland Bazaar Holiday will be taking place.

Wintertide runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., with A Christmas Story showing at 11 a.m. on Dec. 9. Cleveland Bazaar Holiday runs Saturday, Dec. 9, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Screw Factory

The artists at Lakewood's Screw Factory have missed hosting a holiday market for the past several years. So blacksmith and pottery artist Matt Richards and perfume and scent creator Melissa Hale pulled the group together to start their very own Holiday Market at the Screw Factory on Friday, Dec. 15, and Saturday, Dec. 16.

“We sat down as a group and thought, 'Why not start our own event?'” says Hale.

Thanks to their efforts, about 30 resident artists with studios in the Screw Factory will open their doors for holiday shoppers. Additionally, 60 outside artists will also set up shop for the weekend in the Lake Erie Room, where weddings and events are held, and the Templar Room by the vintage cars.

<span class="content-image-text">Holiday Market at the Screw Factory</span>Holiday Market at the Screw Factory

“We’re pretty excited about it,” says Hale. “We tried the best we could to make sure we had a good mix of handmade, salvaged, and reclaimed products to help everyone [meet] their shopping needs.”

Hale says the selection will include everything from ceramics, photography, and sculptures to pet fashions, leather goods, and folk dolls. Of course, there will also be jewelry, textiles, Hale’s perfume oils, and Richards’ abstract pottery.

For those who like to munch while shopping, Five Points Coffee and Tea will be in the Templar Room, Floressa Café will be selling baked goods, and The Bom will be pedaling chocolates and truffles.

There is free parking and an elevator on the west side of the building for those who can’t climb the stairs.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.