In showcasing the best of Vermont handmade home decor and accessories we felt Stonehurst would be incomplete without representation from the world’s largest teddy bear maker. Vermont Teddy Bear handcrafts roughly 500,000/year in Shelburne and Newport, VT. The company was started in 1983 by John Sortino, who sold handcrafted teddy bears in an open-air market in Burlington, Vermont. One of his customers was a tourist who wanted her bear mailed to her home. That request evolved into the “Bear-Gram”, a customized teddy bear placed in a box (complete with an “air hole”) and stuffed with other goodies. The rest, as they say is history.
Now that the holidays are behind us and a fresh new year lies ahead, I can’t help but start thinking about my new years resolutions and the ways in which this year will be different. I’m not one for hoping to lose weight or become rich in the new year, but rather, I hope to make small behavioral changes that can improve communities and help change lives. Shopping small and buying handmade products is one way in which I hope to make a difference this year as someone who loves to shop!
There are many different reasons why shopping handmade is important, and could make a great resolution for you too! It’s important to note that there is no WRONG reason, and that each of us has our own connection with the idea of shopping small.
Here are some great inspirations behind wanting to shop hand made for 2014:
1) Community: By buying something handmade, you might feel a special connection to the place where you bought it from. That feeling of camaraderie makes your purchase that much more special and important, because you know you are supporting a real person and place and that the maker deeply appreciates creating something special for you.
2) Mindful Spending: A phrase I’ve heard a lot recently is “every dollar you spend is a vote.” This has greatly influenced the way I see my spending, as the things we buy can certainly be seen as an extension of our selves.
3) Love: Buying handmade is a wonderful way to show love and support for a local artist, craftsman, local business, etc.
4) Originality: No two items are ever exactly the same when you buy handmade. Besides being able to customize your item to your liking, you can feel good knowing that your purchase was really made just for you.
5) Eco-Friendly: Shopping small and handmade is usually an indication that you are making a sustainably responsible purchase; many crafters use mostly locally sourced materials and do their best to ensure that their creations don’t have a negative impact on the environment.
Shopping small is important to each of us at Vermont Woods Studios, and its a central part of our mission. By making small changes in your shopping habits, you can be a part of a huge movement to support what matters… the people.
Wishing you a very happy new year filled with love, prosperity, and health!
From all of us at Vermont Woods Studios, we’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a new year filled with health, prosperity, and happiness! Thank you so much for your continued support of our business and our mission!
My grandma occasionally calls me indecent names when I forget to call or miss a family get-together. The berating is really a gesture of love (like when she noticed my jeans started fitting a bit tight and she slid the store-bought cookies in my direction) and it really just means she wants me around more often. I don’t miss these occasions out of preference for hanging out with my mean cat, but the three hour commute from Vermont to Rhode Island often deters my ability to swing by on a moment’s notice.
As our family grows larger it is more and more difficult to track down every member for my once in a blue moon trips to the Ocean State. During the holiday season, I can sometimes feel like I’m missing out or even experience a bit of guilt when I miss a get-together. This year, however, I’ve found new ways to connect and enjoy my family; I hope others can use these resources to connect with theirs as well!
First on my agenda this year was getting my new address out to everyone, either directly or by reporting it to the family bulletin board… aka Mom. This way I can be sure to receive photos and cards in the mail. Then, as my co-workers pass by and admire the dimple-dotted cheeks of my nephews and nieces, I can quietly brag about how inevitably cute my future offspring will be.
I only hung my lights this past week so I can’t honestly say I am sending out cards this year. Besides, without kids, who really cares to see my mug on the front of a cutesie shutterfly Christmas card? In all seriousness though, this will certainly be first on my list next year-with or without little feetsie-toed babes.
iPhone Photo Library
My brother also has a telecommuting relationship with my family and, given my grandma’s warm embrace of his every visit, it’s pretty obvious he is better at keeping up with the fam’ than I am. This year, as he adopted his first iPhone, he found yet another way to reinforce the bond: a shared photo library. From the erecting of my parent’s Christmas tree to Gingerbread house decorating and cookie baking, we have shared Christmas moments across distances. We can even send comments and “like” each other’s photos; it’s like a themed, personalized Facebook without all of the ads or other “friends” peering in.
This old, by tech standards, tool works great for those spreading themselves a bit thin this holiday season. After all, each family has at least two sides and when the kids get older, it is common they start dividing their holiday time among their newly formed families. Skype is also great for those with loved ones serving with the military abroad, or working that indecently long yet eloquently paid Christmas shift at the hospital.
Is Skype a bit much for you? Shoot a quick video on your phone or, better yet, give your relatives a call. If you’re lucky, you’ll be put on speaker phone so you can talk to everyone at once.
Eventually, you’ve just got to go visit. Whether or not you can make it on the big day, coming for a short stay in recognition of the holidays is just as valid. If you want to take it a step further, invite everyone to your little visit, like my brother Frank did by hosting Franksgiving. When he knew he would be spending Thanksgiving with his significant other’s parents, he created a whole holiday for himself. The shindig turned into an opportunity for all of our loved ones, especially those with other Thanksgiving plans, to join us at the kitchen table.
We are so lucky at Vermont Woods Studios! Neville’s wife Carol surprises us with delicious treats every now and then. This week: Christmas cookies and a loaf of stollen. Which is your favorite? Sugar cookies, nut cups, chocolate chips, brownies, gingerbread?
If this is making you hungry and you’re not on Carol’s “Nice List,” not to worry. Check out Vermont Cookie Love. They offer “fresh-baked cookies that we ship the same day they come out of the oven. Or if you want the optimum hot-out-of-the-oven experience, you can buy our frozen cookie dough and bake the cookies yourself. Our cookie dough is all natural, with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. We source ingredients that are non-GMO, we use no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, and cookies baked from our dough contain 0 grams trans fat.”
Could be the next best thing to Carol’s cookies. What do you think? Let us know on Facebook or stop by Stonehurst, our new fine furniture showroom and art gallery in Vernon, Vermont. Better be quick though– I’m not sure how long these irresistible Christmas cookies are going to be around.