DOUG DAVEY VIA FLICKR
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the city. For many students at Fordham, this is an exciting time of year, with the fall semester coming to a close and the holidays only a few weeks away.
Columbus Circle has its fair share of name brand stores like Sephora and J. Crew, but these stores do not carry many gift items in the average college student’s budget. Bryant Park, just a 10 minute subway ride from the Fordham Lincoln Center campus, has a Winter Village open every day that hosts over 175 boutiques. Columbus Circle and Union Square also have similar holiday markets open now. At these markets, you can purchase affordable and personable gifts while supporting local New York stores, artists and eateries.
At Bryant Park, Farm to People by Urban Space Provisions allows customers to purchase personalized gift crates and specialty food products, such as crackers, chocolates, sauces and jams.
According to Alec Hartnett, an employee at the store, supporting local businesses is important because “you’re supporting businesses that have a slightly better focus on people that need to make money as opposed to people who are taking the business away.”
Hartnett explained that people often have great ideas, but not enough money to bring the idea into a business or beat out other competitors.
“We not only want people to eat healthy food and vegetables, but also support the local economy, as opposed to the big man over there,” Hartnett stated.
All of the products at this shop come from within a 200 mile radius, and many of the products come from within New York. Farm to People also delivers fresh produce throughout New York City.
Contributing to many small businesses helps add diversity to the market and is better for the environment, as it reduces the amount of miles between consumers and their products.
In addition to supporting local food retailers, it is important to recognize many artisans in the city. You can find numerous art shops in the Winter Village, with artwork ranging from jewelry to blown glass creations. Artisans of NY is one shop that features pieces from over 40 different artists.
Mehmet Kazdal, art consultant and founder of both Artisans of NY and The Alchemist, an art shop, started both of these shops about 10 years ago in order to provide a central location for artists living throughout the United States to sell their work. Although the artists live in many different areas now, whether in upstate New York or California, many of them began as artists living in New York.
Kazdal explained his business represents the individual couples or single people from New York who are trying to make a living out of their artistry. Creating artwork for a living is not easy, but artists who create pieces for Artisans of NY and The Alchemist continue to do so because, in the artwork, “they find something unique,” Kazdal said.
This is a popular time of year for people to get new pets. The animals that deserve the most attention are the ones waiting anxiously to be adopted.
Meow Parlour, NYC’s first cat cafe, has a shop in Bryant Park, selling socks, cat toys, calendars and t-shirts. The shop has been at the park for four years now, with a portion of the proceeds going towards rescuing cats, making sure they are microchipped and taken care of while they are in the hands of the workers at Meow Parlour so that the cats can be adopted later on.
Contrary to large corporations serving primarily to get a dollar amount from consumers, the goal of many local businesses is to help make people happy. “Everything here is fun, meant to make you smile, make your dog happy,” a worker at Dog & Co in the Winter Village stated.
“I think in this day and age it’s really important to support small and local businesses, especially when you have such big box brands that can come in and take over,” he said.
As you plan out where to buy items on your shopping list this holiday season, consider shopping locally. Additionally, when purchasing gifts made in New York, you are sharing a memento from your home.