It was 1965 when Lucy van Pelt informed the disillusioned Charlie Brown that Christmas was nothing but a commercial racket run by a big Eastern syndicate.
Half a century later, about the only thing that’s changed is that it’s now a big Chinese syndicate. And of course, Amazon has become the country’s main mall, at the expense of mom-and-pop retail everywhere.
One way to avoid any kind of syndicate is by shopping local, a feat made simple given all the creative markets and shops catering to every taste during the holiday season.
Here are some safe bets for exceptional, often handmade items.
Bizarre Market inside Chop Suey Books
For 15 years now, the Bizarre Market has been the go-to for shoppers looking for offbeat, handmade and singular gifts. This year’s edition will show off the talents of over 50 artists and artisans in the form of ceramics, jewelry, toys, housewares, plants, accessories, cards, art and T-shirts, just to name some of the goodies you’ll find. This year, it’s opening before Thanksgiving to give devotees a chance to shop early, but also staying open until Christmas Eve for all you procrastinators. And should you be looking for gifts for your favorite readers, you can park once and shop twice.
Runs Nov. 22 – Dec. 24, Mondays-Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sundays, noon – 7 p.m., at Chop Suey Books, 2913 W. Cary St.
The Northside Artists’ Holiday Artwalk
Part stroll, part house tour, part shopping excursion, this art walk is held in an open-house format, allowing shoppers to enjoy short walks — the homes are all within three blocks of one another —between multiple houses in Richmond’s Laburnum Park and Sherwood Park neighborhoods. Each artist’s house displays the owner’s work, which includes beadwork, accessories, paintings, glass, wood and ceramics. Let’s just say an art walk beats the hermetically sealed atmosphere of mall shopping every time.
Saturday, Nov. 23, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Northside Artists’ Holiday Artwalk, 3323 Gloucester Road.
Black Market at Fallout
It’s not always easy shopping for friends and family with, shall we say, darker tastes. But there is one holiday event devoted to those special people on your list and we’re not talking about children. Check out the Black Market at Fallout in Shockoe Bottom for an array of quirky gift items such as gothic clothing and oddities, leather specialties, deviant art stickers, witchy items and sadistic toys, all hand-crafted. Naturally, this is a night market and shoppers must be older than 18 to attend. Holiday pro tip: This may be the only local market where you’ll find jewelry made with real spider webs
Thursday, Dec. 12, from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m., Fallout, 117 N. 18th St.
Museum Store Sunday at the Valentine
One way to show love for all the Valentine museum does for Richmond — community conversations, neighborhood walks and diverse exhibitions that reflect who we are — is by shopping Museum Store Sunday for fun and functional gifts. Choose from ideal gift items like jewelry, personal accessories, kids’ crafts and an eclectic mix of books — about things as varied as Richmond history, Southern cooking and civil rights — with a selection of hand-crafted items by local makers. The best part? It will be serving complimentary refreshments, offering opportunities to win prizes and people get 20% off their entire purchases except Valentine members. They get 25% off. You could also give yourself a Valentine membership while you’re there.
Sunday, Dec. 1, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Valentine museum, 1015 E. Clay St.
- Ash Daniel/File
Vintage Kitchen Cast Iron and Collectibles at Belmont Butchery
Looking for a gift for someone who loves to cook and hoping to find something truly original? Or maybe you’re tired of planned obsolescence and want to give a recycled gift. Christmas cookbooks are plentiful, but the kind of seasoned pans that true Southern cooks require can be hard to come by. This cast-iron pop-up at Belmont Butchery is offering vintage cast-iron pans lovingly restored by pros. Grandma would definitely approve, as would any gift recipient attempting the lost art of real Southern fried chicken.
Saturday, Nov. 30, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Belmont Butchery, 15 N. Belmont Ave.
- Studio Two Three
Studio Two Three Winter Print Fair
Got an art lover or would-be collector you’re shopping for? Look no further than the Studio Two Three Winter Print Fair featuring dozens of local artists’ work at prices that won’t put a squeeze on your wallet. Even better, there’s a grilled cheese and tomato soup bar to keep you fueled while perusing well-priced art from established and emerging printmakers and artisans. Among the many artists this year are Adam Juresko, Ashley Hawkins, Cara Cline, Laura Marr, Triple Stamp Press, Virginia Commonwealth University photography seniors, Authorized to Work in the U.S. and Mary Fleming.
Saturday, Dec. 7, and Sunday, Dec. 8, from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., at Studio Two Three, 3300 W. Clay St.