The warnings are terrible.
Inflation is on the rise, making everything from groceries and toys to hotel rooms and rental cars more expensive than a year ago. Container ships full of imported goods languish in the ports, leaving the shelves of some shops oddly empty.
Dealing with shipping delays, labor shortages, worker strikes and a shortage of semiconductor chips needed for electronics and cars has strained consumers’ nerves as they anticipate a tough Christmas shopping season. Already, predictions of shortages of everything from Christmas trees and lights to PlayStation5 and Xbox game consoles to some sportswear brands and toys are causing shoppers to scramble.
So here’s an idea. Instead of dealing with the stress of crowded big box stores and department stores or ordering online and hoping the items you buy arrive at your doorstep in time for the holiday gifts, why not shop near you, focusing on locally made crafts and household items? Take advantage of Small Business Saturday, which takes place November 27, and visit some of the many local stores spread across Berks County. Here are some suggestions of places where you will find unique gifts for everyone on your list.
Leesport Farmers Market Christmas Craft Fair – 312 Gernant’s Church Road, Leesport
Leesport Farmer’s Market hosts its Christmas Craft Fair on November 27-28, which features over 300 artisans offering hand-painted decorations, dolls, candles, jewelry and more. The fair takes place every day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and admission is free.
The new store at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts – 201 Washington St., Reading
Located in the GoggleWorks Lobby, the new store offers crafts and other items created at or near GoggleWorks. All items were made by Pennsylvania artisans and artists and include cards, ceramics, jewelry, fiber artwork, glass, soap, perfume, socks, wood, chalk, wall sculptures, leather goods and the like. Find a unique coffee mug, vase, pair of earrings, sculpture, or scarf for the hard-to-buy people on your list. The new store is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., or you can shop online at goggleworkscenterforthearts.com.
Arts Festival Reading & Holiday Market – The GoggleWorks, 201 Washington St., Reading
Scheduled for Saturday 4 and Sunday 6 December, the arts festival and the holiday market feature selected artists, including many locals. There will also be food, music, children’s programs and live artist demonstrations. There is no admission fee to the festival this year, thanks to a new grant program from the Berks Community Foundation. The festival will be open both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Junk to Jazz – 2308 Lancaster Pike, Township of Cumru
Junk to Jazz offers unique, hand-restored and recycled furniture, art and other items, including holiday decorations. It is open Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Mint Leaf – 1008 Stinson Drive, Canton of Bern
More than 50 vendors sell their creations in a bank barn from the 1800s in the canton of Bern. You can get everything from handmade clothes to home decor, including handmade candles and holiday decorations. The Mint Leaf opens at 10 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday. It closes at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and is open on Thursday until 6 p.m.
Art Plus Gallery – 604 Penn Ave., West Reading
This popular gallery will celebrate Small Business Saturday with special offers and discounts on select artwork, along with chances to win prizes. You will be able to meet local artists and purchase a variety of items. The gallery is open Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Reading-Berks Craft Guild
The Reading-Berks Crafts Guild held their 71st annual jury-rigged Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Festival earlier this month at Kutztown University, but you can visit the online store and contact the artists. to purchase items found there. You’ll find handcrafted jewelry, crocheted rugs, nature photographs, wooden bowls and carvings, hexagonal art, stained glass, paintings, ceramics and more, most of which are for sale and can be ordered. Go to the guild’s website at rbcrafts.org and click on “Shop.” “