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Thinking outside the Christmas gift box

FD venues offer unique gift options

December 17, 2011
By BARBARA WALLACE HUGHES, Messenger managing editor , Messenger News

A necklace made from an old faucet? Hand-made pottery ornaments?

These aren't the usual fare at big box retail stores, but shoppers who venture off the beaten path in Fort Dodge can find unique artisan creations and repurposed items suitable for Christmas giving.

And, one-of-a-kind doesn't have to be expensive.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Blanden Memorial Art Museum business manager Pamela Kay holds up an ornament made by Fort Dodge potter Jilian Knutsen that can be purchased at the museum’s One-Of-A-Kind Gift Shop.

Blanden Memorial Art Museum Business Office Manager Pamela Kay said the One-of-a-Kind Gift Shop at museum offers quality items for as little at $8.

"There are pieces that are more expensive," Kay said, "but people tend to forget how to pool their money together to get a special gift."

The per-person cost is pretty reasonable, she said, if four people jointly buy a $50 gift.

"We have quality items at a good price, and they're handmade items," Kay said.

At least eight local artists have items on display at the gift shop during the holidays.

Kay said buying at the Blanden's gift shop supports the museum and the artists involved.

"Shopping at the Blanden is an opportunity to buy something that is more than a manufactured gift," she said. "It's something you can't find everywhere else."

Even the bookmarks, which are manufactured, are unique, she said, because they are created from pieces in the museum's permanent collection.

Museum members get an extra 10 percent discount, she said, that would be in addition to the seasonal discount prices some of the artists are already providing through the end of January.

There are a variety of levels of membership, and people simply need to come to the Blanden and fill out a membership form, Kay said.

At LilyGrace on Central, Laurie Hagey, one of the owners, said there are gifts to fit every budget, and she echoed Kay's sentiments on one-of-a-kind pieces.

"These are items you can't find anywhere else," Hagey said. "You can't order another one, and no one else will have one just like yours."

At LilyGrace on Central, the emphasis is on upcycling, she said.

"We are upcycling - that is, the item used to be something, and now, it's something else."

Examples in the store include an old suitcase that has been transformed into a pair of wall shelves and a cabinet that has been topped with old yardsticks.

"These items bring back memories and they help people create new memories with their families," Hagey said.

Contact Barbara Wallace Hughes at (515) 573-2141 or



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