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Stowe VT: Holiday Shopping, Think and Buy Local

An idea has been getting passed around and it's something we think isn't a bad one in today's economic climate. Think local, buy local, support the local economy. Vermonter's already adhere to this philosophy in many ways, so why not continue it through during the holidays!

Here's the idea as presented to us:

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Try Salon Salon, located on the Mountain Road in Stowe. Ask for Montana or Jen. Having grown up with both of them I know you'll be happy with your salon services.

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Try The Swimming Hole, it offers Stowe's best indoor swimming and work out combo. Try taking a class from Molly to get into skiing shape.

Try Phit for those who want a no frills gym and high energy classes.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamin's on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

Call AJ at Yankee Home Solutions. AJ, a Stowe Vermont local, is known around town for going the extra mile for his customers and clients. AJ has a vast knowledge of all things home related and can easily address any job. He also is a master mower and snow plower. Call AJ at 802-598-4348

Try Ryder Brook Golf Course, ask for Johann. This family run golf course is a low pressure course. The nine holes are challenging, but a great place for beginners to start. Johann is a very good friend and you'll be well taken care of and enjoy the course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

Some of our local favorites:

Harrison's, ask for Andrew and Kathy Kneale, the mother and son duo that has been pleasing locals with their food for decades. Casual dining located in the Stowe village below the Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate office, try the mussels or cheese burger, both are amazing.

Frida's Taqueria brings traditional Mexican to Stowe. Known for clean, crisp flavors and local ingredients, Frida's offers something not normally found this far north. The tres tacos platter offers you variety; the fried cod, fried oyster, carnitas and carne asada are just a few that bring Mexico to the cold north.

Cork located in downtown Waterbury, VT at the corner of Stowe Street. This wine bar and market was just opened by a long time friend Danielle Nichols. She offers a wide variety of beautiful tasting wines along with a cozy atmosphere. Stop by on your way to Stowe for a drink and pick up a bottle on your way out the door.

Piecasso Pizzeria, NYC slices in Stowe also rated Top 11 slices in America by Travel and Leisure Magazine. They have a great family set up and also a cool bar and game room, plus the pizza is great.

Gracie's, another Stowe Classic, run by Archie, you'll never leave there hungry. Known for their burgers, Gracie's take it to the next level. I love the boxer and their famous chicken sandwich.

Cactus Cafe is Stowe's Tex-Mex favorite. Offering their famous jalapeño chips at the table, beware they bring the heat. Also on the menu are slow smoked pulled pork tacos, a southern twist to a Mexican standby. Wash it all down with their Mansfield marg!

McCarthy's is the only stop for breakfast in Stowe. They've been serving it up for over 30 years and know how breakfast should be done. Ask for Diane, she'll probably be at the door waiting for you with a smile. Their homemade corn beef hash is made from scratch, just like the maple nut bread.

For more formal dining try:

Michael's On The Hill located in Waterbury center, just south of Stowe. This chef owned restaurant sources local foods at a very high quality. Offering tasting menus and creativity, Michael's if perfect for a romantic dinner. Try their Manhattan, made with port wine, as a bourbon lover; I give it two thumbs up.

Hen Of The Wood located just off I-89 in Waterbury this kitchen has been cranking out high-end food for many years. The unique location and old stone mill offers a view of the river and waterfall which is only match by the quality of the food.

Kitchen Table Bistro, a bit further away, located in Richmond, but well worth the drive. As with the other two they locally source their food and offer a stunning wine list. The menu changes with the seasons and offers a real look into handcrafted Vermont food.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Call Larson at Larson's Garage. He's great for a quick oil change, tire swap or larger body work. Larson: 802-888-4439.

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

Give Eva a call; she's always on the move and looking for new homes to clean. She doesn't let dust lie. She brings her own cleaning supplies and can do long term or one time cleaning. Eva Beugnies: 802-399-0160

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

Call Frank at Fix PC, they are the Stowe experts on all things computer related. If you need your system cleaned up or need an entire office network set up, Fix PC can get the job done.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

MTL Jewelry Design, custom and handcrafted jewelry done by Molly. This is not your standard cookie cutter jewelry, these are unique and one of a kind designs. As my wife, sister and mother can attest, these make great gifts for any woman in your family.

Stowe Gems, Barry's been a fixture in the Stowe jewelry scene for decades. He offers all kinds of gems done in custom designs. Barry's knowledge of gems and how they work with metals and the best way to present them if unmatched. As the creator of my wife's engagement and wedding band I can tell you that when you are looking for high-end gem work, Stowe Gems is the best.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Stowe Theater Guild has been entertaining locals and visitors for years. Love the theater or have someone in your family that does? Treat them to a night at the show.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands. This is where we talk about bars! Stowe has plenty to offer, but if you are looking for music there are a few choice places.

Matterhorn is known for a few things, one is après ski, and it's the place to go. Cozy up to the wrap around bar and wash down the day's skiing with some suds and pizza or sushi. The Matterhorn has live music Thursday through Sunday during the ski season, offering the area's best local artist. They've been serving them since 1950, so you know they do it right.

Rusty Nail, Stowe's largest night club. It offers bands and DJ's throughout the winter. They have the largest dance floor and stage in town, so if you want to get down it's a good start.

Rimrock's Tavern is more sports bar than music venue, but they do crank out the latest hits and have DJ's on weekends. So if you're looking for a mix of both it's a good place to start.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

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