Holiday gift guide encourages Washtenaw County residents to buy local

The annual 2021 Michigan Local Gift Guide, an online directory of locally based businesses by Traverse City-based Taste the Local Difference, is designed for shoppers who want to find unique gifts for loved ones and support their local communities at the same time. 

"Shopping local is so important for a wide variety of reasons," says Kelly Wilson, Taste the Local Difference's Ypsilanti-based director of community partners. "When folks spend their dollars here, with a business that's in your backyard, those dollars are supporting school supplies for the business owner's kid. They're buying things from the local hardware to fix up stuff in the store. Those dollars tend to stay local and the impact of your purchase magnifies multiple times over."

The guide features local businesses from all over Michigan, including a number in the Washtenaw County area. Gift ideas include a ceramic tea mug or holiday spice blend from Arbor Teas, cherry salsa and dark chocolate-covered cherries from Cherry Republic, a shower kit and goat milk soap from Chelsea-based soapmaker FarmSudz, and holiday breads from Zingerman's Bakehouse

In addition to a section for recipes and do-it-yourself tips, this year's guide also contains a list of local nonprofits, like Food Gatherers and Growing Hope, that are working to strengthen food systems in Michigan.

"We're encouraging people to maybe gift a little bit differently this season and consider gifting a donation as opposed to something that you might wrap up," Wilson says. 

Though local businesses are somewhat protected from the worst of recent international supply chain issues, Wilson encourages those looking to order online from these local establishments to make their purchases sooner rather than later due to possible shipping delays. 

"I think choosing local this holiday season will prevent a lot of headaches that the supply chain issues and shipping issues are causing," Wilson adds, citing local production as a common way for businesses to bypass many of the delays. 

But, she adds, "There still will be likely some local shipping bottlenecks with holiday packages. … We're really trying to encourage people: 'Order now!'"

Sabine Bickford Brown is a freelance writer and editor based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at

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