Long Island is chock full of people who make art and crafts. A couple of retail stores serve as curators, carefully picking out unique and handmade items among the fray. Browsers say it's part of a growing consciousness to shop local.
"It's not just about supporting a local business or local economy," says Zuzana Pace, 34, of Huntington, a patron of Think Long Island in Oyster Bay. "It also gives people something to talk about when you tell them where it came from and was made locally." Here are three spots where you'll find an array of items made locally.
Say La Vie
75 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor
INFO 631-659-3833, shopsaylavie.com
Owner Jane Zuckerberg opened the eclectic two-room women's boutique about a year ago. Twenty to 30 percent of the shop's merchandise is made by locals, some of whom she meets at craft fairs. You'll find items like all-natural Peace Soap ($7) made by Diane Bard of Sea Cliff, mosaic framed mirrors made of vintage dishes ($50-$100) by Joanne Neushotz of Plainview and perfumes ($40) in scents inspired by Hamptons beaches alongside Zuckerberg's own silk and cotton tie-dyed scarves ($15-$54). On a recent afternoon, leather fold-over clutches by Woodbury designer Vasiliki Lagis were a particularly hot seller. "I find it so refreshing . . . to see one of my pieces made here and being enjoyed by people here," says Lagis, 26. "It's been my dream since I was 10 years old."
Think Long Island First
36 Audrey Ave., Oyster Bay
INFO 516-584-3155, thinklongislandfirst.com
Located near the front entrance of the Buckingham Variety Store building, this shop features about 1,000 items made by more than 100 local artists, crafters and chefs. New products fill the shelves every week. Popular sellers include knitted children's hats with animal faces by Theresa Wasserman of Hicksville ($26-$28), spruce-scented soy candles by East End Candle Company that melt into usable body lotion ($20), wool and silk scarves ($49-$165) felted on Shelter Island by Carrie Wood and wind chimes made of recycled glass bottles by Jane Cairns Irvine of Glen Head ($38).
"There are many talented people here and this way they have an outlet to show their products," says Jolanta Zamecka, who opened the store last October with Ewa Rumprecht. Now, all items in the store hit three benchmarks: They must be made on Long Island, be of quality and be beautiful.
Holiday Gift Market
133 E. Main Street, Riverhead (open through Dec. 23)
INFO 631-727-0900, eastendarts.org
The East End Arts Council's annual holiday market lends member artists a place to display their wares for purchase. Curated by gallery director Jane Kirkwood and volunteers, it offers more than 900 items by about 30 local artists. Items range from $3 to $300.
Among this year's pieces: a coin pearl and silver bracelet ($35) by Carol O'Connor of Southampton, a mirror framed with natural wood and driftwood ($28) by Catherine Crook of Laurel and a handmade decoupage vase ($45) by Helen Halverson of Hampton Bays,
Artist Terry Lang, 62, of Wading River, who made a silk handbag with chain-link strap ($35) and cloth eyeglass case ($10), says the market is "fantastic" for building camaraderie among artists and providing a place to shop for unique gifts. "You're not going to see 300 of the same article," she says. "You get things that are one-of-a-kind that you can't find anywhere else."