Locally made gifts are sure to be appreciated
Thinking about a classic holiday gift that embodies one of the Glove Cities? You don’t need to think too hard.
At least a handful of locations in the Fulton County area still sell gloves, according to Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce Director of Tourism Gina DaBiere-Gibbs. She said these are the types of gifts that embody the region’s rich manufacturing history with a practical gift that can be put into a stocking for the good boys and girls.
That tradition and vitality are combined in Johnstown’s Fownes Factory Store, which has roots in the area that go back to the late 1800s. The company’s founding, though, was as a glove company in England during the American Revolution.
Fownes still has distribution centers in the region and sells its wares at a store in Johnstown.
Also in Johnstown is the seasonally operated SWANY outlet store, which is open from now until February.
Another option is in Gloversville, where there is the Grandoe Factory Outlet Store. The company got its first glove patent in 1897 and remains under family control.
In Saratoga Springs, the obvious gift that captures the city is thoroughbred-themed, as a nod to the summer racing meet that has captivated people for more a century and a half.
Marianne Barker, owner of the retail store Impressions, said they traditionally sell a variety of products that have horses on them. This year, unique gifts they’re offering are items celebrating the 150th anniversary of Saratoga Race Course. Products ranging from pottery to money clips will feature the 150th anniversary logo, which is based on the 100th anniversary logo.
“I think that’s going to be a great Christmas gift, and it’s something new, which hasn’t been around,” said Barker.
Items with this logo were introduced this summer, and she said people vacationing in the city have already stocked up with 150th anniversary gifts for the holiday season.
Another major Saratoga-area gift is the Peppermint Pig, which is a small pig made of peppermint candy made at Saratoga Sweets in Halfmoon.
“People order them from all over,” Barker said. “It’s sort of a tradition.”
The tradition usually includes breaking the pig into pieces with a hammer and eating it.
Unique to Saratoga Springs are the distinct blue Saratoga Spring Water glass bottles, which Impressions sells in a different form: The bottles have been pressed flat and made into a serving tray, with the distinctive “Saratoga” on the bottle still visible.
Barker added that part of the fun of a Saratoga Springs gift is the fact that it usually can’t be purchased somewhere else. She noted that Disney World has tried to replicate Saratoga Springs and sells some items with the city’s name on them, but it’s not the same and people really want that authentic feel.
In a similar vein, Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. Executive Director Jim Salengo says that the locally owned shops in the city of Schenectady help give a gift that local feel.
“The experience is half the fun of shopping down here,” he said, crediting local retailers with enhancing the meaning and significance of a gift.
For that reason, Salengo said a gift that captures the spirit of Schenectady would probably be a gift card to one of the city’s shops, restaurants or entertainment venues.
“Something unique is a membership to a place like miSci [formerly known as the Schenectady Museum] or the Schenectady County Historical Society,” he said.
If someone is looking for a gift that really feels like Schenectady and draws on its Italian roots, Salengo said your best bets are at Villa Italia, Civitello’s or Perreca’s. He added that cheese from Cappiello’s and sausage from Garafalo’s are also distinctive gifts.
“When you’re talking about specific things, it always comes down to food,” he said.
Salengo, who already likes to liven up parties with a growler of beer from Mad Jack Brewing at the Van Dyck, said the beer makes a great holiday gift, too.
Additionally, he noted that local shops sell apparel with Schenectady written on it or the names of other local places. Salengo said anyone who has enjoyed a trip to the city would like to be able to wear the memory.