The push to buy local is a rallying cry around the holidays, but what does it actually mean? In the case of the Made Local Marketplace, which celebrates its one-year anniversary on Dec. 16, shopping local means buying items made strictly in Sonoma County. Part of an ambitious larger-scale project called the Share Exchange—which includes the Sonoma County Time Exchange, the Green Bough Health Collective and a co-working space—Made Local offers a cozy initiation into the world of keeping money close to home.
It's also a shopper's paradise with far more personality than the run-of-the-mill Macy's down the street.
"There really wasn't a place for people to sell their things year-round," says Kelley Rajala, whose local-economy activist experience and expertise informs her work as a founding partner at the Share Exchange. "It supports local jobs, and more money stays in the local economy. We put a face to the artist, so that you can see what they look like and where they live. You are supporting your friends and neighbors, instead of offshore jobs."
The store is a treasure trove: natural beauty products; award-winning pesto, olive oils, jams, spices and chocolates by Sonoma Chocolatiers; minimalist and extravagant "upcycled" jewelry; original prints and artwork; leather goods; children's clothes and toys; knit scarves and hats; teas; plus calendars, cards and a healthy selection of local authors.
On a busy Sunday afternoon, as vendors prep for a holiday trunk show in the backroom, Carrie Redfern drops off a batch of her popular botanically dyed beeswax candles. This is one of the cooler aspects of the marketplace—you can be checking out lusciously molded candles, thinking about how they'll make the perfect present for your sister, when—boom!—here's the candle maker herself, telling you about how she'll soon be experimenting with peppermint leaves as both a dye and scent agent.
Walking among the shelves, Rajala points out an "exquisite" purse constructed by Lucia Mendoza of Windsor. Mendoza recently moved to the United States and is working toward becoming a U.S. citizen, information revealed by a card perched next to the purse with a Polaroid photo of the purse maker. The store is peppered with similar photo cards and artist statements. The Made Local Marketplace tries to accommodate everybody that comes in while "containing a nice variety of things and price-points," explains Rajala.
While the location has been a challenge—the store is one block over from Fourth Street's shopping heartbeat—the response so far as been enthusiastic.
"People think it's a great idea," Rajala says, "and that this area needs a place like this."