Local Oberlin businesses come up with creative gift ideas – The Oberlin Review
Students are usually not the best gift givers, as the end-of-semester frenzy often takes precedence over the holiday spirit. Fortunately for all stressed-out Scrooges, this semester’s schedule provides a little more time to find the perfect, affordable tchotchkes for students to gift to friends and family. With the finals falling after the winter break, the Oberlin student body has the new opportunity to purchase vacation gifts outside of Mudd’s study break. But if you’re like me, this opportunity might just threaten to illuminate the awesome extent of your procrastination. Step into that potent panacea: the Oberlin gift guide. Whether it’s a stroll downtown or scrolling through the Oberlin Pottery Co-op Instagram feed, the answer to your holiday prayers can be right next door.
Tucked away on Main Street is All Things Great, a wonderland stacked with great shipments. According to store owner Laurel Kirtz, All Things Great is all about mutual exchange. Its business model: reduce waste, provide service and enjoy peace of mind. To put it simply, Laurel Kirtz knows her stuff. Born and raised in Oberlin, Kirtz has been in the thrift game since she was 19, though her path to a career in consignment has not been straightforward. His journey began with cleaning the house and led him to work in decluttering, a job that established a long-standing friendship between Kirtz and the neglected objects of others. Kirtz can pick good linen from a sea of polyester, and she would never sell you a shoe with a polyurethane sole. While she has a special affinity for 1920s clothing and mending old furs, Kirtz’s store title rings true: She collects, sells, and repairs just about anything.
“From new to old, from something you can wear to something you can decorate your home with to something you actually need, we’ve got the best selection,” Kirtz said. “It’s a mix of traditional thrift stores, an organized vintage boutique and a classic resale store… I focus on quality.”
Kirtz’s mastery and repertoire of objects transcends material – years of extracting, studying and repairing the affairs of others carries an interpersonal vision that she undoubtedly implements in the goals and conservation of his store. She looks at her shoe racks and trinket drawers with an almost familial tenderness, perhaps born from a careful consideration of their origins.
“Part of being a stuff handler is dealing with other people’s psychological barriers,” Kirtz said. “It’s often a question of quality, which is why I put ‘one hundred percent cotton’ on a label or ‘wool blend’. I will let you know what the ingredients are so you know what you are buying.
When asked to pick a favorite contestant for a Christmas present, Kirtz was almost lost – there is just too much to choose from. I left her store with a pair of silver hoops and woolen mittens in my arm, but another day I would have gone for the silk briefs hanging on the back wall. And maybe a Greek urn and some vintage cowboy boots for good measure.
Elsewhere on Main Street is an Oberlin retail staple: Ratsy’s. For the past 16 years, owner Ratsy Kemp has offered inventory that lives up to her slogan “Never be normal”. Kemp’s business started out as a vintage store, but his collection quickly shook off easy categorization. A read through Ratsy’s is akin to stepping into the dreamlike landscape of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, but with a Tim Burton twist.
“I started doing weird things,” she said. “I have dinosaurs; I have emotional support members. I have put together strange bundles of limbs and now teeth. Sometimes I do the earrings. My boyfriend assembles the weird planter heads.
The aforementioned “planter head” refers to a potted plant growing not only a scalped, vacant eyed baby doll head, but also a small arm and a mushroom shelf. If you’re looking for a more conventional gift, Ratsy suggests his cheeky collection of mugs, socks, and “weird toothbrushes.”
Closer to home and designed by the hands of loving students is the Oberlin Pottery Co-op. Co-op president and college third year Luke Stenberg has been a member since their first year, and while they have surely honed their pottery skills in the past three years, they said the co-op does not require any level. of initial competence. Cooperative working hours are mandatory for members, but small cover charges are not. Members are welcome to the studio 24/7, with enough gear on hand to sculpt and throw at their leisure. Stenberg’s suggestion? Join the community to pour some extra love into your giveaway game.
“Anyone can register, regardless of their level of experience,” they said. “People shouldn’t be afraid to try pottery because they can learn so easily with office hours and materials online. If you’re trying to make a really nice, handmade gift that’s also super functional, pottery is perfect.
That’s not to say that the co-op only offers space for students to create their own work – they also sell unclaimed pottery at campus events like TGIF and Maker’s Market. Last weekend they hosted a special annual event – Empty Mugs – where Oberlin students and community members had the chance to browse a huge selection of work and donate their money for a noble cause. The cooperative is in partnership with Oberlin Community Services, so that all profits of the collective are distributed to the Oberlin community.
If you’re pressed for time and missed last weekend’s event, it’s not too late! The cooperative is launching an online sale on their Instagram this coming weekend.