The perfect media tactics to boost business and encourage OU students to shop local

Disclaimer: I am not a professional. All comments come from my personal experiences and observations, and this blog is purely for academic purposes.

Need fresh ideas for reaching a broader audience? Are you interested in the digital strategies and media tactics that could help drive business and encourage Ohio University students to take a stop in your store? Here’s a look at the social media techniques used by several clothing boutiques in Athens. The best part is these strategies can also be applied to a variety of businesses including restaurants,dining, bookstores and specialization stores such as gift shops, craft stores and costume shops.

When thinking of the stores on and surrounding Court Street, there’s a variety of customers and owners. Many would believe each store takes a completely different approach to reach their target audience. Surprisingly, this is far fetched.

After extensive research and vast increments of my time being used to creep through the shops social media, I was surprised to find most of the strategies used by the local owners were extremely similar. The strategies that many stores use often seem to be working well, and unfortunately the mistakes and painful errors were frequently used across the board. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly digital promotion approaches used by many local Athens shops.

Artifacts Gallery

Artifacts Gallery is a local clothing shop located at 2 W. State Street., Athens, OH. This store uses Instagram and Facebook as their strongest social media pages. Some techniques used on the Instagram page included using a white background when taking photos of the apparel. Using a white background, or sticking with a common theme, is useful because people enjoy images that are pleasant to the eye.

Facebook is also used by keeping active with posts that do not only relate to their store and products. Using a personalized approach and occasional videos help keep interest in followers, causing them to be more engaged when looking at a media post.

Unfortunately, Artifacts Gallery could use some work on their Twitter page. Twitter is accessible and sharable, but that is not how it is used. Instead, the tweets only link to Instagram posts, and their customer interaction to assist with product feedback or other related questions. Also, the Instagram could afford to involve a few models when marketing their t-shirts and other apparel. Having a real person involved in media posts allows customers, and especially college students, to be more engaged.

The only issue that struck me hard when viewing Artifacts Gallery’s social media pages was the excessive hashtagging. Yes, I understand many people were told to use hashtags to draw in more likes and assist in SEO, but sometimes less is more. My best advice is to use hashtags appropriately and understand that quality really can mean more than quantity.

Bluetique

This trendy local shop focuses on targeting the typical college girl who wishes she was in walking distance to a mall. Bluetique is located 19 W. State Street., Athens, OH. Bluetique does an excellent job promoting their store through a strong social media presence. Their social media is a triple-threat, and maybe more. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are all used constantly and appropriately to reach a variety of customers in the Athens area. Bluetique is also one of the few local shops that has started using Pinterest, which is very smart since many Ohio University women have joined on the Pinterest bandwagon when collaborating ideas.

There’s no doubt that Bluetique thought about the social media tactics they wanted to use. Overall, their pages are professional and engaging. Gabby Summers, a Bluetique employee, said students and workers are often used to pose in their clothes and accessories because it helps make the posts more personal and attracts a larger audience. All Instagram posts are similar because they use a theme and specific lighting location in the store. The owner has also invested in a wallpaper like background that looks like a wooden floor to assist in making the products stand out and keep a professional theme.

New floral two piece! We love our new arrivals! #bluetiqueathens #shopbluetique #newarrivals

A post shared by Bluetique Athens (@bluetiqueathens) on

Instagram and Twitter are also used to promote sales and positions for hire. The Bluetique Facebook page is a strong presence because they share events and other posts on their page to engage with customers. More frequent tweets would help them reach a wider audience. Videos and a cover photo with girls from Ohio University in their clothing gives the site a more personal approach, which is excellent when trying to find new customers and grow as a shop in a college town.

Although they use similar content among all platforms, especially  by reusing Instagram photos, the Bluetique social media techniques are definitely appropriate for most local business. Their techniques drive business and gain OU students as loyal customers.

Figleaf Boutique

Figleaf Boutique is a company that can be found in several college orientated towns, such as Kent, Columbus and Athens. The Athens location can be found at 57 N. Court Street., Athens, OH. Due to the larger presence this boutique has in other cities, their social media techniques are also updated and frequently used to reach OU students.

Figleaf is smart by using Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in creative ways. All their sites maintain a professional setting, and the links on Instagram photos, Pinterest pins, tweets and Facebook posts are directly to their official website. This is extremely important because it increases availability and sales. Many college students, and specifically OU students, don’t like feeling rushed if they can’t make it to the local shops during their daily hours. Having a website that is promoted daily through social media is an excellent technique which could potentially benefit all local shops.

It’s also apparent that Figleaf knows and understands their target audience which is the trendy college girl. They understand how to reach girls needing dresses and accessories for date parties and other social events through all medias. The also reach the parents of many OU girls whose parents are on the lookout for trends and sales on Facebook. Their Facebook content is slightly altered to engage a different group, which is smart since their Facebook audience has relations with their target audience.

The best advice for Figleaf Boutique is to be more interactive on Twitter with customers and keep the variety between their different media sites because it does make a huge difference.

Honey

This lingerie store is located at 13 W. Union Street, Athens, OH. Truthfully visiting the store is the best way to have any idea about their apparel and products. Honey lacks much of any social media presence. They have very few followers across the board, and they have few posts.

Honey’s Instagram has not posted since December, which is poor for almost any company in 2017. This is extremely disappointing since they are targeting OU students, who more often than not use Instagram daily. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center study, 90 percent of American adults aged 18 to 29 use social media. As a local shop targeting this specific group, it’s best they amp up their social media presence and begin to focus on the successful tactics available to boost business.

However, the one good thing Honey does with their social media is their use of Facebook. There are several more posts and more interaction on their Facebook page, and they even post links and articles to other sources. Outside sourcing to relatable content is a fantastic marketing tactic that many small, local businesses are afraid to test. Although this is very different than other trends among local shops in Athens, this out of ordinary social media technique would be worth a shot for other stores. Many stores and websites appreciate interaction from one another, and promoting a different store potentially brings new customers if the favor is returned.

The Other Place

The Other Place is another trendy store focusing on women’s clothing, accessories and gift items. This boutique can be found at 43 S. Court Street, Athens, OH. This college town shop engages with OU students on a variety of platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The owner has recently teamed up with the Scripps’ Impressions team, which has developed a few new techniques to boost business and student interaction among social media.

The Other Place is beginning to use real OU students to model their apparel in hopes to promote a real life experience and receive more engagement from friends and family members of the girls featured in the photos and posts. Another exciting social media tactic is the startup of a WordPress site to allow blogs about trends and styles that can be created from the apparel and accessories in the store.

Show off those shoulders with one of our super cute rompers! #rompers #shoulders

A post shared by The Other Place Athens (@theotherplaceathens) on

Other social media ideas that are common and effective include using Twitter constantly and posting promotional sales and hirings on their sites. When linking, it could be more effective to link to a store site, but instead they link back to their Facebook. This technique could be useful in reaching a different group of OU students, but there’s limited interaction on the Facebook page. Limited feedback and limited posting on both Facebook and Twitter may be the cause for the lack of followers, or vice versa.

10 West Clothing Co.

The new local shop, 10 West Clothing Co. is located at 10 W. Union Street., Athens, OH, and the store is known for selling new and nearly new name brand clothes. Their store specializes in making trendy clothes affordable for the college students in Athens.

As any new store in the area would do, they post quite often in order to gain followers, likes and attention in general. They use Instagram as their best social media platform by posting photos of their clothes, information about sales and funny memes in order to give it a personal feel. Unfortunately, their photography skills could still use some assistance to stand out and be more appealing to customers.

Another bad habit constantly used on their social media pages includes linking directly to Instagram only. Their interaction with customers and the shop’s creativity spreading content is lacking. A few alterations and more variety on all platforms would make a huge difference and advance 10 W. Clothing Co.’s business and appeal to OU students.

In conclusion, local businesses shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, such as promotional events or blogs. Using OU students for modeling clothes, or holding events, engages other students, friends and family increasing publicity and social media awareness. Ohio University faculty could also be a wise partner for events and social media promotion because they carry respect and people have a tendency to shop at local places if they have heard good reviews from people they personally know.

Spreading content creatively and using all media platforms allows local business to reach their max audience and customers. Sometimes, different platforms require, or strive, from a different form of media. Balancing videos, photos and text increasing attention for OU students interested in the local stores because millennials expect businesses to be up-to-date and use social media in a multitude of ways. Also, owners should not be afraid to dip their feet in and try using more than Facebook. Learning how to tweet and pin information is very important to a successful media platform because Twitter and Pinterest are the most shareable content sites.

Finally, keeping a professional look to all platforms makes a huge difference. Photography skills matter. Good lighting, backgrounds, using models instead of mannequins and keeping a constant theme makes a huge difference. Frequent posts are most effective when they are put together and consistent. Keeping digital media in correlation with college students’ expectations allows businesses to increase sales and encourages OU students to shop at the local stores around Athens.

Bagelwiches by the bundle

 

If you ever feel overwhelmed with options off the extensive menu at Bagel Street Deli, you can always create your own sandwich.

Or you could go a step further and claim a spot on the menu for your bagelwich masterpiece. All it takes is just a few pickles.

On the second Friday in March, BSD host its annual Pickle Fest, centered around a pickle eating contest.

balls-deep
The ’08 Pickle Fest Champion, Balls Deep: meatballs, salami, banana peppers, mushrooms, provolone, lettuce, and Italian dressing. Photo by Eben George

Participants compete in heats of 10 eaters. Each heat last 10 minuets. When its all said and done, whoever eats and swallows the most pickles at the end of the competition wins the right to create and name their own BSD creation with an eternal spot on the chalkboard.

 

When you’re broke and have no where to go, Court Street is the place to shop

Let’s face it, being a college student well sucks…especially when you’re in the middle of nowhere and the nearest “mall” has about three stores.

But WAIT!

I was only exaggerating.

Don’t lose hope just yet, Court Street has plenty of places to shop and it ranges from small novelty stores to stores where you can purchase certain items we weren’t allowed to film.

Uptown Costumes, the name says it all. You’ll be able to find a large variety of not only costumes but also sweaters and posters. If you’re lucky enough you might run into Charlie, the owner’s dog. Be gentle, he’s an old boy.

Import House is a split into two sections, one side where you can take your parents other side where your mom questions whether or not she actually believes you’re using the money she gave you last month for textbooks. (It’s okay, your parents did the same thing in college.)

Artifacts has a lot of novelty items along with dresses and t-shirts. You’ll be able to find left-handed mugs for your obnoxious left-handed friend (me) and other handmade knick-knacks.

“I usually shop on Court Street after I get breakfast to cure my hangover. It’s a nice way to spend whatever is left of my afternoon,” said a student on Court Street who didn’t want their name used in case their parents were to ever Google them.

Join me as I dragged my boyfriend and a close friend around Court Street to look at things I don’t have room for but will sooner or later end up buying.

6 Fashion trends from the 2000s that are making a comeback

When I think back on being a kid and pre-teen in the early 2000s, it’s hard not to reminisce about shows such as “Lizzie McGuire,” “Zoey 101” and “One Tree Hill,” or movies like “Bring It On,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” and “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen”. I nearly strain myself trying to suppress the urge to hum the tune of my favorite Ashanti song, or break out in the choreographed dances me and my cousin would make to the latest “106 & Park” videos. I can still remember the days when putting on my purple, velvet Velour tracksuit, Coach high tops, and watermelon flavored Lip Smacker lip gloss, made me feel like I was the trendiest girl in school.

But alas, those days are behind us all. The era of “peasant” tops, studded belts, gaucho pants, and ponchos, is dead– or is it? Although my style has evolved since those formative years, I must admit that there are some trends from the 2000s that are making an emergence in the fashion industry. Who knew that a period when airbrushed t-shirts were popular, would make a comeback.

Below are are 10 trends from the 2000s that are becoming increasingly popular.

1. Chokers

clip_image002 (sarina-rose.deviantart.com via Google)

These ’90s and ’00s accessories are the perfect accent for any grunge outfit. From the thick, velvet bands to the whimsical tattoo inspired neck pieces, chokers are on trend in 2016.

2. Trucker Hats

clip_image004(Flickr, Kris Krüg)

This throwback trend was worn by celebrities, such as Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears, and Paris Hilton, back in the 2000s. Now it’s back for another ride.

3. Tracksuits

clip_image006(commons.wikimedia.org)

Tracksuits– either you love them or you hate them, or you love them because they’re hated, but there’s no denying that they are in again.

4. Crop Tops

clip_image008(Flickr, Bob Suir)

During the summer months, it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing someone in a crop top. You can thank the 2000s for that, and pretty much every decade before it. Crop tops have always been in fashion, and they probably always will be.

5. Denim Skirts

clip_image010(Vimeo.com, via Google Images)

Like crop tops, denim skirts have been in fashion every decade since the 1970s. There is really no escaping it.

6. Puffer Jackets

clip_image012 (Flickr, Bob Suir)

Remember the days when we were forced to wear puffer coats in the winter, because our mom or dad said it was too cold to go without it. Who knew our parents were trend forecasters?

The ultimate Ohio University girl’s shopping list

Packing for your freshman year of college is on par with the stress levels of taking the SAT for the second time trying to get a higher score. It can be pretty tricky decidng what you think you’ll be wearing day-to-day. To streamline the process, and give you advice into clothing that college girls actually wear, I compiled a comprehensive list of items that are must-haves. Follow this list and these links, and you’ll be styling on your walk to your first ever college class.

Tops:

First and foremost, you’ll need t shirts. Like, a lot of them. You’re going to be exhausted for your 9 a.m. class, you’re going to be looking for a causal look for the weekend and you’re going to be looking gross for finals week, so t shirts are a go-to in college. Whether athletically-inclined, bold and graphic or something you stole from your older sister, just make sure it’s not high school related. Maybe you’ll join a sorority and have more than you know what to do with, but you should start with a small stash of your own.

Festing is cool and all, but you’re eventually going to need to get a job. So, while you’re looking into internships at the career fair, or applying for an executive position in your student organization, you’re going to need to look the part. Bring a casual blouse that you can transition from business to snappy casual.

Casual shirts are what I would call the staple of college life. Am I going out? Did I dress up for class? Am I some trendy fashion blogger? Who knows. Casual shirts can take you straight from class to the nightlife without even stopping by the dorm.

There is not a college aged girl that I know of who doesn’t live in sweatshirts. Comfy enough to nap in, and warm enough for the crisp walk to early classes, these sweatshirts will last you through the seasons. I’d grab an OU one, like this.

Jackets are important for layering when it’s 35 degrees ferenheit in Bentley Hall, or it’s colder on your walk to a weekend party. Plus, almost every girl at this university has this jacket.

Bottoms:

Athletic shorts are useful from classes to the gym. Getting a solid colored pair can make picking outfits really easy, and allow you to buy less pairs. Nike shorts are pretty standard on campus for classes and running errands.

From one girl to another, you will not survive college without leggings. No one will care if you don’t drop $90 on Lululemon leggings, the $5 Forever 21 kinds will work just fine. These will be your every day outfit staple. Class at 9 a.m.? Leggings. Class at 2 p.m.? Leggings. Community service event? Leggings. Guest speaker? Leggings. Leggings? Leggings. These are worn every day of the week no matter the weather. Get them.

In college, when you’re trying to appear classy, or you’re not allowed to wear leggings, you’ll reach for jeans. In the past 6 months Athens has seen an influx of distressed jeans, so I’d definitely grab a pair or two in black and blue denim. Of course, skinny jeans will always be in and can take you from classes to meetings to nightlife to church. I bring 6 pairs of jeans with me every semester, and I have yet to regret that decision.

When the time comes to move up in your organization or for you to get a job, you’re going to need a staple pair of black dress pants . You can absolutely get crazy with dress pants and patterns, but black will get you the job every single time. Plus, who wants to spend money on work clothes? No one.

I was going to include a link to sweatpants because a lot of girls do wear them to classes, and to eat around town, but I hate them, so morally I refuse to include a link. If you do like sweatpants, Nike or Lululemon will suffice.

When you’re not in class, or if you like to dress up for your classes, high waisted cut off shorts will be your best friend. Comfortable, chic and a little bit edgy, these babies will keep you cool on your 7-minute walk to class, and make you look put together. Pair these with the t shirts I liked above, and you’re set for a weekend in Athens. Boyfriend shorts are big for me because comfort is key on college, especially at OU. When you’re out on the weekends or hitting up a local joint to eat, casual shorts will take you a step further than athletic shorts, but won’t skimp on comfort.

Weekends and special events call for skirts. I’m not too partial to them, because dresses are easier to wear and make you look dressed up when you’re not, but plenty of girls wear a-line denim skirts out or to class or crochet mini skirts. Whether it be bars, a weekend trip to Columbus or you’re just feeling yourself for classes, skirts can be a way to elevate your look easily.

Dresses:

Contrary to what you might believe, dresses are not a huge part of college. Yes, things are getting fancier by the day, but your everyday look probably will not include one. Weekends and special occasions are when dresses emerge, and you’ll need to leave your satin homecoming dresses at home. If you join a sorority or get invited to a fraternity date party, you’ll be rocking a dress/romper to remind yourself of the homecoming days that are long forgotten. Pro tip: Don’t wear dresses out on weeknights or to house parties; there is no easier freshman identifier than a dress on a Wednesday.

Two-piece dresses are really popular for special events, and rompers are the most popular pick. If you’re invited somewhere else fancy, you’ll want a little black dress: this dress will have you ready for any occasion. Great places for dresses include: Tobi, Lulu’s and ASOS. Off-campus, we also have Figleaf, Bluetique and The Other Place, but mind you, if you shop uptown, every other girl on campus will be rocking the same dress.

When it’s not a special occasion, girls definitely wear dresses out or around when the weather gets nicer. Casual dresses can make you feel cute again after your week long binge of shorts and t shirts. These can be worn out on the weekends too, without much effort.

At some point, for some event or organization or interview, you’re going to need a professional dress. This needs to be simple, classy and ready to get you a job. You’ll only break this out probably twice a semester, but it’s definitely important to have.

Shoes:

If you’re going to pay attention to one thing I say to you, pay attention to the shoes category, AKA, now.

Newsflash, you’re going to have to walk to class. That being said, you need to be comfortable doing so. Casual walking shoes for college girls typically include: gym shoes, Tom’s, sandals or flats. Gym shoes are the best pick because you can obviously wear them to the gym as well, cutting down on items to bring to school. Black Nike’s and white Converse rule the school, so you can’t go wrong there.

When you have to be fancy, flats are a comfy way to look put-together without breaking an ankle. I recommend a classic black or nude flat shoe to keep it simple, but look professional or cute.

Heels are important for aforementioned date parties, interviews and other special events. Important to have are: Nude heels, black heels and a chic pair to show your style. These three pairs are perfect for any situation you may find yourself in.

Go-to weekend shoes in the warm weather are wedges. You won’t fall as easily in wedges, the heel won’t strip in the middle of the bricks like stilettos and they can make your jeans look more dressed up when you’re feeling lazy. Wedges in black and tan will get you through the warm seasons no problem. With heels and wedges, reserve these for the weekends, ladies, and by weekends, I do not mean fests..

You will die without rain boots. You won’t actually die, but you will be miserable without them. It will rain when you’re supposed to be walking to class, and your umbrella can only do so much. I thought I was too good for rain boots my first semester here, and Athens proved me wrong. Get Hunter boots, or get a cheap pair, no one will judge you when it’s raining, I promise.

Speaking of the elements, snow boots are a must-have as well. It will also snow when you’re supposed to go to class, and unless you’d like to sit through an hour and a half lecture with cold, wet feet, I’d get some snow boots. Pro tip: These can be your rain boots; you don’t need snow boots if you have rain boots.

Final element: Sun. Sandals will be your best friend when it’s hot and steamy outside. If you’re living in a dorm, which you’re required to, you’re going to need shower shoes. These are very different things. Get $3 shower shoes from Old Navy, everyone does. Next, get cute sandals from anywhere else. Comfort is key, I assure you.

Accessories:

Kind of optional, kind of not is the rain jacket. I’ve done without one thus far, but some of my friends swear by them. Anything to get you to class dry can only be positive.

Spoiler alert: You might not have time to shower before your 9 a.m. class. Wear a hat and pretend like your hair is not greasy. Or you can pretend like it was sunny that day, and your hair is definitely not greasy. Hats can be OU themed, Vineyard Vines, your hometown, etc. Just make sure it’s not your high school. Make sure anything you bring isn’t from high school, basically.

Whether you’re an athlete, you pretend to be or maybe you don’t like to wear real bras, sports bras are comfy and practical. From yoga class to Philosophy, this gem will keep you in place, while offering cute details to show off. Cute bras are really popular right now, and will be for a while so grab some while they’re hot.

If/when you go out at night, you will not be bringing your big Michael Kors purse. You will be bringing a cross body bag or a wristlet. Small, portable and hopefully durable, this bag will hold your dorm keys, your OU i.d. and your money. Some girls splurge on Kate Spade, I, on the other hand, go cheap because I don’t want my bag to be ruined by a spilled Natural Light beer.

Maybe you actually want to know what time it is, or maybe you’re like me, and want to look chic, but watches are extremely popular as an accessory alone. Wear one to an interview and look sophisticated, wear one to the bar and look cute. Whatever you do, get one. You can use it to count down the seconds until you’re out of your dreaded general education requirements.

There are only two schools of thought on school bags. People either wear backpacks exclusively or they wear purses; I fall into the later. If you’re in a math or science major, you’re going to need a backpack for who knows what: calculator, expensive books, laptop, etc. Everyone else can carry a purse because, frankly, I don’t even understand what people fill backpacks with. Longchamp, Michael Kors or Target will do. Make sure it fits your laptop and notebooks, but other than that, show your personality.

 

There you have it: The ultimate packing guide. I know you’re going to over-pack first semester, everyone does. I hope this list offers you the ability to over-pack the right things.

Going underground: the not-so-secret secret of Athens

Those who are bold enough to travel to the very end of Court Street will stumble upon one of the crown jewels of Athens shops: Athens Underground.

There aren’t many places I can go that make me more giddy than Athens Underground. The vintage fashion, the aged posters and magazines, the antique furniture, the oh-so-tempting typewriter… I’m salivating just thinking about it.

Here it is: the famed typewriter. I mean, look at it. It's begging me to type a novella.
I mean, look at it. It’s begging me to type a novella.

It’s a place filled with clothes hangers and memories: the time I hid behind the bookshelves and read from an old copy of Gulliver’s Travels (haven’t finished it yet), the time my roommate and I found an Audrey Hepburn-esque gown for her photo shoot, the time I promised myself I would start a pipe collection, the time I took frowned-upon photos of typewriters and displays. This little shop at the end of the stairs helps me to be whimsical for a few hours.

Athens Underground ignited my love of throw-backs. Although we live in a world that follows the latest trends, it’s incredibly refreshing to indulge in the used-to-have-been of the fashion world. And where else can I get flannels and billowy sweaters? Or worn books that make me feel like a hipster?

At Athens Underground, I feel like I’m far away enough from campus to regenerate. It’s not only my favorite place in Athens, but it’s also my escape.

 

 

 

7 sustainable Christmas gifts

Christmas should be fun … but it should be fun for our wallets and our planet, too.

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste in the U.S. increases more than 25%. This waste consists of uneaten food, shopping bags, packaging, bows, ribbons, and wrapping paper. Not to mention all the trees that we kill to sustain our holiday cheer. But the waste doesn’t stop after New Year’s: our overwhelming consumption of goods during the holidays results in throwing out perfectly good household products and clothes throughout the rest of the year.

So here are seven gifts you can give this Christmas to have a great time and still feel good about yourself:

1.) Buy a living Christmas tree

If you want the look, feel, and smell of a real Christmas tree, then try out a potted, living tree! You can dress it up so it looks just as regal as a traditional, dead tree. Enjoy it in you living room now: plant it and enjoy it in your yard later…

book tree
Photo by Greg Rutty

2.) Make your own “Funky Tree”!

A funky tree is a tree that anyone can make on a low budget just by putting together things you find around the house … like books or egg cartons!

When you use items that would have been thrown out or recycled and make something functional out of them, it’s called Upcycling. It’s the even-better alternative to recycling because by using the objects in their current form (like, say, making a Christmas tree out of egg cartons or plastic tubing) you save the fossil fuels it would have required to convert the objects back into raw materials again. Check out this funky, up cycled tree to the left.

shrek hat

3.) Knit Mom a hat!

What better way to thank the woman who birthed and reared you than to knit her a cute little hat to keep her head warm this Christmas?

The only person who would appreciate a handmade hat as much as your own mom is the mom of a cute little kid if you make him/her one of these children’s Shrek hats!

 

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4.) Give that smelly friend some eco-friendly soap.

Maybe that guy who sits next to you in Psych 101 is just allergic to the harsh chemicals and parabens in most commercial soaps. This holiday season give the gift of hygiene that’s gentle on the skin and the planet. Mountain Laurel Gifts on Court Street is selling Space Cadet soap bars for $6. They feature unique scent-combos like “lavender, rosemary, chamomile,” and “peppermint, orange.” And this local Athens business isn’t messing. Check out the ingredients label on Space Cadet Soaps: nothin’ but nature’s goodness!

 

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5.) Purchase some eco-friendly salve that saves homeless puppies.

Appalachian Earth Sisters makes hand-crafted, organic salve (it’s a natural version of Vaseline) out of organic extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and beeswax. They are a “full nonprofit”: all proceeds from the salve sold in Athens, OH goes to Athens County Humane Society to house and care for stray dogs and cats. You can find Appalachian Earth Sisters salve at Import House and Mountain Laurel Gifts on Court Street.

 

IMG_02446.) Paste together a collage.

Pull together some pictures, print them out at Minutemen Press on West Washington, and paste them in a crazy pattern with glue and pasteboard from College Bookstore on Court Street.

To the left is a collage I put together for my Dad one Christmas. Feel free to cut some photos out in rectangles, and cut others on the outline of the subject of the photo — this way you’ll make certain photos pop.

 

 

7.) Give the gift of a warm home by rescuing a stray cat or dog!

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If you or someone you know is in the position to take care of an animal long-term, then go through Athens County Humane Society to rescue a little buddy to curl up by the fire with. And remember, don’t buy an animal through Petland or other businesses that buy from abusive puppy mills. Adopt your friend through your local shelter or humane society.

 

 And one last tip: wrap your gift with newspaper instead of wrapping paper!

Wrapping paper is so early 2000s. Impress all your friends with this creative alternative. Re-use paper such as newspaper and customize the content of the newspaper to your friend!

newspaper-giftwrap
blacklemag.com

 

 

 

7 gifts you can buy Mom at Import House

When you think of the Import House on 68 N. Court St, “Mom” is not the first person who comes to mind. But with Christmas approaching, the countdown for finding Mom the perfect gift is in full swing. Intricate tobacco and hookah pipes, glass-blown bongs and wild tapestries don’t exactly scream “Mom.” Lucky for you, this local emporium is not limited to these options. Walk inside and you will be overwhelmed by a plethora of local and often fair trade merchandise that your mom will be delighted to unwrap on Christmas.

Here are seven gifts you can buy for your mom this Christmas:

1) Silk-woven Scarves: $32

Import- Scarve

2) Wild Berry incense sticks and cones: 10 for $2

Import- Inscents

3) Stress-relieving coloring books: $10-$20

Import- Color

4) Athens’ own Herbal Sage Tea Company loose leaf tea: $9

Import- Tea

5) Seeking Balance candles: $15

Import-candle

6) Powers Family Farm soap: $7

Import- Soap

7) The fanny pack: $10-$20

Import- Fanny

There you have it folks, Christmas gifts for your mom are made possible thanks to Import House.

7 Most Wanted Gifts for the Fashionistas

Holiday seasons are always full of joyful things and this year should be no exception. We have tastefully put together a list for you to shop for the wonderful fashionistas in your life! Everything on this list can be found in the boutiques on Court Street. So let’s peek into it!

1. Those that say you will never be complete without a pair of TOMS. Now it is a perfect time to get them for the seasonal colors are hard to come by!

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$49.99 At Figleaf

2. Who doesn’t need a pop of red to stand out in the dead of winter when everyone else around you is wearing dull colors? This multicolor wool beanie has a protective inner layer of fleece that will add extra warmth to your body when the snow is blowing on you.

The Other Place
$11.99 at The Other Place

3. Starting to see the trend going on here? Bet you are! Burgundy, magenta, and just very intense, bright, saturated reds are the most sought after this season. Get them for the ones you love before they are gone, who doesn’t need an extra pair of leggings anyway?

The Other Place
2 for $16 at The Other Place

4. Flannel scarves are always going to be in trend whether or not you decide to move to mars one day. The color-block ones are especially guaranteed to make your fashionistas smile because they are highly versatile and will add more texture to your look.

The Other Place
$16.99 at The Other Place

5. Now some really fun things. This would probably be the cutest hat you would find on Court Street. CVS is now carrying Christmas hats and there are a few other options that you could choose from. $5.99 at local CVS.

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6. These puffy earmuffs could be perfect stocking fillers. They are popular for the fun colors and the portable sizes. $25 at The Other Place

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7. Finally, some treats! Ghirardelli never fails to come up with the most festive packaging designs that you just could not walk away from. Chocolate is the most chic and delightful gift of all time.

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Left $4.99 Right $6.99 at local CVS

 

Shopping for Black Friday deals in Athens on a $60 budget

I tried. I really did. I set four different alarms at 4 a.m., 4:05 a.m., 4:10 a.m. and 4:15 a.m. I couldn’t pull myself out of bed to ride my bike in the 25 degree morning that was Black Friday. Doorbusters were going on on East State Street, but I wasn’t going to make it in time for the savings, even if I was able to drag myself out of my bed.

Black Friday is a big deal in the United States, the start of the holiday shopping season as well as the holiday season in general. Many shoppers across the country flocked to their favorite retailer to secure the latest deal — except for Athens.

Athens becomes somewhat dormant during breaks from classes. Most students head home for Thanksgiving, leaving the streets of Athens like something out of a scene from “The Walking Dead.”

In response to this, many businesses and restaurants closed their doors for the holiday, but some local businesses in town kept their doors open and offered specials and deals. I decided to head out to see what Court Street had to offer, but being the college student I am (i.e. broke) I kept myself at a $60 budget.

A pair of fuzzy socks and a coloring book for $40 started my Black Friday
A pair of fuzzy socks and a coloring book for $40 started my Black Friday

At first, I was worried. I walked onto Court to be greeted only by closed doors and dark stores. I originally hoped to go into the bookstores to pick up some OU gear, but both had closed. So I continued my journey through the vacant street until I came to the last section the street, near BP and such. I found one store during my entire walk though that had a specific Black Friday sale, and that was Import House, a local clothing and tobacco  shop that specializes in outdoor wear. The store was offering 25% off anything that was already on sale, meaning whatever was on sale, one could add an additional 25% off. I was shopping for my girlfriend so I was in luck. I was able to leave Import House after spending half my budget on a pair of socks and a coloring book that is designed for older doodlers.

A koala riding a bike or a shirt worth $20, you decide!
A koala riding a bike or a shirt worth $20

Determined to use the rest of my budget, I went back down Court Street toward campus and noticed Artifacts Gallery was open. Artifacts Gallery is a clothing store  next to Casa Nueva, and has a variety of funny and interesting shirts, trinkets and posters. I decided to treat myself a little bit here as I saw a shirt I couldn’t walk away from.

The store had a line of shirts that were of animals riding bikes. As silly as that sounds, they had tons of different animals to choose from. Llamas, sharks, deer, and even crabs were some of the options, but one was especially cool, a koala. It was a tough choice between the koala and deer, but I had to go with the bear. Cause I mean, come on who wouldn’t want to see a koala on a bike?! I picked up the shirt for $20 and left with $10 remaining.

I tried to find more deals on Black Friday, but most were in my email inbox, so I decided that my final purchase would be a well needed lunch after a morning of shopping.

I should have gone out a day later to Artifacts Gallery. The Saturday following Black Friday is labeled as Small Business Saturday, a day where everyone is encouraged to shop local, and support the small business owners instead of using the chains for holiday shopping. This is the “holiday” I wish shoppers would rally around. Paying the little bit extra to shop local is very beneficial, and not only does it help the shop owners, it helps the entire community and creates a stronger bond between the shop and customer.

Say what you will about Black Friday, as fun or embarrassing as it may be, it does offerers some of the best deals on the top holiday gifts,  but one should always remember to shop locally if you can, and support the local business owners.

*Source of top image on this page: http://www.saintpetersblog.com/archives/245485