The NIC108 Buy American Gift Guide 2011

I’m happy to present the second annual NIC108 gift guide! Last year was such a big success I decided to do it again, but with a twist…

This year I’ve decided to bring the focus to the USA. With the help of my hubby, I compiled a list of gift ideas that were either made right here in the USA, or a local/domestic business you should check out. 

Why buy American made? Well, simply put – to support the (struggling) American economy. The average American may not have the time and dedication to make grandiose political waves, but seeing as though we live in a capitalistic society we do have the power to “vote with our dollar.” Therefore, by the rules of supply and demand, if we demand (and pay for) quality American made products they (the companies) will supply them, right?

Personally, I believe one quality made, slightly more expensive domestic product is better than a few cheaply made Chinese products. Call me a minimalist, but less is more. 

A few things to note about the gift guide…

Price key $ = 0-30 USD / $$ = 31-75 USD / $$$ = 75-150 USD / $$$$ = 151 & up


#1 Handmade President Block Set / $$$

Handcrafted in Michigan of Basswood grown in the Great Lakes area and printed with non-toxic inks.

“Patriotic cubes with facial renderings of forty-four U.S. Presidents and an oval office cube stack neatly into a perfect, forty-five piece set forming a grand American flag on one side. Each cube presents a face, name, nickname, lifespan, party affiliation, term and number (1-44) in red, gray and blue ink.”


#2 Jess LC / $ 

“Soft, supple cowhide leather emobssed with logo, Bright colored lining with brass zipper closure, Gold tone keyring, Can fit iPhone/most Android phones (without case).” Made in Chicago


#3 Beatles Art Prints by Oliver Barrett  / $ – $$$

Sweet illustration posters featuring a Beatle, and the instruments he played. There are prints available of John, George, and Ringo as well.


#4 Black & Tan Cookie Bars / $$

“A layer of fudgy decadent stout brownie topped with a decadent butterscotch ale ganache and crunchy crushed salted pretzels for interesting textural complexity, our interpretation of a cookie “Black & Tan” has a hint of beer reminiscent of the original version.”


#5 Clementine Art / $

Not only are these art products made in the USA but the company recycles, uses earth friendly non-toxic materials and supports early childhood art education. It looks like all Whole Foods stores carry them, too.


#6 Sonofasailor Necklace / $$

“This raw brass geometric triangle pendant, 30mm high by 37mm wide, is hand-painted with two chevrons in orange and mustard yellow. Perfect for layering with our other geometric necklaces, or as a standalone. This necklace comes on a delicate 30″ vintage brass curb chain 1.4 mm thick. ”

Be sure to check out the other awesome accessories in the shop!


#7 Bicycle Wine Rack / $

“If you like wine and you like biking, you’re going to love this. The handmade leather bicycle wine rack is perfect for taking wine with you on the go. It easily attaches to any 1″ bike frame with antique brass fasteners, while the hidden clamps hold the bottle securely. The olive oil-treated vegetable-tanned leather will only look better as it ages.”


#8 Wood and Fulk Man Bag / $$$

“Perfect smaller size for lugging a few tools around, travel supplies, or even use as your briefcase. Bag is built with Heavy duty 16oz, No.10 cotton canvas with top grain moccasin leather bottom, handles and straps. Metal studs protect the bottom of the bag and a fiberboard inner panel keeps things in shape. Steel d-rings sewn into the handles, so you can add your own strap.”


#9 Pop Chart Lab / $

Pop Chart Lab was founded in August 2010 by a book editor and a graphic designer who joined forces with one modest goal in mind: to render all of human experience in chart form. Each Pop Chart Lab product represents hundreds of hours of research and design work. Since the launch, Pop Chart Lab has tackled everything from beer to culinary devices to the story of a boy’s migration to a town called Bel Air.”

Pop Chart has quite a selection of poster charts and t-shits. Definitely check this one out, if only for a chuckle.


#10 Mushroom Garden Kit / $

“Grow-at-home mushroom kit lets you grow up to 1 1/2 lbs of gourmet, tasty oyster mushrooms in as little as 10 days…right from the box!”


#11 General Knot & Co. / $-$$$

LOVE this description from the site…”With the world’s finest craftsmen right here in the U.S.A., there was never a question of where General Knot & Co.’s products would be manufactured. Our ties are proudly handmade by men and women in the country’s most sought-after tailoring shops. We thank our lucky stars everyday to be working with these artists. ”


#12 Poketo Upcycled Leather Clutch / $$

“Treat yourself to a cool, casual night out with this classic clutch. Made with an eye for simplicity, these clutches make minimalist marvelous to look at. A simple obi-like ribbon wraps around the clutch to secure your valuables. Made with 100% vintage leather sofas, no two are ever the same in color and texture.”


#13 CXXVI Clothing Co.  / $-$$$

“New York-based CXXVI has gained a lot of traction early into the brand’s life. With a dedication to American-made products with a matching aesthetic…”

I love the t-shirts at CXXVI and they start at around $18 – quite a deal.


#14 YesJess / $-$$

Stylish and comfy ear warmers, scarves, hats, bracelets… AND You can find YesJess at the Renegades Craft Fair this weekend Dec 3 & 4! EEeeK!



#15 DIY Garden Kits / $$-$$$$

“This DIY Raised Garden Kit by Scout Regalia is designed to simplify the process of assembling a raised bed garden, making food production feasible for green thumbs and the garden challenged alike. Baked enamel heavy gauge steel brackets create clean corner details for a raised garden of variable sizes and lengths, making it ideal for urban settings with soil and space constraints. Brackets are locally manufactured in Los Angeles and designed to minimize waste and maximize material.”


#16 Beer Making Kits / $$

There are 6 flavors to pick from OR they have gift certificates available.


#17 Hand Painted T’s by Jessalin Beutler / $-$$

Trendy and geometic, hand-painted t-shirts for both men and women.


#18 Brainstorm Print and Design / $-$$

I always have to fight the urge to buy everything this husband/wife team designs. If you like this Earth poster, you should check out their Atmosphere and Ocean prints as well.


#19 AlaskanNits – Wool Socks / $

I LOVE these socks. Super comfy, made in the USA, and exclusively at Target.


#20 Sydney Hale Candle Company / $

“…We are a family owned and operated business residing in the town of Arlington, VA. We make soy candles (wax is from a renewable source grown in the USA!) in a variety of uniquely layered fragrance blends. Everything is hand-blended and poured in small batches and packaged in a style that is simple, clean and timeless. Almost all materials used are either recycled, recyclable or sustainable. As part of our business model, we donate 10% of each sale to a local animal rescue organization. ”

And how awesome is that packaging?!


#21 Goorin Hats – American Made Collection / $$$-$$$$

Everybody loves Goorin Hats, and now they are featuring a Made-in-the-USA line. I went to the Wicker Park store to check ’em out. They are definitely worth the dollars. These hats are incredibly well made and sexy. I can see them getting passed down through generations.


#22 Revolution Brewing Membership / $

“In addition to supporting your neighborhood brewery and getting a shiny new plastic card you’ll also reap tasty benefits:

  • Enjoy your beers in a special members only mug
  • Get first invite to tastings, beer dinners and other events throughout the year
  • Buy 9 growlers, get your 10th on us
  • 20% off merchandise purchases

The $25 annual membership includes your first growler of one of our house brews”


#23 Ceramic Piggy Planter / $

“All Fruit Fly Pie ceramics are made from scratch and then hand painted by me in my home studio. All products are made from either throwing on the potters wheel, slab building or slip cast from vintage ceramic molds. All glazes are non-toxic, lead free & food safe. ”


#24 LuciusArt / $$

“Show your love for The Windy City with this original print. Archival print mounted on an 8″ x 10″ stained Birch wood block (1-1/2″ deep). The print is applied and sealed with a non-toxic, water-based sealer. Stained by hand using a Mahogany finish, each wood block is signed by the artist on the back. It can easily sit on a shelf or hang on the wall.”

And definitely check out the rest of the LuciusArt shop, for other cities and animal artwork.


#25 Blanket America / $-$$

“Blanket America works to connect communities, retailers, and manufacturing to help people build a better life. We believe that everyone can give. Both businesses and nonprofits, the public and private sector, can work together to develop real solutions to end extreme poverty. Working with and for all is at the heart of what we do and, to us, is what makes us American.”


#26 The Animal Print Shop by Sharon Montrose / $-$$$$

These prints are HOT right now. Every blog I read is featuring these awesome animal prints, and rightfully so.

“Melding her passion for photography with her love of animals, Sharon Montrose’s definitive photographic style has made her one of the most sought-after commercial photographers specializing in animals.”


#27 Circa Ceramics  / $

Bought one of these bad boys at the Renegades Craft Fair last year, and it is fantastic. Quite solid – both in design and weight.  Made in Chicago!


#28 Going Underground – Subway Signs & Subway Art / $$

Cool… and you can custom create your own!


#29 Sprout Home Plants / $-$$$

Hands down my favorite place to shop for indoor plants. Sure they have outdoor plants and christmas trees when the seasons right. But their collection of indoor plants is like no other. In addition to sweet plants the also have sweet planters and a nice selection indie home accessories. Not to mention how knowledgeable and friendly the staff is.


 #30 Square One Organic Vodka / $

Crafted from 100% organic American rye.  It comes in 3 flavors: botanical, cucumber, and original. Looks like you can purchase it at any local liquor store.


#31 Forestbound / $$$-$$$$

“Forestbound uses exclusively found and salvaged textiles to create a line of durable, utilitarian tote bags. Boston-based designer, Alice Saunders, puts great effort into hunting for well-worn historic fabrics and hardware throughout New England. Many hours are dedicated to working with these unique materials to ensure every Forestbound bag becomes one of a kind.”


#32 Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics / $-$$

Words cannot describe how much I love this cosmetic company. Handmade products, beautiful design, honest business plan… ooh it’s too much to handle. They are currently featuring these awesome gift packages (shown above) pre-wrapped and all. Here is a few words from the site…

We believe in making effective products from fresh, organic* fruit and vegetables, the finest essential oils and safe synthetics.

We invent our own products and fragrances. We make them fresh by hand using little or no preservative or packaging, using only vegetarian ingredients, and tell you when they were made.

We believe in buying ingredients only from companies that do not commission tests on animalsand in testing our products on humans.

We believe in happy people making happy soap, putting our faces on our products and making our mums proud.

We believe in long candlelit baths, sharing showers, massage, filling the world with perfume and in the right to make mistakes, lose everything and start again.

We believe our products are good value, that we should make a profit and that the customer is always right.

* We also believe words like fresh and organic have honest meaning beyond marketing.


#33 Sweet Mandy B’s / $-$$

Chicago’s favorite cupcake spot, Sweet Mandy B’s, offers baking classes for kids! You can either purchase a drop-in or a 4 week session. See the site for more info.


#34 Piece Beer Growlers / $

Crafting their own delicious beer here in sweet home Chicago since 2001, Piece Brewery growlers make a perfect gift for anybody that likes a local brew with some character.  Piece beers are varied and terrific, hauling in 20+ awards over the years.  The 64 oz. growlers run $16 for new, or $12 for refills.  Oh yea, they also have some pretty spectacular pizza.  Purchase a growler for a friend and a pie for yourself – everybody’s happy.


#35 Brixton Heist Beanie / $$

“Created in 2004, the three friends behind Brixton Hats headwear draw inspiration from the music, culture and people around them. With laidback styling and clean design, Brixton Hats update traditional shapes with contemporary cool, bringing their own identity to flat caps. trilbies and straw hats.”

Hot guy not included…


#36 Smartwool Socks / $

“SmartWool® manages moisture, regulates body temperature and stays odor free. So pull up your socks, get active and have fun in the most comfortable natural fiber you can put against your skin.”

I’ll take all four please…


#37 Tonic No. 01 – Tuthilltown Bourbon Barrel Matured Maple Syrup / $

“NOBLE didn’t choose just any bourbon to create the subtly spiked edge of Tonic 01. Tuthilltown Spirits is New York’s first whiskey distillery since prohibition, distilling some of America’s most prized spirits. Their handmade bourbons, produced with locally sourced grain and fruit farmed less than 10 miles away, contain no added flavor or color and are not chill or carbon filtered. Tonic 01, originally sourced from heritage sugar shacks in the ancient maple orchards of Quebec, has a hint of raw bourbon flavor thanks to 6 to 9 months spent in New York State’s Tuthilltown Distillery’s charred American oak barrels.”


#38 New Balance / $$$-$$$$

“New Balance is the only athletic shoe company that continues to prove high-quality athletic footwear can be produced competitively in the United States. We are committed to American workers. More than 80% of these shoes are assembled in the U.S., helping New Balance to employ over 1,200 U.S. manufacturing workers.”  – Woo!

Breakdown and descriptions of manufacturing methods from the New Balance site…

Made in USA

Proudly manufactured in the USA with a minimum of 70% domestic value.

Assembled in USA

Made in U.S. factories by U.S. workers using domestic and imported materials.

US Military

New Balance is proud to be an official footwear and apparel provider of the United States Military.


#39 Ketti Camera Bag / $$$$

These handmade camera bags are so HOT they sell out in under 5 minutes when they are listed. Every Monday  at 9am PST a handful of the bags go up for sale on the site, and you would be lucky person if you can snag one before they are all gone. Good Luck!


#40 Byrd’s Never Empty Cookie Jar / $$-$$$

Ok, if you are a cookie monster like me you are going to have to sit down for this one…

“This is the ultimate gift for the Cookie Connoisseur! We’ll send a jar full of Ginger Snaps (1 lb), just in time for the holidays, and then make sure the jar is never empty for 3 months, 6 months or a full year, sending a fresh pound of a new flavor of cookies every month! Jar measures approx. 8″H x 5.5″W. Shipping is included in all prices!

January: Key Lime / February: Red Velvet / March: Scotch Oatmeal / April: Georgia Peach / May: Triple Chocolate / June: Chocolate Chip / July: Apple Crunch / August: Benne Wafers / September: Chocolate Mint / October: Pumpkin Spice / November: Black & White / December: Ginger Snaps”


#41 J. Crew Thin Military Belt / $$

“Add some military-inspired detail to jeans, chinos and shorts, to name a few. Leather. Solid brass buckle. Width: 1 1/4.”


#42 Tugboat Print Shop / $$-$$$$

“PAUL RODEN and VALERIE LUETH are the husband and wife team TUGBOAT PRINTSHOP. Since 2006, they have been working together, creating contemporary artwork through traditional printmaking. Tugboat Printshop’s goal is to use printmaking to bring original art to more people. Tugboat Printshop is based in Pittsburgh, PA. ”


#43 Arquebus Clothing / $

These shirts are pretty sweet.

“Arquebus Clothing Brand based in Brooklyn, New York is dedicated to providing designs that are self expressive and meaningful, using imagery or typography.”


#44 Vintage Stamps / $

Stocking Stuffers! I love it when I see the corner of envelopes covered in vintage stamps. Quite a nice extra touch.


#45 Portland General Store / $-$$$

“Years ago, we became very interested in sustainable living. As a part of that discovery process, Lisa happened upon some vintage soap and perfume recipe books and a collection of antique, Czechoslovakian pharmacy bottles. These were her creative inspiration! Her experimentation began with creams and bath salts and led, eventually, to today’s line of products, made from simple, natural ingredients using time-tested methods. We take no shortcuts and don’t use the fragrance oils and chemical additives which are commonly found today. Our products and their packaging have an earnest quality which comes from their hand-crafted nature and the “authenticity” we seek in our lives and what we do. This theme is resonating with a wide audience, especially in today’s tumultuous times!”

Check out their sample box and face bomb mud


#46 Burt’s Bees / $

The beloved Burt’s Bees just keeps getting better. I was excited to see the new (?) Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Creme (pictured above). Visit the site for a full line of products including men and baby products, gifts sets, and there ever popular lip balms.


#47 Maple Syrup Sampler / $

“Taste the subtle nuances that distinguish this favorite Vermont treat, from the strong and dark “Grade B”, to the mild and delicate “Fancy Grade”. Set includes Grade B, Grade A Dark, Grade A Medium, and Fancy Grade syrups.”

My knees get weak when I see gradients, so they pretty much had me when I saw the photo. Good thing they are made in the USA!


#48 Orange is the Sun / $-$$

Adorable handmade accessories with a pop. Custom orders are also available.


#49 The Poster List / $

“The Poster List is a small design company, based in sunny Long Beach California. We’ve been designing for the last 20 years and we love what we do. Typography, color, textures, photography… and some surfing, skateboarding, music and  our love of breakfast foods…. all influence and seep into our stuff. We produce and design all the posters in-house. If you are interested in a bigger size poster (18″ x 24”) or have *any* other questions, email us.


#50 ISO50 / $

Sweet vintage inspired shirts and prints from a San Francisco based artist, Scott Hansen, who is also a musician by the name Tycho.


#51 Handle with Care / $

Remember a while back when I wrote about the talented photography couple that traveled the world for their honeymoon and documented everything? Well, they’ve decided to open a shop selling prints, postcards, and more of the places they’ve been and the beauty they captured.


#52 Custom Race Track / $$$$

“These are truly works of art. Made from high quality Baltic birch plywood and matte black Formica®. The laminated pieces are cut by a CNC machine creating a precise design. The edges are smooth and we supply an easy way to mount them without nails or hooks. Select from almost every track around the world. Hang them individually or create a wall of track art. The average size is 36″ square depending upon the track shape.”


#53 Upcycled Rubber Laptop Sleeve / $$

“Minimal and environmentally responsible, this upcycled laptop sleeve is made of bike inner tubes collected from bicyclists and shops across the country. Accommodates most 15″ computers, providing them with ample padding and protection. As this is recycled product each has unique markings that add to its charm. Rubber acts as a natural water repellant.”


#54 Mojo Spa / $-$$$

This wicker park spa features over 200 handmade bath & beauty products derived from natural food ingredients and aromatherapy blends. Go on a girls mani/pedi spa date or browse online. I’ve stopped in a few times and I can never get enough of the sweets-inspired-body-treats.


And thats it folks! Please contact me if you have any questions/comments/concerns…

3 thoughts on “The NIC108 Buy American Gift Guide 2011

  1. Awesome work. Thanks for putting this together, it has inspired me to buy American this holiday season ❤

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