Shopping With Ken revisits River City
Well, here we are Near Northians. Days, just days, remain until the arrival of Christmas. And yet those of us who share the chronic curse known as procrastination likely have yet to wrap a single present, primarily because we have yet to make a single purchase, right?
In addition there are the shoppers who begin early with a couple of buys. Teeming with confidence they kind of coast along though early December until suddenly realizing scant time remains before the shopping ops come to a close and much of their list is untouched.
The staff of Shopping With Ken (aka SWK) can not only sympathize with you, we empathize because we have been in the same leaky boat and have been known to be frantically floundering about on Christmas Eve, hoping for an intervention of inspiration.
Today we not only present a plethora of presenting possibilities, but opportunities that do not involve heading down Alpine Avenue or fighting the traffic at Woodland or Rivertown malls. The following finds are each within walking distance of each other and nestled in the wonderful downtown Newaygo shopping district.
Newaygo Brewing Co.
Not only is NewBrew a much favored stop for those of us who enjoy the awesome adult beverages they have on hand (*Seven Cousins IPA) and their unique and pleasing menu (*Buddha Bowl) but they are also an ideal spot for gifting. There are many NewBrew regulars who would enjoy the practicality of their triple insulated mini keg style growlers to be sure, but the Brewery’s swag goes far beyond that with cozy crew neck sweatshirts, bright colored t shirts, cuffed and uncuffed beanies, crowler and wine bottle koozies, stickers and more.
All their retail stuff is 15% off, If you buy one bottle of wine, you get half off a second one and should you go with gift cards (always a judicious move) a $50 purchase also gets you a $10 card that you could stick in a sock or while there use the free card to relax with a glass or two of some seriously savory suds because shopping can be a grueling task.
This well stocked store provides an eclectic array of items to be sure, but if you have a cottage or cabin dweller on your list drop in on Brian and Alyssa Locke’s place. We loved the lake art featuring our local waterways, particularly the clocks. They have a large selection of coffee mugs (always a good fallback item because if you change your mind or find something else you can keep it for yourself), kitchen gadgetry and we really felt attracted to the wide variety of jigsaw puzzles. After all, during our far too long winter every home should involve an ongoing effort at completing one (or 4) of the larger ones by spring.
Northwoods General Store
What a find for gift seekers! Cool, cool stuff at every turn and the veritable motherlode of Yeti products which will make you a hero no matter who the giftee might be. Being a septuagenarian who might be a bit out of the loop, we learned about Muck Boots (50% off) tart melts and Cotopaxi T Shirts (buy one get one half off). If you know someone well enough to get them underwear they have the ever popular Saxx line that some have called ‘life changing’.
Flying Bear Books & Creperie
The hottest of the downtown hot spots has gifted the community with a wide variety of artistry with music, art, poetry, comedy and dance all the while serving up the culinary creations that emerge from their kitchen known as to-die-for crepes.
Oh and they have books. Aisles and seemingly miles of books in a wide swath of genres with both new and gently pre read offerings. To SWK, one cannot go wrong with gifting a book. They’re easy to wrap (we have an issue with wrapping), cover a variety of interests, and can be a way to introduce a friend to a favorite author you think they might like. SWK once gave occasional N3 contributor Charles Chandler a Jim Harrison book and he has since devoured nearly all of the Michigan writer’s works.
Suggestion: Should you have a true bibliophile on your list a gift certificate here is highly recommended. Why? Because for a true book lover part of the adventure is in the hunt.
New and used items galore with over 50 vendors supplying the store with their wares. Located in the old Masonic Temple this is a prime spot for discovery shopping, where you enter with barely a clue what to get a particular person and find something that just seems to fit for them. Like the Gerber Baby Doll seen above. Can’t get that at Target.
Downtown is also home to Parsley’s, if you have a fisherperson on your list, 37 North where one can find sporting apparel and recreational buys, Jerkie’s because for many no Christmas would be complete without jerky in your sock, and Sui Generis if your giftee’s desires are home furnishings (few would be disappointed by receiving a recliner).
There you go folks. We’ll be wrapping things up (other than presents) this week so if you have a final suggestion or two let us know.
And get going on the last minute shopping because we have some serious reveling in front of us.
Oh and here’s a link to seeing the story behind SWK’s wrapping woes...
Story and photos by Tara Hefferan
Newaygo Bands brought holiday magic with its annual Winter Concert on Thursday, December 14. The musical extravaganza featured four student bands across Newaygo Middle and High Schools, each showcasing their musical talents to the capacity crowd.
The High School Jazz Band opened the show with “It Swigs Upon a Midnight Clear.” Their rendition enchanted the audience, setting the evening’s festive mood. Then, Director of Bands, Branden Listh, took to the stage, welcoming the community and expressing joy with the student musicians’ hard work and dedication.
Mr. Listh then introduced Assistant Band Director Megan Funk, who led the 6th Grade Band in its inaugural performance together. The students began with the first song they learned in class, “Rain, Rain.” They then progressed through rousing renditions of “Hot Cross Buns,” “Go Tell Aunt Rhodie,” “Good King Wenceslas,” “Jingle Bells,” “Jolly Old St. Nick,” ending the show with “The Dreidel Song.” The order of tunes highlighted the 6th graders evolving skills. As Mr. Listh noted, the 6th graders began their musical journey only a few months ago, with no knowledge of their instruments or the music, but now they can perform for the community.
As the 6th graders left the stage, and the combined 7th and 8th Grade Band took their places, the High School Jazz Band played a moving rendition of “Silent Night.” Then, the 7th and 8th graders claimed the spotlight, with Mr. Listh conducting. Building on the energy of the previous performances, the 7th and 8th Grade Band played three upbeat numbers: “Christmas Encore,” “Christmas Angels,” and “Santa’s Blizzard Escape!” All three tunes demonstrated the young musicians’ developing skills.
As the stage was set for the High School Symphonic Band, the Jazz Band played its two final songs. “Deck the Halls with All Sorts of Funky” and “Trombones Under the Tree” energized the room, with several concert goers dancing along to the familiar holiday music.
The High School Symphonic Band gave the final performance of the night, crowning the evening with three songs that demonstrated tremendous range and talent. “Wintertide” was up first, followed by “Celebrations for Christmas,” and concluding with “An American Christmas.” The Symphonic Band’s sophisticated and polished performance brought the crowd to its feet, with several in the audience offering standing ovations.
The Winter Concert is special, bringing the middle and high school bands together to showcase the immense growth that happens over the course of their musical education at Newaygo. Moreover, the concert marks the specific culmination of individual and collective practices and rehearsals. Said Mr. Listh, “The students did such a fantastic job. The middle school was able to showcase their three months of work. The high school was able to put together their pieces in only one month, and they pulled them together. The students' attitudes have been excellent this year, making sharing the joy of making music enjoyable. The kids have out-performed themselves this year and are a joy to work with."
The Newaygo Bands program has been very successful over the years, regularly earning top spots in local and state contests. Most recently, the Newaygo Marching Band took 3rd place in November’s MCBA State Finals at Ford Field. In the coming months, the Jazz Band will perform at the Alma College Jazz Festival and the Hastings Jazz Festival. Meanwhile, the Symphonic Band is preparing for the District Festival in the first week of March.
By Ken DeLaat
Ever since that Christmas Eve long ago (circa 1957) when I was almost certain to have caught a glimpse of him in action there has been a personal desire to shed a little light on the enigmatic world of…you guessed it…Santa Claus.
In many ways it led to pursuing an interest in journalism with one goal always in the back of my mind. An interview with The Big Guy.
After countless requests for a sit down over the years, each denied via form letter, N3 got notice recently that old SC himself would be able to squeeze in a few minutes from his mind-boggling busy seasonal schedule.
We found him relaxing in his chair having just knocked down a bit of cocoa after prepping for yet another appearance.
It seems we see you almost everywhere these days.With the reindeer resting for the Big Day how do you travel?
With the main 9 reindeer always in training for Christmas Eve, I use my other reindeer. This also keeps those reindeer in shape if they are needed to replace another reindeer.
Although your main job involves a once a year endeavor you obviously need to be in good shape to perform a delivery day that would make Amazon blush. What kind of physical regimen keeps you ready for the task?
Mrs. Claus helps me stay slim and trim with a healthy diet; especially after eating all those cookies on Christmas Eve. I also help out the elves making toys and mucking out the reindeer stables
Is it true like in the movie Miracle on 34th street you’re fluent in all languages? If so,which was hardest to learn?
There are over 7,000 languages spoken on Earth today. Through Christmas magic I am able to understand and speak the language of the country I am in at the time. The Christmas magic is a big help as in Papua New Guinea, a country on the border between Asia and Australia with historically numerous trade relations in large parts of Asia, Australia and Oceania there are over 800 individual languages there.
Are the elves you employ specialists in certain areas or generalists? Are they unionized? How are they recruited for the job?
Most of our elves are specialists as they enjoy making and creating certain things, or other specialties. We also have some generalist elves with massive skill sets who can pitch in when an elf gets ill or is on vacation. They are not unionized and have never asked to be unionized. Almost all of the elves are recruited through other elves at the North Pole. We have numerous large families of elves here.
Living in an isolated area with an army of elves, how do you and Mrs Claus handle any of the inevitable arguments that can arise in long term relationships?
Well, mainly we never go to bed mad at each other. We have been together for over 400 years and that has enabled us to work as a great team.
Any truth to the rumor that Superman’s fortress is a North Pole neighbor? And speaking of life at the NP do you and Mrs. Claus ever vacation in warmer climes during the offseason? If so, where do you go?
Superman's Fortress of Solitude is very well hidden. We respect his need for peace and quiet away from the world's troubles and leave him alone most of the time. Mrs C and I do like to vacation in warmer climates. Since we get recognized even when not wearing red and white, we select out of the way places so we can relax and rejuvenate. So, I'm going to keep where we go a secret if you don't mind.
When it comes to cookies do you have a favorite? How about milk. Prefer whole, skim or lactose free?
My two favorite cookies are store bought and homemade ones. With all the cookies I eat on Christmas Eve I stick with skim milk.
Referencing the Rudolph animated story…is there still an island of misfit toys or has quality control improved?
There are always times when a toy may get put together wrong and we have kept up with modern quality control methods. We fix the toys on the spot and they go to deserving children's homes. Thankfully, we no longer need the Island of Misfit Toys.
Speaking of Rudy, does he participate each year or is he held back for more challenging weather?
Since we are travelling the world Ruudolph always travels with us. As a Michigan resident, you know how quickly the weather can change, don't you?
We understand music is important to you.What song that features you is your favorite?
Mrs Claus and I love all Christmas music from many countries; and one of my favorite English songs would be "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".
Has there been any major shift in the Naughty/Nice list? Any significant increases on either side?
A little known secret is that I only keep a Nice List. Half the work of keeping two separate lists. The percentage on the nice lists stays mostly the same.
Speaking of the List, can you give a hint which side Lil and I might fall?
Hmmmmm; right now Lil is definitely on the nice list. As for you, you know what you need to improve on, don't you?
Anything you’d care to add?
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all.
KD Post script: Well, what can I say? He was kind, he was jolly, he was everything one might expect and the twinkle in his eye never wavered.
But after all...
He was Santa.
Final Fremont stop yields treasure trove of gift giving
Perhaps the ultimate ‘buy local’ enterprise is the NCCA-Artsplace “Holiday Artist Market” in downtown Fremont. Those familiar with this oasis of creativity have likely already paid a visit to this emporium of artistry. However, if you have never been through their doors during this time of year you have been missing out on the opportunity to be gifting some truly unique items to the favorites on your list all from local and regional artists and makers.
Here at Shopping With Ken we can’t say enough about the Holiday Artist Market known as HAM (to nobody but it sounded funny) so we’ll let the photos do the talking for us.
Here’s what the folks in charge have to say.
Make your selections from handmade functional or decorative pottery, unique paintings, prints, textiles, candles, photography, wood turning, sculpture and jewelry. Decorate your tree this year with a variety of handmade ornaments or give them as the perfect holiday gift!
Whether you’re looking for fine hand made jewelry for the special someone, new ornaments for the tree or an original painting, you’ll find it all at NCCA-Artsplace Holiday Artist Market. And you can give the gift of creativity this holiday season with NCCA-Artsplace’s gift cards available in any denomination and can be used towards original art and future classes.
Here's the skinny:
The NCCA-Holiday Artist Market will be open through December 30. Regular hours are Monday- Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
For more information stop by or call NCCA-Artsplace, 13 E. Main, Fremont, 231.924.4022 or check out www.ncca-artsplace.org.
And here are the promised photos.
Here are some of our picks for events and music happening hereabouts.
Marquita B and Patrick E will rule the stage at RStop Cafe’s Thursday night music series from 6:15-9pm
Also Thursday, 5-9pm Sip & Shop at Dunneback & Girls Farm Market where they will be giving away two tickets to the TranSiberian Orchestra concert coming to Van Andel on the 26th.
Fremont has their Christmas Stroll Friday starting with the magical Illumination Parade at 6pm. Downtown stores open, holiday related activities and, of course, Santa himself.
Christmas in White Cloud starts Saturday at 9am and runs to 1pm. Lots of activities in the downtown area.
It’s the second week of Snow Child at Stage Door in White Cloud
Friday, Dec. 8th, Saturday, Dec. 9th
Shows will begin at 7:00PM with doors opening at 6:30 PM Adults $12
Students/Seniors $10 Families $25.
Wreath Making at Howard Christensen Nature Center Saturday 1 pm
Wreath and Trimmings: $20 Non-Members / $15 Members
There will also be a raffle and a Christmas Yard Sale.
The Freuenthal in Muskegon is putting on the Nutcracker Saturday at 3pm.
Know of an event coming soon? Contact us at info@nearnorthnow.
Fremont is a hotbed of Christmas Cheer this week, what with that great parade and the stroll Friday.SWK hit up a trio of their downtown stores to check out what gifting opportunities may be ripe for the picking on Stroll night.
Our first stop was at the former site of the Print Shop downtown. Recently, Sara Wood opened the Holiday Pop Up Market, a multi vendor operation allowing local crafters a place to put their wares on display. There are 20 local vendors in the shop with a wide variety of primarily handmade items that would pique the interest of gifters looking for variety. We were captivated by the typewriter, an item whose one time role as a necessity has morphed into becoming a collectors piece. Just ask Tom Hanks whose collection is reputed to be in the hundreds.
We had never been to the SBH Gift Shop and were pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of items proprietor Jennifer Kolberg has on hand. We were quite taken with the imaginative snow globes as well as the art works using rocks and Lake Mich driftwood. There are a variety of toys, games, and stocking stuffer items and the Willow Tree creche makes for an impressive display. They have a selection of wind chimes, always a good backup gift because regardless how you feel about wind chimes they won’t be ignored and strike an impressive tone when lifted out of the box.
Many other gifting possibilities here though my choice would be the cool sled with skates slung over it that graces the entry.
CBD Store of Michigan’s Rod Glupker is always looking for ways to innovate and provide a plethora of products for his customers. The hemp based clothing is a way cool addition, particularly the hemp hoodies, and visitors will be surprised at how many products are derived from hemp.
All who are fortunate enough to have 4 legged family members should know that a huge percentage of sales at the shop is for pet related items. Got one of those delightful dogs who might still be a bit on the hyper side? There are plenty of dog owners in similar plights who utilize the calming treats to mellow out their fave quadruped.
Beyond the clothing jewelry, hats, bags, essential oils, coffee, tea, lotions, you can purchase a $100 gift card and get a $25 gift card free or purchase a $50 gift card and get a $10 gift card free.
They are also selling Koeze Nuts & Chocolates, to help raise money for The Lions Club of Fremont. I’ve been a Koeze fan since my childhood days in Wyoming Park and I gotta say…
Go with the cashews.
That’s a wrap for this episode of Shopping With Ken.
Got an idea of a place we should check out?
Give us a shout at email@example.com and we’ll check it out.
That is, unless it’s way too weird… even for us.
Fat chance, though.
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