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If you haven’t already noticed, I’m taking on a new page to my blog that is currently entitled ‘local specialty shops.’ I haven’t found any other list of independent specialty stores around the Harrisburg region so I decided to build one myself.

It’s still very early stage but please feel free to leave your favorite shop in the comment section, I’ll be happy to add them.  I just wanted to build a place where people could learn about all the fantastic little niche shops we have in the greater Harrisburg region; from food and drink to home decor and clothing retailers. There’s just no reason to shop national stores with all that’s available to us here!

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Whether you’re looking for last minute holiday gifts, stockpiling future birthday presents or just want to reward yourself for all that hard work you’ve put in lately (of course we believe you), you don’t have to settle with a boring best buy gift card. You honestly don’t have to try too hard or look too far for some creative gifts that are sure to please. I’m personally a huge proponent of the whole buy local movement, it’s just a smart way to support your local economy and get more for your money, gifts are no different. More likely than not, wherever you live there is a unique little gift shop or food store, a local winery, a mom and pop shop that makes something you’ve never seen at Walmart.

In the greater Harrisburg area there exists a number of unique shops that are sure to be enjoyed, remembered, and most importantly used. The National Retail Association estimates that nearly 20% of gift cards vanut-020are never even used- pity. Instead try the Virginia Nut Shop, a family owned nut and candy specialty store since 1959 offering the absolute tastiest varieties of snacks, along with their famoustarnation37s ‘blisters.’ How about some incredible sauces? Torchbearer Sauces have a number of unique flavors for any type of cooking or food that requires something sticky. Harry’s House of Heat is another local sauce shop that offers some intense hot sauces for that extra tough guy uncle of yours (he will cry, trust me).  You can even find international gifts right here in Central PA, Oxford Hall Celtic Shop and Josie’s German Food Market and Delicatessen both offer authentic ethnic groceries, baked goods, sweets, and much more. Sinful baked goods are never hard to find around Harrisburg, my personal favorite is Ciao! Bakery, bring some peanut-butter truffles from this shop and you’re guaranteed to make friends at that holiday party. Of course, you can never go wrong with the gift of award winning wine, West Hanover Winery is a local business that is worthy of sharing (responsibly of course).

The list can really go on and on, please feel free to add your own favorite specialty shop if I’ve missed it. The idea here is simple: give something that actually has some thought or meaning behind it, give something that represents your locale, give anything besides that boring best buy gift card.

It has recently occurred to me after randomly stumbling upon a few wonderful ethnic grocery stores that Harrisburg has quite a few shops unfortunately existing under the radar for most people. As such, I’m starting a list of the shops that I’ve visited personally or am aware of around Harrisburg, please feel free to leave a comment with any additions you might have as I know I have probably missed a few. These places are truly unique and well worth trying for something new or unusual.

Choe’s Oriental Food Market, 829 State Street, Lemoyne. (Asian)

Dong My Asian Special Foods, Westshore Farmer’s Market, 900 Market Street, Lemoyne. 21

European Restaurant and Food Market, 5202 Simpson Ferry Road, Camp Hill. (Eastern Europe)

Fraulie’s German Delicatessen and Import Shop, 224 S 3rd Sreet, Lemoyne.

Fuji Do Japanese Market, 1701 Paxton Street, Harrisburg.

Goldy Market, 110 Old York Road, New Cumberland. (Eastern European)

Hampden Grocer – Asian Indian Grocery, 4704 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg.

India Groceries and Fashion, 2650 Walnut Street, Harrisburg.

Josie’s German Food & Deli, 5238 East Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg.

Kim’s Oriental Food, 2501 Paxton Street, Harrisburg. (Asian)

La Kasbah Deli, 913 North 2nd Street, Harrisburg. (Moroccan)

Landau Jewelers & Antiques, Asian American Market, 3507 Simpson Ferry Road, Camp Hill. (Vietnamese/Asian)

Little Saigon Food Market, 2800 Paxton Street, Harrisburg. (Vietnamese/Asian)

Madina Halal Meat and Grocery, 407 North Front Street, Harrisburg. (Middle Eastern/North African)

Mid East Market, 829 State Street, Lemoyne. l2

Oxford Hall Celtic Shop, 315 Bridge Street, New Cumberland. (Brittish Isles)

Saint Thomas Village Store and Oriental Market, 5978 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg. (Filipino/Asian)

Shab’s Pita Stroller, 2269 Paxton Church Road, Harrisburg. (Mediterranean)

Tu Do Food and Gift, 2223 Derry Street, Harrisburg. (Vietnamese/Asian)

Tres Hermanos Taqueria, 216 N Front Street, Steelton. (Mexican/Latino)



Want 15% off food at Bricco? $2 off Senators tickets? How about buy one get one free admission for all three of Harrisburg’s theaters? These deals and many more are available to you with a Harrisburg Young Professionals passport, free with HYP membership.

So membership must be pretty expensive right? Nope. Join HYP for a whole year for just $30. That includes admission to weekly HYP events as well as the discount card.

The Harrisburg Young Professionals are celebrating their 10th year as “a group of young, active, civic-minded professionals who have a clear vision of Harrisburg’s future as a great place to live, work, play, and shop.” Joining the organization is an excellent way to make new friends and contacts, familiarize yourself with the city, get a passport discount card, and find some fun.

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Check out their website for upcoming events and more discounts: HYP.org

This past weekend, Saturday to be exact, I went to the Saturday’s Market off 230 East in Middletown. I was quite excited to be going as it took me about 4 years to understand from the billboard on 83 north what and where this market existed. It’s one of those billboards that you prepare yourself for as you pass it because it has so much information on it you really never understand anything about it. And I never really did glean any information about the market off the billboard, I just got frustrated enough to goodsearch (no body googles anymore) for the the place and found a primitive website with all the information I needed. Interestingly enough, the website was SaturdaysMarket.com, who would have thought?

Anyway, I finally get to this place and I’ll happily vouch that it’s worth the visit, or at least one. Some of the vendors in this place appear to have been born and raised inside their respective vendor space. However, there are a number of great food vendors and you can really find some interesting goods there, especially if you’re into salvation army type gear. I had an extra key made for my car from a gentleman who has been hand cutting keys for 37 years. Total price: $1.50. Not too shabby, although the market generally is a little run down. The website boasts over 300 vendors inside as well as a number out in the parking lot, and I would say it may be nearly accurate. All in all, the visit was worth it, and I would recommend giving it a try, even if your goal is just to photograph sweet mullets.

One day after watching 4 straight hours of CSPAN I came to a startling  realization of profound understanding about myself. I hate boredom. It’s so boring. I wasn’t sure if there really was anything more interesting to do in south central PA than take notes on the latest happenings inside congress and read Hardy Boys books in my basement. Valiantly, I embarked on a quest to find something more entertaining than the free channels on TV. What I uncovered I’ve made into a list. That list is now the new home page on the website www.ExperienceHarrisburg.com. I am always looking to extend the list, but for the time being I am pretty satisfied that if you can’t find something new to do from the links and events already listed on ExperienceHarrisburg.com you are nesting in a bed of lies.

True story.

Haven’t quite be enable to put down your bud light for a fine wine as of yet? Never really enjoyed the taste of mom’s wine? No worries, a visit to your local winery might surprise your palate.

I never really enjoyed wine myself, that is, until I discovered the incredible variety of wines that exist and how delicious many of them can be. And, while you might raise some eyebrows by trying a sip of every different wine in a liquor store to find one you like, it’s encouraged and usually free at your local winery. After a few visits to local wineries just for something new to do with my girlfriend, I quickly realized that there is a wine for everyone’s taste, whether you like dry, sweet, sugary, aged, white, red, rose, the list goes on and on. The moral of the story is, give it a try and be amazed at how you take to one or two of the wines you might taste at a local winery.

Luckily for residents of the mid-state, there are a number of wineries you can visit that are very close by:

My favorite winery: West Hanover Winery www.westhanoverwinery.net

Other wineries I personally recommend:Nissley Vineyards www.nissleywine.com, Naylor Wine Cellars www.naylorwine.com, and Cullari Vineyards www.cullarivinyards.samsbiz.com/.

logo.gifBut, you can find wineries state-wide at www.pennsylvaniawine.com/ – an excellent website. So, as I always say; buy local, support your local winery, and educate yourself on some of the many fine tasting wines out there, you’d be surprised!

And yet another sweet event has come to my attention – Music Friday – a night of music and shopping for a cause.

Check it out – http://www.lancasterarts.com/_files/live/MusicFriday_web_download.pdf

Basically there is going to be music at 25 different venues around downtown Lancaster Nov 30th from 5-9pm. Galleries and stores around the downtown are bringing in musicians to provide a warm holiday ambiance as you shop – and many participating shops are donating a portion of the evening’s proceeds to Music For Everyone.

If you’ve never been to downtown Lancaster, make a night out of it- there really is a lot to do and see. And this event gives you one more option for supporting local businesses this holiday season, not to mention having fun while you shop!

I’ll see you there!

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Artisan Marketplace of Perry County

Support your local artisans! Here’s an event that might go under the radar but I wanted to promote because it supports the local artisans from around the region. The Artisan Marketplace is an event that is sponsored by HACC’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Harrisburg Market Keystone Innovation Zone to allow local artists to display their works for sale in the nationally recognized gallery in Newport, PA for free. It gives the artists great exposure that they otherwise might not be able to afford, even with the great amount of talent that they represent. What can you expect to see? Everything from Jewelry, woodwork, painting, stained glass, and knitted accessories will be available for purchase.

 

The event will be open to the public until December 22nd from 9-4 Mon-Thurs., 9-7 on Fridays, and 9-3 on Saturdays. Take the kids, the wife, or just go by yourself to pick up some unique gifts for this holiday season. You’ve got to feel good about buying local, and you’ll be amazed at the talent right here in Central PA, especially Perry County!  header_02.gif

 

More information on Perry County Council of the Arts website: http://www.PerryCountyArts.org

One of my intentions in creating this blog is to inform others about interesting events and happenings around the mid-state. I would certainly be remiss not to inform you about the PA Christmas & Gift Show, taking place Nov. 28th-Dec. 2nd, 2007 at the PA FarmShow Complex and Expo Center. The official website: http://www.pachristmasshow.com/

I would encourage anyone who appreciates supporting the local economy to save your holiday shopping for this event! With over 500 vendors you are sure to find something creative and of high quality for that special someone (and definitely more original than that sweater from wal-mart).  treegrn.gif

For your convenience I have already added the event to Eventful.com – join the central PA group and bookmark the Harrisburg Calendar to receive automatic email reminders about the event so you won’t forget! Shop local and have fun doing it!

If this event is anything like the PA Food and Beverage Show I attended a few weeks ago I can guarantee a great couple days of fun, giveaways, and free samples. Where else can you get all your holiday shopping done in one place? Not to mention the entertainment that will be going on. Check out the website and mark your calendars!