Give gifts that pop with York’s personality this holiday season. From handcrafted jewelry, knitwear, and holiday decor to home-cooked treats, YRK Pop: Merry Marketplace is your destination on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 26, for handmade gifts for everyone on your list.
When you shop small and local, you have the opportunity to connect with the artisans behind the products on a personal level. The crafters will not only help you pick out the perfect presents, but also tell you the stories that inspired each piece.
YRK Pop: Merry Marketplace showcases items from close to 30 vendors and small businesses in a downtown York shopping experience. Look for our YRK Pop Gift Guide for a preview of the treasures waiting to be uncovered this season. You can pick up your copy at several locations in York, Lancaster and Harrisburg starting Saturday, Nov. 19, one week before the marketplace event.
YRK Pop: Merry Marketplace will run from noon to 5 p.m. It’s the perfect opportunity to discover the passion that drives our community’s creatives, such as YRK Pop participants Story Supply Co. and Kneedles and Leaves knitwear.
Storytelling to Save Lives
Story Supply Co. (SSC) is your one-stop shop for distinct stationery, pencils, supply kits, apparel and notebooks designed by local creators. Mike Hawthorne, artist behind Deadpool comics, crafted SSC’s most recent line of notebooks. In addition to helping shoppers tell their stories in style, SSC’s supply sales benefit underserved communities as well as other small businesses.
“I witnessed firsthand some people were never told you can write,” SSC founder and manager Vito Grippi explains. He’s currently a professor at York College of Pennsylvania, but Grippi’s past experience teaching at the York County Youth Development Center, Rock Band Songwriting Camp and a few area libraries made him realize the need for tutoring and supplies in underserved communities.
“I didn’t want to make something just for the sake of making it,” Grippi says. In order to help children tell their stories, Grippi and co-founder Gabriel Dunmire partnered with several branches of 826, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students ages 6 to 18 improve their expository and creative writing skills. Through their partnership with 826, members of SSC distribute writing supplies to underserved communities across the United States. For every Story Supply Kit purchased, another kit is donated to a child with a story to tell.
As members of SSC help children across the country, they also take special interest in York. “Our goal was to benefit the York community, but we did it backwards,” Grippi adds. “We’ve grown in the way that we’re doing things more locally now.” SSC produces the literary magazine STORY, which gives local writers and artists the opportunity to publish their works. SSC also established their new sketchbook giveaway program with the York City School District.
“We’re a community-driven brand,” Grippi says. “We think about that instead of just how to make money.”
Small Business, Big Gratification
In addition to launching the sketchbook program, SSC recently began producing custom T-shirts. Grippi is avid about manufacturing his products through socially conscious small businesses in the United States.
“The T-shirts are produced by a no-harm company,” Grippi says. “The chemicals aren’t poisonous. We know what the materials started from.” Similarly, SSC’s pencils are manufactured by a modest company in Tennessee that uses 100 percent hydropower and leaves a zero-carbon footprint.
Although Grippi knew he couldn’t manufacture all of SSC’s products within the city, he stresses, “Getting things made in York was really important to us. We printed our supplies at Caskey Group in York because there are people behind it that you can actually see.” Grippi notes that by working with other small businesses, “We see the benefits of spending the money and how it impacts the builder.”
A Place for Us to Share Our Stories
He gets a similar satisfaction from selling and shopping small and local. “When shopping small, we can connect our purchases with some kind of story or some other motive behind them,” Grippi says. At such a personal level, “It’s easy to realize there are people, actual human beings, making these things.”
Grippi especially enjoys marketplaces. “I get a sense of gratification when I see people using and talking about the supplies,” he states. “When you get too big, you lose that connection and gratification.”
In fact, Grippi’s favorite part about marketplaces is connecting with people. “I like talking to people. I like to see that they’re nerdy like I’m nerdy,” he adds with a laugh. “Markets allow us to tell our story in person.”
He hopes that everyone will come out to YRK Pop: Merry Marketplace and discover the stories SSC and the other makers have to tell. He notes that at the event, you can connect with crafters at a personal level while “finding gifts you can’t find shopping online.”
Inspired by Nature and Stitched with Love
Kneedles and Leaves Knitwear is home to handcrafted scarves, sweaters, hats, mittens and more — the perfect accessories to warm your hands, heads and hearts this winter.
The foundation for Kneedles and Leaves was based on a love for knitting and nature. “Much of my inspiration comes from my family and the outdoors, specifically trees,” owner and founder Kristen Reilly explains. “My father is a landscaper by profession. Growing up, I spent a lot of time outdoors around various trees.”
Reilly is so inspired by the outdoors that each item in her shop is named after a different type of tree. “I came to find their unique characteristics and steady roots to be one of the most inspiring and reassuring sights in life,” she says. After her business took off on Etsy in 2015, Reilly quickly began sharing her inspiration and reassurance with people around the world.
Shopping Small and Keeping It Cozy
As her business expands, “I get the constant challenge to never stop creating,”
Reilly says. “It may sound daunting to some, but I have found no greater feeling than dreaming up an idea and making it happen with my own two hands. It’s not always easy, but it’s very rewarding to see your dreams come to life and be worn by others.”
She believes that there’s something special about owning a small business that makes all of the hard work worthwhile. “For my business in particular, it is a very special thing to use the talents I have to bring a little extra joy and coziness to my customer’s lives.”
When people shop at small businesses and marketplaces, she adds, they’re helping artists and artisans live out their dreams of sharing their creations. “We can’t keep doing what we’re doing without our customers,” she notes. “Plus, the products you receive when you shop small business are made of the highest quality and lots of love!”
Merriness in the Marketplace
Reilly is grateful for the opportunity to share her creations at events such as YRK Pop. “There’s so much creativity and hard work that comes together for a sweet shopping experience,” she says. “I’ve lived in York all my life, so anytime an organization puts together an event like YRK Pop to bring attention to the small business and handmade scene, I’m in support.”
Reilly encourages the community to visit her and other featured artisans on Nov. 26. “Who doesn’t love receiving a unique locally made, handmade gift?”
Story by Brandi Mummert for YRK Magazine