What is the Alternative Gift Market?

A different kind of shopping experience…

Shop for gifts that “share” by fairly compensating artisans in developing nations.  At the Market, you will discover fairly-traded handicrafts, foods, toys, clothing and more!  Sale of these products promotes social and economic progress both here and abroad.

Shop for gifts that “share” by providing for people’s basic needs of food, shelter, and medical care.  You can choose gifts of donations to non-profit organizations with established track records of helping people and the environment.  For the cost of a video game you could provide blankets to a family of five displaced by a disaster.  For the price of a pound of gourmet coffee you could provide seeds and tools to an impoverished farm family trying to feed themselves.  Honor friends and family with donations to causes that fit their values!

Need a gift bag for your chosen gift?  You can purchase eco-friendly, reusable fabric gift bags of all sizes and for all occasions.  A staggering $5 billion worth of gift wrap is tossed in the trash each year.  Reusable gift bags save natural resources and money too.  All proceeds from the sale of gift bags will go to Solid Ground, assisting low-income and homeless families working toward self-sufficiency.

Gifts that “share” are perfect for teachers, co-workers, relatives and friends.  Gifts such as a Church World Service blanket or school kit donation, a jar of berry jam or packet of wild rice from one of Minnesota’s Chippewa reservations, or a donation for children’s books at Common Hope School in Guatemala are wonderful solutions for parents facing the teacher gift dilemma that arises each year.  Many shoppers return with stories of how much teachers appreciate gifts that benefit so many others in need around the world.  Other shoppers are delighted by the gift bags and talk of how they have “revolutionized” their annual wrapping dilemma.  And countless shoppers comment on the interesting assortment of artisan crafts and enjoy reading the artisan stories that are included on the tags for many products.  Shopping at the Market broadens horizons for both gift givers and recipients.

The Story of Reusable Gift Bags:  Quadruple Blessings!

One small idea– to make reusable gift bags – has become an amazing endeavor that keeps many women at First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater busy all year, shopping for thrift store fabric bargains, collecting cords and ribbon, cutting, sewing, stringing, and marking bags for sale at the annual Alternative Gift Market, held the weekend before Thanksgiving each year.  And these many volunteers are delighted to be able to donate all proceeds from Bag sales to Solid Ground.

When the idea was presented about 12 years ago, only a small number of bags were offered for sale, bringing in about $60 which was donated to Solid Ground at the suggestion of a church member.  A small stack of material was put on a table in the narthex, with few instructions given except to make cloth bags.  Wheels started turning in the minds of the seamstresses of the church, and we were off!  Each year the bag supply has grown, expanding from Christmas theme bags only to a festive array of patterns, sizes and styles, including kids’ and children’s birthday bags, baby gift bags, Valentine, Easter and other holiday theme bags, masculine bags, ultra feminine bags, and even bags for your favorite pet!  Most of the bags are now made with a double drawstring, and complimentary gift cards are provided with each bag purchased.  Satchel style bags are also available, which can be used for grocery shopping and as a general carryall.

In 2017, First Presbyterian was able give a gift of $1,250 to Solid Ground. All time and materials are cheerfully donated, and the product we create saves our earth’s resources as well as being functional and attractive.  Customers at the Alternative Gift Market keep coming back each year to buy our bags because they have discovered the convenience and efficiency of reusable wrapping.  A gift presented in a gift bag is a quadruple blessing:  the gift itself, the hand crafted reusable bag, the “green” effect of saving the earth by eliminating paper waste, and the monetary donation to Solid Ground that the bag represents.  Hooray for Gift Bags!