I consider myself lucky to write the Up Close & Personal feature for Electric City. The people I meet open my eyes to incredible talent and kindness here in NEPA, and I make many friends in the process. I have witnessed first-hand skilled artisans pour their heart and soul into what they do. I looked through past Up Close & Personal articles and put together a guide to help you find the perfect gift for all the important people in your life. This holiday season, know that when you buy from any of the people below, each product is made with exceptional love and care.
Accessorizor. Give a piece of personalized jewelry to a special someone. AOS Metals, 527 Bogart Place, Scranton, features handmade and custom-made jewelry that can be personalized on the spot. Whether you want a name, sports team or other sentimental word stamped on, owner and metalsmith Kari Johnson will help you come up with the perfect piece.
“Sometimes … A client will tell me it has to do with a pet they’ve lost or a child they’ve lost. It’s just these moments that you’re able to create for someone as a memory, and it tugs at my heartstrings, and to be a part of something that special and to make something for someone that they’re going to hold that close to their heart,” said Johnson during an interview in March.
Scent lover. Do you know someone who loves perfume, but is picky about the perfect scent? Give a custom perfume experience and let that person design his or her own perfume. NOTE Fragrances, located at 401 Spruce St., Scranton, and at 312 S. State St., Clarks Summit, features owner, Danielle Fleming’s own creations of body butters, candles, lip balms and perfumes, but she is also there to help customers create a special scent that is unique and personal.
“We’ve had people make fragrances to connect to loved ones who passed away or for a loved one. That is the powerful effect of aroma and how it works with our brain. Some have been brought to tears going through the experience,” said Fleming during an interview in April.
Up-and-coming musician. Give the gift of music lessons. Tyler Dempsey is a professional drummer and drum instructor who teaches out of his home and at private studios in Wilkes-Barre and Moscow. For drum lessons with Tyler Dempsey, visit tylerdempseymusic.com.
A professional musician and DJ, Neil Nicastro has been teaching guitar for more than 20 years. He teaches at Neil Nicastro Music, Entertainment and Instruction in Dunmore. Visit nnusic.com.
Practical person. For that someone who loves functionality, try a personalized, hand-crafted wood item. Don Fisch Jr., owner of DF Custom Concepts, builds household items such as step stools, business card holders and children’s growth rulers to track your child’s height, as well as made-to-order items. Fisch cuts each piece of wood and works with each customer to add a special touch, whether it be a silhouette of their favorite character or their name, on every piece. Visit dfcustomconcepts.com.
The light of your life. Give a gift that will brighten someone’s day. Mechanical Concepts owner, Shawn Jennings combines his love for cars and art to create unique lamps using scrap metal, particularly old car parts. The mechanic takes pride in the artistic aspect of exemplifying shadows casted by light and the ambience it gives off.
“All of my work is original where I don’t duplicate anything,” said Jennings in an interview in November. “I’ll have the same concept, but everything is a little different about each piece. They’re signed, numbered and dated, and I keep a catalog record of them all, so it adds a little extra specialness to each person’s piece.” Jennings’ products are available at On&On, 1138 Capouse Ave., Scranton.
Scrantonian. Show off your NEPA pride by giving a Valerie Kiser Design home and lifestyle item. Hoping to spread positivity with her brand, Valerie Kiser Design features stylish, high-quality clothing, home decor and more, all of which feature Kiser’s hand-printing and sewing, including her line featuring the iconic Electric City sign.
“I love Scranton and feel good about it. There are so many naysayers in our area, and it gets a bad rep … If somebody gets very negative about Scranton, I try to shut that down,” said Kiser in an interview in August. Share a symbol of Scranton with someone who also loves this city or take a piece of Scranton and give it to friends and family from out of town. Kiser’s collection is available at Lavish Body and Home, 600 Linden St., Scranton and valeriekiserdesign.com.
Wine enthusiast. Share a bottle of wine that will have everybody laughing. Located at 134 N. Main Ave., Scranton, Lucchi Family Wine Cellars offers both sweet and dry wines. With names such as “PMS” (Pineapple Mango Sangria) and “Sexy Sisters,” give a bottle that will tell your loved ones how you really feel about them.
This holiday season, support these local crafters who are working tirelessly to make sure you get the best. Enjoy the shopping season.
— Emma Black