Home is where the heart is, but for many local artisans, it’s also where the market resides.
For area natives who feel homesick or current residents simply bursting with hometown pride, products that feature the names, images and memories of Northeast Pennsylvania make great gifts.
Here’s a helping of creative, NEPA-inspired items sure to please everyone on your holiday list this year. Support local artists, lavish your loved ones, and recall what makes Scranton and surrounding towns so special with these Pennsylvania-themed presents.
Tig and Cooney’s
Lisa Malsberger designs a variety of products that feature the names and geographies of cities, towns and boroughs throughout NEPA. Her napkins stamped with Scranton, Abingtons and Moscow areas retail for $18 each, two for $35 and four for $60; handkerchiefs with Scranton or the Abingtons run $20 each; and bandanas depicting Scranton, Abingtons, Moscow, Mid Valley and Valley View areas are available in limited quantities for $20 each.
“We all have a story of where we’ve come from, and we have pride in our story and our hometown,” Malsberger explained. “Maps tell that story, and they are timeless. Even though a specific place or person may change, the map stays the same. It’s a comforting constant.
“I specifically use vintage maps (from the ’60s and ’70s). These gifts are unique but also are for anyone; they’re not gender- or age-specific,” she added. “I’ve given these gifts to my 88-year-old grandmother, who will recall an area on the map where she went to school or walked over a bridge to her friend’s house. And I’ve also given them to my (almost) 10-year-old nephew, who our family will show where his mother and father grew up when they were his age. Everyone can appreciate an area on a map and point out a place that brings back a memory.”
Buy it: Online at www.tigandcooneys.com or at Lavish Body & Home, 600 Linden St., Scranton, and the Waverly General Store, 1201 North Abington Road, Waverly Twp.
Made in small batches and poured into hand-cut, repurposed bottles, these soy wax candles are produced in Scranton and feature familiar names and brands, such as Crystal Club, Mid-Valley Quality Beverage, B-1, Dixie Spring Beverage and Finn’s Beverages. Prices range from $10 for small sizes to $22 for the largest.
“So many of the older, big brands were designed with great bottles and logos. But there were also local smaller brands,” said Andrew Planey, who sells WaxJunky. “At one time, every area had a local bottling company that made all kinds of different flavors. These company logos and descriptions were super cool.
“The bottles were also made to last. With thick glass and screen-printed labels, the bottles would last through hundreds of refills,” he added. “These bottles deserve a second life. They are just made to be repurposed. Not everyone wants to put a bottle on their shelf — but everyone likes candles.”
Buy it: Online at www.waxjunky.com or at On&On, 518 Lackawanna Ave.
Valerie Kiser Designs
Scranton-based artist Valerie Kiser brands high-end pillows, sweatshirts, T-shirts, baby onesies and ornaments with her spin on the iconic “Electric City” sign that illuminates the downtown each night.
Items range in price from $15 to $75 for men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, and $16 to $85 for house and lifestyle items.
“(My company) is founded on creating clean and simple designs that are unique — but familiar — for hand-printed clothing, accessories and home decor, with a niche market for custom design for individuals and businesses,” Kiser said. “I feature local icons in my design because I was looking for a way to be more connected to myself and my community.”
Buy it: Online at www.valeriekiserdesign.com or at Lavish Body & Home, 600 Linden St.
Whether you spent your childhood in the Electric City or you simply know a fan of the familiar Scranton skyline, ScrantonMade’s mugs keep hometown memories warm and close at hand.
Mugs are $12 each or $20 for a pair.
“ScrantonMade celebrates all things local, and we like to show our Scranton pride with assorted merchandise like the best-selling cityscape mugs,” said Cristin Powers, the company’s founder. “They are the perfect gift for anyone that was born and raised here. Or, for those who have moved on to another city: we know your heart is still in Scranton.”
Buy it: Online at www.scrantonmade.com.
Steamtown souvenirs and collectibles
The sounds of trains chugging and whistling their way through the Lackawanna Valley remain a welcome sensory memory for many NEPA natives. Visitors to Steamtown National Historic Site can pick up souvenirs at the park, but online shoppers, too, have the opportunity from afar to purchase collectibles that depict the region’s railroad heritage.
Magnets, patches, pins, mugs, books and DVDs are among the cache of Steamtown-themed items available, as are wooden train and Union Pacific “Big Boy” 4012 ornaments. Everything on the site, including an album of historic railroad songs and a Steamtown pocket watch, retails for less than $20. Proceeds from online sales are donated to the National Park Service.
Buy it: Online at eparks.com (search for Steamtown), visit the Museum Shop and Bookstore at the park (350 Cliff St.), or call 570-340-5213.
For history and trivia buffs
The Times-Tribune teamed up with local organizations, including Lackawanna Historical Society, in the past year to market a pair of items that explore Scranton’s roots and idiosyncrasies and celebrate the city’s 150th anniversary.
“You Live Here! You Should Know This!” Trivia Quest, Scranton and Lackawanna County edition, makes learning fun with a board game the whole family can enjoy. It’s priced at $19.95, and proceeds benefit the historical society.
Buy it: Online at www.TriviaQuestScranton.com or at local businesses, such as Everything Natural in Clarks Summit and Library Express in the Marketplace at Steamtown, Geisinger Community Medical Center, Nina’s, Gerrity’s supermarket, POSH at the Scranton Club, Duffy Accessories and Southside Seafood, all in Scranton.
Gift-givers also can pick up copies of the hardcover coffee table book “Scranton, the First 150 Years: 1866-2016,” which includes archival newspaper and submitted photos that show life in the Electric City over the last century and a half. The books are $44.95, plus tax.
Buy it: During regular business hours at The Scranton Times Building, 149 Penn Ave. For more information, call 570-348-9100.
— patrice wilding