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What would Santa do?
Shopping locally makes sense
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When it comes to the holidays, old Santa Claus probably isn’t the only one making a list and checking it twice.

Buying locally and from small businesses is an important part of making that list that some may not think of during their frenzy to find the best deal. But buying locally can be rewarding for you, your neighbor, and everyone’s pocket book. By keeping your dollars local, you’re investing in community.

Gays Mills

The charming little village that the Crawford County Independent calls home is plum full of local shopping opportunities.

Right next door from our office in the Gays Mills Mercantile Center is the Apple Land Community Closet. Open Wednesday afternoons during the hours of the Gays Mills Food Pantry. The closet offers a variety of clothes, coats, shoes, books, blankets and other odds and ends, all for 25 cents each. Everyone is welcome to shop the bargains.  

Across the hall and up a few steps you’ll find Lana’s Family Hair Care and tHAIRphy by Jordon.  The shop offers just about every hair product you could want, as well as a full selection of Avon products to order and some to purchase in-house. Lana and her stylist ladies, Jordon and Caitlin also plan to construct gift baskets that will be available for shoppers. You can also buy that special someone, who has a luscious mane, a gift certificate for a fantastic new hairdo.  Manicures, pedicures and waxing are all also available at the salon to get everyone looking and feeling their best for the holidays and beyond. The ladies also plan to host an open house on Friday, Dec. 18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Marketplace is also a destination for plenty of holiday cheer. Many small stocking stuffers like lottery tickets, candies, tiny honey bears, gas cards, gift cards and more are available. The Marketplace also has a variety of beer, liquor and wine. And don’t forget those meat and cheese trays and fresh baked cakes and buns for all of your holiday party snacking needs.

On Main Street in Gays Mills, the Village Green House not only offers a warm and unseasonably colorful array of floral arrangements, but an eclectic array of gift items such as decorative novelties, signs, shelf sitters, magnets, jewelry, baskets, aroma therapy candles, wind chimes, soaps, t-shirts, bumper stickers, garden stones, house plants and more. Joe also reports he expects the Poinsettias and wreaths will be arriving soon as well.

The gift of a full belly is never a bad one. The Kickapoo Meat Locker is a one-stop shop for all award winning hams, hearty cuts of steak, marinated chicken, smoked turkey and so much more.  Meat bundles and gift certificates also make great gifts that keep on giving. For those of you who are hunters, and are taken with the holiday spirit of giving, the Kickapoo Locker also accepts deer for donated processing with the meat going to the Gays Mills Food Pantry.

The Kickapoo Exchange Natural Foods Co-op located at 209 Main Street offers a variety of items to keep your bellies full and your stockings stuffed. The KEX will be offering a variety of gift baskets, which will contain items like incense, deluxe chocolates, personal care products, homemade soaps and organic coffees.  All of those items, along with other organic candies, wine, beers, tea and gourmet cheese and much more are available for purchase.

Refueling is an important part of shopping until you drop. And Gays Mills has no shortage of places to fill up. The Water Crest Café is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. offering soups, Panini sandwiches, salads and baked goods.

Down the Main Street a few doors, you’ll come across the Red Apple Inn, which offers up meals and beverages to fuel your adventure, as well as holiday catering.

Across the street, J&J on Main is serving up burgers and more to the hungry patrons. Gift Certificates are also available to feed your loved ones at a later date.

And when you’re ready for an adult beverage, you can not only stop at J&J’s, but also Halver’s Town Tap for an ice-cold beer or cocktail, or just stop in and rest your feet and chat with some friendly folks.

In rural Gays Mills and on the web, you can find the Blue Egg Farm Store. Offering up a variety of unique items, the Blue Egg Farm Store is a must see for anyone looking for that special gift you can’t find anywhere else. Cocktail syrups, pancake syrups, candied jalapenos with boozy mango vodka   and Kickapoo Coffee with blueberry jams are only the tip of the edible array offered. The Farm Store also offers an array of personal care products such as lotions, salves, sunscreens lip balms and owner Robyn’s personal favorite, body butters which come in a large variety of scents.  Gift sets are also available.  The plethora of items doesn’t end there however, Blue Egg also offers many products for kids and “tweens” like make your own lip balm kits, mineral make-up for young folks, foaming bath paints, magic sand, organic scented play dough and more. Oh, and did we mention all of the products sold by Blue Egg are handmade on the farm without GMOs, chemicals or preservatives.  Blue Egg Farm offers a delivery by mail, or pick up by meeting at the Kickapoo Exchange or Viroqua Food Co-op. The Blue Egg Farm gang also participates in many holiday fairs, so keep an eye out for them when you’re out and about and beyond.  You can find all of those items we listed and much more at

Sunrise Orchard located at 48340 State Hwy 171 on the orchard hill will be having a special Black Friday event this year. The orchard will be offering a free t-shirt with a food pantry donation, all day while supplies last, 25 percent off all store items until noon, which includes their large apple offering and large gift item offering as well. Sunrise also ships customizable gift boxes anywhere in the continental United States. The last day to order a gift box to get it out in time for the holidays, is Monday, Dec. 7.  That doesn’t end the fun though for the season at Sunrise. On Saturday, Dec. 12 and Sunday, Dec. 13, the orchard will be hosting some special events, including Santa making a visit to the store at 10 a.m. on Saturday, a craft show is also scheduled on Saturday. There’s a coloring contest with a chance to win a $100 Sunrise Orchard gift certificate both days. There will also be special pricing on all holiday take-and-bake items, a free t-shirt with a donation to the food pantry and a free half-gallon of cider with a $10 apple purchase, both days. In addition to those specials, many items are available in their store daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Tuesday,  Dec. 22.

Offering up a bit of a different holiday service for folks is Jessica Brandt. Through her website/blog, Brandt has compiled many product lists for shoppers that are eco friendly, safe, and made in the USA. Although it is not directly local, it is a list compiled by a local individual looking to provide information on the safest products on the market. A recent blog post lists Made in the USA Holiday Decorations, which could be a big help to many navigating the vast sea of the Internet looking for safe products.  Brandt also produces homemade deodorant that is customizable in a variety of scents, as well as oatmeal and sugar body scrub that again is scent customizable.  Poofy Organics products are also available through Brandt with a link on her site, offering a variety of certified organic personal care and home products.  To view these products and more you can check out her site at or email Brandt at

Soldiers Grove

The Village of Soldiers Grove also offers a few options for shoppers to pick up a little something for those on their nice lists for the holidays.

Burkum Milling Company located at 103 Sunbeam Boulevard offers up a huge variety of items for the holiday shopper. You can cover everyone on your list from your furry four-legged friends (feathered two-legged loved ones too) to the human types on your list. Pots, pans, knife sets and bird feeders along with all the supplies one may need for making Lefsa are just a few of the offerings available at BMC.

Sunshine Highlights in Soldiers Grove is offering a couple specials including $15 hair color for new customers and 10 percent off any hair care product. Offering organic and all natural hair coloring and products. Sunshine Highlights is open Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. Hours vary by appointment so give the shop a call at 624-4247. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Shear Heaven in the Grove offers gift certificates in any amount along with hair products. The day after Thanksgiving Shear Heaven will kick off a make over contest drawing where the winner will be able to win a complete make over such as perm, color, cut, nails, waxing and all that jazz. Shear Heaven will also be selling 2016 Wax Passes for $35 which will provide one person with waxes through out the year.

Tazzees Wonder Bar offers up gift certificates toward future meals or you can pop in and enjoy a pizza, Mr. Tazz burger or any other variety of delicious meals while you shop about.

Country Gardens also offers gift certificates and meals, as well as hotel rooms in case you bring family and friends in from afar for the holidays.

Campbell’s One Stop  is a great spot to find odds and ends to complete the perfect gift. Things like candy, liquor, gas cards and tokens for car washes, all make great gifts.

Mt. Sterling

The Mt. Sterling Cooperative Creamery located on 171 is an award-winning cheese producer offering a quality selection of goat and cow cheese, sausages and other gourmet products. They also offer ready-made or custom gift boxes to take home or ship anywhere in the country. You can call the creamery to inquire about shipping dates and prices at 608-734-3151.

At the intersection of Highways 171 and 27 is Finders-Keepers. It’s located in one of Mt. Sterling’s two original general stores, which was built in the 1800s. The two-story shop is brimming with new and gently used consignment items that fit in any shopper’s budget. Finders-Keepers is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. 


Johnson’s One Stop is truly a one-stop shop for everything you could ever need for the holidays. Need a last minute cake mix? They got you covered. A drill for mom so she can hang all of her favorite family photos-they got it! Bird feeders for dad so he can kick back and enjoy nature- look no further! Stop in and view their vast selection, you’ll be surprised with all the delightful things you find. Maybe even a few treasures for yourself.

The No Bull Party Place is another great stop in Seneca, offering gift certificates for future meals or the simple opportunity to rest your weary bones for a spell, and eat a good meal before carrying on with all of your holiday to-dos.


The Village of Readstown offers a variety of shopping experiences as well. Located at 202 N. 4th Street, the Kickapoo Flair has gift certificates that cover all of their services from highlights, cuts, perms and Redken Hair Care products to tanning. Call 608-629-5122 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

The Kickapoo Trading Post offers vintage and antique treasures for the eclectic gifter. Vintage hats, kitchenware, pocket watches, antique tools, implements and decorative items only begin to list the fun stuff you’ll find here. The Kickapoo Trading Post is located at 817 W. Kickapoo Street/Highway 14.

And don’t forget Crazy Frank’s Flea Markets–Selling Stuff for Peanuts. With two locations jam-packed with booths, you’ll truly be in a shopper’s heaven. Everything you ever wanted and things you didn’t even know existed, but now do, will fulfill your shopping senses. The staff is available to help you navigate the aisles and help you find the very best gift you can give.

Kickapoo Kwk Stop is a great place to pop into during your shopping rounds. Offering the largest beer, wine and liquor selection in the area. The large convenience store also has a fine selection of gift items, like sweatshirts, hats, cellphone accessories, snacks, cheeses, meats, greeting cards and gift cards. The Kickapoo Kwk Stop also has a variety of take-and-bake pizza, incase you think Santa might be tired of cookies and milk.

 At Kickapoo Corners, you can not only stop and eat, but you can also pick up a couple of items to mark off your list. Offering Amish-made candy, purses, Melissa-and-Doug toys, candles, jewelry, holiday decor and more. They also have special sales running through November 27 as well as a gift certificate special starting December 1.   Kickapoo Corners is also partnering with the Bruland Family on their OMS Teddy Bear Drive. The bears are given to three hospitals, Gundersen Lutheran, Franciscan Skemp and Vernon Memorial Hospital. The only stipulation is that the bears are brand new because they are going to hospitals to be donated to children. Kickapoo Corners is offering a free dessert for each new bear that is donated. The bears will be collected at the restaurant until December 11.

The Kickapoo Inn also offers gift certificates for their fine dining options, fresh maple syrup, calendars and books that benefit the Readstown Historical society.

Cheapo Depot is not to be forgotten when it comes to gift giving. They can help you ring in your holidays with a bang. With a huge selection of fireworks and a knowledgeable staff to help you literally get the most bang for your buck. They also sell cards, wrapping paper, as well as many, many other cool and unique gift items and stocking stuffers.

When you’re all done shopping, don’t forget to swing into Pat’s Corner Bar for a burger and a cold drink. While you’re at it, you can pick up a gift certificate, can cozie, or a hat for someone on your list.

With so many options at your fingertips, there is hardly any need to go anywhere else for all of your holiday shopping needs. Keep it local—you’ll enjoy it more!