Friday marks the beginning of the Christmas season, but just because it's time to deck the halls doesn't mean you should risk getting decked in the face. Those Black Friday sales can be downright vicious. So why not skip the bum rush and support your local purveyors of craft goods? The next month has three fêtes where you can purchase your loved ones something handmade -- without the risk of sporting a black eye at your next holiday party. And in case you just have to shop on Black Friday, we've gathered a few notable food-centric shops in town. Turn the page.
The Secret Fork: On December 17 at 11 a.m., a gaggle of food-related crafters will pop-up at an undisclosed location downtown. There will be aprons, pottery and artwork alongside edibles like tinctures, pies and preserves. Think of it as Etsy in the flesh.
"We wanted to create a place where food artisans and chefs could sell their goodies without having to fork over too much money... With the holidays so close, we really wanted to encourage people to shop locally and help this scattered community flourish," says Nazie Shekarchi, co-founder of the Secret Fork. Admission is free, and all you need to do is reserve a ticket for entry. Sure beats camping outside Best Buy. The Secret Fork; December 17, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; location TBD.
Artisanal L.A. Holiday Pop-Up: On Sunday, December 11, Shawna Dawson and her crew will be hosting a smaller version of her well-known fair at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena. For this installation, they've partnered with the Altadena Urban Farmers Market, which is currently on hiatus, as well as the Arroyo Time Bank. Look for an entire area of the gallery accepting time dollars as an alternate form of payment. (Imagine trying to get credit at the Apple store for your dog-walking skills. Not happening.) For those not familiar with the Time Bank concept, there will be workshops explaining how it works and how to get involved.
The pop-up will have about 50 vendors in three areas within the Armory, and will also feature demos and workshops from Joseph Shuldiner's Institute of Domestic Technology. Some of the purveyors to look forward to include Orgasmo de la Boca smoked olives, Cast Iron Gourmet bacon and spreads, Creme Caramel custards and desserts. and San Angel Mole. Artisanal L.A. Holiday Pop-Up; December 11, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; 145 North Raymond Ave., Pasadena; $5 admission.
Unique L.A.: This is the largest craft show in the country, with over 300 vendors including home decor, jewelry and toys. The gourmet edibles department will showcase goodies from Sqirl Jams, I Heart Pies, and Hepp's Salt Bar, just to name a few. Admission is $10, but that will also get you entry to Ameoba's pop-up shop happening the same weekend. There'll also be free drinks, DIY workshops and food trucks. Unique L.A.; December 3-4, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; 110 East Ninth Street, Downtown; $10 admission.
Local craft shops: If doing holiday shopping on Black Friday is a tradition that you simply can't break, there are a several shops in L.A. that highlight local goods that would please any food-lover. There's also Villiany General Store in Echo Park, which carries cast-iron skillets, Cafecito Organico coffee, and hand-crafted chocolates. A little further west you'll find the Standard Goods shop on Melrose, which sells vintage records and dude's duds alongside jams from Saving the Season and Fruit and Flour pie. Over in the Valley you'll find Handmade Galleries L.A., home to 100 indie crafters. They've got pottery, jewelry, toffee, chocolates, and more.