Want to shop local this holiday season? These Southern Tier manufacturers make great gifts

·9 min read

What's a gift that keeps on giving?

How about a present that lights up the recipient with joy, while also supporting friends and neighbors employed at local manufacturers?

"Reshoring" has emerged as a buzzword during the COVID-19 pandemic as businesses weigh the benefits of bringing manufacturing back to the United States from overseas. The practice is expected to eventually ease some supply chain issues, decrease delivery times and increase the number of Americans employed in homegrown factories.

In the Southern Tier, though, it's already possible to stock the Christmas tree with goods made entirely by local manufacturers. From food to electronics, candles to clothing, Southern Tier companies are busy creating products for everyone on the holiday shopping list.

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Here's more than a dozen gift ideas, all inspired by Southern Tier manufacturers.

Audio equipment

The McIntosh MB20 Lifestyle Vintage System provides an easy way to stream to a McIntosh of any era.
The McIntosh MB20 Lifestyle Vintage System provides an easy way to stream to a McIntosh of any era.

Can you hear me now? If you purchase audio equipment from McIntosh, you’ll be able to hear every nuance of your music, movies and podcasts. McIntosh moved to Binghamton in 1951 shortly after its founding, and its products are still designed and handcrafted at the Binghamton factory today.

McIntosh manufacturers a variety of high-end audio equipment, including home theater systems, speakers, amplifiers and media streamers. In addition to its signature electronics, the company also offers a variety of McIntosh-branded goods in its gift store. The company has fans among some of the biggest names in music, with the Grateful Dead, the Beach Boys, and Earth, Wind and Fire associated with the brand. McIntosh amplifiers powered Woodstock in 1969.

Belts

Hanks Belts, based in Broome County, offers a 100-year warranty on its leather belts, wallets and accessories.
Hanks Belts, based in Broome County, offers a 100-year warranty on its leather belts, wallets and accessories.

How many Christmas gifts come with a 100-year warranty? That’s the promise from Hanks Belts, based in Endicott in Broome County. Hanks started as an Army/Navy store in 1949 and now offers leather belts, wallets and accessories made locally.

The company says its belts are made from the finest full-grain leathers, never processed or bonded leather, creating “a strong belt that will never crack apart, break, or stretch excessively. If it does, send it back and we will replace it with the original size ordered no questions asked for 100 years.”

In addition to belts and wallets, Hanks also makes leather key fobs, watch bands, sheaths, folios, Dopp kits, dog collars and leashes. The company offers free shipping through its website.

Candles

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, right, samples some of the products in the Northern Lights Candles showroom during a visit to the Wellsville manufacturer in 2019. At left is founder Andy Glanzman.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, right, samples some of the products in the Northern Lights Candles showroom during a visit to the Wellsville manufacturer in 2019. At left is founder Andy Glanzman.

Northern Lights Candles has been lighting up homes since its founding in 1978 in the Allegany County town of Wellsville. Acquired by Zippo in 2019, the company remains based in Wellsville and creates all manner of candles for home use.

Northern Lights produces both factory and handmade candles, offering a wide variety of styles in votives, tealights, wax melts, tapers, pillars, spirit jars, scented candles and more. A free sample is provided with every online order, with free shipping for orders over $50.

The company also offers DIY candle-making supplies for hobbyists.

Candy

Looking for a treat to stuff in the Christmas stocking? Look no further than Horseheads, where the Turtles line of chocolate treats are manufactured for the DeMet’s Candy Company. Turtles clusters are “bursting with crunchy pecans, creamy caramel, and all wrapped up in luscious chocolate.”

While Turtles were created by a Chicago candy maker in 1916, they are now made in Chemung County at 1 Turtle Circle in Horseheads and shipped to retailers across the nation.

Custom pens

Need a special pen to mark a special occasion? Hardy Penwrights produces custom pens virtually from scratch in the Allegany County town of Scio. The bodies, caps, sections and any finials, as well as metal work, are all done by hand in the Scio shop.

“In this age of ‘disposable things’ we set out to create pens that are gifts for a lifetime, either for yourself or for someone else – someone who will appreciate the notion that fine tools are a joy to use and encourage the creative process,” states the company.

Custom knit products

Every wardrobe needs a Christmas sweater. Personalize your holiday garb with custom apparel from the Binghamton Knitting Company. Based in Broome County since 1927, the company can turn your ideas for a custom sweater into a reality. The company can also deliver on personalized acrylic and cotton blanket designs great for team merchandise, promotional items, fundraising items, corporate gifts and other custom applications.

The Binghamton Knitting Company produces items for mom-and-pop gift shops, Fortune 500 companies and everything in between, with 100% of production performed in-house.

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Glassware

Siggy Meek, 6, and Lane Meek, 4, check out the newly-created Tree of Life Menorah, in celebration of Hanukkah, at the Corning Museum of Glass.
Siggy Meek, 6, and Lane Meek, 4, check out the newly-created Tree of Life Menorah, in celebration of Hanukkah, at the Corning Museum of Glass.

Steuben County is home to the world-renowned Corning Museum of Glass, offering a wide variety of decorative and utilitarian glass products. The Corning Museum of Glass highlights beautiful pieces created by local artists like Amy Schwartz, Caitlin Hyde, Cat Burns, Chris Giordano and Claire Kelly. In addition to intricate decorative pieces, CMOG also offers glassware for entertaining guests in style, as well as ornaments for the holiday season.

The current exhibition on display at the museum is titled, “In Sparkling Company: Glass and the Costs of Social Life in Britain During the 1700s.” It’s on view through Jan. 2, 2022 and a variety of pieces associated with the exhibition are now on sale.

At The Studio, the “Make Your Own Glass” team hand-makes each ornament as it’s designed. Choose your shape, base color, accent color and pattern to design your own unique creation.

Grilling essentials

It’s never too early to think of grilling season. Lupo’s, based in Broome County, offers various gift sets through its website. They include a starter grillers set, a build a grillers gift set and the ultimate grillers gift set, which is hailed as the “ultimate gift set for the King or Queen of the grill.” It comes complete with two 16 oz. bottles of Lupo’s marinade of choice, two Lupo’s drink koozies, a four-piece metal skewer set, a pot holder, sub sauce and choice of a Char Pit Charlie apron or t-shirt, all tucked in a reusable gold tin featuring Char Pit Charlie.

Lupo’s was founded as a neighborhood meat market in Endicott in 1951. Lupo’s now-famous spiedie marinade was crafted at the meat market, and today, the third-generation family business operates restaurants, a USDA meat plant and their own bottling facility with Lupo’s products distributed locally, regionally and nationally.

Neighboring Johnson City is home to The Rob Salamida Co., also built on the spiedie sandwich. Salamida started perfecting his recipes as a teenager and his hometown sauce with a homemade flavor has now sold millions of bottles, 16 ounces at a time. Salamida also offers grilling kits with choice of local marinades and seasonings.

Model engines

While many holiday gifts center around the latest and greatest in technological advances, one Southern Tier company hearkens back to a simpler time. PM Research, based in Wellsville, produces model engine kits and accessories for hobbyists and machinists looking for a project to tinker with over the long winter months.

The company offers model steam engines, solar engines, gas engines, boilers and machine tools, as well as related accessories all made locally since 1973. A free online catalog is available on the company’s website.

Model Acela train set

The real-life Acela high-speed train produced by Alstom departs Hornell, bound for delivery to Amtrak. Bachmann Industries is the official Amtrak licensee of the Acela express model train set.
The real-life Acela high-speed train produced by Alstom departs Hornell, bound for delivery to Amtrak. Bachmann Industries is the official Amtrak licensee of the Acela express model train set.

The majority of manufacturing in Hornell is centered around the transportation industry, a legacy of the Steuben County city’s proud railroad history. Today, Alstom’s Hornell shops are manufacturing the next-generation high-speed Acela trainsets for Amtrak. While it may be hard to fit one of the locomotives under the Christmas tree, one company is making it possible to gift pride in local manufacturing.

Bachmann Industries is the official Amtrak licensee of the Acela express train. Bachmann offers a ready-to-run electric train set featuring the scaled-down Acela, a first-class passenger car, a business class passenger car and a cafe car. The locomotive can reach scale speeds of 150 miles per hour or more on an E-Z track oval that comes with a power pack and speed controller.

Personalized wood products

Put a little personalized flair into your gifts this year with help from Paint the Town, based in Elmira. Paint the Town offers a variety of wood products that can be built to specifications. Picture wood signs unique to your home or cabin. The company also offers custom wood checkerboards, magnets and shelf sitters. Or, design your own tile or marble coasters, mugs or hand towels.

Paint the Town is a family-owned business founded by Liz, Charlie and Marty Fennell in 1999. The company serves wholesale and retail markets in Chemung County and across the Southern Tier, and its products are in stores across the globe. It offers free shipping on website orders over $50.

Hunting gear

Precision Armament of Wellsville manufactures muzzle devices, muzzle accessories and firearm accessories designed to enhance accuracy for hunters and hobbyists dedicated to recreational shooting sports.
Precision Armament of Wellsville manufactures muzzle devices, muzzle accessories and firearm accessories designed to enhance accuracy for hunters and hobbyists dedicated to recreational shooting sports.

Precision Armament promises gifts that will be on target this holiday season. The Wellsville manufacturer produces muzzle devices, muzzle accessories and firearm accessories for hunters and hobbyists dedicated to recreational shooting sports. Items produced by the company are designed to enhance accuracy, including scope rails and muzzle brakes. All of the company’s products are made by machinists at its manufacturing facility in Wellsville. The Precision Armament website also features branded hats and t-shirts.

Soap and skincare products

Craft Farm was founded in 2016 by Allison Duncan, a Corning native with “extreme DIY tendencies.” Duncan’s “exploration in creative and sustainable living focuses on artfully produced products for everyday life.” She is certified by the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild and specializes in plant-based, palm-free soap and skincare products.

The Craft Farm production studio and artisan shop opened on South Main Street in Elmira in 2020 and now offers a variety of handmade natural soap and skincare products, as well as sustainable household goods and artisan gifts from around New York state. The company is offering free shipping on orders over $65 and free delivery in the Corning/Elmira region.

Some cheese with that wine (or adult beverage)

Inside the Golden Age Cheese Factory after the flood
Inside the Golden Age Cheese Factory after the flood

A purchase from Golden Age Cheese of Woodhull would be a gift in more ways than one. The Steuben County company is recovering from the devastating flood that struck the area on Aug. 18. Like most businesses and homes in the town, Golden Age Cheese was hit hard by water damage that resulted in a federal disaster declaration. The company quickly worked to restore operations and is back to churning out its signature handmade cheeses. The company offers a number of gift box options perfect for the holiday season.

In neighboring Allegany County, the famed Cuba Cheese Shoppe sells a variety of cheese, bread and maple syrup products sourced from local manufacturers. The company ships anywhere in the United States.

Want some wine (or a different adult beverage) with that cheese? The Southern Tier is home to a growing number of breweries, distilleries and wineries offering local flavor. Consider gifting a bottle, a six-pack or a growler made by your local establishment.

Chris Potter can be reached at cpotter@gannett.com or on Twitter @ChrisPotter413. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

This article originally appeared on Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: Holiday gifts made in NY and Southern Tier from Binghamton to Cuba