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Mark Cloud wants to help you shop where you live. With that purpose in mind, the Hello Local owner runs his Northwest Arkansas business to support artists and designers in his community. The online shop acts as a merchant for useful products and gifts made exclusively by Arkansas creators. For the 2020 Christmas season, this is one way to simplify your choice to shop local.
When you take a look at what Hello Local offers on its website, or scroll through the photos on the shop’s Instagram, you might land on a few familiar items.
If you’re from around these parts, you’ll recognize the bright red label on the box from Pozza’s Pasta in Tontitown, home of handmade Italian spaghetti. You’ll notice the hoodie with a list of major Bentonville street names designed down the front. The greeting cards with clever messages and notepads from the Hen Pen Paper Company are every bit as tempting as that blackberry pepper jelly from Deb’s Gourmet Pantry. Mugs made to hold a robust hot drink, map-based prints drawn by hand then printed with a vintage press, a cedar votive candle holder: the feed is brought to you by creators in the Natural State.
Hello Local started out in 2016 as a T-shirt company in Bentonville, then expanded to more local creators by offering a way to exhibit the crafts, food and clothing they made. Cloud, a 20-year Springdale resident, has worked to increase what the shop offers. For a time, Hello Local functioned as a brick-and-mortar shop on Emma Street in downtown Springdale. When his business partner had to leave the company, Cloud got another job instead of working the store. The need to lower overhead meant a shift to online.
Right now, the business is family-owned, though he hopes to fine-tune the concept and franchise across the country for other communities to support their own makers. He believes the brand belongs in America’s downtowns.
“The idea was to support local makers and creators by giving them a place to display their products. This quickly became a great way to curate multiple local products at one convenient location.”
Cloud says the biggest challenge to selling local wares is the price. The shop sells largely handmade, handcrafted items involving a slow, small-batch process that costs more than a mass-produced alternative.
Prepared to take on the additional work, Hello Local makes the process easier by handling details so customers don’t have to. This includes selecting, packaging and delivering.
In addition to free shipping and free local delivery, they offer corporate gift box options and concierge service.
“We always have a surge of corporate gifts this time of year: people looking for authentic options for true local items. We are able to curate products together to make a unique gift. Sometimes it’s all of our stuff and sometimes they include some of their own swag.”
At Hello Local, you will not find a useless trinket in the bunch.
The products fall primarily into one of three groups. In the merchandise category of things to use, you can give the gift of beard care with the Urban Bourbon beard oil from Ozark Beard Company in West Fork. In the apparel category of things to wear, Little Rock-based Arkansocks has a sock for just about every personality on your Christmas list. And in the goods category of things to eat, you can buy a chocolate fix for someone you love with the dark milk and pecan bar or the cracked cacao topping from the selection of bean-to-bar desserts by Markham and Fitz.
“A lot of people want local products made by local people instead of products made overseas with your company logo. We work with companies who understand this and provide a way for them to give this type of gift to their customer or employee. If a company wants to gift local products made in Arkansas, we are a one-stop shop.”
Hello Local continues to form partnerships. They work with about 50 vendors, most in Northwest Arkansas with a few from the central Arkansas area.
The shop currently has a display at Blue Moon in Bentonville, but with their local-focused gift stores, Cloud hopes in the future to be in major downtowns of Northwest Arkansas cities.
For now, customers can shop from home. For items in stock this season, Hello Local will ship or deliver through December 22nd.
Check out Savory Pantry in Hot Springs for pantry essentials, food gifts and stocking stuffers. Be sure to look over their gift baskets and holiday gift guide. The shop sells select products from Arkansas makers including The Arkansas Traveler, Natural State Chocolates and Edible Arkansas.
The Bell Urban Farm in Conway sells only foods from farmers and artisans in Arkansas. Guests can shop for produce, sausages, wreaths, flowers, coffee, and a variety of other foods and gifts. Take a look at their delightful spread on Instagram for inspiration.
State & Pride in Hot Springs can clothe you, pack your bags with gear for outdoor adventure and make sure you have Arkansas-themed Christmas gifts to put under the tree.
Gifts of Arkansas, also in Little Rock, offers customized gifts from crafters in the state all in one basket. You can’t go wrong with these themed collections including “Hog Wild,” the “Snacker Delight,” and the “Spa Basket.”
Bella Bird Boutique in Batesville has a variety of women’s accessories, outerwear, jumpsuits, rompers, and the much-needed loungewear that might this year be the best gift money can buy. Scroll through their Hometown Lovin’ collection for Batesville namesake apparel and look over the Arkansas-themed products for gifts.
Hunter’s Refuge Premier Outfitters in White Hall stocks apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment for popular sports across Arkansas. Have fun in this store marking off your Christmas-gift list for campers, hunters, archers, shooters and explorers.
For more sporting goods, head to Mack’s Prairie Wings in Stuttgart and check out what they offer for shooting, waterfowl, hunting, fishing/marine gear, and camping.
Stay inspired to stay outside with a visit to Southtown Sporting Goods in Fayetteville. They stock supplies for bow hunting, waterfowl hunting, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.
Photos are courtesy of Mark Cloud/Hello Local.
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