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Five Questions with Alison Murphy of Concord Handmade

It can be tough to align holiday gift giving with eco-goals. While I often strive to buy used, or give perishables, sometimes you don’t know what a person likes/allergies etc, or you just want to buy new for social reasons. For example, while I’d definitely hand Hannah a high-quality used sweater or homemade gluten-free cookies, I want to get my girls’ teachers something new. Enter Concord Handmade. It’s been one of my go-to shops for a few years, because I can find nice presents for a reasonable price, while also supporting my neighbors and community. I also think people appreciate something handmade that was made locally. It’s the type of gift you may not get for yourself, but love receiving. I was reminding myself that I need to stop there soon to cross-off my gift list (see above) and it occurred to me that I should interview Alison. She happily agreed. I especially loved that she shared that her zero-waste habits are works in progress. We all need to start somewhere! – Rachel

1) Please tell us a little bit about Concord Handmade. Why do you feel passionate about this store? Concord Handmade is a pop-up shop located somewhere in downtown Concord every holiday season. This year, we’re at 19 Warren St. This is the 11th year of Concord Handmade, and it’s really been a dream come true. I started the pop-up so many years ago because I wanted a shop but wasn’t ready for a year-round commitment. The idea of setting up somewhere for a couple months sounded ideal. To me, Concord Handmade is in between a year-round shop and a craft fair, which is right where I think it fits best. I’m passionate about creating a space where artists can show off what they’ve made, regardless of their experience level. People from the Concord-area can also find goods that were made with intention. Achieving these goals keeps me coming back. 

2) What is it like to own a small business in New Hampshire? Pros? Cons? I have only ever owned a small business in New Hampshire, but it’s worked out for me so far. I think that New Hampshire’s rural nature has been a hurdle over the years. When I started the first Concord Handmade in November 2011, people were constantly asking me 1. What is a pop-up shop and 2. What are your hours in January. At the time, pop-ups were gaining popularity in bigger cities, but they hadn’t made their way to Concord yet. I think the community has grown and that is a huge benefit to all of the small businesses in the state. There’s a real sense of small business owners working together to promote and support each other, and I don’t believe you’ll find that just anywhere. 

3) Can you tell us about the artists in CH’s network and the products you offer? How can someone shop at Concord Handmade while following their eco-friendly goals? This year, Concord Handmade has about 65 artists. We accept work from artists who live all over New England. We try to offer goods for anyone who may be on your list, so we provide a variety of products – stationery, jewelry, home goods, candles, and body products. I think that shopping handmade helps align with eco-friendly goals because, most of the time, something handmade was made with intention. The actual person or people behind the product thought about you using what they made, and that matters to them. I think it’s also helpful because you can get an answer and information about how/from what the product is made. As artists, we have to source all of our materials, so we know a lot about where they come from and how that affects us all. 

4) Please tell us about your own zero-waste journey. What are some habits you’ve mastered and others you are working on? I am very much a work in progress when it comes to being zero waste. I try to remind myself that any progress is still progress, so if I use a reusable coffee mug at the coffee shop most of the time, I’m doing some good. My wife and I are working on our composting at home, which has been a lot of learning for us. I think my next step is to make the transition to unpaper towels. With cats and kids at home, it’s easy to use a paper towel to clean up a mess, so I think it’s as much a mindset change as a usage change. 

5) Anything else you’d like to share? Concord Handmade is open 10-6 Monday through Saturday and 11-4 Sunday. This year, we’re at 19 Warren St here in Concord. Thank you!

#concordnh #NewHampshire #zerowaste #NH #environmental


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