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Are You Choosing the Best Gifts? The Case for Artisan-Made Products.

There is so much sameness when it comes to mass-produced products. But for a gift, what you really want is unique and special. Handmade and small-batch-made items deliver that.
Photo of artisan-made products created by Mark Leputa and available at the Starworks Gallery in Star, NC.
Artisan-made products created by Mark Leputa and available at the Starworks Gallery in Star, NC. Photo by Ron Clabo.

Where are the great gifts?

Artisan-made products have become popular in recent years and for a good reason. These products offer a unique, personal touch that is absent in mass-produced items. They are created by skilled individuals who put time and care into each piece they make. As a result, these products are not only useful but also beautiful and personal.

When it comes to buying products, you have numerous options. You can choose from mass-produced items in big box stores or opt for artisan or designer-made products from small businesses. In this article, we will examine these choices and explore why handmade and small-batch-made products are often the superior option, especially for gifts.

photo of a nicely wrapped gift
We all want to give the perfect gift, something special and unique. With artisan-made items, you can.

We will discuss the differences between mass-produced and artisan-made products and talk about the pros and cons of each. Our goal is to help you make an informed choice when gift shopping.

Are mass-produced products worth the cost savings?

Mass production is a process where products are made in large quantities in a factory setting. The goal of mass-producing products is to create items quickly and at a low cost. This is accomplished through automated processes and machinery that pump out products, one after another, all day long, every day.

Often, depending on where they were made, some of these products suffer from poor quality. Cost and quality are related, and when the emphasis is on low cost, it’s not surprising that quality can sometimes be lacking.

Mass-produced products offer a few advantages including affordability, efficiency, and wide availability. Since they are produced in large quantities, the cost per unit is lower than artisan made products. Affordability is often what attracts people to mass-produced items. But it’s often nice to give something rare and unique as a gift, and that’s hard to do with mass-produced items.

You could do better.

Lack of variety and uniqueness

One of the biggest limitations of mass-produced products is that they often lack variety, uniqueness, and character. With mass-produced products, it’s usually a stated goal that each item must look exactly like every other item coming from that production line. While a few different models may be available, there is no room for creativity or unique individual design elements. All the products made this way seem very similar, if not identical.

Hard to find something special

When shopping at large retail stores, often products within a specific category all feel similar, regardless of the brand or store.

Why is that?

This lack of variety can make it challenging to find a unique product with some character that truly stands out. It also takes the fun out of shopping and makes the whole experience feel more like work than the fun it ought to be.

Artisan-Made Products to the Rescue.

Artisan products are unique & special.

One of the main reasons people become artisans is to express their creativity and bring their unique vision to life. As an artisan, they have the freedom to create pieces that reflect their unique style. Each item must live up to their standard of quality and be an item they themselves would buy as a gift.

Photo of artisan-made products created by Abigail Flynt and available at the Starworks Gallery in Star, NC.
Artisan-made products created by Abigail Flynt and available at the Starworks Gallery in Star, NC. Photo by Ron Clabo.

Working as a small business, they produce their items in small quantities. Their products are made by hand or created using traditional small-batch manufacturing methods. This means the item is likely to be rare or even one-of-a-kind. The limited availability of a given item or style can make them even more special and meaningful.

Artisan products come in a wide variety of styles.

One of the biggest advantages of artisan-made products is the wide variety of styles available. Because these makers cherish creativity, they produce a variety of styles and designs. This wide range of styles makes it easier to find a product that truly stands out and is unique. As an added bonus, some of these great products are sure to bring smiles.

Photo of artisan-made products created by Evelyn Ward and available at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts in Hillsborough, NC.
Artisan-made products created by Evelyn Ward and available at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts in Hillsborough, NC. Photo by Ron Clabo.

Artisan products are perfect for gifting.

The goal in making these items is to create something special and unique that stands out and brings joy to the artisan and the recipient.

Whether you're shopping for yourself or someone else, the uniqueness and rarity of these items can make them the perfect choice for a gift.

Photo of artisan jewelry made by Sandra McEwen and available at the Cedar Creek Gallery in Creedmoor, NC.
Artisan jewelry made by Sandra McEwen and available at the Cedar Creek Gallery in Creedmoor, NC. Photo by Ron Clabo.

Artisan-made products are often of higher quality.

Artisans prioritize quality and attention to detail. Mass production prioritizes efficiency and affordability. So it’s not surprising that handmade and small-batch-made products are often created with higher-quality materials, such as solid oak rather than particle board. Because the maker is personally invested in the production process, the quality of the final product is very important to them.

Photo of artisan-made products available at the Cedar Creek Gallery in Creedmoor, NC.
Artisan made products available at the Cedar Creek Gallery in Creedmoor, NC. Photo by Ron Clabo.

Artisans and small business owners derive deep satisfaction from their work. They go the extra mile to ensure each product is crafted with the utmost care and attention to detail. This focus on quality is quite apparent when inspecting the item. You can literally see the love, passion, and skill they invest in each product.

There are exceptions of course, and not all artisan products are of higher quality than mass-produced products. That being said, if quality is a priority, you owe it to yourself to check out artisan-made products, especially when purchasing a gift for someone special.

Why the quality matters

Quality is essential when choosing a gift because it can impact how the recipient feels about the item. A high-quality gift conveys deeper sincerity to the recipient, making it more memorable and meaningful. Also, a high-quality gift will be more durable, last longer, and be more enjoyable than a lower-quality gift. Whether you're shopping for yourself or someone else, choosing a high-quality gift can make a big difference, and choosing artisan-made products is an excellent way to go.

The artisan’s personal touch adds meaning to a gift

Artisan products with a story

Handmade and small-batch-produced products reflect a personal touch due to the attention they receive while being created. And there is often a unique story or connection behind each one.

These products have a rich history and cultural heritage behind them. Many artisanal techniques have been passed down from generation to generation, preserving traditional skills and crafts unique to specific regions or cultures.

The product’s story can make the gift more unique, memorable, and meaningful to the recipient. Whether you're choosing an item for a friend, family member, or colleague, the personal touch these products offer can make a big difference in the recipient's experience with the gift.

Photo of artisan-made journals made by Steven Bachenheimer and available at the Frank Gallery in Carrboro, NC.
Artisan-made journals by Steven Bachenheimer and available at the Frank Gallery in Carrboro, NC. Photo by Ron Clabo.

The artisan’s personal touch can show in several ways.

Many artisans include personal touches such as a signature or a date on their work, making each piece unique and special. Other artisans inscribe the town in which the item was made. Also, many artisans are happy to include a personalized message or note with the gift, adding extra thoughtfulness and care.

Mass-produced products don’t have it.

While mass-produced products may be cheaper and more widely available, they lack the personal touch that makes a gift truly special and meaningful. Do you really want to purchase something that lacks any unique character as a gift? Where is the fun in that?

Wouldn’t it be great to support an artisan business?

When you purchase handmade and small-batch-made products, you directly support artisans, designers, and makers. They rely on the support of people like you to continue their work.

By choosing artisan products, you are helping a small business and showing that you appreciate the variety of products they bring to the marketplace. Supporting these businesses helps to ensure that artisan products continue to be available.

Support the local economy.

The impact of supporting artisan businesses in the local economy is significant. When you buy artisanal products, the money goes to the artisan, designer, or small business that created them. This helps to support their livelihood and the local economy.

In contrast, when people choose mass-produced products, they often support large multinational corporations, which can negatively impact the local economy. By choosing to purchase artisan products, you give a unique and special gift, support the local economy, and help keep small businesses thriving.

Photo of artisan-made glassware available at the Starworks Gallery in Star, NC.
Artisan-made glassware available at the Starworks Gallery in Star, NC. Your purchase helps the economy in the center of North Carolina. Photo by Ron Clabo.

Your purchase preserves culture.

Purchasing artisan products is a way to help keep crafts alive. When you buy a handmade or small-batch made product, you are supporting the preservation of cultural heritage and traditional techniques. Additionally, supporting artisans and small businesses helps to preserve traditional manufacturing methods, which can be lost when consumers choose mass-produced products instead.

Photo of Wood-fired kiln at the Cedar Creek Gallery in Creedmoor, NC.
Wood-fired kiln at the Cedar Creek Gallery in Creedmoor, NC. Photo by Ron Clabo.

Artisan products make great gifts

Artisan made products provide a wide variety of styles and designs to choose from. They make it possible to purchase something unique, rare, and extraordinary.

Artisan-made products offer a level of thoughtfulness and care unmatched by mass-produced products.

Not only do handmade and small-batch made products provide a better overall gifting experience, but they also have a positive impact on the local community.

By supporting small businesses and preserving traditional techniques, you are helping to keep local communities thriving and helping to preserve cultural heritage for future generations.

When looking for a gift, we hope you will look for artisan-made products and give a truly special, meaningful, and memorable gift.

You won't be disappointed.

GiftOasis Founder & President
Ron is passionate about small businesses and the role they play in economic development. He is an e-commerce professional and entrepreneur who enjoys helping others. He delights in the process of creating something from nothing. He takes great pleasure in products made by small businesses, including makers, designers, and artisans. Ron lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and earned an MBA in General Management & Sustainability from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He grew up in Alaska and earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His biggest surprise in college was falling in love with pottery making. He spent many late nights in the ceramics studio and thoroughly enjoyed the beginning and advanced ceramics courses. Ron is an e-commerce pioneer and has been active in the field since 1995.
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