The True Value of Local Goods

The local brewers of McCall Collective sell more than just "beer."
The local brewers of McCall Collective sell more than just "beer."

Have you ever hosted guests from out of town and wished you had a gift to give them... from your town?

There are tons of reasons why people might want to give locally-produced gifts at times.

  • Overnight wedding guests
  • Out-of-town college students
  • Business partners from out of town
  • New home buyers
  • Visiting and prospecting business people
  • Sentimental gifts for people who already live here

There are probably dozens of ideas, but these are just a few of the more popular ones we've encountered since starting to promote local goods. I've had my own meaningful experience with local gift-giving... may I share a quick story?--


When I was a student at Northampton High School, I participated in their German partnership program. I stayed with a family in Bad Endbach for a week.  Interestingly, the dad of my exchange family worked at a Birkenstock office (they make the most AMAZING sandals!), and on my last day at their home, he gave me a pair of Birkenstocks.

Let me tell you-- I treasured those sandals. I wore them EVERYWHERE. They took me through my entire educational career at Penn State. I wore them even when they didn't quite match the occasion, because they meant something to me. They reminded me of my amazing trip, they were like a piece of my exchange home and family, walking through my future with me. I am not a very sentimental person, but the fact that Mr. Von Borstel brought me something from their town, put this gift in a whole other category.

Most of the time when we talk about gift-giving here at Made in the Lehigh Valley, we focus on the special-ness of handmade goods. But locally manufactured goods are just as wonderful! Whether you are throwing a party with out of town guests, or hosting someone from another country, it means something to give a gift that's made here.

Dare we say, there is extra monetary value?


Lesa Ukman, giving a presentation on valuation of Social Capital at the LVACA conference in May 2024.

Lesa Ukman, giving a presentation on valuation of Social Capital at the LVACA conference in May 2024.

Social Capital

How do you quantify the extra sentimental or emotional or societal value of an object... if you can't measure it in dollars? Recently at the Lehigh Valley Arts and Cultural Alliance's Conference, entrepreneur Lesa Ukman gave a speech about measuring what she called "Social Capital"-- that extra UMPH that gives arts and cultural activities value. It's hard to put your finger on... but you know the value is there, and it's WORTH A LOT. (Lesa's company, ProSocial Valuation Service, developed an equation to give monetary value to all of this "immeasurable" -- how cool is that??)

As we were watching Lesa's presentation, I was having a huge, ardent conversation in my head with myself. (Actually, it wasn't a polite conversation... I was just shouting at myself.) THIS. THIS is what Made in the Lehigh Valley is all about! When we think about giving gifts, locally-made ones have EXTRA... pizazz. They have heart or something... way more than imported gifts! The "localness" is valuable. When you search on Etsy fine art prints to hang in your new home, sure the prices of out-of-state photographers' prints may be cheaper, but they are missing that... that... social capital. There is worth in having an art print that was photographed by someone in the Lehigh Valley.

Using our Site for Gift-giving

OK, so here's the good news. We are very, VERY lucky, because the Lehigh Valley makes an incredible array of items, from delicious candies to the most beautiful art. When you are here, you are surrounded by talented, creative, entrepreneurial people who are just dying for you to see what they make.

Now, your only challenge and last hurdle-- is finding those people and their brands.

At Made in the Lehigh Valley, our goal is to make it EASY for you to harness the power of local gift-giving, no matter what the occasion. If someone wants to give special, local presents, whether they are arts, crafts, or manufactured products, it shouldn't be a massive undertaking to find fun ideas. is here to do all the legwork for you and make it easy for you to find that perfect thing.

So go ahead, make that Lehigh Valley gift basket! Browse our amazing artists. Find new brands. Have FUN, and know that whoever receives that gift, is receiving more than just objects.