When Sarah Carr started the annual Gift Forest pop-up holiday shop in 2010, it took place at The Bridge PAI. “I called the shop Great Gifts through 2012 and changed the name to Gift Forest in 2013,” says Carr. “I had a much stronger vision for things in 2013. That’s when I started to feel the project was equal parts an endeavor to make artists money and to construct an art installation composed of all of their work.”
The wide windows of the gallery lent the shop the extravagance of Macy’s holiday installations, while the eclectic selection and festive decorations earned it a devoted base of shoppers and fans. For five years, Belmont residents and others came to expect the pop-up to return every December, each time with a marked improvement in the quantity, quality and quirk of the shop’s offerings. “Pop-ups were a lot less common at the time, so I was finding my way with very little help,” reflects Carr.
Celebrating its sixth anniversary this month, the Gift Forest has made a big move this year. Now located on the Downtown Mall, Carr and company set up shop in the space formerly occupied by Vivian’s Art for Living. The Gift Forest opened its doors in the new spot on November 30, but the official opening party for the shop will take place during First Fridays on December 4, with music by Colin Powell.
As is its tradition, the store carries a wide variety of handmade, repurposed and vintage items from regional crafters, collectors, designers and artists—totaling approximately 100 individuals. “We’re excited to be on the Downtown Mall this year because we are obviously getting a lot more exposure in this space. We have also been able to invite about twice as many vendors,” says Carr. Familiar names like Elaine B Jewelry, Richard Crozier, Budala Pottery and Monolith Studio Knives stock the shelves, and Carr hopes to provide an alternative to big-box stores while also supporting the local artisans and creatives whose work is for sale.
The Gift Forest will be open daily through December 24, providing plenty of time to forage for one-of-a-kind gifts, from vintage clothes and handmade books to holistic cosmetics, silkscreened accessories and fine art. Further, expect to see some performance art and other events at the shop later this month as well. For details, visit face book.com/giftforest15.