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12 Days of Indie Merchant Gifts: Day 1

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12 Days of Indie Merchant Gifts
The Shopping List Bag, made by L.E. Green Bags

of Cedar Grove, N.J. (photo above), priced at $13.99.

Need a gift for someone special? Want to support a small business? Look no further.

A month ago, we asked artisans, craftspeople and independent merchants to tell us about their one-of-a-kind items that would make a perfect gift for someone special this holiday season. We were flooded with responses – more than 200 in all – and found the task of narrowing the selection for our Indie Merchant Holiday Gift Guide rather daunting.

But an intrepid team of editors at pored over your stories, photos and prices (we didn't accept items over $50), and selected the 12 items that we felt were the most unique, valuable or functional of the lot – and of course, featured a nice story behind its inception. As journalists, we like stories. You told us some great ones.

Rather than announce the winning items at once, we've decided to roll out a gift per day over the next 12 days in order to shine a spotlight on each individual merchant. On Dec. 12, we'll ask you, the reader, to vote for your favorite. We'll plan to announce the Readers' Choice Award on Dec. 19, just in time for last-minute holiday shopping.  

So, drumroll please. Today's gift is in the popular "bags" category. While we received numerous submissions from bag makers, the one that stood out to us is The Shopping List Bag, made by L.E. Green Bags of Cedar Grove, N.J. (photo above), priced at $13.99.

Owner Daniel J. Russo tells us that he was inspired to create this bag when he realized that people habitually forget to bring their reusable bag to the grocery store. Two-thirds of shoppers also use a list, he knew. So why not attach one's shopping list directly to the bag?

"I spent one afternoon furiously cutting, gluing, drawing, tracing, and running back and forth to the art store for fasteners, fabric, clips, magnets and plenty of glue, as I don't know how to sew," he wrote. "At the end of the day, The Shopping List Bag was born and it worked better than expected!"

Russo also told us that "it's a great feeling" to help friends and family reduce their environmental impact. We liked the eco-friendly aspect of his story … plus Russo's entrepreneurial scrappiness. He sold bags out of the trunk of his car until he got serious, wrote a business plan and pursued the business full-time.

Check back tomorrow to vote for your favorite item in this year's gift guide.

Day 1: "The Shopping List Bag" - L.E. Green Bags

Day 2: Children's multicultural books - Hartlyn Kids  

Day 3: Chalkboard beer mug - The Man Registry

Day 4: Recycled china pendant - The Broken Plate Pendant Co.

Day 5: Vegan lip balm - Sprout Skincare

Day 6: Fair-trade-certified soccer ball - Senda Athletics

Day 6: Fair-trade-certified soccer ball - Senda Athletics

Day 7: Digital luggage scale - EatSmart Products

Day 8: Dog treat pouch - Sara Bella Upcycled

Day 9: "Not sent from my iPhone" Stationery set - Red Letter Paper Co.

Day 10: Key lime BBQ Sauce - Reva Foods

Day 11: Periodic Table of Elements necklace - My London Sun

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