Cleveland Shops introduces gift card to make it easier to shop local

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Holiday shopping during a pandemic raises presents its share of challenges, particularly if you prefer to shop local.

a group of people standing in a room: Geiger's is one of more 40 locally owned stores belonging to Cleveland Shops.

© Allison Carey/The Plain Dealer/
Geiger’s is one of more 40 locally owned stores belonging to Cleveland Shops.

Stay-at-home advisories and deep discounts, free shipping and massive inventory offered by eCommerce giants can make it difficult for smaller, independent retailers to compete. But Cleveland Shops, the recently launched organization of independent, locally owned, brick and mortar retailers, is making it easier with a gift card that can be redeemed at any of the organization’s 41 locally-owned shops.


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“Our original concept focused on educating the public about the importance of supporting local retail establishments. During the pandemic this is more important than ever,” says Geiger’s owner Gordon Geiger, who also serves as president of Cleveland Shops. “We realize that shopping online is easy, but shopping local is crucial. It impacts our economy, our landscape, our finances and our communities.”

Local stores also have the advantage of offering unique products and personalized customer service that national retailers don’t.

The gift cards can be used like cash and have an expiration date of five years. The list of participating stores includes Alson Jewelers, Amy’s Shoes and Apparel, Blush Boutique, Cara’s Boutique, Casey’s Irish Imports, Contessa Gallery, Evie Lou, Geiger’s, Knuth’s, J3 Clothing Company, Lovely Paperie and Gifts, Rozi’s Wine House, Second Sole, The Wine Spot, and more.

The Cleveland Shops gift card is available in denominations of $50 and $100 and can be purchased at


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William Frederick Clothing and Forma Apparel Manufacturing collaborate in Cleveland fashion scene

CLEVELAND, Ohio — To William McNicol, the designer behind Cleveland-based clothing line William Frederick, being a local fashion designer also means building his products here in Northeast Ohio.


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His latest collection “F20W21,” released on Tuesday, Nov. 10, brought all manufacturing, designing and development to Northeast Ohio. The brand worked with the small garment factory Forma Apparel for all 24 pieces in the collection — a mix of trousers, shirts, coats and accessories.

The collection’s designs, McNicol said, found inspiration in the overlap between beauty and utility.

“It’s essentially about finding inspiration and beauty in things you can use every day,” he said. “Things that are beautiful can still be reliable and in fashion, it’s often one or the other… all of the fabrication in this that we use, should last a lifetime, even down to the selection of buttons.”

At Forma Apparel, sewer Corrine Blackman and business co-owner Amanda Cowsert coordinated the production of the line, which was created using eco-friendly deadstock fabrics — or, fabric that is leftover at textile factories and not specifically manufactured for the brand. Though McNicol had worked with the company in past collections, he has moved to 100% local production on current releases, he said.

McNicol said he leaned “F20W21” toward sustainability and ethical clothing production, in a line of business that can often be rife with problems. McNicol cited sexism, unfair wages in the global fashion industry and ecological issues when it comes to water usage and pollution in textile creation.

Though his line is a small, steady step toward addressing these issues, McNicol said it’s important on a community level.

“I think people have really gotten caught up on blaming fast-fashion for a lot of the issues in the world, but it needs to be examined a little deeper than that. You have to do small batch production with fabric because it’s impossible to do mass production and be sustainable,” McNicol said. “I think with people being more focused on local manufacturing as well as ethical production, there’s a growing interest that’s been leading people to the brand.”

McNicol’s focus on local production glances back to Cleveland’s history in the garment industry; in the 1920s, Cleveland was a national leader in garment production, second only to New York, according to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

Forma Apparel Manufacturing Company has found inspiration in Cleveland’s history, too. Cowsert said the factory plans to soon move to Cleveland, landing in the Flats or Warehouse District neighborhood to reconnect with the heyday of the city’s fashion industry.

Forma has been operating in Beachwood for six years, initially to support a small clothing label that Cowsert developed with her business partner. Eventually, the manufacturing side took over when Forma’s founders found demand for locally created, durable apparel.

“We really saw a need for manufacturing in the Midwest,” Cowsert said. “I think New York and California, if you have to deal with ship times, it causes a large delay and you don’t have the quality

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Cleveland Independents’ gift-certificate sale is set

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland Independents’ fourth-quarter gift-certificate sale is set for Thursday, Oct. 29.

Gift certificates sell in two discounted denominations: $50 cards cost $35, and $25 cards cost $17.50. This quarter, all members of Cleveland Independents are accepting the certificates for takeout, something that was limited in the past.

Cleveland Independents is a consortium of almost 80 locally owned independent restaurants.

Restaurants usually sell out their allotment of certificates quickly. While the certificates

have a five-year expiration, they are not redeemable during Cleveland Restaurant Week To Go, which is Nov. 9-20. Restaurants are holding a variety of promotions to try to combat restrictions resulting from coronavirus.

Related coverage: Cleveland Restaurant Week shifts focus

I am on’s life and culture team and cover food, beer, wine and sports-related topics. If you want to see my stories, here’s a directory on Bill Wills of WTAM-1100 and I talk food and drink usually at 8:20 a.m. Thursday morning. And tune in at 8:05 a.m. Fridays for “Beer with Bona and Much, Much More” with Munch Bishop on 1350-AM The Gambler.

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What is Cleveland Shops and how do I get the best deal?

If you’re looking for a gift idea for family and friends this year, there’s a way to support local businesses and save money at the same time!

CLEVELAND — A group called “Cleveland Shops,” which is made up of dozens of local stores and businesses, has teamed up to help spread the message of “shopping small” and help Northeast Ohioans find local businesses they may not know about.

3News talked to Geiger’s owner, and president of “Cleveland Shops,” Gordon Geiger, about why this is so important right now. He says it comes down to how much shopping habits have changed. It’s easy to scroll on your phone and click “buy” on Amazon or other big box retailer’s sites.

“We wanted to try to figure out how to send the message, how to remind our local customers that having brick and mortar independent retailers is really important,” Geiger says.

“We think the timing is really right to start this public message of ‘Cleveland Shops’ and how it’s going to be a fantastic community builder.”

The local businesses involved in “Cleveland Shops” are having a huge sale on gift certificates this week. They go on sale to the general public on Friday, Oct. 23, but you can sign up for their e-newsletter to get early access to the deals. Those who sign up can access the discounted gift certificates starting Wednesday, Oct. 21.

There are a limited supply of gift certificates available from each store. Click here to sign up.

The local stores and businesses involved in “Cleveland Shops” include:

  • Alson Jewelers
  • Amy’s Shoes & Apparel
  • Avenue Home
  • Baby Cakes Children’s Boutique
  • Block Brothers at Home
  • Blush Boutique
  • Calvetta Brothers Floor Show
  • Cara’s Boutique
  • Casey’s Irish Imports
  • Cleveland Lighting
  • Contessa Gallery
  • Cotton of Lakewood
  • Evie Lou
  • Geiger’s
  • IMG Jewelers
  • Jewelry Art
  • J3 Clothing Company
  • Kilgore Trout
  • Kleinhenz Jewelers
  • Knuth’s Shoes
  • Lion and Blue
  • Lisa Moran Ltd
  • Lovely Paperie & Gifts
  • Mar-Lou Shoes
  • Marshall Carpet One
  • Once Upon a Time Toys
  • Paisley Monkey
  • Rozi’s Wine House (No discount due to State alcohol laws)
  • Samsel Rope & Marine Supply
  • Sapphire Pear
  • Second Sole
  • Shaker Rocks
  • VNTG Home
  • The W Gallery
  • The Wine Spot (No discount due to State alcohol laws) 

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