This is Part 2 of a 2-part series posted on The Columbus Experience. Part 1 is by Amy Gatto Klein, who features her last-minute shopping gameplan. Part 2 is by Brian Cheek, who features some of his already-completed shopping stops made this holiday season.

With all of the talk about the economy, I tried to make a conscious effort to shop locally for Christmas this year. I wanted to support our Columbus merchants - those who would feel the effects of the economy first, those we can not afford to lose, and those who make Columbus what it is.

I'm typically a last-minute shopper like Amy, but this year I planned ahead and gave myself time to hit a few Columbus neighborhoods to find gifts.

  • I started with Collier West in the Short North , a gorgeous store with a variety of wares including tabletop items by Michael Aram and decoupage pieces by John Derian . I received personal assistance, didn't have to deal with a stressed-out sales person out to make a commission, and my purchase was packaged uniquely and ready to give.
  • I still send good old-fashioned greeting cards (and actually, not just at Christmas but year round). For unique cards, I headed to my usual stop, Peabody Papers in Grandview. I love walking into a place that carries a variety of styles created by artists or companies with a specific style. You're warmly greeted at Peabody Papers and given personalized individual attention - whether you're there for a single card or a set of customized invitations.
  • Since I work for Experience Columbus, it might seem cheesy to say I like to give a local "experience" as a gift. Well pass the Gouda, because the truth is that's exactly what I like to do. I purchased tickets for a friend and me to take a Chef Series Cooking Class at the North Market . You can't get more local then taking a cooking class from a Columbus area chef; ours will be taught by Paul Yow from Barcelona Restaurant & Bar . What I really love about this gift is that my friend would have never bought it for herself.
  • I have nine nieces and nephews, so for their gifts I headed to Larson's Toys and Games in Upper Arlington, a great alternative to big box toy stores. Larson's carries a variety of classic wooden toys along with lines of toys from around the world. I never worry that I've bought the little ones in my life something they already have. Larson's also offers free gift wrapping, all year round. Enough said.
  • Finally, for my friend that has everything, I turned to food. Weiland's Gourmet Market in Clintonville has a wide variety of seafood, meat, cheese and specialty international items. I chose an assortment of goodies specific to my friend's tastes, and was able to do it all during one stop at this busy but friendly market.  Weiland's also offers a wide selection of beer, wine and liquor. Their knowledgeable staff will help you find just the right drink to go with whatever you might be serving (and for some of you out there, they can help figure out which libation will get you through holiday get-togethers with the relatives).