October 02, 2016

Made in Montana "NOT" in China

“Handcrafted in Montana” used to carry more meaning, back in the day when cottage industries and “mom-and-pop” home operations would create terrific, everyday-useful items alongside tourist souvenirs and the bric-a-brac. Fortunately, “Made in Montana” survives to this day, and seems to be making a bit of a comeback, as the buying public searches for authenticity in its purchasing, seeking items that are both made by hand, and made in Montana, a more modern reason why we still call this the Treasure State.

What does Made in Montana mean?  At Distinctly Montana Gifts we see many fine and interesting items at fairs, farmer markets and small shops across the state.  Not all, however, can be called Montana-made or even handcrafted.  The number of items that are made in China,” made in Mexico, or other developing countries is staggering.  We query each of the artists and artisans on our site as to the origin of the materials and labor for “Made in Montana.”  Our criteria includes verification that some portion of the material, and nearly all the labor must originate and be completed in Montana.  This is a gift shop for Montana artists and artisans to be in the spotlight.

Made in Montana includes a wide range of items, from elk antler napkin rings, alpaca outerwear and bison sausage to hand-forged belt buckles and (of course) Montana sapphires, mined and set to match our beautiful big skies.  Made in Montana in our gift store means that you are assured that the item or items you purchase are not only made in the U.S.A., but also in the great state of Montana.  No matter if you are shopping for a memorable gift, or a handcrafted souvenir of Montana, you can rely on the fact that Distinctly Montana Gifts is your best source, for authentic Montana-made crafts.

Our artists and artisans take terrific pride in their work. Made in Montana means something to them, and they all stand by their product and work, which means that we stand by them, and guarantee your satisfaction on each and every purchase.  Made in Montana and handcrafted is not only a pledge on our part for authenticity, it also carries a promise of honoring the tradition of those long-ago handcrafted items, made in the Montana of old.  We hope you will enjoy each and every item you purchase and please know that you can rely on us every time for making “handcrafted” and “Made in Montana” both a promise and a reality.

Made in Montana. Handcrafted. Distinctly Montana Gifts.  That’s all you have to know!

July 22, 2015

The Distinctly Montana Gift Shop and a Few Words About Souvenirs


The Distinctly Montana Gift Shop


A Few Words About Souvenirs

What is a souvenir? It helps to go to the origins of the word, from the French, for remembrance or memory. Most often today, the word “souvenir” is closely associated with objects which are collected or purchased, and brought back to one’s home as mementos or gifts, filled with meaning and connection to a person, a place or an occurrence. We are all souvenir-hunters, if the truth be known, and there are likely very few of us who haven’t engaged in the procurement and collection and gifting of souvenirs at one time or another.

Souvenirs may be as common-place as a shiny rock plucked dripping from some Montana river to a painting of a memorable boulevard in Paris, where the tourist enjoyed a wonderful visit, wishing to be later reminded of the sounds, scents and jostle of days and evenings well-spent. Most of us though would most readily associate the word souvenir with tschotchkes, the ultimately meaningless tees and trinkets found in souvenir shops--the world of t-shirts, caps, souvenir spoons, keychains, postcards, refrigerator magnets, and all manner of banal detritus, which have as their common elements cheap manufacture, low price points and mass appeal. So prevalent is this mass-produced avalanche of cloth, glass, wood and metal, that these are the bauble-bubbles that pop for us when we hear the word “souvenir.” There are many places in Montana to pick up such memories “on the cheap.”

There is also a dark side of souvenir-hunting, which would most notably include memorabilia of strife, war and occasional cruelty. Items stripped off conflict corpses, for example, would comprise everything from South American shrunken heads, scalps from Montana Indian wars, guns and helmets from World War II, to chunks of the Berlin Wall or heads of great beasts mounted on a study or tavern wall. Stuffed bear, elk and bighorn sheep of Montana are iconic, stuffed souvenirs of the hunter and collector.

Anything poignant with memory, it seems, may qualify as a souvenir. Occasionally the search for souvenir memorabilia approaches the incredible. The Elgin Marbles (also known as the Parthenon marbles) were stolen from Greece in 1801 and are now housed in the British Museum under protest by Greece. When it comes to souvenir hunting, it seems, there are no rules.

Souvenirs of quality are an entirely different species of keepsake, beautiful treasures made by artists and artisans local to the area in question, many of whom have special items to offer--handmade products which will be used by the purchaser and serve as tangible reminders of desirable events and places. In Montana and the American West, quality souvenir and gift items are almost impossible to define, as they are often one-of-a-kind, unique in design and construction. Montana souvenirs, for example, might be hand-cut from metal, stone, old barnwood or the teeth of elk. They might be richly valued, like Yogo sapphires or silver-smith earrings; unusual or odd like the paw-print of a grizzly bear or a hand-drawn map of Yellowstone Park; or simple and functional, as with pillows, comforters or furnishings. Montana, in particular, has a vast and recognizable collection of at-home artists and artisans who create for a living, hoping their creations will serve as gifts and souvenirs of the unique crafts of The Treasure State.

Quality souvenirs of the American West and Montana can be found at the Distinctly Montana Gift Shop, where the owners make every effort to pick and choose the best among Montana-made craft suitable for both gifting and for souvenir-hunting. Online souvenirs are available 24/7, and may be purchased and sent directly to your home or to a special friend or family member.

Souvenirs are the gift of memories. Montana creates memories.