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The Indie South Special

By Griffin Nelson | Photos By Sara Wise

I’m a gift-giver. I’ve always been a gift-giver. There’s something special about giving – or getting – an item that has been specifically packaged for you. I don’t just mean the $5 your relative puts in your birthday card every year because they feel obligated but don’t know what to buy. I love the gifts that mean something, gifts that have been personally picked out and packaged with care, and most of all, I love gifts that are handmade. The more unique a product is, the more special it is. With handmade products, you know there is a person who worked with their own two hands to create something one-of-a-kind.

But the pressure is always on around the holidays. There is more than one person on the list, and I always want to make sure that each recipient I purchase a gift for realizes how important they are to me. Christmas shopping became an instant breeze once I found The Indie South. It’s as if someone rounded up all the local artisans and said, “Here, this space is for you.” And essentially that’s what Serra Jaggar was doing when she opened her first space in Normaltown in 2016.

A maker herself, Jaggar wanted to create a space where “People from all sorts of backgrounds can come together over the shared community of ‘I made this.’ I have that drive to bring people together," she says. "I felt like Athens needed a space to gather around creativity and creative entrepreneurialship.” Considering the fact that it has been voted Best Place to Shop Handmade two years in a row, I think it’s safe to say the response from the community has been enthusiastic!

The Indie South moved to its current location at 470 Hawthorne Ave. last year with the feeling that it could add a spark to a neighborhood that might need it. “My drive has always been to bring the community together through art,” Jaggar tells me. “We wanted to be in this area because I think there’s lots of potential to influence the neighborhood positively.”

In addition to the shop itself, she arranges a quarterly artisans market of the same name, drawing from a list of diverse makers from around the region. The holiday market is particularly special and takes place next to the shop itself on December 14-15.

The building that houses The Indie South is much bigger than its original location, and it has space for artists to work in the back in addition to the curated shop in the front throughout the year. Some of the artisans who can be found in the shop include Leela and John Hoehn of Native Bear – designing planners, cards, stationery and notebooks; Amanda Corbett of Salvaged Sparrow, who keeps the art of tintypes alive  through personal portraits; and David Hill, a fabulous local artist creating limited-edition, graphic pieces. The dream is to someday be able to use some of the expansive space for evening events like poetry readings and theater. “We want to be in the community business,” says Jaggar, “building a community and providing opportunities for others to pursue their dreams."

That’s what you’re doing when you shop at The Indie South – you’re helping to build a community by supporting people in their dreams. The bonus is that you’re getting a special gift (even if it's for yourself) that is unlike any other.

On the shelves of the shop can be found greeting cards for every occasion, a selection of vintage clothing items, potted succulents, Normal Soaps, Heartsong Herbs, an extensive selection of jewelry by various artists, and on and on.

Between the inside of the shop and the holiday market, which is not to be missed, I’ve got my list, I’ve checked it twice, and I am more excited than ever to give these gifts.