Yellow Springs, Ohio, August 2023


This is a view from a trail in the Glen Helen Nature Preserve.

Shopping for Sustainable Gifts in Yellow Springs

By Anna Krejci

August 2023

Warm August is a far stretch from the wintry Christmas season, but I had begun my holiday shopping like I usually do in the late summer.  I love to look for gifts that are especially unique and just the right match for the person for whom it is intended.  So, when I ventured into downtown Yellow Springs, Ohio, I had great expectations of finding things for my relatives and friends.

Yellow Springs has a population of nearly 3,700.  The downtown is small and compact, but it is large enough to accommodate the more than 20 stores, by my estimate, that I entered.  It took a good part of my day to visit them.  It was completely walkable.  On a good weather day, it was a pleasure to browse in stores and make my way in between.  Local restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating dotted the area.

The Christmas decorations were put away in all but one shop that I visited.  One glass studio sold interesting pieces of art, including holiday ornaments strung up on an evergreen tree in the middle of the store.  Seeing that display was a bit of a nudge; Christmas is coming.  I only start browsing for holiday gifts so early because I dislike the crowded malls in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Yellow Springs had a laid-back ambience.  I knew I could take it easy and if I did not find things to give this trip, I still had time.  Half of the battle is coming up with ideas.  Nothing is better than browsing for that!

I will buy for someone who cares much about the environment, and several stores focused on selling sustainable clothing.  One of them was a seller of shirts where if I bought one, the shirtmaker would plant 10 trees.  Another shop housed an artist’s art pieces made from recycled glass bottles.  I bought one of their glass pieces with a purple shaded floral design.  Several stores sold greeting cards made from recycled materials.  In Yellow Springs, I had the feeling that doing well by the economy was also doing well by the environment and vice versa.  I love to see things for sale that have been upcycled.

We visited a used bookstore, but not everything sold was used.  I bought a game based on the pairings of lovers in Jane Austen’s novels.  It was a memory card game where, by memory, you learn the placement of cards arrayed on a table by turning several over on your play and replacing them until you turn over two matching cards.  In this game called “Matchmaking: The Jane Austen Memory Game,” you must match one card showing an illustration of a female character to another card showing the male character that completes the romantic match or social arrangement Austen created in one of her novels.  Characters from "Pride and Prejudice," "Mansfield Park," "Emma," "Sense and Sensibility," "Northanger Abbey," and "Persuasion" were part of the game.  I was glad I packed some card games to play with my spouse in the quiet evenings in Yellow Springs.  A tradition we have is to buy a little deck of cards or trivia game to play together when we travel.

Besides being known for its unique stores, Yellow Springs is on the Little Miami Scenic Trail that links Xenia to Yellow Springs, a 10-mile ride. I started biking on a nicely shaded section from Yellow Springs south to Xenia.  I passed the Glen Helen Nature Preserve, which had hiking trails and the spring for which the village was named. I also passed a riding stable, a field of crops and beneath the Hyde Road covered bridge before turning back the way I came.  It was about a 6-mile round trip.  The early morning was a wonderful time to cycle on a less crowded trail in cooler weather.

I enjoyed my day and a half. I would like to return.  Yellow Springs was such a nature-focused area. Visiting it made me appreciate the seasons, even winter.  I think I will have an extra spring in my step come December, when I spend the holidays with friends and family and share gifts that have the world at heart.

The station in Yellow Springs provides brochures and maps to visitors.


The Hyde Road bridge spans above the Little Miami Scenic Trail.