Daily Hampshire Gazette Article

Shopping Basket
by Mcleary

BATHING BEAUTIES ... If you think soap seems like a ho-hum Mother's Day gift, you probably haven't shopped for it lately. All those hand-crafted bars in exotic scents, wrapped in elegant papers ... how to choose?

Here's how: Go local.

Start at Northampton's Cornucopia, where everything made within 100 miles is flagged with a helpful shelf sign. There's Just Soap fromAshfield, which is super eco-friendly, with a unique gimmick: The ingredients (organic, naturally) are blended with mixers powered by people pedaling stationery bicycles. A bar of Lavender Rosemary Just Soap is $2.89. Or you could choose Cinnamon Orange and Clove soap ($6.49) from Budder Bars, a Connecticut company that uses vegetable and nut oils and a "secret" ingredient - raw goat's milk. Then there's Leap Organics Soap ($4.19), a favorite of Cornucopia body care buyer Christine Shaw because of its "luscious fragrances" - combinations like Lemongrass Orange and Lime. Plus, the soap is artfully packaged, with a different design for each variety.

Joia in Northampton carries fine soaps from around the world, including one that hails from Plainfield. Dancing Bare soaps are made using locally harvested herbs that are immersed in spring water, then left to steep outdoors through sunshine, moonlight and even lightning storms, depending on whether the bar is intended to soothe or stimulate. A bar of Dancing Bare's Calendula Flower soap is $6.50.

Demarey Gardens in Southampton has super-moisturizing Scentastics soap, made in Vermont with goat's milk and shea butter. Available in about 30 scents (Spa Therapy features eucalyptus, rosemary and ground loofah), the bars are $5. And Nashawannuck Gallery in Easthampton carries organic Delights of the Earth soap from Williamsburg, including Siberian Fir, Green Tea and Lemon, and one scent that will likely be especially evocative if mom grew up in the '70s - Peaceful Patchouli. The bars are $3.50.

Finally, if you really want to go local, make your own soap. A.C. Moore in Holyoke carries everything you'll need: glycerin, scents and molds in whimsical shapes like dragonflies.

- Margot Cleary

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