Local-only gift guide 

We've made a list, checked it twice, and found a ton of naughty and nice presents from Montana businesses

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Locally bound photo album

Starting at $35

Family mementos often make the best presents, especially for that hard-to-buy-for parent. Unfortunately, they also receive the most wear and tear.

If the childhood photo album Mom treasures so much is looking worse for the years, take it up to Shaffner's Bindery in Missoula. Jeff Shaffner will supply his expertise in crafting an attractive new cover for those old memories. Choose from a variety of leather products, from calfskin to goatskin. All the work is done on historic binding equipment, which Shaffner's Bindery purchased from the University of Montana's printing operation 45 years ago. The photos might be familiar, but it'll give loved ones a whole new reason to look back on the past at Christmas.

Find it at: Shaffner's Bindery, 3305 Pattee Canyon Road.

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Emu pain relief balm


It's hard work being Santa's little helper during the holiday season. We're talking about huffing it from store to store, carrying umpteen shopping bags around town, and wrestling with putting all those impossibly intricate toys together on Christmas Eve. All that hard work makes for one tired body on Christmas morning—and little recovery time before hitting the slopes on your precious days off.

Enter Laid in Montana's emu pain relief balm. This magical little rub, made from the hundreds of animals at the Montana Emu Ranch Co. in the Flathead, claims to cure all your aches and pains. The special formula—40 percent of which is emu oil—transports concentrated herbs deep into tissues, eases pain in sore muscles and joints, and reduces inflammation and restores elasticity.

If pain is not your game, there are plenty of other local emu-related products. Turns out, Montana Emu Ranch Co. and the Bitterroot's Wild Rose Emu Ranch use more than 95 percent of each bird for everything from moisturizing oils to delicious meat. What doesn't get used? Just the beak and feet.

But our wish list focuses on the pain relief balm—and maybe, if you love us, a little back massage.

Find it at: Good Food Store, S. Third Street W.; Rockin Rudy's, 237 Blaine Street; among other locations. Find Montana Emu Ranch Co. online at www.laidinmt.com, and Wild Rose Emu Ranch at www.wildroseemu.com.

Freeman Transport bicycles

$985 and up

Missoulians pedal around town picking up locally made bread, locally brewed beer and locally grown veggies—and we can now do it all on a full-sized, collapsable bicycle made by a Missoula-based company.

Freeman Transport, co-founded about two years ago by local graphic artist Ben Ferencz, who lives in St. Ignatius, and Nathaniel Freeman, of Minneapolis, Minn., features hand-built custom steel-framed bicycles, including track and commuter bikes and, soon, road and cross bikes. Perhaps most notably, the company makes bikes that can be easily disassembled and packed into signature waxed canvas and leather carrying cases.

"We wanted to travel with our bicycles, and we weren't happy with our options," Ferencz explains. "We wanted them to be full-size. We wanted them to have a certain functionality, a certain aesthetic, so we decided to do it ourselves."

And they did.

Find it at: www.freemantransport.com

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Rocky Mountain School of Photography prints

Prices vary from "less than $50" to hundreds of dollars

Thanks in part to the Rocky Mountain School of Photography (RMSP), Missoula is the host to, muse for and subject of dozens of renowned photographers. There's a great chance to give these shooters' work as gifts this season—and to hang it on your own walls—at RMSP's upcoming Opening the Vault: Access to the RMSP Archives event.

The two-day sale features images by RMSP instructors, including the likes of Marcy James and Elizabeth Stone. It's no University Center poster sale, but good deals on local, professional art are sure to be found. As James says, "I am just personally going through a phase of 'celebrating' our economic times, so I am into affordable art." That's something all of us can support.

Find it at: Rocky Mountain School of Photography Gallery, 216 N. Higgins Avenue, Dec. 12 and 13, 10 a.m.—5 p.m.

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