Arizona Gifts

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A store in Chandler is changing the way some tourists and Arizona residents shop. At Sibley’s West, you won’t find a cactus or Kokopelli stamped “Made in China.” Owners Michelle and John Wolfe work with more than 200 suppliers, mostly artists, in Arizona. You’ll hear the stories behind the products they make and take a tour of the Wolfe’s shop.

Ted Simons: A retail store in Chandler changing the way some people shop and some artists become known. Producer Christina Estes brings us the story.

Miles Roberts: I love hand throwing on the wheeled. I'm for the a production artist, so I don't do a whole bunch of the same thing over and over again.

Christina Estes: Miles Roberts draws inspiration from Arizona.

Miles Roberts: I love the cactus. I love the smell of the rain when it hits the Sage. I love the mountains, the earth tones. Everything about the desert ends up coming through into my work.

Christina Estes: That includes a wolf named Sam.

Miles Roberts: Very gentle. Never aggressive. My wife raised this wolf and he's mostly wolf with a little bit of collie. So what happens is he sheds like crazy, more than I have ever seen any other dog shed in my life. You pet him for five minutes you get a whole handful.

Christina Estes: Rather than get frustrated, miles started using the hair.

Miles Roberts: The wolf has a down hair, like an under coat, which is actually gray, where the term gray wolf comes. From then they have the overcoat. One of the thicker, longer hair, one is a shorter, fuzzy light hair. Those two thicknesses of hair give it a nice dimensional quality. A little bit goes a long, long way.

Christina Estes: After the glaze and a couple trips to the kiln, Sam's hair r stands out while blending in.

Miles Roberts: It gives it a nice, natural look.

Christina Estes: Roberts sells his pottery at shows across the western U.S. and in downtown Chandler.

John Wolfe: We're Sibley's west gift shop. You're going to see things that you won't see every place else.

Christina Estes: Like Mesquite cutting boards crafted in Bisbee, Navajo blanket animals made in Avondale.

John Wolfe: We have lived here for 18 years. We struggle, we struggle to find gifts to send to relatives in Illinois and New York that were from Arizona. We were finding that we were excepting gifts that they probably have seen already in their own places. So we said, boy, it would be cool if we could do a store with just things from Arizona.

Christina Estes: That's just what John and Michelle Wolfe did in December 2010.

Michelle Wolfe: We have more than 00 Arizona suppliers. Primarily they are individuals. When I look around the store I go, there's Tim's work, there's Gary's work. There's Barbara's work. They are not suppliers, they are people behind everything you see.

Christina Estes: Requests for prickly pear products pop up most often. Sherri's desert harvest in Tucson has been provide ago taste of the southwest for almost 30 years.

John Wolfe: She harvests 35 tons of prickly pear fruit every August and September, and then from that squeezes the juice out and with the juice makes the jellies and the syrups. She makes the chewy candy that everyone loves.

Michelle Wolfe: This isn't what they expect. They are not expecting to see wine, for example. They don't expect to see food. They adopt expect to see garments that are made here.

Christina Estes: The Wolves never expected to attract so many customers from around the world.

John Wolfe: We invite guests to sign our guest book then we put a dot where they are from. This is our second map, our first map after three years was full.

Christina Estes: Wolfe says people from nearly 100 countries have left their marks.

John Wolfe: Thank you, guys.

John Wolfe: Virtually every check that we write goes to somebody in Arizona. That feeds the economy. We're proud members of local first Arizona. Really believe the idea that small can be good.

Michelle Wolfe: It's not about the product itself. It's about the story behind the product and the people behind the product.

Miles Roberts: Christina Estes: In one case the wolf behind the product although Sam died a couple of years ago --

He was just beloved by everyone. Good pup.

Christina Estes: Roberts says he left memories and plenty of hair.

Miles Roberts: Shouldn't run out.

Sibley's west also offers Arizona wine tastings and classes.

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