“We believe that travelers feel better buying gifts that support creativity and that are connected to the places they love.”

Harriet Baskas
October 23, 2018

If souvenir shot glasses and refrigerator magnets are all you’re after, most airport gift shops will do just fine.

But if you’re traveling through Newark Liberty International Airport, in New Jersey, you can now purchase unique, locally made gifts from a pair of vending machines in Terminal A.

Described as “an indie craft fair in a box,” SouveNEAR’s art-filled machines are filled with t-shirts, jewelry, soaps, pins, patches, eco-friendly baby clothing, handmade candy, and a wide variety of other items made by New Jersey and New York artists.

Courtesy of SouveNEAR

“Our items range from specialty foods like Fatty Sundays chocolate covered pretzels to colorful temporary tattoos and stickers from illustrator Annie Draws Stuff,” said Aurelien Coste, SouveNEAR’s NY/NJ Operations Manager.

In advance of SouveNEAR’s Newark debut, local buyers scoured craft shows and markets and poked around online in search of work by local artists whose creations would physically fit into the vending machine format. They were also on the lookout for items that would match the company’s mission of offering travelers an interesting array of artist-made options when they’re sure to be looking for souvenirs.

“We believe that travelers feel better buying gifts that support creativity and that are connected to the places they love,” said SouveNEAR co-founder Suzanne Southard. “We hope Newark passengers will feel great about supporting local creativity and taking home something that is really connected to this area.”

Courtesy of Kaibelle

Like the local-themed, artist-made items in SouveNEAR’s vending machines in the Oakland Airport, in Missouri’s Kansas City International Airport, in the lobby of a Marriott hotel in Emeryville, California, and in the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco, items in SouveNEAR’s first east coast machines at EWR will be refreshed often and offer artwork priced between $4 and $40. And like all the art vending machines, all the artwork will also be available online.

Travelers seem comfortable with airport vending machines that sell everything from Benefit cosmetics to electronics from Best Buy, but some artists weren’t so sure about putting their work in an automated airport store.

“When SouveNEAR first reached out to me, I was initially hesitant imagining [my] products in a vending machine,” said kaibelle owner Neena Litton, who block prints onto locally and responsibly sourced materials. “But as they explained the concept and I saw what they had accomplished in other airports across the U.S., I realized they couldn’t be further from a typical vending machine.

“Having a bit of wanderlust myself, the idea of being able to purchase thoughtful and locally made keepsakes before hopping onto a plane is truly exciting.”

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