Carson's has launched new "Close to Home" in-store shops in its department stores in Hammond, Hobart and Michigan City.

The stores in the Southlake Mall, Marquette Mall and what was the Woodmar Mall carry specialty products made by local artisans, such as hand-crafted soap, metal 219 signs and purses and clutches made from the fabric from the roof of the demolished RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

Parent company The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. has been rolling out the concept nationwide. Carson's department stores have been setting aside special sections to sell products from local makers, including jewelry, soy-wax candles, various Indiana-themed T-shirts and Lake Michigan coasters.

“As the area’s hometown department store, we take great pride in showcasing products made right here by businesses in our local communities and state,” said Ryan Nekola, Store Manager at the Carson’s in Southlake Mall. “Carson’s regional merchandising team has carefully curated a selection of specialty products from Indiana artisans that provide our customers with a hometown shopping experience, and, with our ‘Close to Home’ Online Sourcing Fair, we’re excited to showcase even more local makers.”

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Local "Close to Home" stores sell products from Indianapolis-based small businesses like Hoosier Proud, the Handmade Society, Pittman Design & Fabrication, The Onyx Exchange, United State of Indiana and People for Urban Progress. They also carry craft soaps and small batch lip chaps from Pure GRACE Soap, which got its start at a farmers market in Terre Haute.

Carson's is looking to add new items "frequently and seasonally" and is in search of more suppliers from Northwest Indiana. Local artisans or makers who are interested in selling their wares, clothing, jewelry, artwork or "other one-of-a-kind items" at local Carson's stores can apply online by a Friday deadline.

Anyone interested in the business opportunity should visit closetohome.bonton.com.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.