1. Handcrafted local gifts are now available to buy through Amazon Handmade and Prime Now – meaning they can be shipped to you in just two hours. The online giant announced the new feature Tuesday. It's available in 10 cities (Minneapolis being the only one in Minnesota) and will run through Christmas Eve.
2. The only way to see all the artisan-made items eligible for two-hour (or less) shipping is through the Prime Now app, an Amazon spokesperson said. Scroll down to "Holiday Favorites" and tap "Handmade Gifts." If you're in the proper ZIP code, you'll see a "Handmade in Minneapolis" option at the top.
3. The number of items is limited right now. The Prime Now app shows seven available in the Minneapolis area – five posters/prints, and a couple of sterling jewelry items. So yes you can get a locally made gift in a pinch. But don't expect many options.
The Big Picture
Amazon Handmade was launched in 2015 as an answer to the fast-rising craft darling Etsy, which at that time was worth $3 billion and had become the largest certified socially-responsible company to go public.
Handmade offers products from "local artisans" in 10 categories, including jewelry, stationary and party, pets, clothing and wedding – essentially "the kind of things [online shoppers may] have otherwise turned to Etsy for," as TechCrunch put it.
The marriage of Handmade with Amazon's growing on-demand shipping service is another attempt to one-up any craft competitor. In recent years Amazon has aggressively tried to build up a network of drivers that will be available at a moment's notice, hiring for delivery positions ahead of the holiday rush and reportedly working on an Uber-like app for truckers.
Those investments have made two-hour delivery of local handmade gifts possible.
Etsy sellers have to rely on third-party shipping services such as USPS, UPS and FedEx. Those companies can offer relatively quick shipping, but not "at your door in two hours" fast; nor will it be free, as Prime Now is with a Prime membership.
On the other hand, Etsy has 45 million items for sale. You just need to think ahead a bit to get something on time. The company also says its mission is to "keep commerce human" – a stark contrast to Amazon's reputation for grinding human employees down, and squeezing everything they can out of workers..