No matter your budget this holiday season there are a plethora of local options that can help source the gifts you are looking for without the need to visit the big box stores. Here are a few of our favorites:N
Write-ups done by Jim Burrus, Betsy Abbott, Brett Callwood, & Katherine Weadley
Up in Arvada, Jake’s Toybox is a veritable Santa’s Workshop – a toy store that stands out from the big box crowd through a combination of imagination and presentation (plus a touch of magic). It’s not enormous, but every ounce of space is carefully put together, tempting kids with everything from giant stuffed toys to Lego, science sets to board games. Jake’s Toybox is a good 30-minute drive from Yellow Scene Towers in Erie, but it’s well worth the trek.
This place is a maze of nooks and crannies and little rooms stuffed with ceramics, classic candies, dogged coffee cups, chocolate, classic books and more. Take the 65-inch square, 100 percent cotton, hand woven tablecloths from Provence ($120). The rich, sometimes bold, colors are sure to mark a meal served upon one as special.
Among the most popular items here is the assortment of dog mugs from Morris Animal Foundation ($35). These beautifully rendered, hand painted likenesses of every breed from Border Collies to St. Bernards are hard to keep in stock, according to the fantastically helpful sales staff. But most stunning is the rainbow colored display leaving no doubt that despite appearances, this place is serious about made-in-Boulder Chocolove bars.
Boulder Wine Merchant
In the spectrum of liquor stores, the Boulder Wine Merchant occupies a sweet spot that ticks every box. There are some stellar wines to be had for a C-Note; like the 2009 Henri Richard Gevrey-Chambertin, basically a French Pinot Noir ($106). The same is true for a great beer. The St. Bernardus Prior 8 dubbel style Belgian Abbey ale ($12) is a robust, malty brew that clocks in at 8 percent alcohol by volume. And when it comes to the hard stuff, leave it to a couple of Boulder guys – Lance Sokol and Laurence Spiewak – who make a delicious tequila. The Suerte anejo ($57) is aged for two years in oak barrels, giving it a maliciously smooth character that puts most other comparably prices tequilas to shame. Try it and see for yourself.
For more than a quarter century, HB Woodsongs has been taking care of musicians young and old, along with their (mostly) stringed instruments.
For the musician on your holiday list, you can’t go wrong any way you turn in Woodsongs new store in Tebo Plaza on 28th Street. Stocking stuffers are everywhere, from picks and strings to this handy Snark clip-on chromatic tuner ($14).
For those looking for some music they can carry in their pocket, there’s the Hohner MS Series Blues Harp ($46). It comes with a sturdy carrying case and free online lessons to get you going.
But for the percussionist in the family, this Doumbek drum ($99), handmade in Boulder, is a sweet addition to any music room.
The Ritz is one of Boulder’s go-to shops for Halloween costumes, but don’t dismiss its appeal around the holidays.
For example, nothing takes the sting out of your Uncle Louise’s crass comment about your latest piercing than an Electronic Yodelling Pickel ($14). A tad more serious are the hats and scarves ($46 for both) that will instantly kick up any ensemble without breaking the bank. And when it comes to starting off 2015 in sparkling style, nothing fits that bill like a black sequin party dress from Angie ($98).
What We Love Winery
What We Love was born when owner and oenologist Michael Hasler was fiddling around with alcoholic concoctions in the kitchen with friends, and decided to turn it into a career. Now the company has a delicious Chardonnay (brand new and already popular), Sauvignon Blanc, Orange Muscat, Petit Syrah, and Red Rhone Blend, plus a Decadent Saint Red Sangria, and a Decadent Saint Mulled Wine. The latter two are totally unique products, made right here in Boulder. The sangria spice lends itself to the cold weather, and the hedonistic mulled wine is the wine for winter. Best of all, the company has developed a Pouch Warmer that allows skiers to carry sangria and mulled wine on the slopes and keep it warm. There’s also the Decadent Dongle, which connects the bottle to the pouch, making the pouch reusable.
Rick Lafond and his wife bought the building that is now Jamaya in Erie two years ago and pottered around with it, umming and ahhing, until finally making the decision to open up an art gallery and store. As it turns out, it was a great decision. Lafond, on top of many other things, uses old Colorado standing wood and makes walls and pictures mounts. Artists, both local and out-of-towners, sell reproduction and original art which os often mounted on that standing wood, and it looks great. The place also has some beautiful tables, children’s toys, Christmas decorations, and much more. Jamaya is an excellent addition to the Erie strip. Oh, and the store was named by a local Native American.
Country in the Village
You know that thing where you’re in the middle of nowhere and you come across a little store that sells all manner of crafts, from bird houses and country-fied ornaments to Christmas stuff? Country in the Village offers those very things, without having to disappear into the country. It feels very authentic and, when there’s snow on the ground, has a very holiday-ish feel to it. Best of all are the many and varied ornamental village pieces, from the super-creepy Halloween carnival town (complete with evil clowns) to the 1950s diner and the Christmas village – we wanted it all.
Curating the Cool
Owner Z recently moved his Curating the Cool store four doors down to a bigger location next door to the Post Brewery (see this month’s Notables interview), but the spirit of the place remains the same. CTC is heaven for fans of pop culture, post-modernism and memorabilia. It’s like the best part of every flea market and thrift store – the cool without the digging. Z has also filled the place with cool local products, from sunglasses to purses. There are old Reagan/Bush pins here (irony?), plus X-Man toys and some great vinyl. When we walked in to take pictures, the soundtrack to Flashdance was playing. Got to love that.
Elizabeth’s is one of those stores that seems to go on forever. As it stretches back, more rooms open up revealing whole areas of sale items, purses and bags, kid’s stuff, etc. No matter your budget, there’s something here for you. Working cheap? There are some stunning candles here. Looking for something a little more costly? Try one of the beautiful pieces of art, or the amazing clothes. The colorful piggy banks are particularly good fun, and the decorative bird cage will look perfect with a decorative bird inside. The staff are warm and friendly, so call in and see what you can find.
Lafayette Flea Market
The Lafayette Flea Market is heaven for bargain-hunters and those seeking something unusual. The vast space is separated into mini-pods or “rooms,” each one containing the goods of a different purveyor. So you can find anything here including holiday decorations, clothes, toys and collectables, comic books, ornaments, CDs and DVD. Much like Noble Treasures, you need to be prepared to spend some serious time here – it’s those with the keenest eyes and nose for a hunt that find the best gifts.
Despite the name, Lafayette Florist sells a lot more than flower arrangements and plants. It does sell those things, and they are beautiful, but there’s a lot more on offer. Candy Rudolph noses? Check. Big metal cars for holding foliage? Yup, that too. The place is stunning though – every little thing is perfectly placed, the décor and presentation carefully thought out. Upstairs, there’s a whole load of Christmas-y stuff at this time of year, making it a great one-stop gift shop.
Noble Treasures in Lafayette is an antiques store that requires a good hour of your time in order to do the place justice. Every turn, every nook and cranny, reveals more treasures and fascinating items to peruse. From antique typewriters to dusty old books, from gorgeous furniture to bottles filled with buttons, new stock comes in all the time so you need to go more than once. If you have no idea what to get a loved one during the holidays, this is a great place to turn up something that nobody will guess.
Right next to Struttin’ Pup, in a Lafayette strip mall that is transforming into something cool, Purple Poppy offers off-the-wall gift ideas – crafts and local-area designs that will change your mind when considering what to get for mom. From Roy Lichtenstein-esque purses to hand-painted goblets, taking in attractive dip mixes along the way. There’s plenty to see, and you need to allow yourself some serious time here.
Located on Arapahoe in Lafayette, Struttin’ Pup offers everything from cuts and clips for your dogs and cats to, um, tattoo-design pet-sweaters. Let’s face it, pet-owners always feel a little bit guilt around Christmas if we don’t get our furry pal a little bit of something to unwrap, even if we know deep down that they don’t understand the holidays. They’re part of the family and we want to involve them. Struttin’ Pup has plenty of great gift ideas.
Situated across the mall from Purple Poppy, Country in the Village and Struttin’ Pup, Timbalier has is all about class and quality. From the beautiful nutcracker soldiers to the stunning clocks made from old circuit boards and floppy discs, the stuffed Santas to the voodoo dolls. Hell, they even have spoons and forks for young children in the shape of trucks. Every parent needs one of those to make meal time easier.
A 30-minute drive from Erie took us up the mountains to Lyons, a stunning little town with great bars and restaurants, and the White Lion. This is a great store, kind of like a magical thrift store that you see in kiddie movies, where the protagonist finds something special that drives a whole adventure. You won’t know what you might find at White Lion, but we very much liked the old teddy bears and vintage cookie tins.
While this store in Longmont bears the Ace Hardware name, it is unlike any other Ace Hardware in the country. Like a cross between McGuckin, Jax and the Cheese Importers, you can find weird and wonderful gift ideas here, whether it be the unusual vintage sodas at the counter or something in the extensive and awesome kitchen area, like a German-forged, high-carbon J.A. Henckels stainless steel 8-inch chef’s knife ($125). Not only that, but in Steve Carson they have an in-house turkey expert. Who else can claim that? If you don’t want to cook your bird, just across from the Ace housewares are birdfeeders and seed that will bring a menagerie of winged fauna to your backdoor. And for the green thumb in the family, these ACE Pruners ($10) are an ideal stocking stuffer. Non-slip grips and a sharp locking stainless steel bypass cutting blade will make sure this handy tool gets used. Ace in Longmont has everything you’d expect to find at an Ace Hardware, and a whole lot more.
Just the comfortingly rich aroma of Adorn lets you know you’ve arrived someplace special. With trinkets, purses, knick-knacks and jewelry galore, expect to take a seat, guys, while your significant other explores the many nooks and crannies filled with stuff.
Little stuff, like the Felted Wool Roost ornaments ($11) are sure to infest a Christmas tree near you this holiday season. Yes, they are cute little characters that are sure to bring a smile to the faces of little kids whose imaginations and sense of play are ripe for such trinkets.
Ever since moving into the old Longmont power plant on Main Street two years ago, the iconic Cheese Importers has continued to grow. Their food, beer, wine and spirits offerings have blossomed in their new space, but even better are the selections of gifts, toys, linens, books, lotions, plates, prints, and a multitude of other offerings that will set a Francophile’s heart racing. There is an extensive selection of hand painted plates in bold colors and all manner of linens, from table cloths to napkins to dish towels.
If you’re looking for something old or rusted or whimsical for your home or garden, you can’t go wrong at Nest in Prospect in Longmont.
Seriously guys, the hand welded metal letters, numbers, words and symbols, like this arrow with the fantastic patina, made from recycled oil drums ($94) make great decorations indoors or out.
And for those breezy days, this hand-painted red bell from India ($39) will put your tinkly wind chimes to shame.
Just in time for Christmas, Nest has a great selection of mercury glass ornaments, like these hearts ($8 each). The selection is wide and their highly reflective quality will add instant visual appeal to any Christmas tree.
The gorgeous selection of chocolates created by Robin Autorino look good enough to wear. It’s almost anathema to sink your teeth into the vibrant and shimmering red, amber, gold, emerald and purple jewel-toned chocolates. But once you do, it is immediately apparent that you have left the realm of the mundane and entered the rich realm of the sublime. From an improbably small storefront, Robin Chocolates produces some big tasting confectionery and exquisite baked goods. A mini gluten-free German Chocolate Cake ($7, not pictured) comes tucked into its own box and has a perfect combination of chocolate and coconut. The 12-piece box of assorted chocolates, along with a bag each of vanilla salt caramels and peppermint bark ($43), will go a long way toward quenching even the most stubborn sweet tooth.
Simply Bulk Market
You can kill multiple holiday birds with a single trip to Simply Bulk Market in Longmont. Starting at $8 are Amber Lights’ locally sourced and handmade beeswax candles in a variety of sizes and molds.
Further back in the store are Ginko Designs earrings, necklaces and bracelets by local artisan Georgia Bratty. These handmade, one of a kind pieces — like this necklace and earring combo for $82 — will certainly put a smile on your sweetie’s lips when she cracks those open on Christmas morning.
But hiding right there in plain sight is probably the coolest addition to a foodie’s kitchen, a Evolution Salt Co. Himalayan Crystal Gourmet Salt Slab ($35).
A big chain jewelry store has much the same feel as a WalMart; big, impersonal and daunting. And that’s a big reason why Snyder Jewelers is such a pleasant alternative. Tucked into the sunny southwest corner of their building, Snyder Jewelers offers a rich, but not overwhelming, selection of fine watches, diamond rings, gemstones, wedding bands, pendants, earrings and more. Gift ideas abound here, but the sterling silver and chalcedony pieces are especially beautiful. The pendant ($300), ring ($285) and earrings ($425) make a stunning gift either individually or together. And while you’re there, be sure to check out the vibrant, colorful and distinctive Belle Étoile (French for “beautiful star) collection of earrings, rings and pendants.
Assorted Goods & Candy
Assorted Goods & Candy is a weirdly wonderful little store on Louisville, which, as the name implies, seems to function as a combo candy store and emporium of oddities. It’s no ordinary sweetie shop though; this place has slabs of chocolate with names like Double-Decker and Crunchie that are imported from the UK. It’s a great opportunity to try something new. Meanwhile, there’s a veritable treasure-trove of lunch boxes and figures that will please shoppers old and young. It’s like a who’s who of pop culture. Mork & Mindy are in one corner, Superman in another. Honestly, we could buy everything.
The Book Cellar
The Book Cellar is a really fun store, and a must-visit for book worms and those who don’t believe that a true reading experience can be had from an electronic device. Used, well-loved paperbacks sit alongside valuable first editions and a few zombie toys and batmobiles. Want an inflatable Superman or a dashboard Jesus? You can get them here. An encyclopedia of all things Charlie Brown or the latest in the Hunger Games saga? Check.
Despite the fact that Halloween had only just come and gone when we visited By Chance, the whole store was already decked out with Christmas decorations. It’s beautiful too – a Santa’s workshop vibe right there in Louisville. Fine local art mixes with sweet kitsch, and the gallery section at the back is well worth a visit if only for a browse. The sculptures of elephants, rhinos, etc are pretty awesome, but so are the napkins emblazoned with witty expressions.
When we arrived at Fuzzy Antler, they were in the process of preparing for their annual Holiday Open House. They apologized for the chaos but they needn’t have – the many wonders that this place has on offer shone through the mess. Fun slinky-dog tree decorations, “Day of the Dead” style candlesticks, bears in Santa hats – there’s a warm, Grandma’s attic-style vibe to this store, if Grandma’s attic was super-organized and smelt of scented candles.
Cooper’s Corner is named after Cooper, the adorable labrador dog that greets shoppers with a wag of the tail and a happy snuffle. The warm welcome is only compounded by the beautifully presented and glorious selection of goods on offer. From baby and toddler clothes and toys to outdoors-y clothes and accessories, the place has something for every Coloradan. Perhaps the greatest thing in the store is the brass gramophone that is actually a speaker for bluetooth-capable devices. Just cyber-hook up your phone or iPad, and your favorite tunes are given the olde timey treatment.
We have to be honest – when we walked into Encore and a customer was telling the manager that she had seen an ad in Yellow Scene, and that she loves our magazine, we felt all warm and fuzzy inside. Fair enough though – this is a great store. Beautiful pieces of furniture sit alongside gorgeous ornaments and pieces of art, plus kitchenware. It might be a little off the typical Louiseville beaten path, but it’s worth a little drive.
Kitsch art meets classy at Old Friends in Louisville. The store, which sits right next to Assorted Goods & Candy, offers crafts and art (such as the Colorado flag on a piece of corrugated iron), alongside plastic dinosaur and shark heads to mount on the wall. Need a Colorado shot glass? They have them. Got a space on the shelf for a snowman beanie? You’re in luck. A wall-mountable heart with wings? Bingo. This is the kind of place to go when you need to buy an unusual gift but you’re out of ideas.
We love Rockin’ Robins. This consignment store is staffed by real characters, and the atmosphere is wonderful. The jukebox is constantly playing awesome tunes, while you pick through some real gems. We were tempted by the 1950s-style men’s shoes, but they wren’t in our size. Oh well. Gold-colored suit jackets and some fly hats caught our eye while, in the women’s section, the owners are particularly proud of their fur stock (there is still a demand in some quarters). Organized neatly and with a very cool retro rock ‘n’ roll feel, Rockin’ Robins is a really unusual store.
No need to be a basket case this holiday season with so many local stores willing to help you make a basket in your price range.
Looking for some country cozy to warm up your home? Then slip yourself into The Niche Boutique. The sepia toned foyer holds so many cute hedgehog, camper, and mustache adorned thingamabobs for only $10-20 you’ll have that hipster swearing you went all the way to Brooklyn for his gift.
Grab a few Home Is Where the Heart Is signs and Tyler Candle Company scented candles for your coworkers too. They even sell those cute Little House on the Prairie metal baskets you’d carry your eggs in if you’d just gotten that chicken coop up and running last spring. The Niche is filled with metal keys, a good buy at 7 bucks.
Whether you want to spend $2 or $2,000 on your favorite gamer, Hero Headquarters is the place to be. The Westminster comic book and collectible toy specialty store stocks all the latest comics along with a tasty selection of vintage stuff, and the knowledgeable staff never judges on nerd cred. They will walk you through starting an age and interest appropriate collection regardless of your background. Any if you’re looking for something from the Silver Age, if you’ll drop the coin, they’ll find it.
Looking for that sexy Harley Quinn bust? they’ve got it, along with the other DC and Marvel statuettes you saw at Denver Comic Con. Walking Dead vinyl bobble heads still your thing? Open that wallet.