It's that time of year where shoppers brave the cold weather to patronize malls and box stores in search of the perfect holiday gift. However, many of the best gifts aren't found in malls at all. Maplewood and Brentwood boast a wealth of great local businesses where you can complete your holiday gift list.
Aside from carrying one-of-a-kind gifts not found in bigger stores, local businesses offer another perk to those willing to purchase their wares. Buying locally helps our communities; the money you spend in local shops goes right back into the region in which you live.
I spent the day roaming around Maplewood and Brentwood in search of great holiday gifts. Here are some of my favorite finds.
Norton's Fine Art and Framing in Maplewood is a spacious shop with a multitude of items for the artsy person in your life. Pick up a delicate decorative plate ($75), or select a uniquely beautiful wine corker ($10 to $18.95). For a unique multipurpose gift, check out the ornament adornments ($12 - $20); these decorative Christmas tree ornaments can also be worn as a necklace.
Artmart in Brentwood is an artist's haven. Find every art supply imaginable in this large store, from ready-made photo frames ($6 and up) to Moleskine ruled notebooks ($18.95 for a set of 2). Artmart also features a number of gift sets that caught my eye; try the Fabric Screen Printing Kit ($61.99) or the Coloursoft Starter Kit ($52.95)—this kit comes with colored pencils, sharpeners, and a fortification and sand block.
Big Bend Antique Gallery in Maplewood is full of unique and interesting gifts for those on your holiday list. Big Bend Antique Gallery offers a wide selection of one-of-a-kind items at prices that won't break the bank. The Sam the Snowman action figure ($5) is an inexpensive toy that would make a perfect stocking stuffer. I also spotted a vintage '70s gray leather jacket ($38) that was in good condition and would make a perfect gift.
Clothing and Shoes
Seliga Shoes is a family-owned business in Brentwood that carries every variety of shoe imaginable. With name brands ranging from Dansko, SAS, and Haflinger, Selega Shoes has shoes appropriate for any occasion. I spotted a great pair of Haflinger slippers ($70) that would be perfect for a cozy winter day. A pair of SAS walking shoes ($149) is a great gift for the exercise enthusiast that wants to stay comfortable.
Femme, located in downtown Maplewood, offers a great selection of unique clothing items for the woman on your holiday shopping list. With indie lines like Petit Pois and Mixie, Femme has just what you're looking for. Femme's pink tulle peacoat ($60) caught my eye; this short button up coat is perfect for the cold winter months. I also spotted a green ruffled dress with spaghetti straps ($118). This intricately-designed dress has beautiful beaded detailing, and while not appropriate for the winter season, will certainly give the recipient something to look forward to for the spring.
Tigerlily, located in downtown Maplewood, has a wide variety of items in the store for the young and old. The miche bags are great gift ideas, and are offered in a variety of styles and prices (a small bag costs $36). Check out Tigerlily's vast display of colorful scarves (starting at $24); these delicate pieces of fabric will complement just about any outfit. Tigerlily's headbands ($10) would make a great stocking stuffer.
Penzey's Spices in Maplewood is a great spot to pick up supplies for the cooking enthusiast on your shopping list. Pick up a jar of Jerk Pork Seasoning ($5.99 for a 2.5 oz jar), or select from a number of cooking related gift sets: the Hot Chocolate Set ($29.29) or Flavors of Asia Set ($41.29) are excellent choices.
Vom Fass in Maplewood offers a great selection of oils, vinegars and liqueurs. Their Apple Pie Liqueur ($12.99) is the perfect after-dinner treat for the holiday season. Also of interest is Vom Fass' Irish Style Malt Whiskey ($12.99). For a great gift, pick up the EVOO and Balsamic Vinegar Gift Set ($30.99); it includes a variety of unique vinegars and oils.
Applegate's Deli in Brentwood has dozens of local sweet treats for the holiday season. Pick up a bag of Dad's Oatmeal Cookies ($5.99); these crunchy cookies are made locally and are a popular holiday treat. Jilly's Cupcakes ($4.99) make a great holiday gift and are individually packaged for your convenience.
Gisele's in Maplewood offers beautiful jewelry that would make a perfect holiday gift. A large variety of jeweled earrings ($19.99 - $25.99) were on display. Gisele's also carries Grandmother's Buttons ($22 to $40), a unique jewelry line that features necklaces, bracelets and earrings made with vintage buttons. Owner Brenda Wolf had some exciting news: in order to prepare for their upcoming move after Christmas, Gisele's is having a "garage sale" this Wednesday through Friday. Expect to find your favorite wares at a reduced price. "We're moving between Vom Fass and Penzey's after Christmas, so we need to clear out some items," Wolf said.
Mystic Valley in Maplewood is a unique gift shop with items ranging from incense to spirit stones and more. Pick up a few mood rings ($4.50); with a variety of colors and styles, you're sure to find the ideal ring for those on your holiday list. Check out the vast variety of Wildberry Incense (10 sticks for $2) Mystic Valley offers. Scents offered include cherry vanilla and ocean wind. Grant your recipients good luck with karma beads ($7.00). Numerous colors and styles are available.
Maven in Maplewood is a fantastic shop with tons of local wares for the holiday season. The uniquely designed scrabble piece necklace ($22) is sure to be a hit. Also of note are the Koboldt Earrings ($24 to $45). I fell in love with the Pele Projects Bracelets ($30); this would be a perfect holiday gift.
The Fantasy Shop offers a wide variety of comic books, games and action figures in its Maplewood store. Check out the fun How to Speak Zombie book ($14.95), or pick up the Thor graphic novel ($64.99). For the budding comic book writer, grab Comics and Sequential Art ($22.95); this instructional book shares author Will Eisner's tips on creating a successful graphic novel. Employee Sean Hook said that while a few customers enter the store with a precise idea of what they want, many patrons purchase gift cards instead. "The store is kind of niche-y, so gift cards take out a lot of the guesswork," he said.
Kerry Cottage in Maplewood offers knickknacks with an Irish twist. Check out their festive beer koozies ($2.25), or pick out an Irish rugby jersey ($36) for the sports fan on your shopping list. Need a gift for the new baby in your life? Pick up the adorable "wee one" infant jumpsuit ($18).
The White Rabbit in Brentwood is a chic boutique with a wide variety of vintage gifts for the holidays. Check out the Let Them Eat Cake candle ($12). With scents of sugar cane, coconut milk and vanilla orchid, this candle smells good enough to eat. For the little ones, check out the fireman pajamas ($28). This cute pajama set, designed by local artist Susan Medart, is adorned with images of firemen sliding down a fire pole.