I always get very excited and very overwhelmed with holiday shopping. It’s fun to make a list of your close friends and family, browse online and in person for things they might like (or certificates for services rendered – like at a massage studio – hint hint)…but it can grow exhausting. And, having to pay for all of that stuff, in addition to the usual holiday costs, sometimes puts me OUT of the cheery, brisk mood I’d like to be in during the cooler months.
Every year I aim to be more original and inventive with my gift ideas, putting more thought and consideration into their sources. During the other 10 months of the year, I like to shop and support local as much as I can. Why? Because locally-owned commerce is a key part of a cohesive, happy, healthy community. You get to know owners or shop-keepers, they know you. The service they provide can be customized, because they aren’t bound by ‘home office rules.’ In turn, that relationship can be far more rewarding than the one you get only patronizing national-brand stores, and you’re supporting the continued existence of unique, local shopping and services.
That dynamic doesn’t have to change during the holiday buying spree. It’s easy to forget all the options we have at our disposal locally when we’re heading to Nordstrom to soak in the Santa’s workshop fervor. Luckily for you, I created a quick Google Map of the places I plan on hitting to buy gifts for my good list this year.
Couple of highlights:
- Tampa Museum of Art – an annual membership ($50) gets you unlimited access to the museum, along with free access to other events (quarterly Art After Dark), and 10% off at the Sono Cafe and museum store. The latter has a great selection of unique and curious home goods, desk accessories, art prints, jewelry, and all other manner of artistic ware. All at reasonable prices.
- Velo Champ – boutique cycling store in historic Seminole Heights commercial strip. Great selection of high-end accessories and complete bikes. My brother got a gift certificate for VC last year and used it to purchase a beautiful Brooks leather seat.
- TeBella Tea Company – tea is a rarer, more refined (say some) beverage than coffee – and this shop is the perfect place to start learning about its many varieties and pairings. Great owners and staff. Davis Island oasis or shop-in-shop at the Oxford Exchange.
- Alvin Magnon Jewelers – a South Dale Mabry fixture for at least two generations. I grew up visiting the pink mansion and eating petit-fours while my dad had jewelry polished or repaired. They carry home goods as well, including great glass (Orrefors), aluminum (Mariposa), porcelain, and sterling silver accessories.
- Magnolia – hidden treasure of a home store in a pocket of Hyde Park next door to my favorite retired fire station. Range of products and prices, but friendly staff and genuine Westchester County feel.
- Tribeca ColorSalon – local salon with two locations serving up Aveda and Kevin Murphy realness. Owned by two very lovely and special guys. Great stylists, too. The Ybor location carries great non-toxic nail varnish from Zoya.
- Urban Body – Owner Scott Moore carries everything from 2Xist underwear to Timberland Boot Company, with Andrew Christian and French Connection in between. This season he is also carrying two local designers – Jeffrey ’69 and Black & Denim. I’ve yet to check either out, but he says they are selling well.
- Bloom – Palma Ceia nursery, filled with wonderful green gifts. Plants, orchids, succulents, and all the accessories. Not to be overlooked, although it’s easy to miss.
This list is definitely incomplete – there are hundreds of other small, local spots that are high-quality and deserve the business. Check out my right sidebar for links to some of those others.
Skip the crowds at the mall, fighting for parking and deals, and stop by, at a leisurely Saturday pace, some of these local establishments. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll be supporting passionate, knowledgable, fellow tastemakers.