In years past, I’ve braced myself for crowds and cold to get the best deals on Black Friday. While I don’t regret having experienced this quintessential modern American past-time, the competitive shopping scene is not for me.
As part of my quest to explore all of the amazing local treasures that Fresno has to offer, I decided to draw up a list of my favorite shops and poll my friends and coworkers for suggestions. I then set out to photograph and chat with the owners and managers of these incredible establishments who are working to link Fresnans with local growers and artisans. Here are my top picks for shopping small this holiday season.
Vintage on Fourth is a charming curation of vintage-inspired home decor, accessories and art. One of the best reasons to shop local (aside from supporting local businesses) is that small boutiques offer one-of-a-kind treasures that people stop you on the street to ask you about. My most recent visit was a solo-mission; I wanted uninterrupted time to uncover all of the signature items in the store. Lovely little soaps to put into my sisters’ stockings, tall hobnail vases to fill with ornaments or flowers, string art and felted ornaments, hanging succulents, etched copper bangles… the list goes on. If there were only one shop to fill all the presents under the tree with my name on them, I wouldn’t mind at all if it were Vintage on Fourth in Old Town Clovis.
In addition to offering a tax-free shopping experience on Small Business Saturday (11.29.14), Vintage on Fourth is also offering deals on super-soft vintage flannel and wool scarves. I have been completely in love with the blanket scarf trend and may just need to cozy up with the one below and a nice cup of hot cocoa. Read more about my shopping experience at Vintage on Fourth here…
Wandering the tables of gourmet goods at Sierra Nut House reminded me how incredibly fortunate I am to live in the heartland of American produce. Having counted my childhood years in the soybean and corn rotations out my front door, there’s something remarkably pride-inducing about actually being able to see the bounty and fruits of labor that are grown and harvested here in the valley (what does Indiana do with all that corn, anyway?)
Pick up the perfect gift for a coworker, grandparent or host at Sierra Nut House and share a little Valley love with them this holiday. Small Business Saturday Specials at Sierra Nut House include egg nog and pumpkin pie almonds, Christmas select candy mix, assorted sea salts and dried white peaches. Follow them on Facebook to get a daily
temptation menu posted on your newsfeed (pumpkin orzo soup… pear and brie grilled cheese). I can’t wait to stop in for lunch here to replenish me between shops!
To me, the best presents are the least expected ones. Several years ago a student of mine gave me a potted orchid as a gift and I enjoyed it so much. It didn’t make it a month (the orchid, not the student), but that is in no way relevant to this story. The point is: a living, growing gift speaks of renewal, promise and beauty. This makes it the go-to gift for any woman in your life (including your mother-in-law, and girl I know you needed ideas for her.) Most blooms at The Orchid Barn are less than $20 including the pot.
While we’re on the topic of loved ones that are difficult to shop for: men. Let’s stop stuffing Dad’s stocking with chocolate. We know we’ll end up stealing it back anyway (unless he’s like my dad, who is crafty and squirrels chocolate away in too-tall cupboards). Get Mr. Practical something he’ll actually use at Herb Bauer Sporting Goods, like fishing tackle, mini-flashlights, work gloves or a first-aid kit.
Alternately, be the most incredible girlfriend/wifey/sister this season by treating a guy you love to some new outdoor gear. Gifting gear is essentially like gifting a hobby. You’re basically investing in his capacity to consider himself a man’s man – and for that he’ll be eternally grateful. Check out their deals on snowshoes and other outdoor equipment this weekend at Herb Bauer. Read more about gift ideas for your guy in this post.
There are few gifts for children that can create a more special memory than the gift of a book. It’s not just a present, but a shared experience – a little wish that you bestow upon them saying: this is an imaginary world that the two of us can share together. In other news, books are big business and the bullies are winning. Fight a good fight by supporting independent bookstores. Petunia’s Place is a pint-size wonderland of stories where your little one can wander shelf after shelf exploring timeless tales and the newest authors. Stay for a story (or five) and send them off to chat with stuffed animals while the lovely staff at Petunia’s wrap your gift. Oh, and don’t forget to write a little note inside with the date before you wrap it. I have uncovered long lost picture books and smiled with fond memories only to open them and discover a sweet note from a grandparent inside from years before.
Tucked away in a shopping center on the northwest corner of Palm and Bullard, Petunia’s Place will be hosting local authors Doug Hansen, Janice Stevens and Pat Hunter for readings on Small Business Saturday. They will be in the store from 11:00 – 2:00. Looking for specific recommendations for children’s books? I’ve got you covered here.
Is there a foodie in your life? Impress them with a bottle of locally produced olive oil from We Olive. This locally-owned shop finds growers across the valley to contribute to their selection.
Stop into We Olive at the Fig Garden Shopping Center and sample flavored oils like Meyer Lemon and Blood Orange as well as locally bottled balsamic vinegars. More foodie gift ideas from Food 52 (my favorite website for recipes) here.
You know that fabulously stylish friend of yours that will inevitably give you something completely original and inspired and make you feel like a complete consumerist-putz for your Pottery Barn candle gift (that you shelled out $30 for… on sale)? It’s time to one-up that chick. Stop into New Vision and score some mid-century cocktail glasses, a vintage afghan or old timey-telephone and wow her with your shopping skills. “Oh, that’s right darling, I just popped into my favorite vintage furnishing store to see what they happened to have and scooped this off the table the moment I saw it – I just thought of you immediately.”
Of course, at New Vision, you don’t need to have that much-coveted capacity of spotting the perfect vintage tchotchke – they’ve already done the leg work for you (of course, if you’d like to pretend that you discovered it yourself in that little corner by the window we won’t tell your friend.)
Lola is the savvy big-sister to the local chain Ooh La La. Located in River Park, the shop is full to the brim with the latest styles that your BFF or sister would thank you for all season. I’m still wearing the short-sleeved crocheted top that I found here last fall and couldn’t stop myself from walking out with a darling navy, glitter-patched sweater.
Does your family gather over a game board on Christmas evening? Bring everyone together with a new challenge from the Crazy Squirrel Game Store. If you never graduated from Monopoly (bless your heart), try Ticket to Ride or Settlers of Catan (ages 10+). Are those games old news? You might like Tikal or Pandemic. Get many more tips from the experts at Crazy Squirrel. They’ll ensure that you find something to entertain even the most thumb-fixated teen. Read more about Crazy Squirrel Game Store in this post.
We know, girl. Shopping is hard work. Put your feet up and unwind with a glass of Paso Robles finest Zin at The Tasting Room. While your at it, let them figure out what bottle you should bring to your next holiday dinner party. I heard they have a bottle of wine that will magically convince your boss what a high-brow commodity you are. ‘Tis the season (for annual reviews, amiright?!) See Josh’s picks for wines to gift this season here.
While you contemplate reds versus whites, order up one of their house-made flatbreads. Now is not the time to think of lists or who’s been naughty. Now is the time to savor the moment… locally, of course.
Would you ever guess how completely charming shopping local could be? You are one savvy reader, so where are you shopping this season?