Holiday Guide: Buy local
Looking for those hot holiday gifts? Well you can find a lot of them right here on the Island. If you want to know how to check off a good portion of your holiday gift list without crossing a bridge or traveling through the Tube, you can check out our scouting report (and get shopping!). (For more shopping advice, check out Steve Gerstle’s Word on Webster column for this week, which talks about holiday gifts you can buy in the shops on Webster Street.)
Yes, you can actually buy electronics here on the Island. You just need to know where to look. One surprising spot: Office Max at Alameda Towne Centre (2160 Otis Drive; 749-7500). The store offers a good selection of cameras, computers and printers, and they’ve got one more item in stock for the holidays: Vizio flat-screen TVs. This week they’re running a special on Vizio’s 26-inch, WiFi-ready, LCD HDTVs: They’re $299.99 after an instant rebate. They’ve also got 22-inch and 32-inch flat screens on hand.
One other potential Guy Buy we’d like to mention, for the golfer in your life: Alameda Golfworks (1110 Lincoln Avenue; 337-1975) is selling the SkyGolf SkyCaddie SGX which offers course maps, yardage and more all in the palm of your golfer’s hand. “It’s pretty hot,” Golfworks owner Shawn Shelby said. Shelby’s selling the GPS system for $349, a $50 discount.
And for the kids (grown or otherwise), the Play-N-Trade at Bridgeside Shopping Center (2601 Blanding Avenue #B; 523-2848) has got your XBox Kinect. They’re selling the Kinect accessories for $150 each, or you can buy an XBox and the Kinect for $300, though you’ll have to buy something additional for $20 or more in order to purchase a Kinect or both.
Daisy’s (1347 Park Street; 522-6443) is the obvious Alameda spot for adorable, unique gift items, and owner Barbara Mooney offered two that are flying off the shelves. She’s got antique sterling silver cheese markers made by Jump Girls which bear the names of each cheese, stamped by hand, for $9 apiece. Another popular gift: Lucite French salad servers, which are $30 (“They’re in amazing colors,” Mooney reports.)
If appliances are what you’re looking for, head over to Kohl’s at Alameda Towne Centre (2201 South Shore Center; 263-0308). Big this year: Keurig single-cup coffee brewers. Prices vary, though the store’s got them on sale now for up to 30 percent off regular prices, and if you’re shopping between December 10-13, Kohl’s will have coupons in-store for an additional 20 percent off. Also hot are the perennial favorite KitchenAid stand mixers; the 5-quart mixers are $299.99.
Alameda has an abundance of places to shop for kids, with local stores offering gifts for babies to teens. For babies and preschoolers, Monkey Bars (1339 Park Street; 769-6905) has got a lot to offer. Hot gifts include fleece booties and hats from Zutano, at $12.50 and $18.50 each; for preschoolers, they’re selling sustainably made Tegu blocks for $28 a set. Monkey Bars’ Heather Reed said the magnetic wood blocks, which come in their own felt bag, are great for restaurants and airplanes (they kept her own preschooler happy for an hour on a recent restaurant visit, she reports). The store is also selling Lifefactory glass bottles for babies, kids and adults; prices range from $12.95 to $24 depending on the size you buy. And for moms, they’ve got Timi & Leslie diaper bags, at $78 to $165 apiece.
For older kids, Toy Safari (1410 Park Street; 522-1723) has got super-hot retro Beyblades in stock. “It’s a new spin on an old toy,” owner Helen Dean jokes. She says a good set – two launchers, a few blades, a few tops – will run you about $23. The store has also got Calico Critters for sale (they’re plush animal toys for which you can purchase a whole host of accessories); Dean says they’re about $20 each.
And one of Park Street’s newest additions, In Bloom (1336A Park Street; 864-1944) has got a selection of gifts for the preteen girls in your life. They’ve got T-shirts from singer Gwen Stefani’s popular Harajuku Lovers line, for $32-$36; owner Monisa Croxton is also selling Mogo charm bracelets and magnetic charms. Sets are $13.99 a tin, and charms are $3.99 each or $11.99 for three.
Who can forget Fido? Not the folks at Dog Bone Alley (1342 Park Street; 521-5800). Whether your dog was naughty or nice this year, they’ve got puzzle toys from Loopies to accommodate you (one is a bag of reindeer toys; the other is coal). They’re $16.99. One other way to fete Fido or your feline friends: Fresh-baked treats from PetCakes 2 Go. The cake and treat mixes are $11.99 each.
Local bookstores have an exhaustive selection of hot holiday reads for the bookworm in your life. We checked in with Books Inc. (1344 Park Street; 522-2226), where bookseller Elizabeth Jenkins gave us top titles for both adults and kids. The “absolute top of the list,” Jenkins says, is the new “Autobiography of Mark Twain,” though it’s hard to get: The University of California Press, which apparently didn’t expect the tome to go nuclear, only printed 8,000 copies in its initial outing. That said, Jenkins says they’re furiously printing more, and she’s hopeful the store will have the book in stock before Christmas. Copies are $35.
Jenkins’ other two top picks are also biographies: Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff’s “Cleopatra: A Life” and “Life,” Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ new book (“You have no idea how many of these we’ve sold,” she says). Those are in stock and $30 apiece.
For teens, Books Inc. (and Borders at Alameda Towne Centre) are offering “The Hunger Games,” Suzanne Collins’ dystopian, post-apocalyptic trilogy; the first book is $8 in paperback, and the other two are $18 each in hardcover. For younger kids, Jenkins recommends Matthew J. Kirby’s “The Clockwork Three,” about three kids who team up to survive a Dickensian big city. The hardcover book is $18.
Nothing’s more fun than getting a bottle of the good stuff as a holiday gift, and there’s plenty of that to be found right here in Alameda. Our pick: St. George Spirits’ Absinthe Verte. The once-again-legal spirit is $60 and available for sale in their tasting room/shop out at Alameda Point (2601 Monarch Street; 769-1601). (Their single malt’s no slouch either, and we are also big fans of Hangar One’s Spiced Pear vodka, which is also for sale there.)
One other gift recommendation: Rosenblum Cellars’ Desiree Decadence dessert wine. It’s on sale now for $32 a bottle ($28 if you’re in their club) in their tasting room (2900 Main Street; 865-7007).