by daniel goncalves
It’s a sea of the same out there filled with big blue (Walmart) and red (Target) fish. It feels like every few miles you pass by a cookie-cutter store. Are you tired of shopping the same old stores for gifts? Want to give something unique? Want to buy from a shop that isn’t owned by people who live in Arkansas? Here are some ideas to inspire you.
What do you get when you put three sisters in a confined area? No, not a cat fight; you get some decadent sweets! 3 Sisters’ Chocolate, located on San Jose Blvd. in Mandarin, is the place to go for unique gifts for those on your list with a sweet tooth. They have all sorts of unique gift baskets and chocolate treats. It’s also a great place to pick up a cake or dessert for your Christmas dinner. You can even get personalized (monogrammed) chocolates. For store hours and address visit:
If she loves sparkly things Jewels by Lubeck is the place to go. Jake Lubeck has been creating custom jewelry for over 35 years in Neptune Beach. They even do hand engraving, now that’s some serious skill! The shop features a Design Studio, where the staff discusses design ideas with customers. There is also a gallery style showroom offering an array of unique designs. Mediums of choice are Platinum, 18K white, yellow and rose gold mixed with a variety of diamonds and colored stones. For more information visit or call 249-0908.
Do you like thinking green during the holiday season? Chamblin Uptown (Downtown) and Chamblin Book Mine (Roosevelt Blvd.) is a unique and alternative find. Chamblins is the biggest used-book dealer in Northeast Florida. You can grab a coffee and muffin in their cafe. Once you’ve had your cup of Joe you can stroll the countless wooden book shelves looking for that unusual gift. You’ll be able to find out-of-print book titles at both stores that you will not find at the big cookie cutter stores. And another cool thing, you can trade books as well. So put on your “green” hat, dust off your old books and head off to trade them for that unique book gift. Call 384-1685 or visit
Do you or your gift candidates have old and tired portraits on the wall? Move those mullet-ridden photos into the closet and put up something fresh. When was the last time you found a “good” picture of you and your family? A professional can open up a whole new world for you and you’ll come back with something nice to put up on the wall. Portrait sessions do not have to be the boring studio type that might automatically come to mind. Bring the dog and go get your family portrait taken at the beach or another place of your choice. Prices and packages for location sessions start at $250.
Jacksonville has everything for the art lover. There are countless galleries and shops with very unique and individualized gift ideas. Fogle Fine Art & Accessories features a varied assortment of exquisite ornaments and seasonal accessories, from decor to gift certificates, to handcrafted jewelry by Florida artisans. Enjoy a cup of hot cocoa and let the kids play in Fogle’s family room while you puruse their stylish holiday offerings. For more info, head to their Beach Boulevard local, call 296-1414 or visit
The Museum of Contemporary Art has a gift shop located on the first floor. You can find some fun and unusual gifts as well as books from artists currently in exhibition. The shop also carries works in a variety of media from local, national and international artists. Check it out online before you go at The Art Center Coop located downtown also has a wide selection of unique works of art. All artwork is created by local artists and some pieces resonably priced. It’s a great place to get something original while supporting a local artist. Visit them on the web at
Tired of looking around for that unusual gift? Look up! Do you want to give a memory of a lifetime? A helicopter tour of St. Augustine might do the trick. Old City Helicopters located at the St. Augustine Airport has flights for all budgets starting at $35 per person. Not a bad deal for a thrilling and exhilarating ride while seeing things from a completely different angle. They can even customize a tour for your needs. For pricing and information
Keep an eye open during your routine drive. You might discover shops and businesses that don’t come from the corporate all-is-everything store while finding that truly unique gift for those on your nice-list.