by emily moody
Although shopping for gifts around Jacksonville in 85 degree weather can leave you feeling more like Scrooge than St. Nick, shopping for those you love is a sure way to get you in the spirit of the occasion. Local businesses are stocked up for the holidays and ready for you to spend your hard-earned dollars with them! Did you know that for every $100 spent at a chain store $14 goes back into the local economy versus $45 if that same $100 was spent at a locally owned business? The payback is clear.
This city has a wonderful selection of stores that are owned and run by Jacksonvillians. Why fight the traffic and crowds at the malls when your neighbors and friends have vast array of items to chose from in their stores? Keeping these shops in business keeps the J-ville in Jacksonville by giving this city flavor and personality. Supporting independent businesses is vital to their existence. EU is all about buying gifts locally this holiday season, so we stopped into some of our favorite locally-owned stores to highlight great gifts for those on your list this season.
The lush oaks and beautifully manicured lawns in front of opulent residences set the stage for the strip of shops along Saint Johns Avenue. The sophisticated Shoppes of Avondale fall nicely in line with the people that inhabit the surrounding homes.
Open Road BikesThere?s one toy that will light up any kid?s face under a tree; a shiny new bike! What better place to shop for your child?s first set of wheels than at Open Road Bikes? With locations in Avondale, Miramar, Flemming Island and St. Johns on CR210, this Jacksonville staple has something for everyone. Whether you are in the market for a road, mountain or family bike, Open Road has an enormous selection. With adult bikes starting at $229 and children?s bikes starting at $125, what a perfect gift for your kid or kid at heart! Our favorites were the Raleigh boys ($185), girls ($145) bikes (with our without training wheels) and the retro 7-speed beach cruiser that is also by Raleigh, comes in an assortment of colors and is the perfect bike for those who wants to take a leisurely Sunday cruise with family or friends. For more information stop by one of their four locations or look them up online at www.openroadbicycles.com.
The Green Alligator Our next stop in Avondale is the best toy store Duval has to offer, which now has a second location in Ponte Vedra! Forget the Barbies and Hot Wheels that are prevalent at big box stores, and instead head on over to the Green Alligator for fun, high quality toys at affordable prices. Some favorites from this charming shop include puzzles and craft supplies from Melissa and Doug ($5 and up), hand-knit BlaBla dolls (from $34) and eco-friendly wooden Plan Toys (starting at $9.99) made with nontoxic and chemical-free materials, to name a few. The Bruder truck ($20- 55) shipment arrived in time for Santa to pick one up for your son. This line offers an assortment of realistic garbage, recycle and construction vehicles. Similar to the Sit-n-Skate toy of the ?80s, the ride-on toy known as the Plasma Car ($74.99) is sure to be one of the shop?s hottest selling gifts! This toy encourages all ages to step away from the video games and get outdoors for some exercise. Check out more of the Green Alligator?s selection at www.thegreenalligator.com.
GottaHaveIt If you are searching for a gift for someone that has it all, why not check out a store that has a little bit of everything? With such a diverse selection filling their shelves, you can cross a name or two off your list before walking out of this store. Give back to the Earth while giving a cool gift in the process with an ecofriendly pouch from Two?s Company. These woven change purses ($12.99) are made from old juice pouches, which makes them uber-unique. As if teeny-tiny baby toes aren?t edible enough, add a pair of socks from Mudpie ($2.99 a pair) to those little feet to make them simply irresistible. The socks are available in argyle, a faux ?shoe? look and many others, all in festive holiday colors.
The aptly named San Marco Square is perfectly nestled in the center of gorgeous homes. This upscale shopping district is one of Jacksonville?s oldest and most loved.
Therapie Although Therapie is one of the newest clothing stores in the Square, it definitely paves the way for new trends in Jacksonville. They specialize in contemporary labels for the fashionable woman while still keeping it easy on the wallet. Purchasing accessories for a woman is always an ideal route to take during the holidays. It alleviates the dreaded question associated with purchasing clothing: ?Will it fit?? Consider stopping into this store to check out the gorgeous selection of leather belts from Ada ($59). While you?re there, why not add a coordinating bag by Mellie Bianco ($55) to complete the look? These bags are affordable and great way to inject a wardrobe with the hot studded trend. If you do know the woman in your life?s size, you?ll be happy to hear that Therapie also stocks its store with everything from tops to pair with jeans to cocktail dresses.
Karl?s Opened in 1987, this men?s shopping hotspot has become a popular store for stylish, high-end clothing from the likes of Hugo Boss, John Varvatos and Robert Graham. Lacoste is being given a run for the money with the launch of the new preppy polo from Southern Tide. These pique and cotton polos ($75) are very popular and are sure to make a great gift, according to the owner Karl ?Jay? Jabour. If you really want to impress that debonaire gentleman in your life then splurging on a leather blazer ($695) from Robert Graham should do the trick. (www.karlsclothiers.com)
The Wardroom This gift shop, with another location in Amelia Island, is brimming with interesting items for those on your list. While there are lots of unique finds at this shop, one item that you definitely won?t find at other stores around town is the yo-yo clown ($35), handcrafted by owner Forrest Brewer?s mother. Some people may be a little creeped out by clowns, but these are simply charming. Savannah native Elizabeth Lariscy, who is still young- at-heart at 96, constructs these dolls completely by hand. While any young child would love to snuggle up with a quirky clown, according to the shopkeeper they also brighten the day for many sick elderly patients in hospitals and nursing homes!
The Write Touch Specializing in stationary, invitations and other such accoutrements, this shop also offers a lot more. For many, the holidays are about treating yourself and what better way to do that than with a deliciously delicate cashmere pillow from Arni Arabella ($225+)? Although the price tag is a little hefty, the prints and luxurious fabric are worth every penny. The Write Touch also has a wide selection of instruments used for just that, writing. The professional in your life is sure to appreciate an artists? series pen ($70) from Acme. These writing tools are designed by artists and architects who give a very personal feel to an item that is often just the opposite.
Jacksonville?s premier arts and fashion district is an eclectic area that lies just southwest of Downtown. This district is a mecca for those who dare to be different. Ever-evolving with the changing times, 5 Points is filled with a host of interesting stores and even more interesting people.
Universe of Superheroes Truly a haven for any comic enthusiast, Universe of Superheroes has been serving up the best selection of comics and eclectic merchandise in Jacksonville since 1992. No shelf has been left unstocked in this store, which is located in the Park and King district of Riverside. The collection of $3 comics is quite impressive but The Green Lantern and Black as Night series are the ones flying out of the shop these days. When one thinks comics and superheros you can only expect that to appeal to a more male clientele, but don?t be fooled. The salesperson was quick to point out that girls love Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics and the twisted, yet eerily charming, version of Barbie in the form of Living Dead and BeGoths dolls ($20- 30). This is a must-stop during your holiday shopping adventures. (www.universeofsuperheroes.com)
Violet Owner Texie Leibe has a discerning eye for choosing just the right inventory for her upscale boutique in 5 Points. She has the perfect mix of items to dress yourself and your home. The super-soft, luxe velour travel pillows from Lug ($32) are perfect for holiday travel and available in an assortment of solid colors. Simply fold up as a pillow or unzip it to reveal a nice cozy blanket. For a special lady friend in your life, why not pick out a stunning necklace from Hearndon Heald ($294)? Handmade in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this lovely jewelry is constructed using sterling silver beads and discs, freshwater pearls and faceted mint green Christophase stones.
One of Each Gifts There is no question that this great gift shop stays true to its name! When you walk into Jonathan Brown?s shop on Park Street you are surrounded by so much to look at. Perusing all the delightful gifts and pretty ornaments will keep you shopping for hours. This year Brown has really expanded the selection of pretty, prepackaged foods for sale. Ranging in price from $3 to $20 for variety of treats, including cheese straws, Moravian cookies, peppermint bark and Texas Pecan Brags. If you don?t like baking yourself, this is the ideal way to thank your favorite UPS driver, teacher or lawn boy for working hard throughout the year.
Edge City A defacto landmark in 5 Points, Tom and Gunnel have been committed for over 33 years to bring cutting edge style to this city. Always ahead of the curve, this pair is often imitated but never duplicated. You can thank them for introducing Jacksonville to the sparkly lucite and crystal jewelry by Tarina Tarantino, as they were the first store in the city to start carrying this line over 12 years ago! The Wicked Witch of the West ($105) pendant hangs on a gold plated chain and is part of the brand new Wizard of Oz collection by Tarina Tarantino. Stop in for a visit and you will be pleased to find great accessories from Betsey Johnson, soft t-shirts from Language and lots more to fit your style. (www.gunnel.com)
Crave Opened a little over a year ago, this opulent shop offers a huge selection of premium denim, jewelry, great dresses from BCBG, just to name a few. While some may disagree, a good pair of jeans will add a lot to ones style credibility. For him, check out Kasil?s ?victory fit? ($186) straight-leg dark denim wash and for her the appealing raw-wash, cigarette jean from Earnest Sewn ($192). If you don?t want your loved ones walking out of the house in bad denim, head to Crave immediately. (www.cravedenim.com)
Anomaly This shop is very much a deviation from the common rule. Some may call me biased in writing this, as I feel I must divulge that I am the proprietor of of this fine establishment. However that should further encourage you to come in and see for yourself what this store has to offer. When you enter into the brightly painted building, you walk into a magical place filled with brands by premier indie designers from around the country. Some favorites include Delicia dresses ($45+), ballet tees from Obey ($30), eco-plastic jewelry from Batacuda ($20-36) and so much more! Anomaly strives to nurture the design community in Jacksonville, as well. Not only will you find locally made jewelry and bags, but a prime collection of local screenprinted t-shirts ($15- 20) from Burro, Arturo and Tact can always be found here as well. Interesting graphics and printing techniques give each of these lines their own feel. Burro also makes amazing bags of all shapes and sizes ($70+) that are available at Anomaly, at their shop in Springfield and on their website, www.burrobags.com. So friends, I invite you to take a walk inside 1021 Park Street to see if i really do speak the truth.
Once you start shopping around for gifts this season, hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised by what the citizens of this city are offering to the community. You will find that you can still stay within your budget while also purchasing a gift that is going to have a direct impact on the economy right in your neighborhood. Put your money where your house is and happy shopping!