Holiday Shopping on the Cheap

by Amy Adair

With the holidays fast approaching, this can be a stressful time of year for everyone, especially if your bank account isn’t exactly overflowing. So, how can you save some dough while still giving in the spirit of the season? The answer is simple: avoid the mob mentality of corporate malls and shop locally. You’ll be supporting local businesses, while getting some unique gifts your loved ones will treasure for years to come. The easiest way to begin your local shopping adventure is to pick an area near more than one shop, like Brady Street, North Avenue, Center Street, or Downer. If an icy wind happens to blow off the lake and into your coat, you can duck into the next shop and warm up while you browse. If you opt for Brady, Dragonfly has a great selection of new and vintage gift items at reasonable prices, like hologram notebooks and address books from $4.50-$5, purses and bags, unique jewelry, trendy magnets, winter wear like hats and gloves, and a wide assortment of other cool stuff. Marlene’s Touch of Class also has great vintage items like retro fashions, jewelry and accessories. But be careful if you’re going to buy clothes for someone: be sure it looks like something they would wear and not something they’re going to throw into the back of their closet. Center Street is the home of Riverwest Resale, where you’ll find just about anything. If you need to shop so cheap it’s free, they have some free books and stuffed animals in their entrance. In the main display area, I found an old sewing machine for my mother that only set me back $5! Just down the street is Lotus Land Records, which holds many hours of listening pleasure in its selection of used records and CD’s. Perfect for the obscure record collector on your list, and the prices are pretty nice. I bought a record my boyfriend will love for only $6. Also on Center is Jackpot thrift store, across the street from Fuel Cafe. Some of the Downer Avenue stores have a reputation for being expensive, but that’s not to say there aren’t some great deals in the area. Harry Schwartz Bookstore sells both new and used books; used hardcovers going for $5.95-8.95, and paperbacks mostly $2.95. When you share a book with someone you love, you open the doors of communication and share a piece of yourself. Choose wisely. You may think of Beans and Barley as more of a restaurant than a retail shop, but this East North Avenue store has much to offer in the way of gifts. They regularly stock a wide selection of candles, natural cosmetics, stocking stuffers and novelty items, all at prices that won’t break the bank. They also sell holiday cookies in the deli. If you still don’t have the cash for presents this year, you can use your talents to create items by hand. The poet Emily Dickenson reportedly gave away her poems for special occasions. In that tradition, you could write poems on your own handmade cards, knit a scarf or hat, bake a mound of cookies, paint a picture, make an ornament, or write the recipient’s name in calligraphy. The point of giving presents for the holiday season is to show people that you care about them and that they are important to you. The ways in which you show this don’t need to be expensive or grandiose. They just need to be meaningful. Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 11 – December 2002
by Amy C. Adair