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A new local way to shop for Christmas

Teri Vance
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada AppealTeri Basa, owner of Sugar Pine Cove, also offers a wide variety of gifts from these ceramic critters, to jewelry, to dolls and other home decor.
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I love Christmas. The music, the decorations, buying gifts.

But those big box stores make me nervous. I feel overwhelmed by all there is to choose from, and I’m too impatient to wait in those long lines.

I may have found a solution.

While I still went to the big stores for toys for my nieces and nephews, I found unique gifts and a better shopping experience at the locally owned shops around town.

I started at The Holiday House on Curry Street. And the name is no joke. There’s a Santa Claus for every occasion. I bought one in camouflage for a soldier friend of mine. There’s also a cowboy, a doctor, a chef — more than I could name.

And it doesn’t stop there.

“I’ve got nativities all over the place,” said owner Rich Mathison.

He said he buys items from obscure catalogs and hopes there’s someone out there who wants them. Like the mouse on the treadmill or the singing hippo.

If you’re looking for something offbeat, he says, “This is the place.”

And everything in the store is 50 percent off.

My next stop was the Purple Avocado, which promises “gifts of an extraordinary nature.”

Owner Sue Jones said it’s the place to shop for “babies, brides, bunco and best friends.”

Sue described her wares as “a whimsical and eclectic selection of heartfelt gifts.”

“Most people will find something that just fits someone they’re looking for a gift for,” she said. “We have things you don’t see in every store.”

I bought my 5-year-old niece a purple, porcelain castle there. It will either be something she treasures for years to come, or it will be in a thousand pieces by the end of Christmas Day ” I bought her brother a dart gun.

I’d heard a lot about Due Sorella, which means “two sisters” in Italian and is an homage to owner Julie Grady’s two sisters. Every corner of the store is full of items ” new, old and repurposed.

Customer Lynn Libby, who is designing the store’s Web site, said she once heard someone describe the shop as the place “I come to visit my grandmother’s things.”

Libby said it’s more than a store, it’s a feeling.

“You have to experience this store,” she said. “It makes you feel good. It’s like meeting a kindred spirit.”

Grady, who often sits on the front porch sipping wine, welcomes customers who often leave as friends. Gifts from her store, she said, can have special significance.

“If you want to pull something meaningful from their past, you can get it here,” she said.

Libby said she compared chalkware from the 1930s online and found it cost around $70. At Due Sorella, it’s $21.

The proximity of the downtown stores makes it easy to walk around, hitting several places in a short amount of time.

But I ventured from there as well. Along with the big-box stores on Topsy Lane, I found some hidden treasures.

At Bellisimo, I found a collection of clothing, wall plaques, a round crib and jewelry.

The mix, said owner Sarah Johnstone, is what’s helped keep her business successful for the last two years.

She carries Brighton items, leather jackets made in Washoe Valley and wall plaques by Sid Dickens, which she describes as “moveable art.”

Customer Niki Pyle said she loves the selection in the store, but it is Johnstone who keeps customers coming back.

“When you come in, it feels like you’re coming into a friend’s house, going through her closet and going through her jewelry,” Pyle said.

Other shops line the strip along 911 Topsy Lane, but on the other side is two stores wrapped into one. It’s All About Me Fine Clothing moved February in with Nono’s Home Decor.

Karen Holmes brought the clothing she had been selling at a boutique in Genoa.

“We carry the latest styles in fine clothing,” Holmes said. “We also have fun pieces that are a little funky.”

She said people don’t need to fill their closets with the clothes she carries, but said everyone should have one or two designer pieces. She carries high-end designers like Karen Kane and Spanner, to mid-level designs like Tribal and “blingy holiday stuff.”

She said people could buy a shirt for around $30 or a turtleneck for $55. She also carries plus sizes.

Nanette Toland of Nono’s also stocks the store with home decor and will help with decorating tips if desired.

Upon surveying my purchases ” many of which I could not list here as my friends and family can read ” I’m excited for Christmas to come. And shopping in the smaller stores helped keep my Christmas spirit alive.

– Contact reporter Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1272.