Holidays are Here! Let’s Trade Ideas, and Shop Local

Gifts!Northfield is such a great place for holiday shopping – our local independent retailers have such cool, innovative, retro, practical, and quirky stuff. We’ve had lots of conversation here about shopping local, and hows and whys and pros and cons, but at this time of year, it becomes especially relevant.

For the past decade I’ve concentrated on buying the majority of my Christmas gifts in town, although I end up supplementing with online purchases and the inevitable last-minute Target run. It occurred to me that this might be the perfect forum in which to help each other by sharing some very specific ideas for holiday gifts, and in the process help to support our neighbors and work toward a deeper economy. (Really, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I’m trying to find gifts for all my in-laws.)

So, at the risk of upsetting my Locally Grown colleagues, this is a plea for shameless self-promotion by all local retailers. Tell us what you’ve got! And the rest of the LG community, let’s trade ideas.


  1. Tracy Davis said:

    Okay, I’ll go first! I hope I don’t offend anyone by either these specifics or by any omissions, but some of my favorite local gifts (either giving or receiving) have been:

    Socks and gloves from Jacobsen’s
    Books! from River City Books or Monkey See, Monkey Read (I especially love giving vintage or antique books as gifts)
    Moleskine notebooks from the Art Store
    Art supplies from the Art Store
    Funky socks from the Rare Pair
    Kitchen tea towels with attitude, from Present Perfect
    Vintage vinyl records from the Used a Bit store
    Pints of my famous homemade Apple Pie Jelly (canning jars purchased from Econofoods)
    Small assortment of individually-selected candies, gift-boxed by the Cocoa Bean
    Bags of exotic coffees from Goodbye Blue Monday

    I also do a lot of gift baskets, like a pair of vintage wine glasses (from a local antique store) plus champagne or wine (from the Muni) and a box of chocolates (B. McElrath at Present Perfect) and a CD of mood music (local artist). Stuff like that.

    I looked back over the list and I sound like kind of a cheapskate, but really, it’s the smaller gifts that I have the hardest time with. It’s not too challenging to figure out what kind of IT gadget to buy. (Sixth-generation iPod, anyone?) But putting thought into something that the recipient will use and enjoy is a lot harder.

    December 3, 2007
  2. Kurt Larson said:

    Great idea, I have no problem with a little self promotion.
    So you asked for it, here it goes,
    • Gloves, winter socks, stocking caps,,,
    got them,,,Carhartt
    • Blue jeans
    got them,,,Carhartt
    • How ’bout flannel lined jeans for this cold weather,
    got ’em,,,Carhartt
    • Need a tough, durable jacket?
    got a bunch of them too,
    • In need of a Carhartt hoody?
    guess what? I got a bunch,
    • Would you like one of those funky baseball caps with the flaps?
    I have a few,
    Carhartt not your style?
    How about some raider cloths?
    Yup, you guessed it, I have a lot in stock. Here is an overview:
    • Crew neck fleece
    • Hooded fleece
    • T’s
    • Stocking caps and scarves,
    • Backpacks and totes
    • Letter Jackets
    Here are some ideas for stocking stuffers:
    • Try a pair of raiders socks in the stockings.
    • A raider pennant.
    • Raider window decals.
    • Raider Tattoos.
    • Raider coffee mug.

    I could go on but I fear I have been more than “shameless” already.
    But everyone please stop in Thursday night during riverwalk and ask for your FREE coffee mug. Limited to “while supplies last”.
    Kurt Larson
    Larson’s Printing
    207 South Water Street

    December 3, 2007
  3. ART…Art…aRt…arT…art makes a great gift. Support our local and regional artists: fine art, fine craft, music, books, performance tickets… how about a Sherlock Holmes subject bronze entitled ‘On Grimpen Mire’ ? for your mystery reader, or a print of ‘St. Nick and Dark Peter’ instead of that lump of coal in the Christmas stocking? ArtOnWater Gallery has these pieces and lots of splendid art. We have just re-joined the other galleries in Northfield and we are all helping to make a market for art. See you Thursday for Winter Walk…

    December 3, 2007
  4. Don’t forget the Used a Bit Shoppe, profits to the Senior Center (shopping there among jolly volunteer helpers will warm the cold days of December). There are many treasures to be found here, not junque. When I moved to Northfield from New York in 2004 and most of my possessions remained behind until Village on the Cannon was ready, I relied on the Used a Bit Shoppe (and my brother’s warehouse, Peterson Art Furniture in Faribault) to get by and I volunteer at Used a Bit on occasion. Anne might find those end tables she is looking for here! Donna Maus checks e-bay and has found many donated items to Used a Bit command surprising prices online and can be had for a song in Northfield (“Oh, holy night!”). And we have lots of Christmas decorations in the year-round Christmas shop (shoppe). Y bienvenidos a los que hablan espanol.

    December 4, 2007
  5. John Thomas said:

    We have a might fine bakery in Quality Bakery downtown. During the holidays, I get many requests to pick up items for my co-workers in St. Paul.

    Also, we have an annual holiday treat week at work, and I enjoy bringing specialty breads from Brick Oven Bakery to that event.

    December 4, 2007
  6. Jerry Bilek said:

    This time of year we sell more new books and games than used books. We discount bestsellers like the Kite Runner, Three Cups of Tea and Water For Elephants 20% everyday.

    We sell games by Gamewright and Set Enterprises. Set, Quiddler, Sleeping Queens and Rat a Tat Cat are our bestsellers. I’ve played them all, they are winners.

    Packy Mader will sign copies of his books during Winterwalk, 7-8:00pm:

    We still have some signed copies of Kevin Kling’s the Dog Says How, 20% off:

    and Warren Hanson’s Kiki’s Hats, also 20% off:

    We have the largest Manga selection in town, most of it is half price.

    And of course we have monkeys:

    Gift wrapping is free and we always sell gift certificates!

    December 4, 2007
  7. Don’t forget that everyone loves food too! If you know anyone who doesn’t have time to cook or who doesn’t like to cook (or maybe just isn’t good at it) you could give them a gift certificate to my store, Sociale Gourmet. We’ve been getting rave reviews from parents with new babies at home, single people, and lots of seniors, as well as the hundreds of families who keep on coming back for more. The December menu (online at is great because not only do we have the “Favorites of 2007” but we also have appetizers! We’ve also got kitchen-related gifts, dips, sauces, etc. Hope to see you in the store!

    December 4, 2007
  8. Mary Rossing said:

    Present Perfect uses two tag lines in all our promotions: “Where the good stuff is” and “Where the fun stuff is”.

    I’ll start with the good stuff:
    BT McElrath Chocolates, Funky Chunky pretzels and candy cane popcorn, Johnston Honey–all made in Minnesota! Nostalgic candies and candy coal, jams, cocoa, Republic of Tea–many flavors in red, white, black, and green. We have lotions, soaps, beautiful Christmas cards, Storey People sculptures, books and prints, thoughtful quotes on mugs, journals and magnets and lots of great gift books. I also have hand picked some super Chistmas music CD’s and we have lots of kitchen stuff from dipping spices to cast iron tea pots. We sell oil cloth by the yard and also bibs, aprons and bags made out of the stuff. I sell lots of Minnesota Mittens–made by workers at an occupational rehab center in Winona, MN from leftover sweater parts. And beautiful earrings and readers at great prices. The list is long and deep of good things!

    And now for the fun stuff:
    I specialize in humor, and love to listen to customers laugh their way around the store. Tracy hit on the dish towels, but I also carry list and sticky note pads, napkins and coasters with MikWright outragious humor. I have mugs with phrases such as: “Food has replaced sex in my life. Now I can’t even get into my own pants”, “Because chocolate can’t get you pregnant” and (especially good for Northfield) “Stop me before I volunteer again” and “The nice part about living in a small town: when you don’t know what you’re doing, somebody else does”!!

    I have Bush countdown calendars, loads of humorous magnets, books like “Towel Origami” and “Porn for Women” (pictures of hunky guys doing house chores). Credit card cases that say “Can I use my mastercard to pay my visa?” and “You’ll always be my best friend–you know too much”. Minnestota hot dish by region towels, hot dish cook books, joke books, wacky glasses, and wicked french, german and spanish books for tavelers.

    And…toys!! Fake mustaches, gumby, mr. bill, inflatable moose heads, puzzles for all ages and all abilities, slinkys, rocket balloons, klutz craft kits, a whole cowboy department, a whole pirate department, superman and wonderwoman items, fuzzy dice, animal noise alarm clocks, marbles, cars and trucks, piggy banks, games, harmonicas, kazoos, recorders, and even musical jewelry boxes with either a ballerina or horse theme.

    PLEASE COME IN, or call me and I will pick out, wrap and deliver–really!! I may not have a web site, but I am available for you, and open M-F evenings now through 4:00 p.m. on Christmas eve. Present Perfect is just a fun place to visit. period.
    Come in during winter walk and you can taste some chocolate by the hand of Brian McElrath, chocolatier extrordinaire from 6-9!
    Mary Rossing
    Present Perfect, 419 Division Street, 645-9131

    December 4, 2007
  9. Try to remember to offer to shop for people who cannot get out and about.

    Be green and wrap some presents in comics paper or fabric bags that can
    be used again and again.

    Write a poem for someone and frame it and include a special drawing with it.

    Don’t forget to send flowers and fruit. Buy a special item to add to an
    arrangement. to make it special and personal.

    Thank someone for all they have done for you all year long.

    Have a party and invite me!

    December 4, 2007
  10. Nicole Maloney said:

    I am Nicole Maloney the owner of Sweet Pea’s Loft.

    At our shop we offer Holiday Decor Galore: Ornaments, candles, candle holders, stockings, stocking holders, wreaths and more.

    Also it is cookie time we have mixing bowls in multiple sizes and prep bowls,
    oven mitts and hand embroidered dish towels.

    We also offer the storytime bear by Gund, it tells the whole Twas the Night before Christmas story. There are also other soft cuddly winter stuffed animals to choose from.

    Then there is the ever popular perfect pet that sleeps, breathes and snores/purrs the cutest puppies and kitties ever, there are still lots of breeds available. You may have seen them in our window.

    For the newest Northfielders we have great baby gifts for their first christmas, that includes all kind of stuffed animals and super cute hand painted onesies.

    My husband Jerry Weber also offers custom woodworking, if you can dream it he can build it.

    Plus we have a wide range of unique gifts for everyone in the family.

    So please stop in and check us out, you never know what you might find.

    Hope to see you soon!
    Nicole Maloney
    Sweet Pea’s Loft
    220 Division st

    December 5, 2007
  11. Ahh.. a great gift is one of relaxation and pampering!

    I’m offering a great deal on holiday gift certificates for Massage and Bodywork through my business, A Peaceful Touch Massage and Bodywork. I started a home office in Northfield this fall, and I am also in an office in uptown Minneapolis three days during the week.

    From now until Dec. 25, buy a 60-minute, 90-minute, or 3-pack of one hour sessions of massage, acupressure, or Reiki – YOU the gift giver – receive a FREE 30 minute massage and bodywork session! (Or use this gift to receive a half price hour-long massage!)

    You can buy the gifts online too! For more information visit my website:

    Scott Schumacher, Certified Massage Practitioner and Reiki Master
    A Peaceful Touch Massage and Bodywork
    Holistic Massage – Acupressure – Reiki Energy Healing

    December 5, 2007
  12. Jon Lee said:

    Thanks for mentioning our blog, Griff, as this time of year The Raven often writes about gift ideas involving books.

    As other have suggested, one thing folks who want to shop locally can consider doing is “packaging” items from various stores in a thematic way. For example, some posters have mentioned food as a gift idea. You could, say, combine a great cookbook from us at River City Books with a treat from Present Perfect or a certificate from the Sociale Gourmet with a bottle of wine from the liquor store, all bundled in a bowl from Sweet Pea’s Loft.

    Of course, at River City our bread-and-butter (speaking of food) is books. We have a full selection of the latest bestselling hardcovers and paperbacks, including a monthly “staff picks” display of titles that are on sale for 25 percent off the cover price. We also have hundreds of bargain books in our special holidays bargains area next door.

    We also carry an ever-expanding selection of popular music CDs and quite a few movies on DVD. If you haven’t checked out these sections in a while you might be (pleasantly) surprised by what you find. We may not have the quantity of the McBookstores, but we try to make up for it with quality. And if there’s a book or DVD you want that we don’t have, let us know. More than likely we can order it for you (and, if so, pick up the shipping charges).

    Thanks to the other store reps who replied to this post with such terrific gift ideas.

    December 6, 2007
  13. Tracy Davis said:

    Yes, let’s keep those ideas coming! Hey, I still have a couple of weeks to shop.

    December 7, 2007
  14. We really appreciate everyone who comes to our small artisan bakery to purchase breads that we bake fresh each day. To go along with our breads, we carry olive oils, balsamic vinegar, and other dipping oils. Our other products include Watkins flavorings, herbs, and spices that are processed in Winona, and we have a line of “Minnestalgia” products, including jams, jellies, and maple syrup, that are not only made in McGregor, Minnesota, but the fruits and sap are collected in Minnesota’s north woods. We really try to support as many local producers are possible. Any of these items make excellent gifts and stocking stuffers. And if all else fails and you don’t find the right gift, we always have gift certificates. Thank you for shopping at our bakery.

    December 7, 2007
  15. John Thomas said:

    Could you please tell us “which” bakery, and your Holdiday operating hours?

    How about what specialty breads will be available, and ordering deadlines?

    December 7, 2007
  16. Thank you, John, for your comments. I am terribly sorry I did not mention that I am the owner of the Brick Oven Bakery (yes, we really bake our bread in a brick oven).

    We are accepting orders through Saturday, December 22, at 2:00 pm (which is our Saturday closing time). We will be open Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm. We will be closed December 25, 26, and 27, and will be open again on December 28 and 29. We will be closed on December 31st and January 1st. Back open again on January 2 at our regular hours 6 am to 6 pm. Our special bread for December is Jule Kake and cranberry quick bread, along with a variety of Christmas cookies.

    Thank you for this venue.

    Brick Oven Bakery

    December 7, 2007
  17. Griff Wigley said:

    Hey Debra, allow me to let people know that Brick Oven Bakery has a website!

    As for Xmas shopping, today’s paper has the headline: Winter Walk yields mixed results.

    According to Krin Finger, owner of The Rare Pair, business and store traffic was up from last year, and Jerry Bilek, owner of Monkey See Monkey Read, said that business was up 10 percent from a year ago. But across the street at Anna’s Closet, owner Lucy Sweitzer said that traffic and business were down. “Other years, you couldn’t get through the door,” she said. “Not such [sic] much this year.”


    December 8, 2007
  18. John Thomas said:

    From this years experience, I would have to say that the crowd was primarily concentrated around Bridge Square, and not too many folks were North of say… GBBM.

    The Library was crowded, but other than that, not many were on Division betweenThird adn Fourth.

    Bridge Sqauare, Fourth to Fifth, and the area around Just Foods was packed.

    I do have to say, when you put up barriers, you do segregate people, either conciously or unconciously. There were definately four distinct areas for WInter Walk this year. The Third to Fourth Area, The Bridge Square-Fourth to Fifth Area (the busiest), the Fifth to Sixth area (Ghost Town), and Just Foods-Water Street Area.

    It was very crowded, parking was challenging, and moving around was interesting. It would be better if the barriers were flipped, and Fourth and Fifth were blocked to traffic. That way, you could use the horse drawn wagons in a loop fashion to move people from one side to another.

    It was fun, it was busy, but it was also stressful. As a family, we did Just Foods, the Library, the horse ride, and then got out of there as soon as we could. We will stop back downtown when it is quieter and calmer.

    December 8, 2007
  19. Jerry Bilek said:

    Excellent assessment John. When I spoke with Craig at the Northfield News, he said the retailers on the 400 block reported being busier than on the 300 block of Division. It would be nice to close off the cross streets of 4th and 5th.

    It is definitely quieter now. Friday and today are about as slow as I have ever seen it. I had 6 customers yesterday.

    December 8, 2007
  20. Rob Hardy said:

    It doesn’t look like anyone has yet mentioned the Shop at the Northfield Arts Guild. I buy something there nearly every holiday season—usually a pair of beautiful earrings for my wife. There’s lovely jewelry, pottery, cards, and other gifts. And there’s original art for sale. Would someone please buy me an original artwork by Jan Shoger, like the one in the current Members Exhibition? And, finally, a membership in the Northfield Arts Guild would also make a great gift!

    December 8, 2007
  21. Anne Bretts said:

    This thread is great, and I’m sure Winter Walk was, too. It would be great if this information were gathered in a weekly e-mail to anyone who has registered at the convention and visitor’s bureau site, and to all chamber of commerce and NDDC members to pass along to their customers and business associates. It also would be nice to do a WinterWalk kind of event on the weekends so commuters who get home late and out-of-towners could attend.
    It might even be nice to a Sunday brunch-time event to draw those church-goers after they finish their services.
    Just some thoughts for the future.

    December 8, 2007
  22. Christine Stanton said:

    Don’t forget to stop at the Fine Craft Collective located in Grezzo Gallery on Bridge Square! Many talented local artists and craftspersons (including me) are selling their work there for the holidays. 🙂

    December 8, 2007
  23. Griff Wigley said:

    This comment was submitted by an anonymous person who’s not yet responded to my request for their first and last name. But since it’s innocuous, I thought I’d post it:

    Hey folks,

    Don’t forget great stocking stuffers like Tiny’s gift certificates which are great for the teen or downtown co-worker on your list. Sweet Pea’s Loft has great gifts … I can shop there for my mother, daughter and siblings.

    Larson’s has great prices on their Northfield Raider gear … also great for teenagers/boosters on your list. Monkey See, Monkey Read has bestsellers now at 20% off and wonderful older books as well. Cocoa Bean is just right for gift toppers and stocking stuffers!

    The bottom line is, all of the Northfield shops offer wonderfully unique gifts and you truly can find something for everyone. Better yet, the owners and staffers at the local businesses are pleasant and helpful! Head downtown instead of the mall this season.


    December 11, 2007
  24. Ross Currier said:

    Date: December 12
    To: Jerry
    From: Ross
    Regarding: Rare Pair

    …and top-of-the-line service, too…

    December 12, 2007
  25. John Thomas said:

    My son and I had a wonderful shopping experience at the Monarch store today.

    We purchased some unique gifts for Christmas, as well as expanding my son’s polished rock collection.

    Great stuff! Great Service! Nice atmosphere!

    Jake says that they have the best rock collection in Northfield!

    Present Perfect, your next on our shopping visit list. 😎

    December 15, 2007

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