Checking it Twice

BY Stephanie Miller

A savvy assembly of Azalea Coast shop clerks tells us whats on their shopping lists this Christmas…

Susan Thomas
Learning Express
1437 Military Cutoff Progress Point Wilmington
(910) 509-0153

Whats your favorite inexpensive gift you give? My hands-down favorite for my granddaughters friends is the Pig Popper. Its a gun disguised as pig! The girls like it because of the popping sound and the boys like it because it shoots. Ill buy four or five for Christmas ($9.99). Any old favorites? The Elf on the Shelf is back for its fourth Christmas and its still going like gangbusters. The family adopts an elf which they set free in their house. The elf moves around at night checking to see whos naughty or nice. In the morning the kids try and find him without touching him or his magic bestowed upon him when named will disappear ($29.99). Whats good for easy shipping or packing in a suitcase when traveling to see family? The Ugly Dolls one of which Nandy Bear is exclusive to us roll up in a ball for easy packing and make a great snuggly at night ($5.99-$49.99). What do you recommend to folks with young kids? My go-to snuggly doll is the Sing-a-ma-jig which was just on the Kathie Lee and Hoda show. The snuggly opens its mouth and sings and chatters. Each one is different so you can buy several for your family and have a symphony going! ($15.99). Got a good ride-in-the-car game for long holiday trips? My favorite is Double Shutter which comes in a travel case. Theres nothing to pick up. I always keep one in the car and one in the house ($19.99).

Matthew Wisthoff
Bike Cycles
6801 Parker Farm Rd. Mayfaire Wilmington
(910) 256-2545

What are you getting your buddies? I like the Polar Insulated Water bottle. It will keep their drinks hot or cold for a couple of hours while theyre cycling ($12). What would you suggest as a hands-down great gift for the triathletes you know? We have a great opportunity here for trialthletes to get the perfect bike fitting done by Charley George who was trained by the best the Specialized Body Geometry School and the Slowtwitch Fit School. Its an advanced fitting session that pays attention to leg length flexibility knee and ankle position and more. Charley works with you until its right ($150). Any gift ideas for bikers who cant get out after work in the winter months? The Kurt Kinetic Bike Trainer is a great fluid resistance trainer. Its the quietest and most progressive of the bike trainers. Its even good for the cyclist on a hybrid bike who wants to get some great exercise at home while watching TV ($299.99). What else for real athletes? We do a custom-fit running shoe analysis for the serious runner. We carry the Somnio Customized Running Shoe which we customize to the way the runners knee tracks the height of the arch etc ($139 and up). Fun gift for the amateur cyclist? I get my buddies a cycling computer to track how fast and far they bike. Its essential for anyone who owns a bike and its fun because you get to compete with yourself. They come in all levels of sophistication ($24.99 and up).

Harry Oakes
Tippys Treats & more
7134 Market St. #2 Wilmington
(910) 319-7786

What are you buying for your two pooches this year? My dogs would love nothing better than deer antlers. Theyre calcium like fingernails and my dogs have nubbed them down to nothing in the past ($6-$12 depending on size). What about dogs that have allergies? Thats how we got started. Our dog Tippy had allergies and my wife Jackie started making dog food for her. Soon friends were asking for samples and the business was born. Veterinarians come in here armed with a list of allergies their patients have. What do you get for friends who love their pets? I get them a bar of soap shaped like a paw print or a dog bone. It comes in various aromas and everyone loves them ($3-$5). Anything a little fancier? How about a dog carrier for small dogs? Its actually beautiful luggage and is great for trains planes and shopping ($39-$45). What about for the dog who has everything? Bring your puppy in when Santa is here and well take a picture of the two of you frame it and give the $10 fee to a charity that aids in animal adoptions.

Dorothy Bridger
Fishermans Wife
1425 Airlie Road Wilmington
(910) 256-5505

Any “must have” items for your family? We sell this “sea bag ” recycled from old sails which the designer makes into pocketbooks and carry-ons. Its a real conversation piece. Each one is unique ($95-$145). What are you buying for your closest friends? I love this wild colorful line of handmade hand-painted pottery by Mary Rose Young ($58). What do you have for college-age students? For my sons girlfriend I am going to get a piece of this great-looking jewelry by Towne and Reese bracelets necklaces earrings for about $25. Im wearing a piece now and I get more compliments on this necklace than I do on my most expensive jewelry! What do you have that is unique and beautiful for the nautical crowd? I love the dinnerware line made in the US by Caskata. I cant wait to get a piece for my brothers wife. He loves to fish but she is really going to like it too. Theres a bowl with tarpons decorating the surface and theres a fabulous platter with a single gorgeous marlin on it! ($40-$150).

Andrea Miller
Ashlyns Pink Petunia
Blue Moon Gift Shops 203 Racine Drive Wilmington
(910) 798-4002

You have a young daughter. Is she getting something from your shop? Tracker Santas Puppy is really fun. The dog has two ears one says naughty and one says nice. The dog sniffs and one of the ears goes up. It comes in a picnic basket with a book and a CD that offers really nice bonding games dressing the elves playing reindeer games figuring out when Santa is coming to visit. You can personalize it embroider her name on it and make it really special for her ($24.95 includes personalizing). Do you have anything for parents? I like to give my friends one of the acrylic items we have like a bowl a picture frame or wine glasses with their names on it. They get a real kick out of the “Merry Christmas Yall” I sometimes put on the bowl. Everyone loves to see their name on a gift. As long as it fits we put in on there ($28.95 with personalizing). Got anything for the older “kids?” Our ornaments with the college logos and sayings are really popular ($19.95).

Chris Primm
West Marine
1994 Eastwood Road Lumina Commons Wilmington
(910) 256-7878

What kind of shopping will you be doing here? For my dad Im getting the Leatherman. Its the coolest tool for the everyday handyman. Its loaded with pliers a knife that extends and locks as you open the Leatherman a beer opener a wire stripper and cutter a screwdriver and much more. My dad will love this when hes working on the boat ($38-$98). And for the serious fisherman? There is nothing like an Emergency Positioning Indicator Radio Beacon (EPIRB) for the long-distance cruiser. If the boat is sinking and the communication system is not working the unit sends out an SOS signal to the Coast Guard and gives them the exact coordinates of the vessel ($299-$1 149). Another great feature is the test button which can send a signal to someone (like your wife) to let her know youre okay. A good stocking stuffer? Keys dont float in water but we sell one that does. Its got a low profile but if you drop it in water a flotation device inflates and rises three inches in the air ($7.99).

Susan Boyles
Seasoned Gourmet
1930 Eastwood Rd. #105 Lumina Commons Wilmington
(910) 256-9488

What inexpensive gift do you give to your friends? My favorite stocking stuffer is the Vegetable Saver which is shaped like the vegetable youre trying to keep fresh. It keeps the moisture in and the smell out of the fridge ($4.25). What about for your friends who are cooking freaks? I always give a particular cookbook opener to my girlfriends. Its really heavy so it keeps the recipe page open and its really beautiful so it adds to the experience ($29.95). And your boating buddies? I give them something from a line of polycarbonate drinkware everything from martini glasses to champagne flutes its great for outdoor entertaining and unbreakable. You cant go wrong. ($4.50-$7.50). Got a good “guy gift?” A grill basket set that comes with two baskets and a cover so you can mix and match. Its got a non-stick coating and is great for keeping vegetables and shellfish from falling through the grates ($29.99). What do you give as hostess gifts? I give gift baskets stocked with Wilmington or North Carolina products. People have no idea how much great stuff is made here. I put together some Cape Fear Salsa jars wrap them in cellophane put on a bow and I have a something for around $15 to give to any hostess. We can keep on adding to the basket with wines candy cookies barbecue sauce the list is endless!

Gloria Dyer
1055 Military Cutoff #103 Wilmington
(910) 256-2233

Whats hot for the boyfriend? Its hard to choose the best pair of denim jeans from all the styles we have but Im going with True Religion. Theyre really fun and have a huge following. The guys really want it. Theyre made from Italian denim but manufactured in the US ($196). Are you going with something for your dad from the store? Absolutely. The denim from Citizens of Humanity is universally flattering. Its really soft. Again its that great Italian denim and made in this country ($169). What have you got in denim for gals that you dont find everywhere? For my girlfriends Im going with Genetic. Theyre fabulous. Its a really premium jean ($185). What about your mom? Theres a perfect boot for her here. Its the new military trend with the covered chain. It has a hidden platform inside the high-heeled boot so they look fabulous and at the same time are really comfortable. They look great with tights or jeans ($469). Anybody left in your family to buy for? My sister is getting a pair of the Tom Ford sunglasses. They are the yacht of sunglasses the best. I like the Narcissa style which plays on the cat eye trend which is huge right now. Its a modern update of that style but a lot subtler than the true cat eye ($340).

Kathleen Gray
Spectrum Art and Jewelry
1125-H Military Cutoff The Forum Wilmington
(910) 256-2323

What are you buying for family members? My niece is 26 and is an environmental major so Im going to get her a simple lovely necklace with two hanging silver leaves from our Starsong collection designed by our own Star Sosa ($65). Sosa created these beautiful pieces to be affordable so they are a great value for the discerning shopper. What about folks who love the beach? Local artist Nancy Noel May paints beach scenes on a very small canvas which sits atop an easel. Its great for a desk or an office ($125). And our candles made by Outer Banks craftswoman Becky Hemby have shells embedded in the high temp wax. Once the inner core burns out she can refill it or you can just set a tea light inside ($25 on up). For your girlfriends? I love the hand-painted scarves by Carolina Beach artist Kristin Gibson. Each one is unique its like buying wearable art that looks good on everybody ($45-$60). What about a good hostess gift? I buy multi-colored hand-blown glass butter dishes for my hosts. They come with a spreader filled with chips of colored glass ($45). Something inexpensive for student or a neighbor? A handsome pen holder made out of hand-blown glass ($20).

Maddy Bullington
Coastal Urge
1319 Military Cutoff Landfall Center Wilmington
(910) 256-6468

What are you going to buy from here for your sister? She may be reading this so I dont want to give away any secrets but what Id love to buy her is this super-soft super-comfortable sweater jacket from Patagonia. It is perfect for Wilmington winters. Its got zippers on the side and zippered pockets on the front ($130). And your mom? Prana makes a really different-looking yoga top. The colors are not something youd find anywhere else. Its amazingly soft and form fitting ($46). It comes in a lot of different patterns with coordinating yoga pants ($65-$70). And your boyfriend? Kaenon sunglasses called Arlo. Its a great high-end pair of shades ($200). Any kids on your list? My sister has kids and I want to get them the cutest little booties by NorthFace. They come in light blue and are great for cold weather ($25). Are your friends lucky enough to get gifts from here? Prana makes a great-looking white daisy beanie for $25.

Bridget Murphy
1900 Eastwood Rd. #9 Lumina Station Wilmington
(910) 208-9650

Whats fun in womens wear for friends? For a friend who has the guts to pull off anything get a pair of gold dangling earrings with mini-peacock feathers. Theyre from Loon Jewelry designed by Emily Jones of Wilmington. We sold some to ABCs Desperate Housewives ($35-$68)! Any other accessories youre dying to take home and wrap? Im going to get a canvas handmade pocketbook from IRO. Its got a great price point and the details like a colored swatch of fabric over the neutral bag are unique. Im getting it for my cousin who is a school teacher (around $82). Got something sexy for mom? I love the tops by the Italian designer Elana Kattan. The fabric is so soft and the ruching on the sides is flattering to any tummy. Ive got one picked out for my mom that will look great with a tank top. The blue in the fabric will bring out the blue in her eyes ($104). Are hats as popular as last year? This winterhats are back and better than ever. You wear them further back on your head. Weve got a great line of crochet-type hats. Im getting one for myself (about $40).