Checking It Twice

BY Stephanie Miller

A savvy assembly of Azalea Coast shop clerks tell us what’s on their shopping lists this Christmas.

Elaine Bordeaux
Sterling House
3501 Oleander Drive Hanover Center Wilmington
(910) 763-3656

What gifts are you buying here? For my friends Im getting Troll beads. I just got myself a bracelet. Each bead is made by a different artist and has its own story attached to it. Its like a modern-day charm bracelet. Everyone likes them whether youre a teenager or someone in your 80s (bracelet: $36 clasp: $22 to $56 and the beads start at $23). What else? For my mother-in-law Im getting something from Danielson Designs which is a company that makes customized signs. Theyre decorative and good for somebody who has everything. Everyone loves something with their name on it ($24.95 to $39.95)! Say an 18-year-old came in to buy a gift for her girlfriend? Vera Bradley has a new line for Christmas. Students love the coin purses because they have an ID pocket ($10). They have a checkbook cover ($19) and cosmetic bags too ($18 and $21). My mom likes Vera. So its really for all age groups. What about for the person who likes collectibles? We have a company Willow Tree that makes collectibles. They have a Christmas Nativity set so people like that ($16 and up). For Kids? Tickle Monster Mitts ($14.99) above and The Tickle Monster book by actress Josie Bissett ($19.95) are really popular. The book uses an interactive approach to reading.

Carolyn Hunt
Personal Touch
1125 Military Cutoff Road Wilmington
(910) 256-8888

What gifts are you buying from here? Im going to buy a pashmina for my mom ($140). And for my friends lots of gift cards. They love them. What do men buy for their wives? We have men that will come in and buy a dress for their wives. Usually they buy something sexy! Then of course theres jewelry which is always a good choice. We have a line of jewelry by Cassis that is beautiful ($2 500 to $10 000). A lot of the time men come in with an idea of what they want and they walk out with something entirely different! Whats a guy going to buy for his girlfriend? It depends on how long theyve been dating! If its just a couple of months accessories are a good bet. Costume jewelry is great for that (charms: $7 Earrings bracelets: $30 to $85). What about belts? Are they the hot new accessory? Yes. But theyre a hard gift to buy for someone. Everyone likes to wear their belt in a different place at their waist at their hips. They fit differently on everyone. Whats a mother buy for her daughter? Weve got some mothers who come in and buy shoes for their daughters. I think they pass the shoes back and forth!

Linda Usilton
Dragonflies Baby
4107 Oleander Drive Wilmington
(910) 796-9997

What are you going to buy as a gift from the store? When my grandkids were little Id buy these bright-colored raincoats with colorful designs and boots to match from a company called Kidorable. Theres an umbrella too. Grandparents are the ones who buy the whole set (raincoat: $36.95 boots: $32 umbrella: $13.95)! Whats a great cheap gift for under $15? Drinking bottles made out of stainless steel so theyre safe and theyve got great designs and colors dinosaurs fire trucks wild animals ($12). Then we have this snuggle blanket Angel Dear. Its an animal head with a small blanket tucked inside! Pink or blue ($12.95). What about men whove got a new baby in the house and want to buy a gift for their wife? Im really excited about a new charm bracelet from Pandora. The charms are just so precious. They make a baby carriage a booty with a stone inset and birthstones even a gold pacifier (bracelet: $50 charms: $25 and up). Or something a little more practical like a Hotsling a pouch-style baby carrier which is the hottest new thing ($52 to $69.95). They come in sizes like a T-shirt. (The good news is that it asks for the mothers weight before she had the baby!) And for the baby whos new to the whole walking thing? We have two great lines of soft-soled shoes that are so adorable. Some look like pink ballet shoes with bows or black Mary Janes with colored hearts or polka dots ($29.95 and $32).

Amber Durgom
Sweetwater Surf Shop
10 North Lumina Avenue Wrightsville Beach
(910) 256-3821

Who are you shopping for? Im going to get a Billabong peacoat jacket for my mom. We like to share ($83)! Who else is on your list? For my aunt Im going to get a black ONeill purse called The Gift Wrap ($51) above. Anyone else in your family youre buying for here? For my brother Im getting a Rip Curl watch because he likes to dive and some you can wear down to 200 meters. Its a great designer watch with a pretty face. It comes in analog or digital. Some have the capability to give tide information ($75 to $300). For your girlfriends? For my girlfriends Im going to get a picture frame from xsCurl Accessories by Brittany Williamson ($23) and put a picture of us in it! Its got a flower print with a light green bow and white polka dots in the corner. What about the guys? A great new videotape called Still Filthy from Billabong (around $30). And for that special guy? For my boyfriend Im getting a Nixon watch The District. Its really classic looking with a square stainless face. Its an attractive masculine watch ($130). Leave anyone out? Me! Im going to get a pair of Toms shoes for being such a good little Santas helper; we have a new line that came in during the fall ($45 to $55). And for the winter surfer? You need a wetsuit to surf here starting in October or so ($125 to $155 for a beginners suit).

Jennifer McGroarty
Down To Earth
315 N. Front Street Wilmington
(910) 251-0041

What are you buying for your family? For my sister Im going to buy diffusing oils. She lives in the mountains so Im getting her some of the warmer tones something cozy but bright for the winter. We mix therapeutic grade oils here so they give off the properties of the herb. We make a four-pack in small vials ($12.95) so Ill probably get her Sinus Allergy Relief (good for colds and congestion) Sanctuary Natural ZZZ and Spicy Night blends (diffusers $10-$32). Anyone else? My older sister is a cop and doesnt have time to diffuse oil so Im getting her the Chill Pill aromatherapy for the shower. It turns the shower into an aromatic steam bath. Ill probably get her Cold and Flu Headache Stress Buster and Relax ($4.25 for one $15 for four). What about Mom? Ill mix up something special for my mom. Ill start with Tension Tonic and add some arnica geranium and black pepper. She puts in on at night before she goes to bed. Shes always on the go and its great for her feet ($12.95 for five ounces that lasts about 6 months). And your friends? I like to get them something special Japanese incense. Its a refined grade crisper less invasive to the senses ($3.50 for 50 sticks boxes up to $89). Its a step up from the Indian Nag Champa that everyone is used to ($2.50 to $4.95). For those special guys? For my dad and my boyfriend Im getting an Italian shaving cream which comes in powdered form. Im getting the menthol scent. The shaving brush is from Italy also. Weve carried it for a decade and men really like it ($12.95 for the cream $14.95 for the brush).

Bennett Kennedy
New River Pottery
5744 Market Street Wilmington
(910) 791-7522

Who are you buying for here? I thought Id get my mom a glass fish plate. She can display it in a plate rack or use it as a candy dish ($5.99 red blue green). Or maybe a red and pink mosaic mirror in the shape of a fish ($15.99). These are unique and affordable. My whole family still lives at the beach so they like nautical gifts. Who else? My four-year-old nephew loves large self-adhesive wallpaper stickers. Ive given him the sports shapes so maybe the dinosaurs for Christmas. We go upstairs and hang the logos on his wallpaper together. He loves them ($1.00). Are you getting something for yourself? Ive had my eyes on some black and white framed photos of tropical leaves. I like the art deco look ($114.99 for 29-inch by 40-inch framed art). Who else is on your list? Ive got a wonderful aunt who is always looking out for everyone. She loves to cook so Im going to get her some gingerbread men ornaments. Ill get her three or four of the six styles we sell ($3.59). Anything else for your family from the Christmas department? Im getting my mom a heavyweight polar bear stocking holder. The bear lies or sits and you hang the stocking off his paw or foot. The white iridescent fur makes it look more expensive than it is. Its really unusual ($13.99). Anything really unusual for a good friend? Im going to get a wreath for a buddy of mine whos a great neighbor and friend. Its handmade here so you wont find it anywhere else. Hell like the mirrored ornaments with the bear and moose. Our designers did this great thing with the bows. They mixed black and white polka dot ribbon with a red sheer one with sequins ($92.99).

Andrew Yates
Canadys Sport Center
3220 Wrightsville Avenue Wilmington
(910) 791-6280

What are you going to buy as a gift from the store? For my buddies I like to get the Guy Harvey T-shirts ($16.99). What would surprise us? It amazes me how many people ski in Wilmington. We have ski bibs ($39.99) pants ($39.99 to $200) and jackets (up to $400) in addition to the long underwear and socks. We carry the Spyder brand which everyone knows from the Olympics as well as North Face Obermeyer and Columbia. People just load up and send it to family all over the country. Anymore surprises? We do a big archery business ($300 to $800 for the bow $600 to $1 500 for the set). And we sell a lot of womens bows. We sold one camouflaged with flowers. It was pink and purple and had pink and purple strings. And we sell bows for kids. Something for a five- to six-year-old runs about $40. Since you need to be fitted for a bow we cut out catalogue pages so women have something to give their husbands at Christmas. How do men shop at the holidays? A lot of times men come in the week before Christmas to buy a gun for their son or father. They usually just point and say “I want that one.” Real easy. Huntings what a lot of fishermen do when its cold. We sell a ton of Drake duck hunting equipment: decoys ($40 to $130) camouflaged thermos ($40) and apparel. What else? Aluminum boats. Weve been selling Mercury Outboards longer than any other retailer in the US. And people buy them for Christmas gifts.

Carolyn Floyd
3502-A Wrightsville Avenue Wilmington
(910) 796-9595

What are you going to buy as a gift from the store? Ive got my eye on the Maggie bags for my daughter. They are great looking and really different. Theyre made from seat belt material and they come in different sizes and colors. Theyre washable so you cant mess them up (around $65). Anything that reminds you of gifts from yesteryear? Oh yes. Beautiful handkerchiefs with a lily of the valley pattern. Its something you dont buy for yourself but theyre a lovely gift. My grandmother always carried pretty handkerchiefs around and so did my mother. It reminds me of them. All Southern ladies should carry a pretty handkerchief ($12)! Anything else? Lingerie bags. My mother used to have them. Theyre gorgeous and you dont see them much anymore. Theyre for your nicest lingerie and to protect lingerie when youre traveling ($43). What are you buying for your friends? This year is the year to buy things that are luxurious but not necessarily expensive. Gifts that make me feel special giving them and my friends feel special receiving them. Gifts like bright-colored cosmetic bags. They never last long so theyre a welcome gift ($8). Or great soaps from the French designer Yves Delorme ($3.50 to $16). Whats a gift that looks unique but isnt expensive? Fingertip towels with an initial embedded into the towel. You can buy one with your friends initial from her first name and one for her husband with his. Theyre from Matouk. You can even bleach them ($11)!

Mark Bishop
The Transplanted Garden
502 S. 16th Street Wilmington
(910) 763-7448

Who are you buying for? My mom is really into exotic plants so I get her tropical plants and put them in a beautiful pot. Last year I bought her a big green glazed pot with turtles as handles (plants: $10 to $50 turtle pot: $300). Anyone else? My sister on the other hand needs something you can water every other month so I buy her a cactus garden and put it in a bonsai pot ($30 to $50). What do you buy for more casual friends? Knock Out roses Encore azaleas or especially camellias. I throw some foil around the pot and have a nice gift without breaking the bank (one-gallon pot: $15 three-gallon pot $25). Whats unusual for someone with a beach house? People love this doormat we have that is covered in stones. Its great for an outdoor shower ($54.99). Whats something special for someone without a green thumb? For a special friend thats hard to buy for I like the large stainless-steel wind chimes by Music of the Spheres. Its perfect for a patio or a screened-in porch that has a steady breeze. Each model makes a different sound depending on the size and shape ($120 to $400). Anything decorative that you wont find anywhere else? Weve got two lines of pottery that are exclusive to us. The Guy Wolff terracotta pots were featured in Martha Stewart Living. Hes a Massachusetts potter. Hes known for his white pots but he has other soft colors ($18 to $90). The other is Campo De Fiori. They have live moss on the outside of the pots so as they age they get more and more beautiful. I plug in a $5 plant and its a great gift ($20 to $130).

Catherine Schmid
Pomegranate Books
4418 Park Avenue Wilmington
(910) 452-1107

Who are you buying for here? Ive got three kids in their 20s and they recycle reuse clothes and do all those things so I try to buy books that go along with that theme. For my daughter Im buying a book called Homegrown Homemade put out by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension agency which lists places throughout the state that feature local artists homegrown products etc. Its great for people who like traveling and are looking for a fun place to stop ($20). Anything for friends? For my friend who loves to hike Im buying Hike For Your Life about a couple in their 70s who hiked across the Alps small segments at a time. We had them here and they looked so ordinary and yet they have this incredible story ($22). For your family? Every Christmas we sit down and do a puzzle and everyone fights over who puts in the last piece. Im buying this puzzle called Green Pieces that has wildflowers embedded in it so when we finish it well take it out in the garden and bury it. What do people do with old puzzles anyway?! What do you have for young children? Grandparents love the lacing kits we have that help kids with manual dexterity. No buttons to push ($15)! Whats a sexy gift? We have this book of crazy love poems edited by Mary Ann Caws called Surrealist Love Poems. It has lines like: My whole life listens to you and I cannot undo the terrible freedoms your love creates for me. Whew. Local color? We may be the only people to have Clyde Edgerton and Mike Cravers CD Bible Salesman Story and Song. Its really funny ($15).