No one would call Mark Sparrow a shopaholic but when the season for gift giving comes around he is no Scrooge either. Indeed, the only time you’ll hear him mutter a bah-humbug is when someone mentions they are making their way to the Halifax big box stores to make their holiday purchases. Getting out in late November to beat the crowds, Mark made his way to local shopkeepers to fill his gift giving basket and posted the following note to Facebook to let his friends know that they too can surprise their loved ones and keep their money on the Island at the same time.
I thought I would start a list of local businesses where you can find good potential gifts without having to go into the malls or shop online. There are some good locally owned businesses in the malls, I just don’t like pushing through the herd this time of year so I thought I would list a few spots that come to mind to help out others who also try to avoid the place like the plague in December.
Feel free to throw up your own additions and let us know if you have a small business of your own that has practical gift ideas.
1. Finders Keepers – This is an awesome little shop/studio in Bras d’Or owned by local artisan Laura Moore. I was in yesterday and got a lot of my shopping taken care of. There’s everything from paintings, prints, hand made jewelry, creative cards, hand made garbage pail kid cards, bags made by women in Argentina from recycled plastics, and a bunch of quirky toys and knick knacks that you don’t really see everywhere.
15-6 Alder Point Road, Bras d’Or. In the white building at the lights next to The Bargain Shop.
Open til 6 on Thurs, Fri, Sat…or by appointment.
2. Time Machine Candy Works – Most locals are already very familiar with Time Machine Candy Works owned by Dave Grant. For those who don’t, it’s a candy shop with all of the old school style candy you can think of, and more. Similar to the Freak Lunchbox in Halifax…this place is a guaranteed stocking stuffer finder.
274 Charlotte St. Sydney, next to the Maple Leaf.
3. Cape Breton Fudge Company – Lots of good stuff in here. I am buying a few of their crate box packages here to send away as gifts for people living off island as a little reminder of home. The fudge and hot chocolate there are both great but they have a wack of other giftish goods in there as well.
15 Prince St, downtown Sydney.
4. Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design – The CBCCD sells hand made works from approximately 70 Cape Breton artisans, across every medium and price range you can think of.
322 Charlotte St., next to the CJCB building.
5. Cape Breton Baby Company – Lots of toys and goodies in here for kids and babies. I know lots of my friends are spawning these days and I am trying to pop into this place more often rather than winners, or zellers.
319 Charlotte St, in the Crowels Building below MusicStop.
6. Kitchen Party – This is a new Kitchen Wares store downtown. I’m a food guy so I was pretty pumped on this place…they have raclette grills (swiss cheese & veggies and/or meat grilling stations) which would make for a fun gift.
319 Charlotte St. Sydney, …also in the Crowells Building.
7. Sweet Biscuit – This is a new bath shop open downtown that has home made soaps, scrubs, etc. I haven’t been in yet but I have it on good authority that it’s nice and the stuff is good quality.
230 Charlotte St., Sydney
8. Cape Breton Farmers Market – Another one that I’m sure a lot of us have been to, but there are all kinds of foodstuffs and crafts at the farmers market that would make for good gifting.
340 Keltic Dr, diagonal from the County Arena in Coxheath.
9. Savoy Theatre – Check the savoy website to see if there’s any upcoming shows that you could get someone for x-mas. Or if you know someone who goes to shows at the Savoy often, buy them a membership. I think it’s $45 or so, and you get first crack at tickets before they go on sale to the public. I got my White Stripes & Leonard Cohen tickets this way. Monies go to support the operations of the Savoy, so that’s always a good thing.
116 Commercial St, Glace Bay
10. Local Restaurant Gift Certificates – I’m pretty sure that Flavor (16 Pitt St, Sydney), Yassou (453 Prince Street, Sydney…formerly Fourna Grill), and Allegro (222 Charlotte St.) all sell gift certificates and you really can’t go wrong with any of these spots.
11. Local Music – Mike LeLievre has a debut CD out this year which will be available at Mary Janes this weekend, Static in Action have a new double-disc that is available at Ollie Around, and you still can’t go wrong with grabbing someone a copy of Tom Fun’s – You Will Land With a Thud…classic that it is. cblocals.com Hoodies are also being created by the folks at CAPR Radio. They are $40 and printed on American Apparel zip-ups. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to reserve a size. “A Company House Christmas” has also just been released for download for $8 with x-mas songs from Carmen Townsend, Tom Fun Orchestra, Steve MacDougall & Mike LeLievre of Slowcoaster, Colin Grant, Steve Fifield, and Kyle Evans and more.
12. Revive Hair Studio & Spa – Treat your lady (or man) to some aveda concept spa services and goods at Revive, owned by Mike MacDonald.
Kings Road, Sydney River…in the Don Cherry’s plaza
13. Brookside Baskets – A full service gift-basket company. These are always safe for people when you don’t really know exactly what they like (bosses, co-workers, your better half’s grandparents, etc.). They have same day delivery in Sydney & area.
70 Amberwood Crescent Sydney
14. Two Rivers Wildlife Park – This is a great idea…the adopt-a-friend program at the Wildlife Park would make a great gift. These are $25 and you get a photo and certificate of adoption for your animal. You can adopt online as well. Annual park passes are also available for $60.00 per family, or $27.00 per person. http://www.tworiverspark.ca
15. Ollie Around – Since I-land closed (R.I.P!) Ollie Around is only skateboard shop around. The location in the Sydney Shopping Centre has moved next to Don Cherry’s in the Value Check plaza in Sydney River, and they have a store on the North Side as well.
16. Gordon Photographic – Warren Gordon has a pretty huge collection of scenic photos from around Cape Breton. He also has an annual calendar with new images each year that I believe sells for under $20. Another good one for gifts you’re sending off island.
367 Charlotte St.