Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. One can almost feel the shopping tornado building up over the mountains. Local stores are setting up Christmas displays and figuring out Black Friday sales and discounts. Even before the Thanksgiving turkey hits the table, kids are making lists for what should show up under the tree, families are preparing for out of town guests coming in or planning what to take when they visit relatives for the annual reunion.
There is so much to do at this time of year.
No matter how early one begins, everything seems to snowball into December and the season of buying to give.
We at The Mountain-Ear believe that residents can get most of their shopping done in Nederland and in Gilpin County. Mountain shops may not have all the latest electronic vices; excuse me, devices, but they have everything one needs for parties and dinners, for gifts that don’t need batteries, for quality, handcrafted jewelry and accessories- entertainment that involves actually doing something that involves more than thumbs.
It is our small town season filled with music and holiday bazaars, handed down traditions and, of course, the huge Community Thanksgiving dinner, which is made possible by all of us who bring in a side dish, help with the serving, cleaning up and especially the shared dining pleasure by one and all.
Imagine not heading down the hill for the infamous Black Friday shopping in the malls. Imagine your first shopping day taking place right in our own shopping center, walkable, with restaurants and coffee shops for revival. Our version of the mall may not offer everything you need, but you could get a head start and relax on the day after Thanksgiving. What a concept.
Visit the shopping center with us, find unique gifts and get a start on your gift list before the tornado arrives. We will be visiting other Nederland shops as well as the non-casino gift shops in Central City. The items we highlight are just small examples of what is available in our towns.
Blue Owl Books and Boutique: It is so much more than a bookstore: exquisite clothing and jewelry, burritos or lox, coffee, skin products, aromatherapy, books, t-shirts, and framed prints from favorite Fairy Tales.
Employee John Haworth says the book that is already a hot gift item is George Blevins’ Mr. Turtle and Ms. Ladybug, a favorite story with both kids and parents. Something new: a string of organic lights; you spray water on them and the petals open up to become a flower, perfect for a lighting ceremony.
The Alpaca Store and More contains softness and warmth. It seduces shoppers into touching and wrapping the Bolivian ponchos around their shoulders, the socks over their feet and ankles, gloves over fingers and high end jackets and sweaters to dress up one’s jeans.
Shop owner Roy Burkett says the socks are so popular people order them from out of state. Even the purple ones. Especially the purple ones. The Alpaca Store will have a 30 percent discount sale on socks on Black Friday and Roy says they run off the shelves every year. Last year, at least 100 people had warm feet because of alpaca socks from Nederland.
B & F Mountain Market is a grocery store, a place where one can purchase or order anything for a holiday dinner or a party. Now, Sweet Bea’s Flower Shop has set up a garden in the produce section, perfect for decorating, or giving the enduring gift of a plant from a great selection of succulents and cacti, with prices as low as $2.99.
The store also has a large selection of Leanin’ Tree cards and calendars for the Christmas season as well as candy for the stocking, and bones for the dogs.
Once you finish shopping for the big holiday meal, you can hop next door to Dam Liquor to find the perfect wine, beer or mixings for pre-dinner cocktails. Manager Scott Asnin says he will be stocking up on gift boxes. You pay the same price as you would for a bottle of your favorite hard drink and you get glasses to go with it.
His beer cooler is making room for the holiday brews and the wine to go with the dinner. He says it’s always best to have a variety of wines to offer, as there are so many different tastes included in a large Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
For those cold winter nights, a hot buttered rum or a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream in hot chocolate warms the body and soul.
Another place to find items to warm the body is the Mountain Man Store, which is filled with winter necessities, anything with the Carhartt label, and a whole bunch of fun items found only on John’s shelves.
Like the book that contains a flask; a three-tiered camouflage can, perfect for storing spices or certain kinds of weeds; smell-proof ziplock bags; used skis, boots and poles; a tinder kit, a survival whistle; and flannel or fleece lined Carhartt’s for women. He says he also has the “Make Ice Cream Anywhere” machine, the only one in existence.
Newcomer to the shopping center is Brightwood Music, which has a dazzling selection of instruments perfect for beginners, students and professionals. Kids beginner violins, mandolins and ukeleles may be purchased with lesson packages.
Instrument accessories are available, including guitar straps, cases, backpacks and music books. A solid wood, authentic sound train whistle or a kazoo is the perfect drive the parents crazy noise makers for the stocking.
The Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center is so packed with super gifts, it will take some time to see everything. From Tibet Collection wind chimes to Savory Soaps and Lotions, to Eco-products to the best-seller lotion soap, the shop is a must stop. The kids will love watching Westie the Turtle blink on his rock, as well as the assortment of cockroaches, a bear, a coyote, and a tarantula.
Local silversmith Rocky Stiers has his work for sale, always a stunning gift. On Black Friday, there will be a 10 percent discount on all items in the store.
Wild Bear also will have snowshoes for rent when family members from Florida or Texas show up for mountain winter fun.
The Carousel of Happiness has a plethora of gifts featuring the amazing animals that prance and dance around and around inside the carousel building, a perfect gift to share the memory of a happy day in Nederland. Hand-made holiday stockings so special they could become a family tradition are hung on the walls, and high quality EeBoo toys fill the shelves.
On the upper level of the shopping center, the purple striped shop of The Candy Man is the ultimate place to go for the holiday staples: chocolates and taffy, caramel and nougat, sugar, sugar, sugar. One can mix and match the assortment of candies. For the chocolate lovers, there are strawberries lathered artistically in the dark or white elixir. Owner Dan Harrower says he will make gift boxes to order and also create an old-fashioned candy bouquet.
Ace Hardware has all your decorating needs: all of the cool lights for trees and houses, blinking lights, wreath lights, and LED reel light sets that come with a 10-year guarantee.
It has Santa hats, sparkling bows, large Teddy bears and any kind of tool, for the handy person in the house.
This store could probably provide a large percentage of items on your shopping list and the best part of a hardware store is that it is inspirational. You see things that are not on your list but you know someone who would love a new flashlight with batteries that work, a fishing pole, a chain saw, a warm sweater, a hand warmer, a gallon of paint, or a bag of popcorn.
And when you get hungry, there is always a Mountain Burger, a Back Country piece of pizza, a Train Cars plate of doughnuts, a Dot’s Diner biscuit and gravy, and a Very Nice beer.
If you still have some time, you could do a load of laundry or get a flu shot at the Columbine Family Health Center.
It is the just the beginning.