Barbara Lawlor, Boulder County. It seems early to be promoting local holiday shopping; but then, this whole year has seemed early, as if it came too soon to be reckoned with.
Local shops are already switching out the gold and rust of fall for the red and green of Christmas. The corn stalks for the poinsettias, the pumpkins for the LED projected snowflake lights.
Even before the last pecan pie from Thanksgiving dinner has been consumed, the plate licked, the family is planning their Christmas Day menu.
Even more than the food, residents are beginning the gift dilemma. What should I get for whom? What would the teens in the family possibly want that doesn’t involve battery chargers. Do the little ones still play with toys? What about the aunties and uncles?
It’s enough to drive a person to say, “Bah, humbug!”
That’s why Nederland and Gilpin County shops are filling the shelves with possibilities now, to give locals plenty of time to make decisions. That’s why they have their unique winter warm wear in the windows, for all of those travelers who come from all over the state to pick up ‘real’ Colorado gifts to send to family members far away.
So, last weekend, we meandered around the Nederland shopping center, seeing what shopkeepers and employees think will be hot this season.
A couple of friends picked out their favorite wines at Dam Liquor and got into a tussle about who was going to pay for them. They each finally agreed to let the other one pick up the bill and they laughed and laughed.
Tiny bottles of Jim Beam sell for 99 cents, a perfect stocking stuffer, and holiday ales with cool labels that will inspire conversation. How about a six-pack of Old Jubilation for $9.99? Or Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale. Yum.
Dam Liquor is offering great prices on fine whiskey, the kind to sip while telling stories of long ago holidays, “When I was kid.”
Two doors down from Dam Liquor, the Mountain Man shop offers anything anyone would need for fun in our sun, or snow. One family left the shop with their arms filled with snowshoes and warm clothes, everything they needed for a mountain vacation.
John Thompson also loves to promote items that mirror his sense of humor, that would be a hit in anyone’s stocking: Bacon-flavored toothpaste and emergency underwear; a Loki jacket that turns into gloves, hats and face masks and the bag to carry them in. Talking to John is a gift in itself, so be prepared to be entertained.
The holidays mean music, sleigh bells, carols, and in some cases, a dream come true for many who have always wanted to learn how to play some sort of musical instrument but never had the means to do so. Imagine giving them a starter violin or flute and a gift certificate for lessons, all of which can be obtained at Brightwood Music in the shopping center. Owner Doug Armitage says he is having a sale on classical guitars, asking the phenomenal price of $74, and $25 for half hour lessons. This truly is a gift that can last forever.
A stroll into the Nederland Boutique is an adventure for women. The choice of way cool clothing that makes older customers feel young and younger customers feel classy can become an afternoon of walking the runway, liking how the new outfit looks in the mirror.
Employee Shae Sprong said the onesie pajamas are popular, an example of outrageous sleepwear. The leggings are soft and warm and colorful, and don’t worry about finding something to go with them. Tops, tunics, shawls and long sweaters can become mix and match outfits in minutes. Ned Gear has set up a sewing machine in the store creating the hats, headbands and scarves that always keep their shape and keep your ears warm.
The Wild Bear Nature Center offers great green gifts that are specific to the Nederland area and recently, director Jill Dreves has returned from Nepal with gorgeous scarves that double as wraparound skirts. Glass pendants are priced to be affordable and are always a personal, long-lasting gift.
As one reaches the counter to pay, they notice a free snack, but as their fingers make a grab for the crispy looking finger food, the name makes them do a double take. “Larvets.” Or worm snacks. Chocolate dipped insects. It is, after all, a nature center.
Valerie Jacobson models a Nepal shawl, saying that 52 percent of the proceeds from the shop sales go to scholarships for nature programs and camps for kids who need a bit of help.
Augustine’s Winery welcomes folks who want to sample locally made wine and receive advice about what goes best with the holiday meals. So after a day of shopping, one can relax and sip, taking their time to taste and savor a wine they are considering to serve with the turkey, the ham, the prime rib or the poached salmon.
Guests at a dinner party often choose to present the hosts with a bottle of wine of their own, to be enjoyed later. On a tall chair at a small table, in a bay in the middle of a shopping center in a small town in Colorado, one can be transported to a summer world where the grapes age gracefully and are harvested and bottled to bring back that perfect summer day. Venus de Vino, heated with cinnamon sticks and orange slices, makes a tasty mulled wine that fills a house with a citrusy, spicy fragrance that makes one’s heart happy.
Upstairs in the shopping center, the Endless Youth Board Shop begins removing the skate boards and replacing them with snowboards. The winter season is upon us and kids are clamoring for their own snowboard and all of the gear that comes with the sport.
For visitors, Andrew Timbrook says the shop has everything one needs to spend a day on the mountain. A board, bindings and boots for $30 a day.
Scott DeWald of Greener Mountain keeps his shelves stocked with every size plant pots and an incredible selection of fertilizer and soil nutrients. He says a smaller grow light for keeping an herb garden over the winter is a much appreciated gift. He also has grow tents that could produce vegetables during the frozen ground, black and white, winter months.
B & F Mountain Market is the anchor of the shopping center and food is the anchor of the season. Our local grocery store has everything we need to host a holiday dinner or to bake homemade cookies, candy or pies to make someone else’s days brighter.
If the shopping makes you tired, hungry, thirsty or achy, you can visit Backcountry Pizza, Dot’s Diner, Very Nice Brewery and the Columbine Family Health Center for a massage, a spine adjustment, an acupuncture treatment or a flu shot.
It can all be done at the shopping center, but that is just the beginning of the local gifts that are available in our mountain community shops. We will be checking out the good deals over the next few weeks.