(Sung to “Deck the Halls”)
Deck the stores with pre-wrapped presents, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la
Not much new from last year’s remnants, fa-la-la-la-la la la la la.
Hold your breath it’s more perfume, fa-la-la-la-la la la la la.
Ditch the malls for something new… fa-la-la-la-la la la la la.
Okay, I’m not a great lyricist, but I am a great shopper, and I know where to find the most novel and unusual gifts in town. Forget websites like Zappos, Amazon or Polyvore. Give Macy’s, Walmart and Kohl’s a rest this year. These stores are for everyday purchases like blue jeans and toaster ovens.
Style Matters has found several stores with unique products that also offer free shipping, just like on-line competition. You can carry out your purchases from these stores and deliver them to yourself at no charge! Plus the added incentive of supporting local businesses should give you reason enough to check out these gift shops.
Where are these emporiums of goodies: right in our own backyard at Denver’s museums and educational institutions. These modern day treasure troves have no connection to the tee shirts, pens, books and plastic souvenirs that used to inhabit museum gift shops. Nowadays, gift shops are filled with unique items that will surprise and thrill the people on your list. Best of all, most items are affordable and of top-notch quality.
Style Matters explored the gift shops at four Denver cultural hot spots. This column will cover the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, The next column will look in at the Denver Botanic Gardens and Denver Zoo.
Denver Art Museum
Hamilton Wing Gift Shop
Let’s start with the mother of all gift shops — The Denver Art Museum, a venue that has been in the public eye both here and around the world. Need Style Matters say more about the smash hits — the Yves Saint Laurent and Van Gogh exhibits? The museum contains three gift shops, the largest of which is located in the new Hamilton wing of the museum. This spacious boutique is akin to a mini Cherry Creek Arts Festival, only better because it doesn’t have all the expensive paintings, odd sculpture and indecipherable photos. Instead the shop is an amalgam of beautiful items, anyone of which you would be thrilled to receive as a holiday gift.
The museum has a huge collection of jewelry designed by artists locally and from all over the world.
Original Museum Gift Shop
The third gift shop is housed in the old wing of the DAM and carries more traditional merchandise. Here is where you can find mugs covered in Degas ballerinas, as well as assorted playing cards, post-it notes, and stationery all decorated with art reproductions. All are reasonably priced, most not exceeding $20.00.
This store’s inventory connects most closely with the museum’s exhibits. Cases are filled with Indian fetishes (carved animals with spiritual qualities) and jewelry featuring well-known Indian silversmiths like Tommy Singer Din’e. His eye-popping necklaces range in price from $40 to $600.
Style Matter’s favorite: Clear ornaments with one Origami crane swinging inside. These are very unusual and at $12.50 make an adorable stocking stuffer. (Can you stuff ornaments or do they have to hang?)
Denver Museum of Nature and Science Gift Shop
Yes, the store has plastic dinosaurs, science kits, basketfuls of rocks, magnets and the like. But there is much, much more. Style Matters was interested in the new and the different. She stumbled upon that and the fair trade movement. Fair trade products come from developing countries whose farmers and crafts people are building sustainable businesses. (Get that tingle of pride knowing that the money you spend on day-to-day goods can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives.) The fair trade imprimatur was proudly displayed on the majority of store products.
If you have a yen for silver, don’t miss the handmade silver jewelry ($100-$300) by Beit Nir. This gorgeous scooped chain necklace will flatter any neckline.
Museum visitor information:
Denver Art Museum
100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, Denver
Hours: Monday: Closed
Tuesday–Thursday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Shoppers can visit the gift shops without paying an entrance fee.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
2001 Colorado Boulevard
Hours: Open Daily 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Shoppers can visit the gift shop without paying an entrance fee.
Judie Schwartz, AKA Style Matters, is the co-author of two best-selling books on the best places to shop in Colorado. Called “A Fashion-Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond,” the books are available at stylematters.us. Schwartz presents image seminars to corporations on the importance of a business casual wardrobe and entertains conventioneers with talks on how to look great on a budget. She is also a wardrobe consultant. Schwartz has one husband, three children, no pets and small closets. She can be reached at:
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