What I bought for the holidays (in Oakland)

December 28, 2008

As promised, here’s the full report on how my local shopping project went this holiday season: everything I bought for the holidays this year. I tried very hard to buy only from locally-owned Oakland businesses, but strayed on a few things. For those, though, I did successfully buy from either locally-owned Berkeley businesses (I work in Berkeley, and as it came down to the wire, just couldn’t avoid the lunchtime errands!) or Oakland chains.

  • Three strands of Christmas lights and assorted tree trimmings from the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse (Temescal). Christmas lights are, apparently, all made in China. Every single one. I searched high and low because we really wanted American-made solar-powered or at least LED lights, but not a one was made anywhere other than China or Taiwan. Instead, I settled for several new-to-me strands. I also bought a wreath and various ribbons and garlands while I was there, so it all came to a whopping $11.
  • One live Charlie Brown Christmas tree and one wreath from the Grand Lake Ace Garden Center. (I know, their business is officially based in Piedmont, but the nursery’s on the Oakland side of the line, so I’m counting it!) We’ll plant the tree in our backyard in January.
  • One garland from the Lakeshore Trader Joe’s, an impulse purchase. Interestingly, grown at the same South Bay nursery as the Ace wreath and tree.
  • Butcher block paper and ribbon for wrapping from Paper Source (Berkeley’s Fourth Street). This was my only purchase that was neither in Oakland nor from a local business, but I openly admit to being a Paper Source addict. For some bizarre reason, I’ve lived or worked within a couple blocks of a Paper Source store for my entire adult life (first in North Cambridge, and then in Brookline, Minneapolis, and now Berkeley) so we go way back, and every year my holiday wrappings come from there. (I did miss one year, the winter after I moved to California, because there were no stores here yet….but luckily, the Berkeley store opened that next spring!)
  • Two Cheerful Pet dog toys made by a Nepalese women’s cooperative (so not exactly local, but also not made in China!) from Paws on Piedmont for the dogs out east.
  • One cute outfit and hat made by Mariposa Baby from Babyalula (Piedmont Avenue) for my cousin’s brand-new baby.
  • Assorted books from Walden Pond Books (Grand Lake), Rockridge Home, and Builders Booksource (Berkeley’s Fourth Street). Rockridge Home also did a very snazzy wrapping job.
  • One Nikki McClure print from Issues (Piedmont Avenue), which is a wonderful news/magazines shop that even let the Labradane come in while we looked around.
  • One comic book from Dr. Comic & Mr. Games (Piedmont Avenue)—which I’d never been into, and which is a pretty amazingly awesome place. I asked for advice on what to get my cousin, and was literally treated to a tour of the world of comics. As I leafed through the books, no fewer than four employees came to give me their two cents.
  • Locally made soaps from Hydra (Berkeley’s Fourth Street).
  • California olive oil from Stonehouse Olive Oil (Berkeley’s Fourth Street).
  • One Yama stovetop coffee brewer (guess who that was for!) from Sweet Maria’s (West Oakland).
  • Local chocolates from Piedmont Grocery (Piedmont Avenue). Sad story….I’d intended to stop en route to the post office to get chocolates from Lulu Rae, which now has a little spot on Piedmont that it shares with Tango Gelato. But both were closed the weekend before Christmas due to “electrical troubles”….lousy time for a chocolate shop to miss out on holiday shoppers! Piedmont Grocery isn’t exactly the primo place to get chocolates, but they do carry a couple of locally-made varieties, and it was the only place I could think of that would get me back to the post office before they closed. Also, I was walking down Piedmont with a giant box full of gifts to be mailed in my hands and was sans bike/car, so there really weren’t any other options.

And that’s it. This year my family just exchanged small gifts accompanied by donations to favorite charities, which did make shopping a lot more manageable and meaningful (if not as happy for the local shops!) We also spent the holidays in our house for the first time, which was lovely but also pretty mellow and quiet, since our Christmas-celebrating family is all out east. (The West Coasters are of the latke persuasion.) Luckily, my dad sent the best gift: his traditional homemade almond and chocolate croissants so we could have our own Christmas morning feast. Yum! (Thanks Dad!)

Hope everyone’s holidays were as peaceful and happy as ours were.


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