Shopping Ideas for the Gift-Giving Impaired

Not all of us find gift shopping to be easy, intuitive, or even fun.  In fact, for some of us, it can be hard, confounding, and extremely stressful.  As one long-time downtown merchant said to me, “Come on Ross, you know we’re talking about men”.  Therefore, I conducted several days of random research in downtown Northfield, MN to gather up a few ideas to assist the gift-giving impaired.  I’ll name the shop and mention a few of the suggestions that the proprietors offered.

Monkey See,Monkey Read: 20 books at 20% off, 5 for kids, 5 for young adults, 6 non-fiction, and 4 fiction (Yo guys, according to the WSJ the majority of book-readers are now women).  Rooms by Tagg 2: Faribault Woolen Mill Blankets (I guess this says “I want to stay home with you and watch a romantic comedy tonight”).  Echo Used DVDs: Tons of stocking-stuffers for under $5, including a bunch of “bacon”-based items (Yes guys, you can help with the stocking-stuffers).

Sketchy Artist: the Buddha Board is both relaxing and stimulating and April also notes that “cute is always good” and “pens are always appreciated” (Seriously guys, didn’t she have you at “relaxing and stimulating”?).  Larson’s Fabric Printing: Carhartt overalls (Yup guys, if your wife doesn’t want them, your daughter does).  Studio Elements: locally-made, hand-crafted gifts (Come on guys, unless you’ve been living in a shack in eastern Montana you’ve heard “locally-made, hand-crafted”).

The Rare Pair: warm sweaters and cozy slippers (Hey guys, I got a tip so hot that it’s almost insider trading that a lot of women really appreciate cozy slippers).  Champion Sports: Northfield apparel, letterman jackets, and Underarmor Performance Apparel (Yeah guys, apparently a lot of WOMEN are buying these for winter sports).  Glass Garden Beads (and The Eclectic Goat): hand-made jewelry, one-of-a-kind pottery, and stained-glass stars.  (Okeh guys, have you at least got the “hand-made” thing down yet?).

Measuring Cup: “A quality knife is the best thing you can have in your kitchen” (They come with a Life-time guarantee, need I say more?).  Paper Petalum: High-heeled wine caddy for the party gal and Scandinavian food for the practical gal (Although Eleanor says most women are fine with a gift certificate…as long as it’s for a place they like).  Swag: Bird Bingo, Life-changing Caramels, and disposable coasters and placemats (Okeh guys, I admit, it’s getting a little complicated but these say “I want to play a game with you”,…well, candy shouldn’t need an explanation…, and, “Oh sure, let’s entertain but let’s not make it too much work”).

Willie’s Shoes: Chippewa Boots with Vibram Soles (Yes Guys, she wants REAL boots).  Mike’s Bikes: (Apparently buying his and hers bikes so you can go for rides together more than doubles your score). The Local Joint: “There’s so many different kinds of things in here…just go with a generous gift certificate” (They’ll love leisurely looking around this place, guys).

These ideas are just a start.  We’ve got two more weekends to get the gifts.  There’s like six dozen retail shops in downtown Northfield, MN…and a bunch of places for coffee and a doughnut or a burger and a beer…you know, for refueling…all within a very walkable six or eight blocks.  Guys, we can make this easy or we can make this hard.  Let’s make it easy.


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