As if great beer weren't reward enough, you can earn prizes for sampling local craft beverages
As promised, this week I headed into the wilds of West Little Rock on my great Christmas gift hunt. If you’re not finished with your shopping yet you probably don’t have the time to wade through a lot of preliminaries, so here’s what I found:
• Bed, Bath and Beyond: Why on earth they were carrying these in the first place will forever be a mystery to me, but on the clearance tables at the front of the store they had a bin full of Moleskine notebooks, hard-bound blank books with a storied history, favored by the likes of Ernest Hemingway. These things have a cult following — just Google Moleskine, you’ll see. Full price for a small one is usually about $10, but BB&B had them marked down to $4.99. If you’ve got a creative type on your list, this would make a great gift.
• Vesta’s: There’s plenty of clothing and bath/skin products to choose from here, but I really liked the Blabla line of sock-monkeyesque stuffed animals ($34-$44). They range from a dog that looks like Petey from “The Little Rascals” to a colorful striped lion-looking thing, and they’re knit from a very soft cotton.
• Trademarks: This is the place to go if you’ve got a sorority or fraternity member to buy for — they’ve got everything from plastic cups to picture frames to notepads. I also found the perfect gift for the black-thumbed gardener in your life: A ceramic vase painted with nice girly purple flowers, on which is written, in a very nice, girly hand: “Fill this vase with flowers. But don’t forget to change the water, or it will turn yucky and green and smell really bad.” Heh.
I also got a kick out of the Superhero Starter Kit, which comes with a red cape, wristbands and masks, tips on how to choose a superhero name and emblem, and lists of superhero do’s and don’ts: “Never tuck your cape into your underwear. Let it flow.”
• Vanness: This institution, one of Little Rock’s oddest niche retailers, recently moved to the Market Place shopping center on Rodney Parham Road. If you’ve never been in, its merchandise is about half cake-decorating supplies, one-third pens (the nice kind, not boxes of Bics) and the rest (one-sixth?) odds and ends like replacement coffee-maker carafes, electric razors and decorative figurines. I’d be happy with just about any of the pens, which come in every kind of color and design, from understated black to bright psychedelic patterns to covered in metal snakes. Prices run the gamut too, from $15 or so up into the thousands of dollars.
If you’ve got a baker on your list, check out the specialty baking pans. I like the three-layer checkerboard cake set, which allows you to mix white and chocolate batter so the cut cake looks like, well, a checkerboard. It’s $13.
• Glo Limited: This skin-care products store is now open at the Pleasant Ridge Town Center. I haven’t tried their products, but I’m definitely a fan of some of the names: Pick up a three-piece set of Candy Cane skin care products, in its own little lunchbox-sized container, for $38, or a jar of Gingerbread Man bath salts ($25) or a bottle of Mint Chocolate lotion ($8-$16). They also carry a line called the Art of Shaving for men.
• Indigo Home: This is a new furniture store, also in Pleasant Ridge, specializing in Asian decor. I liked a painted red-leather jewelry box ($60), a pretty mahjong set ($89) and what the tags said are green ceramic roof tiles in the shape of fish and lions. They actually are small statues, perfect for a mantle or bookshelf, and the price — $19 — is definitely right.
• It’s not out west, but there are bargains to be had at Young @ Art, a paint-your-own-pottery and children’s clothing store at 5024 Club Road in the Heights. The store is closing for good Dec. 31, and everything’s at least 40 percent off.
I’ve been nice. Promise.