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All Shopping, No Stopping
Out of ideas? Out of time? Let us help to get you through some season.
You think you’ve got two weeks left before Christmas, but you’re fooling yourself: Factoring in other holiday obligations—that is to say, parties—you’ve got about one solid weekend left. This is the moment in which the implacably organized thrive and the rest of us shiver to pieces under the pressure.
Don’t fret: We can help you. Below you’ll find a plethora of gift ideas, most locally produced and every one of them sold at a locally owned business, as well as a few one-stop shopping ideas—places where you can fill a bag full of gifts suitable for nearly anyone.
Tick-tock, Western New York. Tick-tock. Time passes.
Snowflake Set Luminary Bags
A handcrafted luminary will add to the holiday glow in any home, a great gift for a hostess. To keep things seasonal, these luminaries are made using original vintage sheet music for “Winter Wonderland.” Olden Designs (etsy.com/shop/Oldendesigns). $15.
Vintage Travel Bar Cocktail Set
Gin Rickey? Tom Collins? Vodka and Redbull? Whatever your libation of choice may be, the mixologist or host/hostess on your list can tote this vintage travel bar cocktail set wherever they go, and brag about knowing what a “jigger” is. The eight-piece set is both functional and speakeasy stylish with a finished wood case and leather fasteners that accommodate four cups, two jiggers, a serving tray, bottle opener, and up to three 750ml bottles of booze (not included). Find it at ReImagine Furniture (732 Elmwood Avenue). $65.
Commando Girl Shorts
This holiday season, Abalie’s (569 Elmwood Avenue) is carrying a colorful array of Commando Girl Shorts, which are sold in a petite box and make great stocking stuffers. The Commando style is a cross between a boy short and panty and has invisible edges for a line-free fit! All Commando classic items are made of a luxuriously chic, sleek stretch microfiber, and are made in the USA. $26.
Buffalo Favorites Gift Basket
If you live in Buffalo then you probably know someone who has moved away from Buffalo. For the Buffalo ex-pat in your life, there is the Buffalo Favorites basket from Village Sweet Shoppe and Gifts (1 Buffalo Street, Hamburg). Sponge candy, Anchor Bar wing sauce, Weber’s mustard, Buffalo-shaped chocolates, and even chicken wing-shaped chocolates complete with white chocolate bleu cheese. $55.
Alvarez RD12 Acoustic guitar
For the budding musician on your list, Allentown Music (1109 Elmwood Avenue) carries the Alvarez RD12 Acoustic guitar, a great starting instrument that comes with a matching hard shell case. Sale price $179.
Alex and Ani Energy Charm Bracelets
Beautifully crafted in Russian gold and silver. Available at Andrews Jewelers (7088 Transit Road, Williamsville), starting at $29.
In this season of merriment, why not get hip to the addictive pub game that Europeans have been playing over pints of good beer with friends for years? This fun stocking stuffer is locally owned and produced in Buffalo from recycled materials. These stylish and useful drink coasters are available at Village Beer Merchant, Globe Market, Clutch, Blue Hill Kitchen, Greeks and Sneaks, and Premier Gourmet. $10. Visit www.coasterflip.com to learn more.
Travel Mug & a pound of locally roasted Coffee Beans
Just $24.95 at any SpoT Coffee location. (Normal retail value is $32.) SPoT also displays and sells artwork by local artists. All the proceeds go directly to the artists and the artists are not charged a hanging fee!
Olympus TG-320 Pocket Camera
The Olympus TG-320 pocket camera is tough—waterproof, shockproof, even freezerproof. And it’s cheap at Continental Camera (5795 Transit Road. Depew): $109.99 after rebate.
Beef on Weck for Dummies
Beef on Weck for Dummies is the perfect gift to make an expat homesick or encourage a local to start cooking. The kit includes caraway seeds and a recipe card. Just add a hard roll and beef. Buffalo Niagara Shop (buffaloniagarashop.com). $5.
The Corporation DVD
If you’re reading this list then I already know you’re the type of person who likes to shop local for the holidays. That also means you probably don’t like the idea of the corporation too much. Find out how the corporation has changed America and the world in this 2004 documentary, featuring interviews with the likes of Noam Chomsky, Milton Friedman, Howard Zinn, Michael Moore, and more, available at locally owned Burning Books (420 Connecticut Street) on the West Side of Buffalo. $29.99.
Victorian Houses Print Set
These 5x7 prints capture the feel of Buffalo’s historic homes in whimsical illustrations by local artist Gene Ploss. Available online at Gene Ploss Studio (etsy.com/shop/geneploss). $16.
Limited Edition Buffalo Central Terminal Architecture Letterpress Print
It’s a limited edition, it’s Buffalo-related, and it’s gold. What’s not to like? This single color skeleton architecture print of the Buffalo Central Terminal highlights the art deco masterpiece that was built in 1929. Available at the Western New York Book Arts Collaborative (468 Washington Street; etsy.com/shop/wnybac). $40.
Mid-Century Modern Roly Poly Glasses with Silver Serving Caddy
Thanks to shows such as Mad Men, interest in vintage clothing, home décor, and even barware has resurged. In fact, the AMC show in question purchased similar 1960s glasses from local vintage shop Rust Belt Threads. Gift these to your favorite wannabe Don Draper. Rust Belt Threads (etsy.com/shop/RustBeltThreads).
English Pork Pies
Has the Christmas season got you feeling like Ebenezer Scrooge? Why not melt your miserly disposition with a taste of genuine British fare from the English Pork Pie Company (1176 South Park Avenue)? Damian and Vicky Parker started their enterprise in 2008 in an industrial stretch of South Buffalo, serving up authentic meat pies, sausages (bangers), Scotch eggs, black pudding, English bacon, egg custard tarts, and other delectables sure to put a smile on the tiniest of Tims. Visit www.englishporkpiecompany.com for a full menu. These ethnic dishes are the perfect snacks to serve after a cold night of caroling. God bless us, every one.
Golden Butterfly Stud Earrings by Kathy Roussel
The best thing about jewelry is that even when you are investing in a high-quality piece for the pierced person in your life, it can stray from classic designs into the realm of delicate whimsy. These butterfly studs by local artist Kathy Roussel are hand-pierced with double-sided gold, 14-karat bi-metal with 14-karat gold posts.
Chiavetta’s & Sahlen’s & Wardysnki’s & Weber’s T-Shirt
Whether you moved away and then came back or never left at all, you know you’re in Buffalo for the food. Admit it; advertise it. Made in Buffalo (madeinbuffalo.com). $15.99.
Smart Dog Slippers & Lauer Touch Screen Gloves
Keep your feet and hands cozy and warm this winter with a trip to Buffalo Fleece & Outer Wear (758 Elmwood Avenue). Slippers $39.95, gloves $13.50.
The Art of Urban Sketching book
The Art of Urban Sketching takes you around the world with the stylings of urban sketchers from every continent. Filled with stories, tips and tools to inspire young artists, the book contains 500 colored illustrations drawn on location by local artists. Available at Hyatt’s (910 Main Street). $17.61.
A Pound of Orange Chocolate Sponge Candy from Watson’s
Orange chocolate sponge candy offers a tasty twist on a classic regional treat. It’s always a good idea to start out the holidays with chocolate. Surrounded by family, it will be your only comfort after all that small talk. Available at Watson’s Chocolates (various locations, watsonschocolates.com). $19.50.
Big Picture Farms Goat Milk Caramels
Big Picture Farms is a Vermont goat dairy and farmstead confectionary committed to crafting small batch cheeses and award-winning caramels using fresh goat milk from their own flock of free-grazing, happy, healthy goats. The use of farm-fresh goat milk and pure bourbon vanilla translates into remarkably creamy, melt-in-your-mouth caramels. The sweet tooth on your list will applaud your support of sustainable ingredients and agricultural awareness as they feverishly tear through the wrappers to savor these artisanal treats. Available at Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile (423 Elmwood Avenue). Just 89 cents each.
Initialled Gold Necklace
With her initials on it, you can’t be accused of regifting. Find this terrific stocking-stuffer at Anna Grace (799 Elmwood Avenue). On sale for $72.
The Camera Clipper
Buffalo inventor and entrepreneur Gerald Gooch has created a surefire product for the age of the selfie: The flexible Camera Clipper will accommodate nearly any camera or cell phone and clip to just about anything, allowing you to take a stable, high-quality image of yourself and your friends. Available at cameraclipper.com. $24.95-$29.95.
Vintage 1950 Basketball Game
Nothing harkens back to those grainy, youthful days quite like old board games. Give the gift of nostalgia and challenge your recipient to a rousing game of bas-ket circa 1950. Available at retro specialist Froggy (289 Bryant Street).
Handcrafted Glass Ornaments
Handcrafted glass ornaments by glass artisan Jeanne Kratt of Tandem Glass make delightful gifts that the recipient will enjoy year after year. For sale at ZGM Fine Arts (1045 Elmwood Avenue). $8 to $18.
For the pierced on one your list—stone plugs made from fine stones like rose quartz and obsidian. Available at CowPok (177 Elmwood Avenue). $60.
Iron Flag Wu Tang Clan T-Shirt
Wu Tang Clan secretly control the world. Show your obedience by sporting this Iron Flag Wu Tang T-shirt from Krudmart (212 Grant Street ). $32.
This holiday season, tea lovers can enjoy the Tea Roadie, which is a 16-ounce, double-insulated “to go” mug that allows you to steep loose leaf teas and is excellent for traveling. Available in six colors. at Tealeafs (5416 Main Street, Williamsville) for $19.95. The shop also sells tea-scented candles in 12-ounce glass teapots. They burn for 80-100 hours, and once you burn the candle, you’re left with a 12-ounce teapot. Also $19.95.
I’m still not even sure if I’m going to survive for long enough to enjoy exchanging gifts this Christmas, but if I make it through the purported end of the Mayan calendar, then this actual Mayan calendar from El Buen Amigo (114 Elmwood Avenue) would look great on my wall. If I still have a wall. $160.
Tickets to see Naughty By Nature
Treach, Vin Rock, and DJ Kay Gee, better known as Naughty By Nature, are still at it after over two decades. The Grammy Award-winning hip hop trio will perform at the Town Ballroom only a few days before Christmas for the last ever Chris Mas party featuring Spooky Business and every Buffalonian’s favorite 1990s cover band, Soul Patch on December 22. $30. Charge by phone at 888-223-6000 or online at tickets.com. Or visit the box office at the Town Ballroom (681 Main Street, Monday-Friday noon-5pm).
Bike Or Bar 26 Ride Pack
Good for at least a year, Bike or Bar’s 26-ride pack might be exactly what your best friend or sister is looking for this year after pigging out over the holidays. It’ll certainly feel good to jump on the rowing machine or bike for an hour a week after all of the holidays are finally over. Available in a 26-pack for $100 with four personal training sessions included, or a 12-pack for $50 with two personal training sessions included. Bike or Bar (904 Elmwood Avenue).
Mango Tree Wood and Ceramic Birdhouses
Made from repurposed mango tree wood or ceramic, these birdhouses are perfect for a local garden or your own personal patch. Available at Urban Roots (428 Rhode Island Stree), a local, community-run and -operated garden center open year round. $34.99-$42-99.
Buffalo Photography Collection
Available from local Etsy store Adore DuJour (etsy.com/shop/AdoreDuJour), four 5x7 photos featuring “Buffalo, NY in Snow,” “General Mills,” “SPoT Coffee in Purple,” and “Buffalove.” $30.
Pipes from Headin’ to Hertel
2012 has been the year of the weed. Marijuana was decriminalized in both Washington State and Colorado this year, with more likely to follow in 2013. Although the glass pipes at Headin’ to Hertel (1251 Hertel Avenue) are for “tobacco use only,” you can keep them on hand until New York follows the more progressive states in the union. These are a couple of pieces from Headin’ to Hertel’s locally based glassblower, Bubba.
Elle Sterling Silver Jewelry
Abrahams Jewelers (798 Elmwood) is a grerat place to find beautiful, affordable jewelery, like the Elle sterling silver line, starting at $60.
Brooklyn Brine Co. Canned Goods
The Brooklyn Brine Co. knows what it takes to make a good pickle, being located in NYC and all, but they don’t stop there. Fennel beets, chipotle carrots, and curried squash are just some of their jarred offerings that can be stand-alone snacks or the perfect sandwich accompaniment. Your lucky recipient can finally put those throw-away garnishes to shame and amp up their plate with any of these unique products from this Park Slope brinery. Available at Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile (423 Elmwood Avenue). $9.99 a jar.
City on the Edge by Mark Goldman
Local restaurateur and now author Mark Goldman chronicles Buffalo’s struggles as well as the resourceful efforts of activists, business owners, and citizens to revive the city. The book is available at Talking Leaves (951 Elmwood Avenue, 3158 Main Street), a bookstore that has provided Buffalo with reading material for more than 30 years.
Second Saturdays at The Foundry
Saturday, December 15, noon-5pm
298 Northampton Street
If you haven’t yet made it to a Second Saturday event at the Foundry on Buffalo’s East Side, this is the week to do it. The Foundry provides cool, affordable work space to local artists and artisans. Ecery second Saturday of the month, they throw an afternoon party to showcase the work of those artists and artisans, as well as the work of other talented locals, with local musicians and good food thrown into the bargain. The event is hosted by Net+Positive, a new nonprofit organization that serves communities on the East Side of Buffalo: netpositivefoundation.org. Check out the Foundry this Saturday—good things are happening there.
Starlight Studio & Art Gallery
Saturday, December 15, noon-5pm
340 Delaware Avenue
Starlight Studio and Art Gallery provides an open-art studio environment with individualized guidance, goal setting, technical assistance, demonstrations, and critiques for the cultivation of artistic expression with people who have disabilities. In turn, the artists that Starlight serves produce some remarkable art, much of which is for sale and makes great gifts—gifts that support a terrific and hugely successful program, each of hich comes with a story. There’s a gift shop on site (open regular business hours) and online (www.cafepress.com/starlightstudiogiftstore).
Local Music Picks
John Culliton Mahoney
If you’re looking to give the gift of local music this Christmas season, you couldn’t do better than to wrap up a copy or two of My Home Town, the latest collection by legendary Buffalo singer-songwriter John Culliton Mahoney. Nearly 40 years ago, Mahoney became the first artist signed to Lenny Silver’s Amherst Records, where he lent his vocal talent to the novelty hit “The Ballad of Evel Knievel.” That song was released on an album as part of the hype-machine behind the famous daredevil’s attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in Idaho on a rocket-powered contraption that was shaped more like a bottle of beer than a Harley Davidson.
Times sure change. My Home Town—a collection of 10 originals by Mahoney and songwriting partner Patrick A. Gordon—is about as far as you can get from promotional kitsch. They’re all unique and charming portraits of the people, places, iconic landmarks, and forgotten attractions that us locals often take for granted. Two songs, “Down on the Erie Canal” and “The Legacy,” won back-to-back awards from the Erie Canal Discovery Center in 2009 and 2010.
Mahoney’s 12-string guitar and smoothly aged vocals have all the mellow dignity of classic Gordon Lightfoot numbers. The comparison is especially evident on songs like “The Canadiana”—which is an ode to the famous lake boat that ferried hundreds of thousands of western New Yorkers to and from Crystal Beach amusement park over decades—and “Keeper of the Light,” which is sung from the point of view of a Lake Erie lighthouse attendant. The crack backup band of Buffalo musicians including Doug Morgano, Dwane Hall, Mark Harris, Randy Bolam, John Bacon, Jim Ehinger, Al Monti, and John Brady makes this an all around homegrown effort that’s sure to please fans of local music and history.
The CD can be purchased through CDBaby, iTunes, and Amazon.com—as well as at Mahoney’s weekly Tuesday night shows at Sportsmen’s Tavern (326 Amherst Street).
The Lake Reflections
Boyd Lee Dunlop
Last fall, at age 85, local pianist Boyd Lee Dunlop—a legendary talent on Buffalo’s jazz and blues scene from the time he was a kid—managed a remarkable thing: He released hist first album ever. Photographer Brendan Bannon, who befriended Dunlop in the assisted care facility where the musiucian has lived in rcent years, led Dunlop into a recording studio with Brooklyn-based producer Allen Farmelo, a Buffalo native, along with the all-star rhythm section of Sabu Adeyola on bass and Virgil Day. The resulting album, Boyd’s Blues, turned into a holiday season feel-good story, yielding national coverage on NPR and in the New York Times, a cover story in this newspaper, and much more. To cap it off, Dunlop played a CD release concert to a standing-room-only crowd in Asbury Hall at Babeville.
Not long after that concert, Dunlop suffered a major heart attack; he was dead on the table for a full six minutes. But the resilient Dunlop came back, soon returned to his piano, and announced that he was ready to make another record.
And what a record it is. While Boyd’s Blues offered a veritable catalogue of 20th-century blues and jazz styles, The Lake Reflections is something far more personal and unique to Dunlop: improvised solo piano, inspired by images, particularly by photographs by Bannon of Lake Erie. In his liner noted to the album, Farmelo writes, “With the first record we celebrated Boyd, and here I really want to see his music and musicianship celebrated. Boyd the musician. Boyd the composer. And what a rare and wonderful one he is.”
The music here is far more free and complex than the blues-based romps of Dunlop’s first record, sometimes evoking Ellington and Debussy, sometimes nearly free of genre or obvious influence. Free of the conventions that collaborating musicians fall into, Dunlop says, “I go all over the place. I satisfy myself.” He call it his “harmonic vocation.”
The album can be pre-ordered at boydleedunlop.com.
Dunlop will celebrate the release of The Lake Reflections with two area concerts: an informal set on Friday, December 14, 11am-3pm at Delaware Nursing and Rehab Center (1014 Delaware Avenue) and a formal CD release show on Sunday, January 20 at 2pm, at Asbury Hall at Babeville (341 Delaware Avenue).
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