Part 1: “AHHHHHHHH I don’t know what to get!”
You have never considered the benefits of shopping local as it pertains to buying gifts. And, if you are anything like me, you really are clueless when it comes to buying gifts. It is a horrible struggle and stress. And because of this, it is one that you leave to the very last moment. But don’t google “gift shopping ideas” because it is no help either. You have already been horrified by the search results that display oversized and unappetizing baskets of fruit, chocolate, and consumables that nobody ever eats.
There are innumerable reasons that it is an anxiety provoking chore. Maybe you don’t want to be the aunt who buys the ugly crochet sweater for your niece, or your in-laws have everything already. Perhaps you know your spouse inside and out… except when it comes to buying that all important gift. It could be that you just want to see great joy as your gift is being opened and appreciated. We all have our reasons.
Part 2: “AHHHHHHHH But I have a plan”
But, I have some tips! Yes. I do. And with any luck, you will share yours with us.
Step 1: Think local. It is the key. Local merchants have thoughtfully curated unique products that they may have sourced from artists, artisans, independent makers, and small manufacturers. Plus, all you have to do is walk into the store, talk to the helpful and knowledgeable staff about your “gift recipient” – their likes, hobbies, tastes, etc. and presto, they will certainly come up with several great suggestions. If you look sad and pathetic as you seek their help, all the better.
Step 2: Find the right local stores for your mission. Local shopping and buying gifts will be that much easier if you do a little research. Just google “best local stores,” or “local merchants, near me” or “gift shopping near me.” If that doesn’t work then there are always local business associations, local shopping guides, etc. that can help. Oakland has an abundance of resources to help you find those local shopping gems.
Step 3: Pick a day to go shopping, take a friend (to help with advice), and shop, shop, shop and then go out and eat at one of the outstanding restaurants in Oakland. Rest assured, It will be a rewarding day with that kind of itinerary.
Following these simple steps will actually save you time and save you from buying those massive fruit or chocolate baskets, or the ubiquitous scarf from Macy’s, or that sweater for your dad that has become the family joke.
Part 3: Local Shopping Tips for Oakland
Next time you go to search “gift shopping” on google, instead search for your local options.
The benefits of shopping local For the niece, nephew, or friend’s kid:
If you are looking for those elusive non video game options, consider Montclair Toyhouse as they are experts in that category. You might call it an “old school collection” of toys, hobbies, and games (and more). OMG, this place has everything for kids and adults. I have delighted many a child with purchases from here. If traditional toys are not your thing, head over to It’s Your Move Games as it has everything for gamers. Best of all, it’s not just a shop to buy games. It is a community. Then there’s the neighborhood institution, Dr. Comics and Mr. Games, on Piedmont Avenue. Let’s put it this way: It’s the ideal place to go for “the kid in your life” (a.k.a. yourself).
The benefits of shopping local for the annoying people who have everything:
If they like alcohol, you cannot miss going to Alchemy Bottle Shop on Grand Avenue, an intriguing specialty liquor store that finds small batch distillers that make finely crafted spirits. And knowledgeable passionate staff can teach you things you didn’t know about spirits.
If wine is more to their taste, there are some great locally owned wine stores as well. We have our favorite that you can read about in a previous blog!
For the non-alcohol themed gift, there are an abundance of “gift shops,” for lack of a better term, in Oakland. I cannot do a comprehensive list but here are some “go to” options.
Pelago in Montclair has something for everyone.
Old Oakland has two great ones: Marion + Rose Fine Goods and Umami Mart. Then go to Swan’s Market for lunch and hang out and enjoy the vibe.
Oaktown Spice Shop is for the foodie that you can inspire to try something new. And for something totally different, for tea lovers, you cannot miss a trip to Sophie’s Cuppa Tea. Again, in Montclair. It has a phenomenal selection of Chinese teas to sample and buy. The owners will help you navigate through the choices to get the perfect tea for the perfect gift.
The benefits of shopping local for the boyfriend/dad/husband that needs clothes
And badly. Maybe he needs a healthy injection of style too. Try Standard & Strange in Temescal, Maple Street Denim now on Piedmont Avenue, or Two Jacks Denim on Broadway in Downtown. We think iD on 17th is an inspired choice if you are looking for exclusives and hard-to-find streetwear brands. Or maybe he wants to work out a little more in the new year. In that case, head over to Transports in Rockridge.
And there is so much more to write about but you will have to wait for another blog!
Before you go
Peruse some of our other blogs here!
LOCALMOTIV, Inc., wants to hear from you. Please reach out to us and tell us about your local shopping experiences. Is there a store we should know about?