For those who love to give, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year. For those who love to support locally-owned Mom-and-Pop shops and find one-of-a-kind treasures for their loved ones at the holidays, well, you’d be hard pressed to find a more ideal spot to shop than beautiful downtown Perth, where charming indie shops abound.
There are so many funky little shops in Perth, in fact, that you might want to plan to make a day of it – and clear out the trunk too! Some gifts are larger than others…
I was thinking of art when I wrote that, and two fantastic shops immediately come to mind: Riverguild Fine Crafts (51 Gore Street East) and Gallery Perth (in the Code’s Mill Building). Both are lovely, locally-owned shops, and both are filled with breathtakingly gorgeous artwork created mainly by local artists. A painting is one of those uniquely great personal gifts that people often won’t buy for themselves, but are thrilled to receive. So, for the art lover in your life, keep these two fine shops in mind. And of course Riverguild has so much more than paintings, including pottery, leather goods, wood carvings and sculptures, art quilts, cooperative games, pewter lanterns… — all regionally if not locally made, and all of high quality.
Also, for older artwork, you could easily stroll on across the street from Riverguild and visit the Merchant of Herriot, where you’ll find all sorts of amazing collectibles and memorabilia, as well as vintage art. Martin and Erin, who own this enchanting shop, understand the excitement of finding a treasure. Whatever retro or antique item you might be looking for, there’s a good chance they’ll either have it in store or can guide you in the right direction.
Good, kind, knowledgeable shopkeepers really add to the fun of a holiday shopping day, don’t they?
Speaking of which, Dan and Christine Chu, the new owners of Backbeat Books & Music (6 Wilson Street West), will help you find just the thing for the book or music lover on your “Nice” list this year. Christine knows the books, and Dan knows the music. With vinyl records making such a wonderfully welcome comeback in recent years, Backbeat is your vinyl headquarters. They also sell turntables – something to keep in mind in case someone on your list has been extraordinarily nice this year.
You could also visit Barbara at The Bookworm (76 Foster Street) to fulfill the needs of the book lover in your family, or, heck, just to treat yourself to a nice little stack of gently used books. And please remember: buying used is a wonderful gift. Not just for the person who’s getting that special something, but for the environment too. The Book Nook (56 Gore Street East) is also a fine little shop, with a small but nice selection of new books as well as a solid selection of children’s and historical books, plus arts and crafts supplies.
Ooh…which brings to mind Art & Class Studio & Boutique (53 Gore Street East), just a safe dash across the street. This boutique has some neat items that might be ideal as stocking stuffers, like homemade journals and jewellery and owl pillows, but you could always give a friend some art classes, too.
If you’re shopping for the man in your life and want to punch up his wardrobe a little, head on over to Conway’s Men’s Wear (45 Gore Street East). You’ll find everything from sporty hats to fine suits in this handsome old shop. Ladies – don’t forget that most men suffer from some odd affliction that makes it necessary for them to acquire new socks on pretty much a monthly basis. Another fact: they won’t remember to buy themselves new socks. Just a gentle reminder.
You can also find all of the above, including socks, at Shaw’s of Perth (1 Gore Street East), which I believe is one of the oldest locally-owned businesses in town. It’s a great place for ladies’ clothing as well, and kitchen and home items too.
Got someone “funky” to buy for? Think Dragon Moon (2 Gore Street East). This charming, loft-sized store carries funky items galore. It’s dizzying, actually — everywhere you turn… funky, funky, funky… and also very nice, whether it’s jewellery, exotic textiles, concert t-shirts, or worldly fashions. One look in the front window and you’ll be pulled in anyway. Shadowfax (67 Foster Street) carries some similar items — mainly high quality jewellery and clothing, but many gift items as well, including many hilarious and some quite naughty cards. And there’s always some joker on everyone’s list that needs a naughty card now and then.
Nearby is a very cute little shop called Mariposa Design (73 Foster Street), where Susan Storie will greet you with a lovely smile, always, and where you can find an eclectic blend of vintage, shabby and chic, re-furbished and new, country and rustic, home décor items.
A similar shop, called Homing Instinct, recently opened at 87 Gore Street East — across from the big clock tower — and yes, of course you should check it out. It’s the talk of the town! Owners Janina and Cheryl were very pleased when over 100 people lined up at their door for the store’s opening gala in November. The store stocks vintage, recycled, upcycled, and homemade “things for houses” — everything from paintings to pillows to dishes to jewellery — with a focus on elegance. Homing Instinct is a delightful place to buy something that will help make someone’s house a home.
It’s impossible to think of Perth and gifts and not think of Ground Waves (17 Wilson Street East, in the Code’s Mill Building) — one of the loveliest shops in town. Replete with unique home décor items and one-of-a-kind gifts, it would actually be difficult to walk into Ground Waves at the holidays and not find a basketful of fun and fabulous gifts for anyone (and everyone) on your list. Good time for that reminder again: Before you head to Perth for your Christmas shopping, clear out the trunk. Maybe leave the dog at home too.
Have fun with your Christmas shopping this year, and please remember that buying local is not only fun and rewarding, but of vital importance to your local economy. So, if you’re avoiding the chaos at the mall, good for you.
Stay safe and spread the good cheer. Above all, enjoy the season! Merry Christmas, everyone! And Jimmy Stewart sheds a tear.
Postcards from Perth, by Humm Contributor John Pigeau. John would like to wish everyone in Perth a Merry Christmas, especially the Daley clan, who hold a very special place in his heart.