We've all been in this situation, and not just around the holidays, either: You need to buy a gift, fast, but you don't want to spend a bunch of cash on it. You want it to be something original, maybe even offbeat. And you want to put your money in the pocket of a local business, not a faceless corporation. Put all thoughts of giving up and throwing a gift card in an envelope out of your mind – here are six local shops where you're bound to find something unique.
Kick Bright Shop & Buttons at Artegon Marketplace
Nostalgia trumps all at the Kick Bright Shop at Artegon Marketplace. Shop owners Jeffrey and Kristin Howard sell directly from their personal collection of oddities and artworks, unearthing the sort of retro gems that jolt your memory in the best way possible: vintage toys, '80s T-shirts and various assorted throwback pop-culture items (ALF puzzles, Welch's grape jelly glasses, old campaign and band buttons). If one of those nostalgic types is on your shopping list, get thee to Kick Bright.
5150 International Drive, facebook.com/kickbrightzineshop
Gods & Monsters, Artegon Marketplace
Find gifts for geeks at Gods & Monsters, also in the Artegon Marketplace – if you're looking for something to make a comics fan or comics or dedicated tabletop gamer smile, look here. What separates Gods & Monsters from other nerdy emporia around town is its dedication to local artists. The Transmetropolitan Gallery area features works from local artists like Vaughn Belak and Tony Taylor alongside renowned artists like Menton3 and Ben Templesmith. Last year we coveted a 3D-printed bust of the chain-smoking, drug-popping journalist Spider Jerusalem from the namesake cult classic series, Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson's Transmetropolitan, made by local artist and animator James Inziello. It wasn't cheap, but it's definitely one-of-a-kind.
5150 International Drive, 407-270-6273, godmonsters.com
Shoppes of College Park
It's one stop, many shops at the Shoppes of College Park – multiple vendors show their wares in this Edgewater Drive storefront, and each mini shop has its own distinctive specialty. From clothing (check out the two shops in the alcoves toward the back of the store for some cute tops and jackets) to jewelry to home decor like candles and hanging succulent plantsers, this little spot covers a lot of bases, and that makes it the perfect place for shopping multi-tasking: Find something for practically every taste in one location, plus maybe a little something for yourself.
2308 Edgewater Drive, 407-930-2570
Gallery on the Edge
Find decor and more at Gallery on the Edge. Owned by the same folks who opened the Shoppes at College Park, it's one of the best places to find eclectic and quirky jewelry, art and gifts like Star Wars needlepoint, dog-themed jewelry or holiday wreaths made out of sea glass.
2300 Edgewater Drive, 407-615-4683, facebook.com/galleryontheedge
Market on South
What's special about Market on South is that from the moment you step inside, it feels lovingly shaped, like entering the foyer of an emotionally invested homemaker. Fittingly, the gift items you'll encounter on the market's modest shelves would work for any such type you've got on your gift list. What's more, the crafted offerings that form the core of the market resonate with the kind of care and attention you always hope a gift will convey. We especially like Live Edge Designs cutting boards, utensils and bowls, made from reclaimed trees knocked down by storms (or just man), and Collective Kindness candles, in imaginative scents like bamboo & white grapefruit, sea salt & lotus, and curious blends like Dragon's Blood or Harvest Moon.
2603 E. South St., 407-613-5968, marketonsouth.com
Rifle Paper Co.
Rifle Paper Co. in Winter Park is always a sure shot for finding an exquisite little objet. Anna Bond and her husband, Nathan, launched their design studio out of a garage apartment in 2009, and Rifle is now a thriving stationery business with international recognition. But it's nice to know we locals can stop by the tiny flagship shop in Hannibal Square to peruse the newest calendars, cards and phone cases, along with a smart selection of gifts by other makers – like Mast Brothers chocolate bars or leather clutches by Baggu.
558 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-7679, riflepaperco.com