It's true the world is getting smaller, but we all have our place, and our place is the City Beautiful — no matter how ugly things get globally. This year, we suggest that what happens in Orlando during the holidays stays in Orlando — particularly the cash. Spend that hard-earned money at local events and drop those dollars at area enterprises, so that every red cent helps keep Orlando green.
A Comic Shop
114 S. Semoran Blvd., Suite 6
This one-year-old humble storehouse is already bringing in internationally renowned comic-book artists for signings and sketchings. The comic-crazed owner and his workers — who often don superhero costumes — compare the store's atmosphere to Kevin Smith's Clerks. All the superhero must-haves are on the shelves, but the store also carries a dream selection of alternative titles that fall into the comics/graphic novel genre.
• Superman: Red Son — Upon leaving Krypton, Superman lands in Russia rather than the U.S. ($18)
• The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye — collection about life after a zombie takeover ($9.99)
• Superhero T-shirts from Superman to the Green Lantern ($14.95)
— Amber Foster
Al's Army Navy
23 N. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, 32805; (407) 425-4932
1401 S. French Ave., Sanford, 32771; (407) 322-5791
1440 E. State Road 436, Altamonte Springs, 32701; (407) 834-2000
You do realize that the end is nigh, right? For the survivalist in your family, there's Al's. Arm yourself for the end, make sure you and yours are properly sheltered and dress the part with a wide selection of (mostly new) boots, gloves, shirts and jackets. Al's also sells paintball supplies so you can while away the time before the Apocalypse putting nonlethal rounds into your neighbor.
• 10-foot by 20-foot camouflage netting — good for hiding your still from prying satellites ($59.99)
• 22-inch machete — comes in handy in the shit ($9.99)
• Used GI mess kit ($5.99)
• Protective mask, model M9A1, still in the can — because you never know ($34.99)
— Bob Whitby
American Modern Jewelry & the Bead Lounge
2912 Corrine Drive
Run by a couple of former Wellville band members, Liz (formerly Larizza) and Dave Kazyk, American Modern is the sort of gift shop that would make your grandma proud — the kind where your thoughtful hands make the presents. Plop down in a chair, and one of the Kazyks will supply a plate and a length of nylon-coated steel thread. Pick out the beads and get to work making whatever sort of jewelry you want.
• Bag of tiny plastic beads ($1.50 for approximately 1,000), Swarovski crystals (5 cents) and 12-inch strands of pearls and other gems (up to $30)
• A gift certificate for enough varieties of beads to make an exceptional necklace ($25)
• Don't know a crafty type? Go for gift items like a Wood Wick candle that burns for 180 hours and sounds like a crackling fireplace ($24.95)
— Jason Ferguson
1319 Edgewater Drive
Gotta love those beads, and Bead Bar is a thrifty woman's dream. The store stocks glass, semi-precious stone and bone beads from around the world. The staff helps customers with design ideas and repairs and welcomes the use of their completely stocked studio.
• In-store classes range from "basic stringing technique" to "woven sphere accents" ($15-$140)
• 52-inch, ready-to-wear freshwater pearl strand ($28 plus any embellishments)
• Bead Beginner Seed Beader Kit with tools, materials and directions ($21.95)
534 W. Church St.
Nothing makes the holidays more irie than picking up rare reggae and dub records for your loved ones. So if you don't want to be a bumbaclaat Scrooge this year, then stop by Carib Craft, as it's a haven for true reggae aficionados. More than just a Jamaican-owned music store, this community jewel, located in the revitalized business district of Parramore on Church Street, is like a beautiful blast from the past. Scores of lost 45s sit untouched. Cheap vinyl abounds. There's even a real dub plate machine in the back, used for cutting records.
• Box of 25 45-rpm records ($20)
• Hip-hop on vinyl ($6.95 or less)
• Traditional dub plate-cutting machine, two equalizers and an amplifier ($5,000)
— Jonathan Cunningham
1214 N. Mills Ave.
Whether it's big bucks you want to drop for that one-of-a-kind wonder or a thriftier expression of your appreciation, there's beauty growing wild in this tucked-away shop on Mills Avenue. Owner Svet Dimitrov and his wife took over the bonsai business that had been in that location for ages and blended in the blooms from their orchid shop, which was formerly down the road. The collection is bewitching. All the support is there, too: pottery, tools, fertilizers, soil and classes.
• 70-year-old exposed-root Chinese elm bonsai that looks like a tree growing out of a brain with green veins ($2,000)
• 2-foot-high Oncidium Sharry Baby orchid with tiny burgundy-and-white blooms that smell like chocolate ($25)
• Bamboo, from grassy versions to tall stalkish types ($5-$100)
— Lindy T. Shepherd
Kristin Collier Bennett
This Lakeland-based folk artist has been showing up at area festivals (most recently the "Where Art Meets the Soul" folk festival at House of Blues) with her artistic crosses fashioned from any material she can find — pipes and rusty washers, sticks and stones, snake skin and eyeballs. Bennett claims that her fixation has no particular spiritual origin — though she loves religious art — and about the only thing that each piece of work shares is that it started with two pieces of wood. It's the variety that draws you in — industrial, flowery, spirited, spooky and strange — ranging in price from $35 to $500. Bennett says that even atheists have her crosses in their collections.
• Black belts and broke mirrors (top, $75)
• Hurricane Charley cross, with an eye in the center (middle, $175)
• Pot lids and fan blades, approximately 4 feet tall (bottom, $150)
2507 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, 32803; (407) 894-6622
2114 Edgewater Drive, Orlando, 32804; (407) 648-7480
3207 Curry Ford Road, Orlando, 32806; (407) 898-9791
For those in possession of that odd defect that flares up at the idea that there could be any excuse for couture in Orlando, Dechoes offers the A-line straitjacket your retail therapy requires. With three consignment paradises tailor-made for giant sunglasses and shopping-day Juicy sweats, your inner Nicole Richie can check brand labels before sizes in the comfort of indie-hip anonymity, and do so in a strip mall. Off the rack, in a sack, and so cheap you can pretend it never even happened.
• Ben Sherman short-sleeved button-down shirt with blue houndstooth pattern ($11.99)
• Thick gray-blue straight-leg dress slacks ($6.99)
• Super-gay Versace stretch jeans with glitter pattern ($24.99)
— Billy Manes
Dog and Friends
2806 Edgewater Drive
This pet boutique and doggie bakery specializes in items for the pampered pup. Dog strollers, pet clothing and other accessories fill the front of the store, while the back houses organic snacks and foods. Natural treatments for upset tum-tums and other icky ailments are also available.
• Water Rover, bottle with a bowl attachment for out-of-house hydration ($10.99)
• Fresh pet goodies, including cookies, jerkies and meaty nuggets made from human-grade products (75 cents-$10)
• Urban Dog: The Ultimate Street Smarts Training Manual by Cis Frankel, full of tips from the celebrity pet trainer ($19.95)
706 N. Mills Ave.
Located on the edge of Viet Town with more than 15 years of history in the community, Dong-A Imports is a resourceful place to shop for an anti-corporate holiday season. They specialize in Asian imports of all kinds, representing everyday and exotic items from around the world, Thailand to Taipei. Prices range from dirt cheap to upper echelon, so it's a great one-stop shop for any last-minute pickups.
• Chinese chess set ($4.50)
• Sake cups ($1.49 each)
• Electronic rice cooker ($94.50)
Eola Wine Company
500 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, 32801
136 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 32789
Eola Wine Company has a sophisticated yet chill vibe, in which you can peruse the large selection of gift-suitable French, Australian and Californian chardonnay and champagne. While you're at it, grab a little something-something for dinner at home. The staff's friendly and knowledgeable, so there's no need to play smart.
• Pannier brut champagne from France ($30)
• 2003 Carabella pinot gris from Oregon ($22)
• 2004 Joseph Drouhin "Laforet" light French chardonnay ($12)
— Jeff Billman
1300 S. Orlando Ave.
Who doesn't appreciate our comfortable art-house theater with table service, a gourmet menu and alcoholic refreshment? It may seem like the most obvious present in the world, but any film-lover in your life would love a membership in the Enzian Film Society. They get discounted tickets to great movies, advance reservations, dibs on Florida Film Festival passes and even cheap popcorn. In return, you've just provided a little insurance that the theater gets to stay in business. If you're not that generous, just buy a couple of $8 tickets.
• Regular, one-person annual membership ($55)
• Six-pack of tickets ($48)
• Dinner and movie for two ($31)
1740 N. Orange Blossom Trail
After the end we're gonna need to repopulate the planet quick. You know what that means: lots and lots of lube. Maybe a couple dozen porno DVDs for inspiration. (You did gas up the generator, didn't you?) Orlando's own Fairvilla's got you covered. Sex is going to be mandatory, so stock up now.
• The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, to help keep it interesting ($19.99)
• Lollicock All Day Sucker, because watermelon-flavored candy is going to be hard to come by ($12.99)
• Transylvania Spank Her paddle, comes in handy in the shit ($51.50)
5515 S. Orange Ave.
In our city with so many aspiring musicians, it's not hard to find a decent ax. You can pick up a decent, reasonably priced Gibson Les Paul or Fender Telecaster at any Sam Ash or Guitar Center, and that's all well and good. For true guitar nerds or the aspiring teenage rock star on your list, Guitar Den is the destination. More than 500 guitars and 150 amps sit on shelves, all of which are either used or vintage, sometimes both. Pick up a cheap starter guitar — say, a 2003 Japanese Fender — or browse the jaw-dropping selection of higher-end vintages and harder-to-find guitars — like a 2000 Rickenbacher 620 or a 2003 Gibson Explorer (once owned by a guy in Virgos Merlot!). These babies can get pricey, but cash negotiates here; just bring in your beat-up guitar or rig and trade it in.
• 2003 Gibson Explorer, road-tested but in excellent condition ($1,595)
• 1988 Taylor Jumbo 615, one hell of an acoustic guitar ($1,995)
• 1967 Fender Bassmaster head and cab, a classic tube amp with two 10-inch speakers ($1,395)
• Korean-made 1999 Epiphone Les Paul Standard is a perfect starter guitar for the young'uns ($305)
2305 Edgewater Drive, Suite H
Sometimes it's kinder to give a gift that doesn't stick around. Visiting Harmoni Market in College Park means you can avoid the holiday madhouse at Williams-Sonoma or Whole Foods (or, sniff, Hickory Farms). Putting a basket together yourself takes longer than buying a preassembled one, but you can tailor it precisely to your recipient's likes and dislikes, and you'll avoid the inevitable filler in the premade kind.
• Buttery Spanish Marcona almonds ($13.99 per pound)
• Alexia duck-liver mousse with cognac — no foie gras! ($7.99)
• Vosges Red Fire Bar, with Mexican ancho and chipotle chili peppers, Ceylon cinnamon and dark chocolate ($7)
• Gould Campbell 2003 vintage port ($29.99)
— Jessica Bryce Young
352 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 32789 (407) 647-7071
23 S. Court Ave., Orlando, 32801
Though the location has moved around, and a new, second downtown store just opened, traveler/explorer Gary Schwartz has brought us the best from India for decades now. His enclaves are treasure troves of exotic packed with clothing, incense, oils, art and body adornments of all prices. Here's where you'll find unusual gifts to satisfy the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, pagans, Wiccans, weed lovers, anti-establishmentarians and weirdos that are waiting for your material expression. Two-for-one sales abound, and Schwartz carries Fair Trade merchandise.
• Latest in trendy Indian-label flip-flops (approximately $20)
• Religious pendants for every belief ($8 and up)
• 2-foot-high silver dragon candelabra ($175)
Knightly Spirits at MetroWest
2603 S. Hiawassee Road
Although this location of Knightly is no slouch as a full-service liquor store — with its wide selection of hard-to-find wines, aged scotches and even multiple sakes — it's the variety of beer available that makes it regal. Emphasizing American microbrews along with a representative selection of the best that Europe has to offer (meaning saisons, not Stella), it's a beer aficionado's paradise.
• 5-liter minikeg of Monschof Schweizbier ($22.99)
• 6-liter magnum of Val-Dieu Winter ($145.49)
• Glassware from more than three dozen breweries ($5 each)
• Petrus gift set with six varieties of this fine Belgian ale and a glass ($20.99)
La Poblana Tienda Mexican
5301 S. Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando, 32839; (407) 816-1950
This place isn't exactly gringo-friendly, but there is a mix of cultural items that could make great gifts for Navidad — or any pagan holiday. Find tons of futbol accessories for sports fans, as well as ranchero gear. La Poblana doubles as a bus station with frequently departing routes to Mexico.
• Norteño boots with real crocodile ($159)
• Guayabera shirt ($89)
• Bus ticket to Oaxaca ($260)
1009 Virginia Drive
Local poster designer Jeff Matz (and nationally renowned founder of Lure Design, and occasionally Orlando Weekly cover designer) is but one of Orlando's fine rock-art practitioners, crafting memorable prints for touring bands from Lucero and the Melvins to Elliott Smith and Dead Can Dance. In addition to souvenirs from loud, smoky rock shows, Matz and the crew at Lure also create exceptional works for local theater productions and other events. Though many of Lure's pieces sell out quickly (often on the night of the show), leftovers can be purchased on the website.
• Three-color screen print poster from Sam Rivers' last month of shows at Will's Pub ($30)
• One-color offset print poster from Sebadoh's 1998 show at the Club at Firestone ($15)
• Two-color screen print poster for the 2005 Nude Night exhibition ($30)
Lynn Mace and Henrietta Valentine
511 Ferncreek Ave., Orlando, 32803 (407) 896-7080
1011 Virginia Drive, Orlando, 32803 (407) 487-0808
Spa treatments are always a thoughtful gift, particularly since most people are exhausted by the time the holiday season draws to a close. But sometimes stronger medicine is called for. Rather than a mani/pedi or your standard slide-and-glide spa massage, try treating your loved one to a hour-and-a-half-long treatment with Lynn Mace or one of her associates. Mace specializes in craniosacral therapy. (Despite the scary moniker, it's really just a balancing process that helps your energy flow more freely.) In the same homey cottage, Mace's colleague Henrietta Valentine also does craniosacral, and she gives heavenly hot-stone massages (smooth stones are warmed up and placed along the spine and at pressure points to relax tight muscles). Lauree Moretto specializes in structural bodywork, a deep-tissue massage that helps align posture — something everyone could use after six weeks of carrying shopping bags (and spending time with their parents).
• 90-minute craniosacral treatment ($120)
• 90-minute hot-stone massage ($120)
• 75-minute structural alignment session ($110)
Miller's Hardware Store
143 W. Fairbanks Ave.
Winter Park, 32789
They tout the business as the "hardware store for women," and that bums us out, because we like the store for what it is — an old-fashioned, family-friendly outfit, where the sales floor is full of helpful fix-it experts who know what they're talking about. And we just want to be one of the guys. The stock covers mainstays and whatsits for the entire house and yard — things you didn't even know you'd want. You can fully stock a kitchen, repair the roof, cover the floor, get a fill-up for the gas grill and nail some serious power tools — woman or otherwise. And they serve popcorn to customers on Saturday.
• Floral slip joint pliers, pretty as you please and comfortable too ($6.99)
• 18-volt, variable speed, cordless DeWalt driver and drill that'll put a hole in anything ($279.99)
2528 W. Colonial Drive
Tucked inside of a Caribbean grocery store on West Colonial Drive, a shopper has to be truly determined to reap the benefits of Music City. But once you step inside, there are a heap of fresh CDs and DVDs straight from Yard (Jamaica) that arrive every couple of weeks. Considering how frequently Jamaican music gets cranked out, true lovers of dancehall should appreciate the up-to-date selection. They've also got an imaginative collection of West Indian accessories.
• Rasta hats (crowns) ($10)
• Caribbean car flags ($3)
• Any CD ($20)
2204 Edgewater Drive
A novice to the cycling world can't help but be overwhelmed walking into College Park's Orange Cycle, which has more bikes of more varieties than you could possibly count. Fortunately, a friendly and expert staff is there to direct you through the mountain bikes, racing bikes, children's bikes, off-road bikes, street-cruising bikes and God-knows-what-else that fills one of Central Florida's largest selections of two-wheelers and accessories. Here's where to go for hard-to-please cyclers as well as those who are new to the sport.
• Specialized SX Trail, a hard-core mountain bike ($2,799.99)
• Electi Hawaii, a flowery cruiser for laid-back types ($350)
• Sugoi Gustov padded biking shorts ($99.99)
Orlando Brewing Partners
1301 Atlanta Ave.
Beer — organically brewed, tasty beer that's good for you — is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy before the world ends. Personally, I like the Blackwater Ale ($4 pint), but the red ale is decent, too (also $4 a pint). There are 20 taps on the wall so you really can't go wrong. Best part? The place is out of the way and usually almost empty. You can drink anonymously. The shop stocks more than beer, though, for regulars.
• Cool shirts — like the white Oxford, long-sleeve with logo ($40)
• Specialty barbecue sauce for killing and grilling ($5)
2814 Corrine Drive
In Florida, fly-fishing may not have the stature it does in places like Wyoming or, hell, North Carolina. But that doesn't mean that any dad/mom, brother/sister, uncle/ aunt, husband/wife couldn't benefit from the calming effect that tying and casting has on one's soul. Orlando Outfitters caters to newbies and pros, with a selection of quality rods that range in price from $159 to $1225, as well as clothing, books, fly-tying gear and artwork. No worms necessary.
• Fly-tying classes ($10)
• Waterways & Byways of the Indian River Lagoon book of local lore ($55)
• "Cortland combo": fly rod, reel and a one-hour casting class ($149)
Orlando Police Department Cop Shop
(inside the OPD complex)
100 S. Hughey Ave.
Calling it a "shop" seems a little generous; it's more like a closet on the first floor of the police department's headquarters. Some of the best stuff — dress shirts, polo shirts and briefcases, all bearing OPD's logo — are marked as "officers only," meaning you can't buy them. That said, this store still has lots of goodies, either for those who want to support the fuzz — OPD owns the shop — or punks who want to bathe in the presumed irony of wearing a police T-shirt.
• Wall clock with the OPD logo ($30)
• OPD cookbook ($10)
• T-shirt with OPD insignia ($12)
2117 W. Fairbanks Ave.
Winter Park, 32789
For 11 years, Lisa Marie Smith has been archiving the clothing end of style history at her blink-and-you'll-miss-it Winter Park location. She takes the tacky stench out of "vintage" and replaces it with up-market playfulness and quality costuming. Smith's shop is filled to the brim, and speaking of brims, she's got a manly display of hats from a variety of eras that could top a head of just about any size or gender. This lady knows her stock and what's worth what, so ask if you want to learn something new about something old. If you stand in Orlando Vintage long enough, you'll forget who (and when) you are. You can't afford it? Rent it!
• Bee Gees vintage solid brass belt buckle ($59)
• Mod 1960s feather hat ($89)
• White, knee-high go-go boots ($59)
331 S. Park Ave., Suite B
Winter Park, 32789
The sign behind the register reads, "Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks," and that says it all. Just a half-block away from the Park Avenue Starbucks, locally owned Palmano's (Richard and Teresa Palmano) is hidden behind the Cigarz shop. This is where you'll find the "who's who" and "who's that?" of Winter Park, sitting inside or on the expansive patio. Where else would you be asked by the owner if you want to come help him with the beans on one of the regular roasting days?
• Fresh roasted beans, ground or unground, from all parts of the world — including Africa, Central America and India (starting at $9.75 a pound)
• Half-pounds of varieties within each region for experimentation with a little of this and a little of that ($6 each)
• For a full cup throughout the year, a gift card (any amount)
Park Ave CDs
2916 Corrine Drive
When Park Ave CDs moved last year, it doubled in square footage. All that space enabled the crew to expand, so they now stock a huge but well-curated selection of Kid Robot toys, books and magazines, T-shirts, show posters and even electronics. Also expanded is the vinyl section (we hear the kids like 7-inch singles these days). Something about Park Ave that you may not know: They accept gift certificates from other stores that sell CDs, so if the folks shopping for you aren't as local-loyal as you are, you can still keep your money in the community. Pick up a little treat for yourself in the form of a PACD T-shirt, designed by a rotating cast of artists including OW favorite Emily Flake. Those in the know beat the rush at the door by buying tickets to upcoming shows here — stocking-stuffer!
• Newmark TTUSB USB-enabled turntable, so you can rip your new vinyl onto that MP3 playlist ($158.99)
• Limited edition Gorillaz figures set, designed by Jamie Hewlett and produced by Kid Robot ($20 each)
• 7-inch-tall plush stuffed Uglydoll ($9.99)
Pipe Dreams II
6325 N. Orange Blossom Trail, Suite 135
You gotta love this local head shop, especially because it features a vast DVD porn collection alongside the hookahs and bongs — er, water pipes. Rows and rows of all of the, um, tobacco accessories a stoner could ever want wait in the back room. Next door is an adult apparel store, also owned by Pipe Dreams, for another slice of decadence.
• Smoke-cleaning 2-foot PHX bo…, um, tobacco water-filtration device ($337.95)
• Sluts in Uniform and similar titles ($15.95)
• Whizzinator 5000 urine replacement kit with fake penis ($189.85)
59 N. Bumby Ave.
Plastic fantastic! This is the afterlife for pop-culture trends that have died: shelved along the walls of Retro Records, watching over the vinyl like resentful guardian angels. There are Monkees lunchboxes, Iron Maiden "Eddie" bobbleheads, I Dream of Jeannie Matchbox cars, Looney Tunes jelly-jar glasses and stuffed KISS dolls with squishy silver boots and yarn hair. The 20-something ironist in your life will snicker at the Christina Aguilera doll ($20); little girls will be delighted by her long blond hair and less-slutty-than-the-real-thing wardrobe. Farrah fans will thrill to the Charlie's Angels Mobile Unit Van (1977, new in box; $40).
• Posh Spice (aka Katie Holmes' new BFF, Victoria Beckham) figurine ($5)
• Shaun Cassidy solid-state portable disco amplifier ($75)
• Beatles Yellow Submarine lunchbox and thermos Christmas tree ornament ($14.95)
The Skate Shack
211 E. Michigan St.
All the lovers of the underground skate culture in Orlando should definitely make their way to Skate Shack and buy local. There's a variety of boards and T-shirts by local skaters for sale, all reasonably priced, and the folks who work inside know their stuff and appreciate your business. Owners Brian and Sandon have skateboards for kids priced especially cheap, as they want to see skate culture grow. They've only been there a year but the shop is 100 percent rider-supported.
• Blank decks ($15)
• Blank decks ($15)
• Decks by KAZboardCO, a local company ($49)
• Krown Fat Boy long boards ($69)
Skycraft Parts & Surplus
2245 W. Fairbanks Ave.
Winter Park, 32789
There isn't anything you can't build with a couple of trips to Skycraft, if you know what I mean. Perhaps it's time to get serious about perimeter security at your casa? Maybe you need to do something about jamming the infrared scanners of those federal helicopters that are tracking your movements? Catch the drift here, friend? I think you do.
• Surplus periscope — lets you see them before they see you ($22.50)
• Hydraulic pump motor; everyone should have a spare ($35)
• Gift cards are almost as anonymous as cash (any amount)
240 N. Orlando Ave.
Winter Park, 32789
Self-billed as "Florida's largest punk, rock, and pop culture boutique store," Static's general ethic is predictably that of back-of-class, ne'er-do-well subversion, black lipstick included. But it's not as standoffish as it looks on paper, opting for that sort of all-inclusive, St. Marks Place cultural tourism, squares-welcome appeal. Both Ben Sherman and Manic Panic are represented, as is just about every winking pop culture reference imaginable. Bela Lugosi's dead? Don't think so. They also carry T-shirts designed by the local Fat American outfit.
• Waterproof, UV-protected pink fedora with white stripe ($11.99)
• Giant red-painted copper butterfly mobile ($24.99)
• Oversized Joy Division T-shirt with purple screenprint of Ian Curtis ($23.99)
• Stainless steel pocket flask ($15.99)
819 E. Washington St.
This new addition to Thornton Park's retail identity crisis quietly rolls its eyes at the lazy cobblestones, while proffering the perfect balance of hipster irony and boutique finery for the younger set. T-shirts and distressed jeans make up a substantial portion of its inventory, but the fact that Thornton Threads goes a step further in stocking forward-thinking high-end choices for men with bangs as well as women with bangs makes it a welcome — and much-needed — alternative. "Hang-out" events twice a month only add to its versatile appeal.
• Kill City (by Lip Service) black pinstriped super-tight pants ($69.95)
• J Shoes black leather slip-on driving moccasins with beige stitching ($120)
• Caffeine-brown corduroy jacket with beige stitching ($128)
1217 E. Colonial Drive
Just east of the CVS at Colonial and Mills, Thuân-Dình blends into a strip of beauty-supply stores and Vietnamese restaurants. Don't let its nondescript facade fool you. Inside lies a galaxy of Asian kung-fu, anime and horror DVDs, along with enough manga books to choke Godzilla. The DVDs aren't as predictable as you might expect; mixed in among the kung-fu movies and Hong Kong police operas are Korean and Russian horror films and even French and Italian classics — just ask the adventurous owner, who orders diverse DVDs every week and is always willing to help you. As well as books and DVDs, there are all sorts of Japanese candy and soda, oodles of Hello Kitty and assorted other kawaii merchandise.
• Kung Fu Mahjong, starring Qiu Yuen, the hilarious landlady of Kung Fu Hustle ($19.99)
• Russian vampire flick Night Watch: Nochnoi Dozor ($19.99)
• 2LDK, a hilariously extreme Japanese cross between Single White Female and Kill Bill ($24.99)
• 10-inch super-detailed collectors' Godzilla figurine ($29.99)
• Astroboy cell-phone charm ($9.99)
480 N. Orlando Ave., Suite 126
Winter Park, 32789
This unique store deals primarily in American and Japanese toys and comic books focusing on movie, video-game, anime and humorous characters. Works by local artists form an ever-changing centerpiece. Clothing, munchies and imported movies and music are also part of the store's offerings.
• Munny Dolls, blank figures awaiting decoration ($25)
• Blind designer toys, such as the Smorkin' Labbit, give no hint as to what's inside the package ($6-$8)
625 E. Central Blvd.
This independent, locally owned bookstore is completely dedicated to its customers. You won't find all the novels from the New York Times best-seller list, but the attentive staff, well-stocked bar and comfortable room in which to relax are a welcome mall-ternative. Local artists and authors often stop by for intimate gatherings.
• One-year membership gets you free coffee, 10 percent off purchases and more ($25)
• Local artists often leave works behind for those who couldn't make the openings (amount varies)
• Hip Hotels: Escape by Herbert Ypma ($29.95)
The Wave on Washington
804 E. Washington St.
It may look high-end, what with its chi-chi location and exaggerated gold paint job, but the Wave on Washington is at heart still the approachable pretty friend with too much to say, like any good hair salon ought to be. Impromptu discussions of last night's reality roundup squeal over the buzz of blow dryers and the hiss of sinks, while patrons struggle to make their presence known in the everlasting din of gossip. Exhausting, sure. But measurably superior in craft, too. Gift certificates in any amount are readily available.
• Color, full head ($60)
• Partial head extensions ($350)
• Wax brow-shaping ($20)