Great finds in the city

Money is tight for many this holiday season, but gift shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are a few shops in your own backyard with some reasonably priced stuff that’s sure to bring holiday cheer to your loved ones this year.

Recycled Revelry
Birch Clothing
2309 W. 50th St.

For all the eco-friendly diary-keepers, journalists, or stationery fans. Birch’s assortment of recycled revelry — blank books and cards — are completely handmade, recycled and tree-free. Scrap fabrics left from making cotton T-shirts are recycled to create the paper. The colorfully patterned covers are made using eco-friendly dyes. The Fair Trade Federation and Co-Op America approved the journals and cards. 

The books come in a series of designs, and there are books available with soft covers and hard covers. The cards, each with an identical design, come in boxed sets. Rural and low-income artists in India made all of the books and cards. Buying supports the livelihoods of the artists who crafted them. Birch Clothing specializes in sustainable products, and their collection of Recycled Revelry is an ideal gift for anyone who wants to go green and cultivate their writing skills.

Labbit by Kidrobot
Robot Love
2648 Lyndale Ave. S.

Nothing gets people’s attention more than a rabbit with a mustache. Or better yet, a rabbit smoking a cigarette. Robot Love offers a variety of choices when it comes to Labbits, Kidrobot’s slightly twisted vision of the cuddly bunny rabbit. For people who like their rabbits cuddly, there are plush Labbits available for $16. The plush Labbit comes in two different styles — the brown mustachioed Labbit adds a touch of manliness to the ordinary fluffy bunny, while the cigarette-smoking Labbit gives shoppers something edgy.

Not interested in rabbits smoking cigarettes or rabbits with mustaches? For $20, Robot Love offers a smaller Mr. Potato Head-esque version of the Labbit. The vinyl toy comes with four accessories to stick in the Labbit’s mouth. They can include anything from a toothy grin or lip-sticked lips to a Popsicle or melting ice cream cone. Either as a plush toy or a vinyl toy, the Labbit is definitely a step apart from the ordinary bunny rabbit.

Gorilla Ashtrays 
Soo Visual Arts Center
2642 Lyndale Ave. S.

For smokers who want to show their primitive side. Or for those who just want to see King Kong’s eyes, nostrils and mouth billowing with menacing smoke. These ashtrays, designed by David Weeks, are perfect for people who want make sure their end-of-cigarette experience is one to remember. Openings in different areas of the gorilla ashtray’s face give users a variety of different ways to bring their gorilla to life, so to speak.

The ashtrays are built in two pieces to ensure easy use. A circular lower piece acts as the ashtray. The gorilla face fits over it, making disposal of the ashes easy. The Soo Visual Arts Center gift shop offers a variety of different gorilla faces. There’s the classic black gorilla, for those who prefer realism in their animal ashtrays. But unconventional smokers might find something of interest in a pink gorilla ashtray or even a robot gorilla ashtray.

License Plate Photo Album
Twin Cities Green
2405 Hennepin Ave. S.

What better place to put those car trip photos than between a folded license plate? Twin Cities Green sells the license plate photo album by Little Earth. An actual license plate is cut in half to create the front and back of the album. Inside, there is room for up to 32 4-inch-by-6-inch photos. A recycled rubber snap keeps the pictures safe inside.

Little Earth’s license plate photo albums are available in any state, with whatever state license plate desired. But at Twin Cities Green, customers can get their 10,000 Lakes-covered photo album for eco-friendly Minnesotans. Twin Cities Green stresses recycled products made close to Minnesota that are fairly traded and created under fair labor conditions. So for those people want to shake up their photo collection and staying green while doing it, take a look at a license plate photo album.

Set of Holiday Cards
Open Book, 1011
Washington Ave. S.

This year, send out your family holiday letter in a handmade or letterpress printed card. With a variety of commercially and small-press printed cards, you’re sure to find the perfect holiday card to fit your style. Everything from penguins outfitted in Santa garb to more traditional holiday cards, Open Book features a unique assortment of sets of holiday cards, with six to 10 cards in a pack. Some sets come with all identical cards while others have a variety of designs with a coordinating theme. Most of their card sets are printed locally as well.

“We’re known for our cards year-round, but we have much more volume around the holidays because they are one of our number one sellers,” said Sarah Sage of Open Book. These card sets are perfect for anyone looking to share their holiday cheer without heading to any of the greeting card giants.

1026 Washington Ave. S

Give your holiday tree some local flair this season with a handmade glass Minnesota ornament. These are a great addition to your traditional ornaments. Made by Vicki Olson, a local glass artist, these holiday ornaments will show your Minnesota pride without hanging a Goldy ornament from your tree. The hand-cut glass ornaments come in a variety of bright colors with a dot accenting Minneapolis–St. Paul. So, come on, commemorate your state and support a local artist.

You can also spread the gift of peace in the form of an ornament this year. Made by the same artist, hand-cut white peace dove ornaments can also be found at Corazon. “Peace should be a reflection of the holiday season,” Cathy Johansson, a Corazon employee, said.

Tea Towels/Mug/Napkins
$25/ $13/ $5.95
651 Nicollet Mall (Skyway level)

Looking for a Finnish touch to your holiday gifts this year? FinnStyle features a new holiday pattern of Marimekko products called pakkanen meaning “frost.” Marimekko, the store’s top-selling brand, is known for their bright colors and bold, large-scale designs, and this pattern is no different. The lively red-and-blue print features chirping birds and berry branches. Because the pattern is a new holiday style, they are expected to be very popular, Elina Rupert, the store manager, said.

The tea towels, mug and napkins are sold separately, but many customers have been buying all three to give as a set. Whether you’re looking for one of these items, or the whole bunch, they’re sure to make your dining experiences more fun this holiday season.

Peppermint Bark
Local D’Lish
208 N. 1st St.

What sounds better than a delicious treat home-made by Sweet Goddess Chocolates to enjoy while curled up by the fire this holiday season? Nothing much can beat the peppermint bark featured at Local D’Lish if you’re looking for the perfect holiday treat. Locally made by Kathy Kahout, an accountant by day and candy creator by night, Sweet Goddess Chocolates uses gourmet ingredients to create chocolate creations. “You can really taste that she puts her heart into her products,” Ann Yin, the owner of Local D’Lish, said.

The peppermint bark, Local D’Lish’s top selling product of the holiday season thus far, is a layer of rich dark chocolate topped with a layer of creamy white chocolate and garnished with crushed peppermint candies. These chocolates make a great small holiday gift to hand out at the office or even to satisfy your own sweet tooth!

Wheely Bug
310 E. Hennepin Ave.

The Wheely bug will scoot your tot all around the house this winter and will make a great outside toy for the warmer months. This cute, award-winning, handmade, ride-on toy features a bright and soft design perfect for both boys and girls ages 18 months to 3 years. Unlike many other ride-on toys, Wheely Bug is offers unlimited mobility to go backwards, forwards, sideways and in circles. And the Wheely Bug isn’t just fun, it promotes gross motor skill development and balance. It’s also made with renewable timber lumber and is PVC free. Your child will love Pacifier’s top-seller, and it makes a great holiday gift. 

And if the Wheely Bug isn’t a perfect match for your tot, Pacifier also sells Wheely Bee and Wheely Cow for the same price.