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Friday, December 2, 2011

Small Shops of Sonoma County 2011

Our 9th Annual 
Small Shops 
of Sonoma County

By Vesta Copestakes
I started publishing this annual Guide to Holiday Shopping primarily because I met so many wonderful shop keepers while out delivering my papers. At the time my distribution was strictly West County, so I took my time to drop a copy of the paper at stores I passed along my route. Some people were so warm and friendly they became friends over time.

It occurred to me that I have the perfect vehicle for bringing customers to their door. These people pour their hearts into building a business based upon what they love. Why not help them survive, and even thrive. I explained to readers that every dollar you spend in these stores helps the owners pay their bills. It’s personal.

Now that the Shop Local mission has become well-known and every town has promotional campaigns to encourage shoppers to keep their dollars in our community it’s a lot easier to convince people. Education is everything when trying to influence the actions of others. Give people enough information on WHY we want you to shop locally, and people begin to understand and act accordingly.

What IS Local?
There are plenty of stores where the owner lives in Sonoma County, so on one level, this is a local store. It’s locally-owned so chances are at least some of the money generated in that store stays in the community. But what if the majority of items sold are made in China or elsewhere. Is it really a local business just because it’s locally-owned? What percentage of dollars earned stays in our community?

Let’s take this a step further...WHERE Local. Is it the town line? the county line? the state line? or the U.S.A. line? How local is LOCAL?

SILO in Healdsburg sells 100% American
made products from jewelry to furniture
Adelle Stoll recently opened Silo just off the Plaza in Healdsburg. Her store sells 100% American Made products. Her commitment to local is the United States of America. Yeunny Mears is a dressmaker in the tiny town of Bodega. She makes everything she sells, and her fabrics come from all over the world. She is from Japan originally, so she’s an import, but as far as we’re concerned, she’s our local dressmaker.

Every art gallery in Sonoma County is about as close to being truly local as you can get. The galleries are locally-owned and what they sell is locally produced. Co-op galleries, where artists share expenses, give you an opportunity to meet the artists whose work is on display. When you buy a piece you know precisely where your dollars are going because you can hand the money directly to the person who created the work.

ShareExchange Marketplace features 174
“Makers” creations in Santa Rosa
ShareExchange is a co-op of a different sort in Santa Rosa. 174 “Makers “ – local artists and crafts folk – belong to the exchange as members, hold classes, share office space, and sell their diverse merchandise from foodie Must Haves to original fine art, including children’s clothing and toys, books by local authors, leather and pottery goods, and of course – a stunning array of jewelry.

The bottom line is that when you spend money at stores in your community, even if it’s a huge store that sells merchandise made abroad, a percentage of your money will stay in our communities to help pay for vital services, roads, government. etc. Your shopping choice is how MUCH of that money stays at home.

Shopping for FUN!
Personally, I’m not a shopper by nature, so it’s easy to shop locally. I live in Forestville and get my groceries at Speer’s Market and Andy’s Produce. Literally, that’s as far as I go. I buy virtually everything I need to sustain my simple life within a few miles from my home. When I’m out in the world re-stocking newsstands, I like to go to Oliver’s Market because they support local food producers better than any market in Sonoma County. They have posters on the walls with pictures of the people they support by purchasing their products. That’s personal and I like personal.

But when it comes to shopping for gifts...I take Alan, my sweetheart. He LOVES to shop, so he’s a lot of fun to bring along. I recommend taking a friend when you have a list for the holidays. Make a day of it, get something to eat along the way. PLAY while you shop.

There are stores that are a lot more fun than others. Where I live the most fun store is Guerneville 5 & 10. They sell fun stuff for kids and people who think like kids. It’s entertainment on a grand scale from candy to puzzles and paper dolls. My granddaughter Destiny loves the place!

Talullah sells custom-made furniture to
decorations and hand-made candles
While in Healdsburg exploring for this guide, Alan and I ducked in Tallulah. I had seen the ad come in and puzzled about the picture, so when we passed the shop window, I immediately recognized those holiday trees. Three women own this store and it’s a kick and a half. I got Destiny a rhinestone covered headband and Alan got reindeer head gear for his company’s holiday party. You have to check out the tree decorations! And yes,  they have tasteful art and furniture as well, so it’s not all just fun stuff. It’s creative and beautiful as well.

Getting Creative
Shopping isn’t all about accumulating stuff…especially if you have to dust it. There is a lot to be said for purchasing gifts that inspire someone to take a new path, try something different, climb a confidence mountain.

Getting creative at Glassfusion
My neighbor Jenn owns Glassfusion Studio in Sebastopol. Her business is about teaching people something they’ve never done before. First she has to inspire them to take a class, but once they’re in - they get hooked on the joy it brings them each time they take something home that is hand-made. One woman I spoke with told me she comes to play with colored glass because it bring peace to her heart. While she’s creating, all she thinks about is the project she’s working on. Craft therapy in essence.

Creativity takes you away from the stress of paying bills and basic survival. You receive the joy of learning something, and the rewards of “Look what I did!” If you learn to play music, you also get to listen to it! If you learn to paint or draw or sculpt, you get to see what you created and even give it to someone you love. If you get good enough - you can even sell it! It’s a win/win all around.

Renga Arts makes art from junk!
So think about inspiring someone to cross a creative boundary with the gift you give them. You may start a whole new trend in their life!

And speaking of creative...have you taken a look at what people are creating with recycled material lately? Renga Arts in south Sebastopol has made recycling trendy from jewelry to sculptures, and Bug Deakin of Heritage Salvage in Petaluma recycles building materials into fine furniture, and more. Yes, he has some pretty silly stuff out there as well, but his commitment to recyling is beyond putting something in the recycle bin. His mission is to re-purpose everything he touches. And he supplies materials for the rest of us who are not only committed to recycling but also to re-purposing wood from trees that you never see any more because they don’t exist. Bug travels around the country buying old buildings that would otherwise get demolished. He disassembles them and sells the pieces at his store. Now that’s commitment to re-purposing!

Really OLD Stuff!
This is a good time to get into antiques. Sonoma County has rather impressive antique stores for such a young state. I come from back east where antiques are a way of life from the buildings people live in, to how they are furnished. It’s bringing history into our homes and lives.

Antique stores tend to come in groups because people go antiquing. They wander from store to store the way people wander from art gallery to art gallery. You have to have a good eye for details because most antique stores are vast collections of things.

Robert's Relics on Windsor Road
And like art galleries, they also form cooperatives. Petaluma Boulevard south of Washington has a gathering of both art galleries and antique co-ops, so you can park once and explore all day. South Sebastopl has a grouping of antique stores near the Antique Society, and Healdsburg has a collection of them at the south end of downtown. The biggest there is Schoffeit’s with more than 30 dealers and just south toward the 101 exit is Mill Street Antiques.

 Up in Cloverdale, Antiques & Uniques and is where I found a baby Jesus for my daughter’s nativity scene for Christmas. Those babies go missing, as do the sheep! Collectives are a kick to explore. Your eyes get overwhelmed in detail! But in among the busyness you’ll find a treasure. Sometimes it’s for you, and sometimes it’s the perfect gift.

Today I found a tiny porcelain doll for Destiny at Robert’s Relics in Windsor…one of my absolute favorite old stuff stores. A real jumble of everything...and I do mean everything! A few weeks ago, I was visiting Sharon’s Emporium in Guerneville and found an artistic tie for Alan (he only wears them at parties!) And my top-of-the-list antiques store is always Mr. Ryder & Co. in Graton. It’s small enough to SEE lovely things to buy.

Here Today-Gone Tomorrow
Works of art at The Candlestick, Sonoma
It’s time to touch on consumables. These are great presents for people who have plenty of stuff to dust, but you want to get them a present anyway. This can also cover the basic necessities of life as well. Food, Clothing & Shelter - the big trio. And yes, we think of consumables as food, but there are other things that don’t last over time, such as candles.

The sweet thing about candles is that they provide beauty, light, and warmth. Many a chilly winter night I light candles in my bedroom to take the chill off. Yes, make sure they are on a non-flammable surface, and that you don’t leave them unattended for hours. They can burn all the way down and nasty things can happen. But for the most part, they are safe and beautiful light, with a bit if warmth thrown in.

When I was up in Cloverdale recently I met Harry Martin of Dolorosa. He makes beeswax candles at the shop and people love to come by to watch the process. Carol Russel, mayor of Cloverdale, pointed out how wonderful and inspiring it is to watch something being made. We lose touch with the process of things we consume. This is a chance to see, feel, smell and experience the candle we burn.

All things bee & honey at Beekind
I have to admit that my favorite consumable gift store is beekind in south Sebastopol. Katia Vincent is all about bees and honey, from teaching classes in beekeeping to selling honey from all over the north bay. The store it literally golden with everything bee. She has beeswax candles of course - the very best kind to burn, candy, bee jewelry, books, creams & polishes and everything you need to raise bees.

While I was in Sonoma recently, I went in The Candlestick, a delightful store with everything candle, from the holder to candles in every color of the rainbow. Dan Gallison owns the store, but most of the time you’ll meet Jane at the counter. She’s been the public face of Candlestick for many years and is thoroughly connected to her community. If you want to know Sonoma, start with Jane.

And while we’re on the subject of consumables, I have to chat a moment about wine. If you are a regular Gazette reader you know that John Haggard of Sophies Cellars in Monte Rio has a monthly column. The man is amazing with his knowledge on all things wine paired with food. You walk in here and tell him what you’re serving for dinner…he’ll ask your price range, then walk over to a shelf and hand you a bottle with the complete story about why this is the perfect wine - for your budget - to go with your meal.

The Wine Shop on the west side
of the Plaza in Healdsburg
Today I went into The Wine Shop in Healdsburg to take a photo and took in the scent of wine that permeates the place. It’s a tasting room that sells wine, and is one of the most friendly around Make sure you bring a designated driver if you decide to taste your way to purchasing wine presents!

And of course - how can we forget chocolate...we can’t! Everyone’s favorite consumable! In Sebastopol you can watch David Gambill, Sonoma Chocolatier,  make truffles right in his store, It’s also Infusions Tea House so you can rest a spell, have lunch, sip White Jasmine favorite, and walk off with a lovely box of freshly made truffles. You can also find David’s chocolate nuts all across Sonoma County in little cellophane bags by the cashier at many stores.

Franz Swan Lake teapot at
Mr. Trombly's in Duncans Mills
And speaking of tea and tea shops. Have you met Brian Trombly at Mr. Trombly’s Teas in Duncans Mills? No! You HAVE to! Every day he has a pot of tea sitting on a flame for you to taste while your browsing his store. And it’s a museum of all things tea, from a wide range of loose leaf teas, to things to spread on toast with your tea, chocolates of course - and tea pots in more shapes, sizes, colors, characters, designs, etc. than you ever imagined possible! I’m especially fond of spending time chatting with Brian. Beyond being knowledgeable about all things tea, he’s also a very smart shopkeeper. In the two years he’s had the shop, he had to expand to twice his original size. He runs an internet business as well, so he’s not totally dependent upon walk-in traffic.

And since we’re in Duncans Mills,  one of absolute favorite towns in all of Sonoma County. It’s right on the edge of the fog line, so it can be cold on the coast and warm in Duncans Mills. Browse these shops, and when you get hungry, there’s Cape Fear Café, the General Store for deli, Gold Coast Coffee for baked treats and pizza and the ever-popular Blue Heron restaurant & bar for good food and good times. There’s plenty of reasons to spend some time here.

Pleasure Gifts
I do like that conjures relaxation, sensuality, self-indulgence. It can come in the form of eating out, time off, experiences shared, spoiling yourself or someone you love with a gift certificate for something totally out of the ordinary in his/her life.

I see these ads for massages and facials and know what it’s like to lose yourself on that warm table and get lost into relaxing. Barbara Friedman of Cottage Massage is the person I go to when my muscles tighten up from sitting at my computer too long. She’s a master at all things she does, and in this case, it’s massage.

Some people tell me they’ve never had a professional massage. They don’t know what they’re missing. It’s good to find the person you connect with most, both in terms of personality as well as massage style. There are many theories on what is good for you, so experiment. Try different people until you settle into one. For gifts, I’d recommend a test-run for yourself, then if you like the person, get a gift certificate and pass on the experience.

I’ve only had one facial in my entire life, but I can tell you that it feels like someone just cleaned your skin from  the inside out, and you feel at least five years younger walking out the door. That’s a self-esteem booster if there every was one.

Indulge in Fine Food
There are two ways to do this one. First, while you are out shopping for gifts, take the time to sit down and rest with a nourishing meal. Elizabeth Olsen told me that La Rosa Tequileria & Grille in Healdsburg has the best chile rellenos she’s ever had, and that means the world to me since I judge all Mexican restaurants by their chile rellenos. She also told me that the soup at Gypsy Cafe in Sebastopol is exceptional. These kind of recommendations inspire me to try a restaurant because they come with an introduction. Let’s both consider ourselves introduced and go there.

Beth Thorpe of Nightingale Breads in
Forestville - wood-fired ovens
I KNOW what Beth Thorpe’s of Nightingale Bread is all about because it’s the only bread I eat since she moved into Forestville! I get my rye on Wednesday, raisin bread on Thursday, Redwood Hill goat cheese any time, and over the holidays, she bakes specialty breads. Having your very own bakery is heaven. Look around your town and if you have one, stop buying bread in a plastic bag at the grocery store...this is the real deal and your body will thank you!

Holidays are times when people get together to eat. It’s part of sharing time. If you go to a dinner gathering...there’s a bakery or store with all the right ingredients in a neighborhood near you. One of those little stores you pass by all the time might be the perfect place to slow down, walk through the door, and see what they have to offer.

While I was in Sonoma I went into Girl & the Fig and found a whole shelf of different fig preserves. Wow! I had no idea there were so many things you can do with figs! We are blessed to live in a climate where figs are plentiful. A jar of preserves of any kind is a great gift! Loaf of bread, container of goat cheese, jar of fruit preserves - now that’s a gift that nourishes!

Giving Food
CLICK here for a list of Sonoma County Food Pantries for donations
And while we’re on the topic of food, I’d like to suggest that you consider making donations to food banks and pantries as gifts to people who have less than you do. Food is essential for life and the better the food, the better the life. When people are hungry they get angry and depressed. If we want people to be out there contributing to this planet, we need their basic needs - and all that leads to a sense of self-worth.

One of many theories on achieving world peace has to do with satisfying basic human needs. Animals are much better at taking care of themselves. Yes, it’s true, we don’t know what happens to critters in the woods like we are familiar with humans sleeping under bridges.  I know people who take care of feral cats, and those kitties are better off than many people. See what you can do to make a life lighter.

I have a list of Food Pantries on my web site - under RESOURCES. And you can always give to Redwood Empire Food bank because they supply so many of the Food pantries in Sonoma County. Right now REFB is running their Winter Food Drive so you’ll see cans and bags all over Sonoma County.

It’s only FAIR
Kindred on 4th Street in Santa Rosa is a
member of the Fair Trade Federation
We do our best to keep our local economy strong by shopping where our dollars are recycled back into our community, but we don’t live in isolation. This is a planet after all. If we want to achieve the basic needs for some, it’s only fair to provide for all. That’s a lot of what fair trade is about. Fair is fair.

If we expect to get a living wage for our time - the most valuable thing we own, then it’s only fair to make sure those who supply our needs are also fairly compensated. It’s what Living Wage is all about, and what Fair Trade is about as well.

Throughout Sonoma Coutny there are several fair trade stores and some who sell goods that are “fairly traded.” The difference has a lot to do with how goods are purchased.

Stores like Kindred in Santa Rosa, One World in Healdsburg, Baksheesh in Sonoma, One Planet in Petaluma, abide by the rules of the Fair Trade Federation.

Go to their web site for details to learn what the concept is and how it works. These stores sell lovely hand-crafted art, jewelry, toys, etc. and assure both themselves and their customers that the goods in their store carry the guarantees of Fair Trade.

South American Secrets support
communities in Ecuador
Other stores that carry hand-crafted items often do it as direct buyers from villages where they are personally invested in helping sustain not only the lives of the artists and crafts people, but also the art form that has passed down through generations.

Over time they build relationships with families and communities, build schools, and more.  As shoppers we have to trust that the goods are fairly traded, but in most cases, you can tell because the owners display their passion through photos, stories and conversations about their missions.
So when you go to a store that sells goods from foreign countries, consider where the product came from, and if the person making it is fairly compensated for their skill and time. Its part of the the Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You philosophy. It’s a value system as much as a way to sustain life.

Back to What IS Local?
Because I’m on this soapbox, I’d like to point out that plenty of locally-owned stores purchase products from companies with no clue how the people or environment are treated. Locally-owned is only a small indicator that money will circulate at home. If you don’t know which bank they use, how many credit card purchases run though the store, etc. locally-owned is no guarantee that your money is well-spent once it leaves your pocket.

You can only be so conscious or you’ll drive yourself nuts. Do the best you can and relax about the rest. The one thing you can be sure of when shopping is that the employees in the store live within commute distance.You are supporting local families no matter where you shop!

Enduring Comforts in Freestone
has become well-known
for their scarves, hats &
gloves among antiques & jewelry
Staying Warm
Personally, I believe you can never have too many scarves or socks. I’m not a hat person, but I see the value in covering the parts of your body that lose heat easily. Put a scarf around your neck, warm socks, a warm hat and the rest of your body will stay warm.

Besides, scarves are decorative as well as functional. A gossamer one will make a frumpy outfit look feminine. A bright color will brighten an otherwise drab outfit. Long scarves can wrap in interesting ways. Not only that - scarves are for sale everywhere. They can be impulse gifts. Stuff one in a decorative bag and away you go, gift in hand. Easy-breezy as Alan says!

Bodega Head offers views north and south
as far as the eye can see
Gifts of Time
It’s time to take you outside now that we are warm and fed. I bring this up every year because I believe fervently that the most valuable gift you can give anyone is a piece of your life. Yes, you went shopping, and that took time. But if you plan to surprise the recipient with your gift, you didn’t spend time with him/her. So how about a gift certificate for time?

One of  my favorite gifts are greeting cards. Some are worthy of putting in a frame. You might consider pairing a card with frame, writing your message of love and desire for time playing together - wax poetic if you choose, then wrap it in decorative paper, put a ribbon on it, and put it under the tree, next to a pillow, on a car seat or dashboard. Unexpected gifts are grand surprises. Time is the very best one.

Useful - Practical Gifts
I already got mine because Alan found one on e-bay. I am in love with my Tri-Star vacuum that I got about 15 years ago and used all during the years I cleaned houses to make ends meet. I’d had a Eureka stand-up that literally sucked dirt in one end and spewed dust out the other.

Two young men knocked on my door and knocked my socks off with their demonstration.  I laid down money I didn’t have to get that thing. It sucked!!!! And it still does after all these years. But it’s beat up! So Alan, loving me and knowing how much I value tools, found a replacement. Who cares that it’s not in a box under the tree!! I’m happy as can be!

Sign of the Bear in Sonoma is a HUGE store
for people who love kitchen tools
and decorative tableware, etc..
Some of us just like tools!!! Useful presents that provide service. I’ll never forget my birthday present from Alan when we were first dating...a bright red metal tool box! Yes, he figured me out early. A very good sign! Hey look, there’s one in the Sebastopol Hardware ad! I have to say, that hardware store is becoming a General Store. They are about to steal Friedman Bros. tag line, “If we don’t have don’t need it!”

I will give you a lecture here on quality tools. See where it’s made, feel it for quality construction. A weak or poorly made tool is more frustrating than useful. A good tool will last for many, many years. tool lovers love quality tools or it’s not a good present.

See that picture above - kitchen tools! YES! Beauty and function! If you love a cook - think cooking tools!!!

Taking Care of NEED
There are times when the best present isn’t about WANT - it’s about NEED.  A tune-up, new tires, a brake job. A box of engine oil, fuel injector cleaner, new wiper blades. These things don’t sound pretty or fun, but they could save a life.

Measuring tire depth to determine
if you need new tires
There are plenty of people who just sigh when they get an expensive gift under the tree, because what they really need is money. It sits rather limp in an envelope, and you know it will fly right out as fast as you wrote the check. That money has need to fill.

So how about combining a bit of time together with a fix-it gift. Take someone you love to a tire store, hang with him/her while new tires are being mounted and the front end aligned, then go out to lunch.

Be the ride that’s so hard to get when you have one vehicle and you need it for work. Pick up your friend, drop his/her car at the mechanics then take her to work. Pick her up at the end of the day, and take her to the fixed the bill, add a hug, and maybe dinner, and you BOTH get something you need. Put a ribbon on it if you want to dress it up. It’s a gift that will go a long way for both of you.

Here’s one last Suggestion...
I need to heed this advice as much as anyone...take the TIME to relax...connect with people you love...relax..unwind...prioritize your to-do list so that people are in the #1 position.

That old phrase “Life is short,” has meaning. If you know someone who is not healthy, is suffering in any way...spend time with that person and count yourself among the lucky ones because you are well…you have food on your table, a place to sleep at night and warm clothes. These basic needs have real value.

And while you’re at it - get a treat for your cat, dog, bird, goat, snake, lizzard, tarantula - whatever being with whom you share life. Just for fun! ~ Vesta

Please SHOP with the ADVERTISERS who support our mission to inspire people to support local entrepreneurs - THANK YOU!

Abigail M. Killey Organic Fabrics, Bodega -
Almost Home Doggie Daycare, Sebastopol -
Amazing Face Sebastopol, Sebastopol -
Antiquarian & Florabunda, Duncans Mills         
Art & Soul of Sebastopol, Sebastopol -
Artisan's Co-op Bodega, Bodega  
Beekind, Sebastopol -
The Candlestick, Sonoma -
Towers GalleryCloverdale -
Vino De AmoreCloverdale -
DolorRosa CandlesCloverdale -
Ken Knight DesignCloverdale -
Antiques & UniquesCloverdale  -
Local Folkal, Cloverdale -  
Community Market, Santa Rosa -
Cottage Massage & Washi Egg Classes, Forestville -
Dovetail Collection, Healdsburg -
Dressers, Sebastopol        
Enduring Comforts - Freestone         
Fabulous Finds, Santa Rosa -
Glassfusion, Sebastopol -
Glass Images, Guerneville
Global Village Imports, Sebastopol -
Goddess Craft Faire, Santa Rosa -
Graton Gallery, Graton -
Guerneville 5 & 10, Guerneville -
Gypsy Café, Sebastopol -
Healthy Habits Massage, Forestville       
Heritage Salvage, Petaluma -
Infusions Teahouse, Sebastopol -
Jim & Willies, Duncans Mills -
June Bug, Guerneville -
Kindred Fair Trade, Santa Rosa -
King's Sport & Tackle, Guerneville -
Kristin Thurman Upholstery, Monte Rio -
La Rosa Tequileria & Grille, Santa Rosa -
The Legacy & Holiday Annex, Sebastopol -
Massage Envy,  Santa Rosa & Sonoma -
Mr. Trombly's Tea, Duncans Mills -
Nightingale Breads, Forestville         
Oakmont Gardens, Oakmont -       
Off the Track Coffee Shop, Forestville     
Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, Freestone -
People's Music, Sebastopol -
Pig Alley, Duncans Mills -
Positively Fourth Street, Santa Rosa         
Renga Arts, Sebastopol -
River Reader, Guerneville                                            
Russian River Art Gallery, Guerneville -   
Sebastopol Downtown Association, Sebastopol -
Sebastopol Gallery, Sebastopol -
Sebastopol Hardware, Sebastopol -
Sebastopol Senior Center - The Legacy, Sebastopol -
Silo - American Made Modern, Healdsburg        
Sonoma Chocolatier, Sebastopol - 
Sonoma County Regional Parks, Santa Rosa -
Sophie's Cellar, Monte Rio -
Studio Nouveau, Duncans Mills -
Sunnyside Cottage, Santa Rosa -       
Talullah, Healdsburg -     
Victorian Farmstead, Sebastopol -
West County Herbs, Occidental -        
Wild Birds Unlimited, Santa Rosa -
Yeunny Mears, Bodega - Dressmaker        
Xtravagance Boutique, Healdsburg -         

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