This year, find something different to give
Step away from the sweater display.
Ignore those neckties, dress shirts and men’s black dress socks.
This year, you will be the giver of standout gifts.
This year, your gifts will say, “I made an effort.”
The Janesville Gazette scoured its readership area for unusual gifts and found plenty of choices. The key is to explore beyond the traditional shopping venues and discover—or rediscover—locally owned businesses.
Of course—here comes the disclaimer—we can’t list all of the great finds or standout shops in southcentral Wisconsin. The following is just a fun sampling, not an endorsement of one store over another.
-- For cooks: A bay tree from K & W Greenery, 1328 E. Highway 14, Janesville. Many cooks have pots of basil, oregano or mint on their window sills throughout the winter months. A small bay tree, $20, would add to the culinary lineup. Gardeners also would love West Country Gloves, $25.
-- For the woman who must be original: A purse bag or backpack from APJ Designs, 2475 Milton Ave., Janesville. The designer, Ann Johnson, can make a purse from one of 10,000 fabrics. Gift-givers can buy a purse from the selection at the store or buy a gift certificate for a custom-made bag. Cost: $60 to $180.
-- For people who appreciate the original: Carousel Consignments, 31 S. Main St., Janesville, is all about the original. The handyman or woman in your life might like the massive, turn-of-the-last century tool chest or antique plane.
Or, you might find a set of Czechoslovakian ceramic containers for kitchen spices and staples, a children’s book from the 1920s, stunning glassware and china dating back 30, 50 or 100 years.
The best part is discovering one-of-a-kind items such as the “Rock County Rural Normal School Record of Quotations.” Students copied quotes from famous people. The entries in the notebook, which includes the signatures of the students, date from 1924 to 1933.
-- For bow hunters: Hunt-N-Gear, 8776 N. Bowers Lake Road, Milton. About “90 percent” of the store’s inventory is geared toward bow hunting, said Carrie Hookstead, co-owner.
The store sells a fair number of bows for Christmas, especially for kids. The gift recipients return to the store after the holidays to get the bows set up for them.
Or bring in your hunter’s favorite arrow and have more made.
Give the store’s big dog a skritch on the head while you’re there, and he’ll be your pal. Rub his belly and you’ll be friends for life.
Another choice for the hunter includes Custom Arrow Archery Lanes, 400 W. Milwaukee St., Janesville. The store sells bow hunting equipment, apparel, wildlife art and quirky items, such as the $34 camouflage slow cooker. Every deer camp should have one. Bring a treat for the store’s dog, Randy. He likes cheese.
Both shops carry camouflage Christmas stockings, a must for every hunter.
-- For creative people—and people who want to be creative: The Dragonfly Yarn Shop, 1327 N. Wright Road, Janesville. The tiny shop carries knitting accessories and specialty yarns in a variety of stunning colors. Here’s a small selection of yarn types at Dragonfly: Merino silk, kid mohair in silk, hand-dyed alpaca, cashmere and angora.
The shop is holding an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
While you’re there, stop in next door at Meant to Bead, another tiny shop with supplies and classes for beaders.
In Edgerton, try Grasshopper Crossing, 4 W. Fulton St. The shop, which is open Wednesdays to Saturdays, has beads, handmade jewelry, gifts and classes. Be sure to pet the store’s two cats.
For anglers of all sorts: Nothing says, “I love you,” like a gift certificate for bait. The Pier, N1806 Linn Road, Lake Geneva, has an extensive collection of bait, tackle, equipment and guided fishing trips of Geneva Lake. For more information, go to www.fishinglakegeneva.com.
-- Here are a few other choices for original gifts:
Books: Bibliomaniacs, 324 E. Walworth Ave., Delavan. Store carries 3,000 rare and collector editions and a variety of book-related items such as bookends, book bags, note cards and T-shirts.
Jewelry: Pelishek's Fine Jewelry & Gallery, 42 S. Walworth St., Darien; Bay Design Company, 1727 Newport Ave., Janesville; Dubes Jewelry, 21 W. Milwaukee St., Janesville, and Sheppard’s Jewelry, 21 N. Main St., Janesville.
Bay Design does custom design work. The other independents carry pieces you might not find at the mall.
Antiques: Goodrich Hall Antiques, 501 College St., Milton. It has 14 rooms, including one room with vintage jewelry. Other popular items include watch fobs and oils lamps.
Antiques Mall of Janesville, 770 S. Main St., has about 7,000 square feet that includes a varied assortment of antiques, vintage and collectible items, including booths of vintage clothing, jewelry and lamps.