By Lou Fancher
Shop the Block goes down to the wire for holiday shoppers looking for last-minute gift suggestions along the Grand Avenue and Lake Shore Avenue corridors. Even at this late date, a person doesn’t have to show up with a mere box of donuts—although donuts and other gooey treats from the Grand Avenue location of Colonial Donuts are available 24/7, 365 days a year — and might be welcome. Just steps away from the family-owned Oakland institution, great gifts can be found at Urban Indigo, Michael Mischer Chocolates, Walden Books, and Knimble, among other fine establishments.
Check out a few of the items that caught our eye at these four shops. As always, visit the websites or phone the stores for updates on hours, covid safety protocols and information about ordering online, deliveries, or pickup.
A consistent favorite of shoppers in search of the well-curated gift selection, Urban Indigo offers fashion accessories, home decor, culinary je-ne-sais-quois and more. If you’re in search of jewelry, the Leslie Necklace and Seanna Earrings add simple elegance to any holiday outfit. Make a bolder statement with the Medusa Necklace and Ariana Earrings. An Oakland Hand Embroidered Pillow and a Walk Oakland Map & Guide make an interesting pairing of activity and rest, with hometown enthusiasm across the board. If socks are a fetish, there are plenty available, along with journals, planners, 1,000- and 100-piece puzzles, and holiday ornaments galore.
Filled chocolates at Michael Mischer Chocolates made from South American Criollo Beans and sturdy bars with single-origin chocolate from Venezuela or Ecuador might be owner Michael Mischer’s favorites, but to many it’s the heart-shaped salted caramel-filled chocolates that will steal your soul. If you’re looking for a bigger bite, Criollo Cocoa Nibs chocolate bars are not to be missed.
Gift boxes of various sizes, gelato, espresso drinks and sugar-free solid chocolate bars sweetened with Maltitol raise the stakes and add a little something extra to enjoy while you shop. Learn more: www.michaelmischerchocolates.com/
Walden Pond Books is open for in-store shopping with masks and social distancing required — all in the service of finding the perfect book to gift. Hot off the presses, some of the new titles getting attention are Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar, A Promised Land by Barak Obama, Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo, An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky, and a number of children’s books including I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott.
Adult books and poetry collections authored by Bay Area writers and award-winning, topical books that land on Best of 2020 lists cover music, cooking, gardening, history and current events, travel, romance fiction and more. Online orders can be made for almost any title and literary gifts make it easy to find something special for the bibliophile in your life. Learn more: www.waldenpondbooks.com.
Knimble carries affordable recycled items and main street brands that include Gap and Lucky and specialty shops such as Coach, Frye, Free People, Anthropologie, and Eileen Fisher. A selection of fair trade and locally made body products, perfumes, jewelry and accessories includes holiday items. (The Ruth Bader Ginsberg ornament is a must-have for this year’s tree or holiday table decoration.)
Visit their website, knimble.com, to view a range of fashion that ranges from funky and glittery to graceful: a black Kate Spade Bag, Billabong boots, a Jennie & Marlins Kimono, Lucky jeans and a multicolored beaded necklace. Note that Knimble will be closing temporarily beginning January 12th and reopening March 1st. The shop will be accepting sell-trade drop-off items three days per week in December and will do no buying in January. With ongoing changes to the buying policy dictated by county health, it’s best to check online for the latest details. Learn more: knimble.com.
Now — with your shopping done (fingers crossed), it’s finally time to settle in and celebrate a safe, festive and gift-filled holiday with family members and loved ones.