It’s that time of year—time to gear up for serious shopping (practice whipping out that credit card now) for gifts for Christmas, Hanukkah, hosts and teachers. Plus, isn’t this when we always find the best stuff for us? Never fear, Oakland’s got your back, with cute shops selling everything from educational kids’ toys to eco bath products.
Oakland Museum of California Store
The expansive shop nestled within the Oakland Museum of California is loaded with books on art, crafts, nature and California history alongside a slew of decorative objects, many from local craftspeople. For the East Bay denizens on your list, there’s a quartet of Oakland-inspired posters by artist Nancy Overton ($20 each), featuring city landmarks, as well as pottery from Berkeley’s Jared Nelson, posters from Oakland graphic novelist Daniel Clowes, and brightly-hued glass vases by Oakland’s Jess Wainer ($45-$165). For the fashionista on your list, check out the shop’s handmade jewelry, including Mexico-inspired pieces in silver and pearls by Oakland artist Lauren Wolf. Topping it off: a broad selection of children’s toys and books, including those on artists such as Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, as well as fun stuff like origami kits. Overall, a lovely trove of inspiring, educational and gorgeous gifts. On your way out, use that inspiration to make your own art out of stones in the rock garden facing the store.
OMCA Store, 1000 Oak St., Oakland, 510-318-8510, www.museumca.org/store, open 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Sun.
Rock Paper Scissors Collective
This funky downtown Oakland shop features handmade goods by local designers, artists, crafters, musicians and zine publishers. For the hipster on your list, check out the extensive collection of local zines focusing on everything from literature to music, or the classes the collective offers, on topics like “Making Shoes out of Sweatshirts” and “Beginning DJ.” Merchandise changes often, but always includes a range of T-shirts for men and women, knitted accessories, jewelry, knitted jewelry and felt owl masks by Dawn Katherine Studio ($22) or teeny felt animals with yarn eyes by Small Fry ($7).
Rock Paper Scissors Collective, 2278 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-238-9171, www.rpscollective.org, open noon–7 p.m. Wed.–Sun. and during the Oakland Art Murmur.
Amphora Nueva: Berkeley Olive Oil Works
For the foodies on your list, indulge them with an amphora of limited-edition olive oil. Amphora Nueva offers a mind-bogglingly international selection of oils from Australia, Chile, Spain, Portugal, Tunisia and California. The shop also offers balsamic vinegars, specialty food products and accessories. You can even play it safe and pick up a five-item sample pack with different themes, including “The Salad Lover” (blood orange oil, cranberry pear white balsamic vinegar and more) and “The Flavor Saver” (mushroom and sage olive oil, aged apricot white balsamic and more)—both $25. The shop also offers olive oil seminars—send your favorite gourmet to oil school.
Amphora Nueva: Berkeley Olive Oil Works, 2928 Domingo Ave., Berkeley, 510-704-9300, www.amphoranueva.com, open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily.
Crimson Horticultural Rarities
This little shop of horticultural wonders in an alley just behind Telegraph Avenue offers something different for the green-thumbed. Stocked with succulents, cacti and epiphytes, the store also offers a range of containers—from bell jars ($85–$100) to basic clay pots. It even carries carnivorous plants, including Venus flytraps and pitcher plants. Owners Allison Futeral and Leigh Okies custom-make terrariums in gorgeous glass vessels ($150 and up). Or if your giftee is a handyman—or handywoman—pick up a bundle of terrarium-building supplies, including moss, pebbles and more.
Crimson Horticultural Rarities, 470A 49th St. (in the alley off 49th between Clarke Street and Telegraph Avenue), Oakland, 510-992-3359, crimsonhort.com, open noon–6 p.m. Wed.–Sat., 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun.
This Montclair boutique is all about sustainable style—from organic to recycled, fair trade to sustainable. Find eco-friendly gifts for the home and body, including recycled-newspaper bowls and vases, coasters made from the centers of records, aka vinyl ($8 each), Alchemy Goods messenger bags made from recycled bike tubes ($149), belts decorated with recycled bottle caps, and bags made with soda pop tabs. It also stocks jewelry, kids’ gear (including science-themed toys such as solar power kits) and bath gear.
Hatch, 2054 Mountain Blvd., Oakland, 510-339-7346, www.hatchecolifestyle.com, open 10:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Sat. and Sun.
Nathan & Co.
For the house-proud relative on your list, head to Nathan & Co. with two locations in Rockridge and on Piedmont Avenue. This store has a ton of stylish kitchen goods and accessories, such as cutting boards, boxes, lunch-plate sets, slotted spoons, tongs and even a dish brush made of sustainably harvested bamboo and rustic napkins made from recycled flour sacks printed with a selection of sweet berries (made in Oakland, $21 for four). Add in bath soaps and lotions, aromatic candles, decorative home items galore, kids’ gear (such as 3-D puzzles from Holland, shaped like dogs, cats and horses for $24) and affordable jewelry (like a stellar mosaic bead necklace for $22), and you can indulge in some one-stop shopping. And if you’re too overwhelmed by holiday tasks to shop in person, Nathan & Co.’s online store makes shopping stress-free.
Nathan & Co., 5636 College Ave., Oakland, 510-601-1677, and 4025 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-428-9638, www.nathanandco.com, open 10:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Sat. and Sun.