Gifts that keep on giving
The idea was genius. I had just been invited to the birthday party of the second most-popular girl in sixth grade, Tiffany. This was my big chance, and I knew exactly what to give to her. Or so I thought. Since I rarely spoke, I would let the brilliance of this gift speak for itself and soon find myself accepted as a member of the in crowd.
I didn’t trust my fashion sense enough to pick out clothes for Tiffany, so I went with a gift certificate. So boring, though – I needed to jazz it up a bit. I decided a potato doll, holding the gift certificate, would do the trick. Hilarious. I imagined everyone laughing, pointing out the various details of the doll, patting me on the back. Perhaps they would all lift me up on their shoulders, chanting my name. So I got to work.
When making a potato doll, it is of utmost importance that one first considers the strength of the spine. A shish kabob skewer won’t cut it. But a chopstick, even a carry-out one, will do just fine. Use a roundish potato for the head and a longer one for the body and stab away. Appendages are a little trickier. You will need sewing pins with flattened metal ends to attach carrots or celery sticks for arms and legs. Let your imagination run wild for the face. Raisins, cucumber slices, olives, pretty much anything you can find in the fridge is fair game. Consider lettuce or sprouts for hair. Scraps of cloth and some basic sewing skills will result in some jaunty little trousers or a jumper, complete with pocket, in which to stash the aforementioned gift certificate.
When the big day arrived, I was nervous. I remember standing around Tiffany’s dining room table as she unwrapped her presents. I remember her offering to give my own wrapping paper back to me and everyone laughing. I couldn’t decipher if they were laughing at me for my uncool recycling sensibility or with me because of Tiffany’s ludicrous idea. So I didn’t respond. I just stood there, watching the moments unfold. When Tiffany lifted the lid off the shoe box, a stunned silence fell over the table. No one laughed as she stared into the dead raisin eyes of her new potato doll.
They didn’t get it.
Mortified, I mumbled something about the pocket, at which point Tiffany discovered the gift certificate. But it was too late.
The chance was squandered, and I found myself once again drifting on the edge of the cool crowd.
The point in telling you all this is not to educate you on the construction of a potato doll or give you pointers on upping your popularity, but to inspire you to creatively conjure up the perfect holiday gift for friends or family members, regardless of their social stature. I recommend used. In case you didn’t know, Durango is a mecca of used-goods stores. Within two blocks of College Drive alone, you will find three consignment stores: Sprout, Durango Outdoor Exchange and Re-runs.
Aside from short-circuiting the factory-to-consumer loop, giving new life to a previously purchased product, helping the environment and saving a ton of money, you will be supporting local When businesses. Plus, you all else fails: never know when the potato doll. you’ll stumble upon that hidden treasure, guaranteeing endless bragging rights. Given the sporty nature of many Durangotangs, Durango Outdoor Exchange, located at 546 E. College Drive, is a great starting point. Owned by Jen and Chase LaCroix, Durango residents of over a decade and outdoor enthusiasts themselves, Durango Outdoor Exchange offers everything to outfit your friend’s next outdoor adventure, in any season. “We sell high-end, quality gear,” says Chase. You can also bring your used – and still relevant – gear in for anywhere between 50-70 percent return on your item, depending on its value. Check them out at durangooutdoorexchange.com.
Just a couple doors down, at 572 E. 6th Ave., is Reruns. Established in 1989, Re-runs has stood the test of time, now encompassing two stores offering classic and contemporary clothing, furniture, jewelry and funky household goods. If you have good taste in clothing, this is where you want to take your used clothing, that is, if you aren’t me. I once tried to take my used clothing here, telling the owner, Laura Rickard, that I had been saving all of my really nice clothes for about 10 years, at which point she politely informed me that clothes don’t stay in style that long. I never thought of that. “Hot brands like Free People, Lucky, Prana, Joes and Hollister are regular finds in Reruns Clothing Boutique. Whether you’re looking for holiday wear or hiking gear; shoes, purses, scarves or jewelry; uncommon finds from antique signs to sleek bar stools; and everything in between – Reruns has it!”
Also on College Drive, at 666 (don’t let the demonic address fool you), is Sprout. Founded in 2005, Sprout is a baby and kids’ toy, furniture, textile, books, and media store, offering a wide variety of clothing, all the way through the junior sizes and including maternity. Downstairs features an assortment of locally crafted specialty clothes from over 15 local artists. Upstairs is a treasure trove of used name-brand kids’ clothes. Owner Joanna Tucker encourages people to buy used in order to have a positive impact on the environment and save money, especially important this time of year. You can learn more about Sprout on Facebook.
Another used clothing store is Second Time Around. Located at the end of E. Second Ave. at 1163 (across from the old library), Second Time Around has been in business for 30 years. New owner Sharon Shell, who purchased the business in 2015, has brought the expansive inventory into the modern age with a new computer system and fresh approach. She features used high-quality, brand name clothing and currently has a huge inventory of sweaters, boots, and coats (including wool, leather and ski jackets.) She also has a wide array of jewelry, household and kitchen items, and jewelry, which incidentally, would look stunning on a potato doll.
Main Avenue offers a bevy of stops for the vintage and trendy clothes horse on your list. For starters, Old Colorado Vintage, next door to Cream Bean Berry at 10211⁄2 Main, offers a treasure trove of goodies from yesteryear, including everything from retro leather moto jackets and Speed Racer helmets to leisure suits and Jackie O. dresses in its subterranean lair.
Down the street and to the right, at 801 B. Main, the green wrought iron staircase on 8th Street will take you down to Rose Duds, a high-end womens (and a few mens) consignment boutique. Here, in the expansive “garden level” location, you’ll find some of the trendiest threads from the closets of Durango’s most discerning fashionistas.
A few more blocks down, and shoppers will run into Iconic, a quirky throwback gem nestled between Durango Bagel and Urban Market Home, on E. Fifth Street. Here you can ogle everything from tiaras and sequins to furs and leather for all the Mad Men and Women on your list.
If you’re more of an uptown guy or gal, there are two excellent options up that way as well. Sideshow Emporium, formerly of Main Avenue, recently moved to bigger, more expansive digs at 208 CR203 (next to The Vault.) Here you will find plenty of free parking in addition to owner Heather Narwid’s “hand-curated” collection of vintage Western wear and modern and retro party wear. The store also has a large selection of accessories, including killer party hats, as well as one-of-a-kind gifts.
For the HGTV junkie on your list, there’s ReLove, at 1301 Florida (behind J. Bo’s.) Owned by Julie Dunn-Brown (formerly of Steaming Bean fame) and Julie Schingen, ReLove stocks unique and oh-so styley home decor, from shabby chic to mid-century modern.
If books are more your style, you are in luck. Located across the street, at 175 E. 5th St., is Southwest Book Trader. If you like to play Jenga, where you have to pull out the perfect block without destroying the tower, you will love it here. Owner George Hassan has impeccable literary taste and knows where to find any title you might be looking for. Another eclectic used book store in Duango is Second Story, located off Main Ave. above Chimayo. Owner Denny Rahilly, of KSUT fame, has a beautiful collection of literature, ranging from classics and writers of the West to poetry and children’s books.
He also has a limited selection of rare editions.
If you are in the market for furniture, kitchenwares, DVDs or tools, check out Dunn Deal, at 3101 Main, next to Zia Taqueria North. The Habitat for Humanity Restore, located in Bodo Park at 120 Girard St., is also a great place to shop for furniture, as well as appliances, building materials and other knickknacks. Proceeds from sales at the
Restore help build homes for low-income families.
If you are looking for a screaming deal on used goods and highest bragging rights for the diamond in the rough, then look no further than the United Methodist Thrift Store at 986 E. Second Ave. or the La Plata County Humane Society Thrift Store by Wal-Mart at 1111 South Camino Del Rio. Proceeds from the Humane Society thrift store help to feed, house and service the dogs and cats at the shelter.
So as the number of shopping days before Christmas dwindles, think of all the money you can save and all the good you can do when buying used. And if, like Tiffany, your friend turns up his or her nose at receiving a used or unusual gift, maybe it’s time to find new friends who would better appreciate a potato doll.
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