Our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

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Marin Gift Guide
Photo by Kira auf der Heide. Holiday gift-giving can be a boon to the local economy.

MARIN GIFT GUIDE: Last November, the Google Calendar app greeted users with a new day of celebration: Black Friday. The holiday in question appeared courtesy of the app’s setting for “Holidays in the United States” on Nov. 29. It hailed the annual retail bonanza sure to come as well as the implicit suggestion, that in this moment of late capitalism, Thanksgiving is pretty much “Black Friday Eve.” 

Local retail renaissance thinks outside the big box

The retail season is upon us, but that doesn’t mean you have to feed the gaping maw of big box stores and monopolistic online retailers. When you think outside the big box and support local retailers—and better yet, purveyors of locally-made products—you’re doing wonders for your community and its economy. 

According to an infographic released by GO LOCAL Cooperative, which “works to grow the market share of locally-owned businesses,” when you spend $100 at a locally-owned business, $48 remains in the local economy. Compared to the $13 from big box stores that stay or the whopping zero for non-local online retailers, the advantage of keeping money in the neighborhood, so to speak, is what’s called the local economic multiplier effect. The more dollars retained in a community and re-spent within the local economy results in income growth for local people, increased pay, and more tax revenues returned to local governments—ultimately providing for better standards of living for those in the community.

Among those raising the retail standards of the community is San Anselmo’s neve & hawk, a downtown ethical, locally-made clothing store curated by Kris Galmarini for the past three years. The many offerings at neve & hawk include Galmarini’s own local-clothing brand, a collection of other, hand-picked local-artisan goods, special books and gifts and now coffee. Galmarini recently opened a cafe in the back of her San Anselmo location, which features selections from the Lady Falcon Coffee Club. They roast the premium joe in small batches in Oakland and sell it in vintage-styled pink packaging—the perfect gift to caffeinate someone’s Christmas. neveandhawk.com

As streaming services like Spotify have gradually replaced the crates and shelves and CDs that once represented our music collections, there are still some music aficionados on our gift lists who prefer their music served not from the cloud but on the record, so to speak. Thanks, in part to Millennials’ fetishizing of analog media and the foresight of retailers like Barry Lazarus of San Rafael’s Red Devil Records who never abandoned the medium, there’s been an appreciable spike in vinyl sales. Music fans of any genre, age, and disposition will undoubtedly find something to spin and enjoy at Lazarus’ Fourth Street location. Recent offerings include “seven inch” records featuring local luminaries like Huery Lewis and the News’ “opaque” vinyl release of its latest endeavor, Plansville, and releases by the Monkees featuring the late great Peter Tork, who lived in Fairfax in the 70s. Red Devil Records also boasts a large, well-curated collection of vintage vinyl selections (and is always in the market to purchase select items from the public).  reddevilrecords.net

If you’re a regular Amazon shopper, here’s some, ahem, prime numbers for you: In 2016, Amazon and its third-party marketplace vendors sold $18.3 billion of retail goods in California. Good business, right? Civic Economics, an organization that provides a data-driven approach to business and community initiatives, tallied the numbers behind the numbers. Apparently, Amazon’s transactions that year resulted in 6,030 displaced shops (or 52.2 million square feet of retail space), 87,338 displaced retail jobs, and up to $742 million in uncollected sales taxes. Local economists might suggest you keep these stats in mind when you considering where to buy that book you plan to put under the tree. There are many bookstores throughout Marin County but by far the most ubiquitous is Copperfield’s Books, with 10 locations in the tri-county area (including relatively recent additions in Novato and Larkspur Landing). copperfieldsbooks.com

Likewise, the perennial favorite Book Passage has a vast inventory and an endless lineup of top-tier author speakers. bookpassage.com

A favorite in San Anselmo, of course, is Whyte’s Booksmith, nestled right downtown about a block’s stroll from Imagination Park. Among the popular titles getting gifted this season are The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from A Secret World by Peter Wohlleben and Jane Billinghurst, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments. Whyte’s Booksmith also offers used preloved titles. facebook.com/whytesbooksmith415 

Ditto Town Books, a used bookstore run by the Friends of the San Anselmo Library, which stocks over 1,000 books, DVDs, and CD audio books across genres and boasts a children and teen section as well. townbooks.org

For a more passive but exhilarating aesthetic experience, there’s always the movies. When one thinks of “giving the gift of movies,” however, this often amounts to telling your college student/best friend/ex your Netflix password. You can do better than that. Keep your movie money local by buying a gift card from one of our local theatrical exhibitors. The Smith Rafael Film Center (San Rafael), Cinemark (throughout Marin, including the CinéArts Sequoia), CinemaWest (Fairfax Theater) and The Lark (in Larkspur) all offer premium theatrical experiences—many with wine, beer, and gourmet goodies. Get a gift card for the cineaste in your life and enjoy the show together (or savor a couple of hours of alone time). rafaelfilm.cafilm.org, cinemark.com, cinemawest.com, larktheater.net.

For those interested in keeping both their spending and the contents of glass county-centric, Jerry Horn of Tiburon Wine has several Marin County bottles on hand.

“Our clientele are “homers,” to an extent—they like to support local products when they can and then also the small amount of tourists that we see are also kind of interested in a local product,” says Horn, known colloquially as Dr. Champagne, owing to his extensive knowledge of bubbly.

“We have a few Marin County wines that we’re very proud of—one that we’re pouring by the glass called Easkoot is a pinot noir from Chileno Valley, which is now included in the Petaluma Gap appellation. It’s just absolutely a stunner at $36 a bottle.”

Horn keeps his wine prices affordable and definitely within the “gift zone,” from $25 to about $50 on the outside. Naturally, Dr. Champagne recommends his namesake beverage as a perfect gift.

“The gift that really resonates as far as giving it to people whose tastes may not know very much about is champagne,” he says. Even if your recipient isn’t an outright fan, Horn reminds that a bottle in the refrigerator at-the-ready can be shared with their own holiday guests—it’s a gift that keeps giving. tiburonwine.net

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