Saltshakers at Found.
If the idea of going to the mall gives you hives, a) maybe don’t read our story on page 8? and b) don’t worry: Your best bet is to become a locamerc, the word we’re coining for devotees of shopping locally. It’s easy to accomplish all your holiday shopping needs without leaving the peninsula. In the course of a two-hour stroll around downtown Portland, we were able to identify gifts for nearly everyone on our lists, from foodies to potheads to fans of Japanese animation.
Newsflash: I am obsessed with Found, the small retail shop tucked into the first floor at 142 High Street (207.712.3951). Packed with vintage and antique goods, plus new jewelry and home items, this is a gift-giver’s paradise. We loved the whimsical salt-shaker collection (pairs for about $22), jewel-toned ornaments ($12-15), and statement necklaces ($125 and up); we didn’t even have time to start pawing through the antique hardware or mid-century glassware. If you need an extra push, keep in mind that everything in the store is 20 percent off through the holidays.
For your fashion-forward friends, a stop at the Madhouse studio (569 Congress St; 207.518.9228), home base for fashion designer and installation artist Meredith Alex, is a must. We liked the upcycled capelets made from vintage sweaters in vibrant colors ($65; some are cashmere!); the MEspots, handmade sachets filled with Maine balsam, are perfect stocking stuffers ($12). If you’ve got a dancing queen on your list, check out Madhouse’s colorful collection of shiny go-go boots, available in electric blue, lime green, silver, gold, and bright orange ($49).
Now that small-scale pot possession is (quasi-)legal in Portland (which is the best present of all, amirite!?!?), head shops are finally a legit holiday shopping destination. We popped into the relatively new Higher Concept (543 Congress St; 207.518.9720), which sells intricate and beautiful locally made glass pipes and pieces, including the popular KGB Glass “donuts” — practical and munchie-inducing, these works of art will get good use.
You know those home décor blogs that are so popular these days? Walking into Blanche + Mimi (184 Middle St; 207.774.3900) is like reading one of those — it simultaneously stirs feelings of envy (if only I had such good taste) and aspiration (maybe if I buy these etched vintage tumblers, I’ll transform into the perfecthomemaker). Among the charming housewares, we found a perfect hostess gift: lovely handmade shea-butter soaps with scents like fig and milk and honey ($5-9). The Erin Flett zip bags, locally crafted in Gorham, feature cheery patterns and are available in different sizes ($22-32). Flett was named one of ApartmentTherapy.com’s Top Ten Textile Designers to Watch — making her creations a good pick for an aesthetically minded pal.
For boozehounds and salt-lovers alike, the Himalayan shot glasses at the Salt Cellar (172 Middle St; 207.761.2122) are a no-brainer ($30 for two). No additional salting of hand or body required! A more refined choice might be the gift set of six unique finishing salts ($49; choose from flavors like Cyprus Black, X-Bold Smoked, Jalepeno, and more). Or how about a delicate copper salt bowl? Brightly painted and accompanied by a tiny salt spoon ($25-39) it’s a nice addition to any chef’s table.