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The Perfect Gift

Giving doesn’t have to be the same old, same old.

Perfect Gift
An engraved bat from Big Secret in Richmond
By Rich Griset

For at least one segment of the population, the trend is to buy fewer gifts but ones of higher quality and meaning. While this can mean spending less, it also means there’s more pressure than ever to pick the perfect gift.

Between the mall, the Internet and the stores in between, the gift possibilities are endless. If you’re worried about this holiday season, have no fear: Here are a few ideas on where to find the perfect gift. Because while gift cards are practical, they rarely leave an impression.

Etsy – Are you completely at a loss for gift ideas? Hop onto Etsy.com, and explore a world of gift options you never even knew existed. From clothes to jewelry to knit bikini patterns, Etsy has a wide array of unique gifts (one of the website’s tabs is solely dedicated to “Nipple Jewelry”).

Moroccan mosaic tile drink coasters? A set of snobby letterpress stationery? A belt buckle with the gift recipient’s name? Gold Pegasus nipple tassels? Etsy has all of this and more.

Antique stores – To see what might be in your future, you might have to look to the past. Central Virginia has a long and fascinating history, and many of its treasures can be found inside the walls of your nearby antique store.

Gates Antiques Ltd. (12700 Old Buckingham Road, 23113) carries a stock of beautiful furniture, art and oriental ceramics. For an eclectic mix of housing fixtures, collectables and antiques, check out Class and Trash (11088 Washington Highway, 23059). Petersburg Pickers (110 Guarantee St., 23803) also carries a wide variety of antiques, collectables and furniture for low prices.
Looking for a unique conversation piece for the home? Try Caravati’s (104 E. Second St., 23224), a longtime architectural salvage showroom with bathtubs, window frames, lighting sconces and virtually any other household fixture.

And should any of those locations fail you, you’d be hard pressed to leave Cold Harbor Antique Mall (8147 Mechanicsville Turnpike, 23111) without something catching your eye.

Vintage stores – Similarly, vintage stores may hold the key to unlocking the perfect holiday gift. Places like Bygones (2916 W. Cary St., 23221), Halcyon Vintage (117 N. Robinson St., 23220) and Luxor Vintage Clothing (3001 W. Cary St., 23221) are stocked with great gifts from decades past.

Dresses, suits, top hats and all variety of other accessories could make a fashionable addition to a friend’s or loved one’s wardrobe. And don’t be afraid to repurpose items for other uses: An old cigarette case can make a stylish business card holder.

If you’re looking for something for the hipster crowd, check out neighboring Yesterday’s Heroes Vintage (105 S. Addison St., 23220) and Addison Handmade and Vintage (103 S. Addison St., 23220) in the Fan. Mixed in with the raw denim jeans and plaid shirts are unique vintage accessories, shoes and clothing. Though you might have to search a bit longer to find the diamonds among the rough, Rumors Boutique (723 W. Broad St., 23220) is also a beloved location for hipster wares.

Eclectic stores – If you’re looking for an oddball gift, try Mongrel (2924 W. Cary St., 23221) in Carytown. Here you’ll find an eclectic mix of coffee and bar accessories, interesting books and calendars and the widest array of unique gift cards and stationery that you’ll find anywhere.

For the kiddos, check out World of Mirth (3005 W. Cary St., 23221), a quirky toy store that describes itself as “Dr. Seuss meets Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” From toys to games to baby clothes and folk art, World of Mirth has something unique for everyone.

Big Secret – Want to create a gift that’s completely unique? Richmond’s Big Secret (120 W. Marshall St., 23220) uses lasers to cut and engrave practically any design onto items made of wood, acrylic, paper, glass or fabric. Laser designs can even be created on some food items.

Personalized baseball bats, business cards, signs, bookends, skateboards, cutting boards – if you can dream it, the store can probably do it.

Experiences – One of the big shifts in holiday gift-giving has been a trend toward experiential gifts. Why be stymied by physical gifts when you can give someone an adventure?

One of the newest experiences to hit the Richmond area is Escape Room RVA (7025 Three Chopt Road, 23226), a game where players pay for the experience of being “locked” in a room for an hour as they try to escape. The game is won by solving clues that unlock a series of padlocks. Escape Room RVA runs four different games at any time, ensuring new challenges for repeat customers.

Feel like you haven’t taken full advantage of the River City? Riverside Outfitters (6836 Old Westham Road, 23225) hosts guided kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding and rafting trips on the James River.

If speed is more your speed, check out Thunderbolt Indoor Karting (1365 Carmia Way, 23235), a go-karting venue. The karts are electric, and the adult ones can approach 50 mph on the straightaways.

Does your kid need to let off some steam? Try Sky Zone Trampoline Park (1345 Carmia Way, 23235), an indoor facility filled with trampolines, a foam cube-filled landing pit, dodgeball courts and more. For those who desire even more air, try Peak Experiences (11421 Polo Circle, 23113), one of the largest indoor rock climbing centers in the country. Climbers can purchase both day passes and memberships, and the facility also holds a variety of climbing classes.