Five Towns merchants have been busy stocking their shelves with all the latest holiday gifts in every price range, from extravagant luxury items right down to practical low-priced merchandise, and they let Patch in on what this year’s hottest gifts are for Christmas and Hannukah.
Whether you have room in your budget for some big-ticket items or you want to keep it simple with some small tokens of appreciation, shopping locally will fit the bill and also support small business owners that have taken a financial hit since Hurricane Sandy. There are hundreds of stores with thousands of options for toys, clothing, giftware and more.
“People who live in this area need to support local stores,” said Joseph Speigler, owner of Panther Creations. “There is no need to shop anywhere else — we have everything you need right here.”
If you’re pressed for time or there’s someone on your list that has you stumped, let them pick out something for themselves with a gift certificate, which virtually every store offers in almost any denomination.
$1 to $10
A set of color-accented shot glass sets ($3.99 to $7.99) are a classy hostess gift to bring to a holiday party, available at Amazing Savings in Lawrence. The store also carries the quintessential gift for young girls — a Barbie doll ($7.99 and up). Give someone the scents of the season with a few fancy incense holders ($2 each) decorated with cut glass inlays, from Spellbound in Hewlett. The Dead Sea Pavilion sells body and foot soap-infused buffer sponges ($5 and up) in a variety of designs.
“We ship our products to salons, boutiques and spas all over the country, but people in the Five Towns can shop right here in our retail headquarters in Hewlett,” said owner Joey Gilbert. “It’s good to support local businesses, and these are exclusive specialty products that aren’t always available in typical stores.
$10 to $20
At Judaica in Lawrence, shoppers can hand pick crystal Hebrew letters for a special ID bracelet ($15 to $20). Brand name toys at bargain prices are Amazing Savings stock in trade, including the Fisher Price talking tea set, car garage and doctor kit ($10.99 to $16.99), great for any toddler on your list. Other hot toys, available at Matty’s in Hewlett, are Ninja Turtles figurines and Star Wars Angry Birds plushes (both $14.99 and up). For that special lady on the list, Bolton's in Cedarhurst sells Nicole Miller silk scarves (17.99). For that art lover, Spellbound sells large pillar candles ($18) with an outer décor that resembles famous works of art, such as Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” The colorful bath fizzies set ($15), shaped like scoops of ice cream, is a fun gift from the Dead Sea Pavillion.
$20 to $30
The big seller at Infinity in Cedarhurst is its custom made sweatshirts ($25-$30), adorned with colorful rhinestone patterns that the customer can choose. Secret Me in Cedarhurst carries a hot new product called PurseN, a line of jewelry cases and makeup bags that come in many styles and sizes ($20 and up). According to employee Denise Engel, her store is the only one in the area that carries it. She also suggests Hanky Panky lace underwear ($20), which are rolled up in a fun tiny wrapper. They can be purchased alone or gift packaged with chocolate ($25).
$30 to $40
Colorful children’s ceramic and resin menorahs ($30 to $35) come in several different themes at Judaica. Staff at Sox World Plus in Cedarhurst said that Hue leggings and tights ($30 to $40) are a huge seller, especially as a small gift for one night of Hanukah. As its name implies, Moonglow necklaces and keychains ($39) have glow-in-the dark moon charms available in each of the 18 phases of the moon and correspond to birthdates, available at Spellbound.
$50 to $75
Employees at Matty’s said that the plush digital Furby ($69), an updated version of the original, will be one of the year’s biggest toys. iPhone pocketbooks ($50), highlighted by gold link straps, are on the wish list of many pre-teen and teen girls this year, available at 100% Kids. For the ladies, DKNY nightgowns ($60) are very popular at Sox World Plus. For men, Exit Beauty in Hewlett sells top-shelf beard edgers and trimmers ($69.00)
$75 to $100
The assistant manager of Bolton’s said that designer coats are always big sellers during the holidays, especially now, with the 20 percent-off sale. A few styles include Calvin Klein’s dressy coats with faux fur collars ($99) and puffy jackets ($79), and stylish London fog raincoats ($89). Shoppers who spend $100 or more will get a $25 gift card that can be used after Dec. 25.
$100 and up
For the man in your life, Emporio in Cedarhurst has discounted prices on the popular Hugo Boss line of jeans and corduroys ($115 to $125). The store also carries handsome button-down Lacoste sweaters ($109.99). Panther Creations' Speigler said that he will likely sell a lot of silver jewelry ($150 and up) this year. He claims that with gold prices very high right now, silver is a popular alternative.
Local businesses are continuing to lose revenue as a result of the storm, according to Sharon, an employee at both Infinity and Merle’s TNT in Hewlett. She said that “small business Saturday,” an initiative to promote local shopping during the holidays, did not bring in the crowds they were hoping for at Merle’s.
“People in Hewlett Harbor, Hewlett Neck and Woodburgh had major damage to their homes and property,” she said. “These people are concentrating more on getting their houses up and running and livable, rather than shopping. But unfortunately, these people are some of the big shoppers in this neighborhood. They’re the people with the money that do a lot of the shopping.”
Engel said that she has witnessed a lot of generosity between store owners and residents since the storm, but also acknowledged that people’s spending habits are a little different this year.
“Shoppers still want to show people their appreciation during the holidays, but they might not be able to afford what they spent in year’s past, so they might buy more modest gifts” she said. “But I’ve seen a lot of giving and charity in this area right now, also a desire to shop locally and support businesses that were hurt by the storm. We have been encouraging that. But no matter what, when you go to department stores, it’s all about quantity, not quality. If you want to shop in a warm, friendly atmosphere, it’s best to shop in these local stores.”
For even more local gift ideas, check out last year's holiday gift guide.