This week's issue kicks off a whole month of holiday shopping. We here at the Bohemian aim to inspire your shopping to happen locally, for a variety of reasons. One, it helps the local economy. Two, it sends a message to big-box CEOs who think they can get away with paying employees terribly. Three, chain stores are totally boring, and shopping online is lonely.
All through the month leading up to Dec. 25, we'll be posting testimonials online at bohemian.com to North Bay businesses we love in Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties. Just as we did last year with our 25 Days of Shopping Local project, we'll feature a different business on our homepage every day. These are absolutely not paid advertisements; they're simply the types of places that come immediately to our writers' minds when someone says "Name a local business you can't live without."
Shopping locally is paramount, and once one realizes just how enjoyable and satisfying it can be, it's hard to go back to faceless corporate warehouses and online checkout. To help spread the fever, and to give readers an idea of what we'll be posting online this December, what follows below are capsule versions of a selection of our picks from the inaugural 25 Days of Shopping Local. With your support, we'll continue this tradition year after year.—Gabe Meline
As used clothing stores go, Pine Grove General Store is delightfully nontrendy. They don't employ 19-year-olds who wear belt buckles wider than their collective waistline, and they would never sell some God-awful creation made of pleather and fuzz. At Pine Grove, I bought my first pair of nondenim slacks, and my favorite boots. I've worn them to interviews and first days of new work and the weddings of longtime friends, who are slipping out of their 20s, just like me. 149 N. Main St., Sebastopol, 707.829.1138.—Rachel Dovey
Once, I stood in the aisles of some huge impersonal store full of baby stuff, unable to find anything I needed, unable to find any help, and walked out and drove straight to Wee Three Children's Store. Finally, a simple, manageable shop with plenty of kids' clothes and shoes and toys, with a hand-selected inventory. There's even a used section, which, if I were president, every children's store would be required to have. In short, a good little place that I wound up telling all my fellow parents about—and they, with bleary eyes and slurred speech, thanked me. 1007 West College Ave., Santa Rosa, 707.525.9333.—Gabe Meline
Pearl Wonderful Clothing in the Napa Valley is an award-winning boutique that's been discovered by the likes of Kevin Bacon, Sandra Bullock and Reese Witherspoon. Owned by fellow interior decorator Linda Allen, Pearl delivers a fusion of vintage and new style with custom handcrafted furniture, home accessories, gifts and, of course, wonderful clothing. 1219 Main St. #C, St. Helena. 707.963.3236.—Elise Guillot
My go-to hardware store is the family-owned Mission Ace on Highway 12 in Santa Rosa. I don't know how many curveballs I've thrown them over the years, but they always find what I need—after all, the family has been in the hardware business since 1960. Tools, paint, electrical, plumbing, lumber—you name it, they know it, and they've even got an expansive garden loft for perusing on weekends, when there are free coffee and doughnuts at the front door. Before you ask, yes, the beautiful old green 1947 Ford truck is still used for deliveries, but no, you can't drive it. I've been asking for 12 years! 4310 Hwy. 12, Santa Rosa, 707.539.7070.—Gabe Meline
The one constant in Novato's Pacheco Plaza has been the service of Clothes Fit Alterations & Amani Men's Clothing. On a given visit, you might see a bride getting fitted for the big day next to a teenager trying on his first tux behind a dude like me who tore his sweater again. Amani has risen to every random occasion of mine, like shortening jeans or having a tie loop sewn back. My favorite time is when Amani needs to make room for new inventory. The last time, I picked up two pairs of gorgeous dress shoes for under $50. Come to think of it, how does he make any money? 416 Ignacio Blvd., Novato, 415.883.1850.—David Sason
Downtown Santa Rosa has a lot of restaurants, boutiques and luxury stores, but sadly no grocery stores, hardware stores or other necessities that once made up the town core. This new landscape makes the old-school Asef's Appliance important enough, but the breadth of know-how and experience in the long, cluttered space is irreplaceable. If it has moving parts, Asef's can probably fix it. I can't remember how many things I've had repaired, how many keys I've had made or how many vacuum bags or belts I've found there, but I do know that when the back of my watch fell off, I knew just where to go. 709 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707.575.3737.—Gabe Meline