Stressed out about where to start your Christmas shopping this year? Loathe the idea of dodging and weaving through packed malls? Putting too much pressure on yourself to find just the right gift? It doesn’t have to be that way—even if that notion flies in the face of all Black Friday media coverage of late.
In fact, if you head to the right stores, ticking names off your shopping list can be downright pleasant. Take BeautyMark (1268 Pacific Boulevard), for example. The vibe is frothy and fun at this one-stop hair, beauty, body, and fashion accessory paradise. That’s partly because it’s on the outskirts of Yaletown, so just far enough away from all the claustrophobic mania downtown. More importantly, co-owners Tayler Rogers and Kendra Lovick only stock their shelves with the most coveted makeup brands and skin-care products.
“Yeah, don’t over-over-think it,” Rogers says. “We get people shopping in here for hours. I say just go with your gut instinct—you see something you like, then they’re probably going to love it.”
One of the sexier foolproof gifts you can get here is the Hanky Panky original thong ($24). This lacy little number is one size and seamless, and comes in a bevy of bright, beautiful colours. Fellas, if you haven’t heard about the brand, don’t worry—chances are your GF has. A somewhat more romantic option is a personalized necklace from Pyrrha, a Vancouver-based company that hand-crafts silver or bronze pendants from antique wax seals (starting at $114). If you’re looking for a funny gag gift, one of BeautyMark’s hottest-selling items is the Poo-Pourri collection: the 10-ounce pocket-size mist ($8) is especially handy for gals in the first blush of a new relationship.
“It was our number-one stocking stuffer last year,” Rogers says. “ ‘You spray it in the bowl and then no one else will ever know’—that’s their little tag line. We have people buying this, saying it’s saving their marriage.”
For those really pressed for time, an easy choice is one of the “best of” BeautyMark stocking stuffer kits, filled with Rogers and Lovick’s fave products—a $50 pack (valued at $85) and a $100 pack (valued at $155).
If you’ve got some dudes on your list, the Shop Vancouver (432 Columbia Street) is a great place to hit. Don’t be fooled by the modest size of this chilled-out café and retro-inspired lifestyle boutique for motorcyclists. The back is chock-a-block with super-sweet threads for men—riders and nonriders alike. You’ll find high-quality indie labels, and the clothing isn’t just stylish, it’s durable.
“Personally, I’d rather get one solid gift that I’m going to use every day and that I know will last rather than a few little things,” says co-owner Brett Beadle. “And I think that speaks to what we like to do here at the store.”
There’s a healthy selection of finely crafted leather Red Wings Heritage boots from southeast Minnesota (starting at $259)—bad boys that will look sharp on just about any guy. The store also carries artisan Deus ex Machina Western-style shirts from Australia ($109). In terms of stocking stuffers, the shop has a lot of unique ideas. Trust me, it’s worth paying a visit.
If you’re in the market for basics, Plenty (various locations) is a good place to check out. Let’s face it: you can’t go wrong with a plain button-down shirt for men (starting at $60) or a simple infinity scarf for women ($48).
Plenty social-media and marketing manager Jenna Tuazon is all for classic gifts like these. She does warn, however, that there is such a thing as too basic.
“I think some people play it too safe, like they’ll buy a black cardigan,” Tuazon says, “and that’s not too fun to open. Go for colour!”