There is a flurry of activity this time of year as retailers start gearing up for the holidays. Black Friday is a mere four weeks away. It’s never too soon to start gift-buying, though I know many people grumble when I mention early scouting for Christmas. That’s no attitude!
Check out these unusual finds and sales from small businesses and groups in the metro-east.
Socks take flight
Wild Birds Unlimited in Swansea not only has 20 percent off all remaining fall merchandise, but the coolest socks you won’t find anywhere else in the area. Solmate Socks are made in the United States from recycled cotton yarn and are wonderfully warm and colorful — mismatched, too. They’d make a great gift to keep the toosties warm as the weather gets colder. They come in small to large adult sizes, are crew-length and cost $18.99.
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A delicious sale
Chef’s Shoppe, a gourmet kitchen store in Edwardsville, is having its biggest sale of the year beginning Monday and running through Nov. 8. Take 20 percent off just about everything (with a few exceptions).This is the place in the metro-east where those who love to cook or bake find what they need. It’s an amazing business with a helpful staff. It is located in the Schnucks shopping plaza at 2320 Troy Road, near Target.
Expanding shoe line
Check out the new TOMS shoes at Peace by Piece in downtown Belleville. The footwear company with a conscience has grown from canvas slip-ons to now offering short boots in suede with stacked and wedge heels ($90-$130). Check out other styles new at the boutique as well, including a jaguar-print canvas pair. Remember, for every pair of TOMS you buy, a pair of new shoes is given to a child in need.
Build a better tree
Better sign up now for the Ahner Florist workshop on designing a fabulous Christmas tree this year. It’s at 7 p.m. Thursday at the downtown Lebanon shop and costs $15. You must prepay before Wednesday because the event is limited to 15 guests. Call 618-537-4215 or 618-588-4215.
In the bag
Two shops on Main Street in Columbia offer some unusual and attractive handbags, whether you need an accessory for a party dress or just a satchel for everyday use:
At Evalina’s Rags to Riches, at 124 S. Main, there’s a nice selection of evening bags in black, gold, bronze, metallic and more. Some are new; some are vintage. Many have hidable shoulder straps; some have embellisments and beading. Prices are $9 and up. (You’ll also find beautiful vintage cocktail dresses and other garments, as well.)
Roseberry Farms, 605 N. Main, has big bags with character. With distressed leather handles, zippered pockets and fabric linings, these canvas tote and messenger bags come in a variety of styles with several different designs on the exterior. Prices are less than $40. It’s a great shop to browse books, antiques and crafts.
Keep it clean
I fell for the hand-crocheted cloths at Elements Off Main, just around the corner from Roseberry Farms in the Old Distillery Center in Columbia. At $4 and $5 each, these locally made cotton “necessaries” could be used to wipe down a kitchen counter or find their way under a hot dish. The attractive autumn color combinations had me thinking they’d be so pretty sitting in a basket with some other goodies as a hostess gift. I also spied them in primary colors.
Belly up to the bar ...
The Belleville Historical Society has just put out its fourth calendar, and this year, it’s all about Historic Belleville Saloons. For $10, you get to step back in time and see an interesting assemblage of characters and familiar buildings (before and after photos, too) that once housed drinking establishments in the 1800s in our fair city. Pick up one in town at Circa Boutique, Happy Hop Homebrew, Local Lucy’s, Miscellanea Coffee, Eckert Florist, Eckert’s Country Store, Dill’s Floral Haven and Artiste de Fleurs.