Local Knowledge

North Bay residents give up the goods on gift giving


Last week, we gave you Jessie Janssen’s well-chosen gift guide. This week we crowdsource gift ideas by leaning on a handful of North Bay locals. If you can’t find a few gift ideas between these two issues, we can’t help you. You’re on your own.
the Bohemian elves

Carol Noack is the director of communications at the Raven, in charge of marketing for the theater in Healdsburg and the new space in Windsor. She is also the producer and director of the popular Mr. Healdsburg event. This weekend, the Raven Theater in Windsor debuts its family-friendly holiday musical
‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,’ running Dec. 5–21.

One of my favorite spots is the Healdsburg Center for the Arts (130 Plaza St., Healdsburg; 707.431.1970), especially at Christmastime. They feature smaller works perfect for the holidays, and there’s high-end pottery and glass and such. The artists also make their own stationery, if you’re interested.

For more unusual items,
I go to Options Gallery
(126 Matheson St.; 707.431.8861) in Healdsburg. They have exclusive contracts with their artists, meaning that what you find there cannot be found anywhere else for many miles. I also like to give food gift sets, and for all my local food I shop at Oakville Grocery (124 Matheson St., Healdsburg: 707.433.3200). They work with local farmers and producers and they have great gift packages that I get for family and friends.

Michael Houghton is a graphic designer, who just so happens to have designed this week’s cover. His shirts and artwork can be found at www.designedbymonkeys.com. On Dec. 20, Houghton hosts Nostalgia Fest, with several former favorite North Bay bands reuniting for one special show, at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma. Here are his picks for holiday shopping.

Criminal Baking Co. & Noshery (463 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa; 707.992.5661) makes ridiculously tasty treats. Nearly everything is made on-site, and there are all kinds of gluten-free items—great for taking to a party or bringing a little basket of yummies as a gift. And they do gift certificates. Plus, you can hang out and get yourself an excellent meal there while you’re shopping.

Bee Kind (921 Gravenstein Hwy. S., Sebastopol; 707.824.2905) just smells amazing when you step through the door—all kinds of local honey, and shelves and shelves of beeswax candles in all sorts of super-fancy shapes. Beeswax candles are really good for cleaning out the air when you burn them, and they smell so comforting.

Little Luma (500 First St., Petaluma; 707.658.1940) is a children’s clothes and toy store that stocks work from lots of local artist and craftspeople (full disclosure: they carry my shirts too), and their toys are beautiful and well-designed, and center around learning. There’s a really bright and happy feel to the store, and you can tell they really love what they do.

We get our CSA box from Laguna Farms (1764 Cooper Road, Sebastopol; 707.823.0823), which basically means we get two overstuffed bags’ worth of farmers market–quality veggies and fruits every week for $27. You could give someone a huge gift of health for the year, and buy them a subscription, or just get them hooked with the local produce from a gift basket. Or you could get yourself a special order for cooking holiday meals. There’s quite a few other CSAs in Sonoma County too.

Bennett Valley Gardens
(2780 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa; 707.569.8624) is a cute little garden center with all kinds of plants. In the springtime, they’re the only place I can find some of the odd and rare plants I like to get, like Mexican oregano. They also have a weird and wonderful selection of succulents, which make great gifts for people who may not have the greenest of thumbs but who can appreciate having a Seussian plant-beast to sit on their windowsill.

I’ve got some relatives who love beer and are super-jealous of all of our local nationally known breweries. I think they’d love to get a selection of small brewery’s beers, a Lagunitas T-shirt or jacket, or a package of Pliny from Russian River.

Made Local Marketplace
(531 Fifth St, Santa Rosa; 707.583.7667) is a super-cute shop with a pretty wide variety of products, all made by local folks. Really homey and friendly on the inside—it’s guaranteed that most of the things there are hand-made and not likely to be available anywhere else.

There’s nothing like the smell of real books. No matter how convenient the Kindle is, it just doesn’t replace the sensual experience. I’m always trying to push my favorite books on people, and especially with gift buying, I try to keep my money local, from Copperfield’s (copperfieldsbooks.com) and Treehorn Books (625 Fourth St., Santa Rosa; 707.525.1782).


Michele Anna Jordan is an author with over a dozen books on food and cookbooks. Her latest, ‘More Than Meatballs,’ explores over 50 recipes that celebrate the versatility of meatballs, fritters and other bite-sized rounds of deliciousness, and is available at local bookstores. She appears and reads on
Dec. 9, at Sonoma Cutlery’s new store at 555 Mendocino Ave. in Santa Rosa.

Craft Fairs are always a great source, and one I’m looking forward to in Sebastopol is Bijoux Holiday Open House (Dec. 6–7, 10am–5pm; 583 Harrison St., Sebastopol; 707.326.6874). All the artists have interesting stuff; one of my favorites is Annie Roberts. She makes these—she would call them hats—but they’re these indescribable, whimsical things that go on your head.

I like going to farmers markets and artists studios. Showing at the Sebastopol Farmers Market (every Sunday, 10am; Weeks Way and McKinley Street, Sebastopol; 707.522.9305) is ceramics artist Hiroko Ishida. I’m in love with her stuff. I also look for Bodega Pastures there as well. They sell their wool, so for example (spoiler alert!) I got my daughters some handmade wool pillows.”

For anything cooking- or cookware-related, I go to Cultivate (186 N. Main St. #120, Sebastopol; 707.824.1400) or Hardisty’s (1513 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa; 707.545.0534) in Santa Rosa. Hardisty’s has been around over a hundred years, and is local, and it’s all about shopping local. I never go to the mall except to go to the Apple store, and no one is getting any electronics from me this year.

—Charlie Swanson

Christopher Hill is a St. Helena resident and owner of the Christopher Hill Gallery.

Napa Valley Vintage Home

Having been raised in the U.S. as well as Austria, I really like this beautiful store. They have fantastic decorative items from Germany and Austria, true Old World heirlooms. Their incense smokers also make great gifts. (1201 Main St., St Helena; 707.963.7423.)

AF Jewelers

All St. Helena jewelers are great. Owners Carlo and Kiki Furst Antonini are Italian, and their jewelry is very elegant. I recommend a great pair of hand-crafted earring. Not too expensive. (1309 Main St., St Helena; 707.967.9138.)

The Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing Co.

Organic and wonderful. I’d make a gift set out of their olive oil jugs, wonderful Italian dried meets and other culinary accouchements. Plus, a lot of their products truly from the valley here. (835 Charter Oak Ave., St., Helena; 707.963.4173.)

Naomi Chamblin, owner of Napa Bookmine (Napa’s best used books store according to the Bohemian Readers Choice awards 2014)


Yarns on First

If you have a knitter-crocheter in your life, they will help you
find a fabulous pattern and suggest the perfectly paired yarn. I’ll also be eyeing their knitting book and magazine selection as well. (1305 First St., Napa; 707.257.1363.)

Shackford’s Kitchen Store

Napa is so lucky they have this gem of a store. I actually ran into my husband there last year because we were doing some major holiday shopping for each other. An epic kitchen store, where anything could be a holiday gift. (1350 Main St., Napa; 707.226.2132.)


This funky boutique always has great party jewelry I’d get for a good friend. Like all my other recommendations, it’s very reasonably priced. Shopping local doesn’t have to be expensive. (1128 First St., Napa; 707.251.9058.)

Jen Kruch, graphic designer and illustrator, co-owner of Napa’s Shipwright & Co. Letterpress + Design

Rancho Gordo

It’s the most amazing specialty food store, with emphasis on produce from the Napa Valley. Their beans are fantastic and will make beautiful stocking stuffers. I’ve also had my eye on their cookbook Heirloom Beans for my mom! (1924 Yajome St., Napa; 707.259.1935.)

The Grand Hand Gallery

They specialize in American craft and feature local Napa artists. They have these amazing handmade Minnemocs (tiny moccasins) I want to buy for every baby I know. Not to mention colorful hand-knit hats for kids by Yolotli. They look like elf hats! (1136 Main St., Napa; 707.253.2551.)

Ritual Coffee Roasters

I used to work for Ritual and designed a limited edition Gibraltar glasses (rocks glasses for coffee or bourbon!) that come in a custom wooden box made by Napa Wooden Box Co. A perfect gift for dad. (610 First St., Napa; 707.253.1190.)

Indra Fortney, owner of Napa’s Boho Lifestyle design and clothing store, lifestyle blogger at Inspireyourlifestyle.com.

The Roost

This design and vintage store sells a lot of great stocking stuffers, such as ornaments, Paddywax soy candles, cute holiday-themed coasters and coffee mugs with Napa Valley writings. They add pretty feathers to the gift wraps, pretty elegant—small things like that can make a small gift fun. (1407 Second St., Napa; 707.224.5600.)

Antiques on Second

For something unique, I’d get a piece of vintage sterling silver or turquoise jewelry, for a one-of-a-kind gift for someone special. (1370 Second St., Napa; 707.252.6353.)

West End Napa

Their glassware is great, the owner has a great eye and has a beautiful collection. (1460 First St., Napa; 707.254.9500.)

Flora Tsapovsky

Bruce Burtch is the author of ‘Win-Win for the Greater Good’ and a San Rafael–based consultant who works with nonprofits throughout the North Bay, helping them to maximize their community impact with fruitful liasions. We caught up with Bruce at his annual awards ceremony for nonnonprofits in November at the Marin Country Club, the Partnership Prizes.

His holiday shopping regime: “I do a mix of online and local stores.”

Two favorite brick-and-mortar stop-ins are in San Rafael: the indie-chain bookstore Copperfield’s (850 Fourth St., San Rafael; 415.524.2800) and Toys ‘R’ Us (600 Francisco Blvd. W., San Rafael; 415.721.7188), which has a cute giraffe in the window. Burtch has also been known to slip a copy of his book into a stocking or two, we hear.

Joni Rosinski and her husband Norm are the owners of ‘North Bay Biz,’ the leading regional business journal that covers Napa, Marin and Sonoma counties—been around almost 40 years. The couple are residents of Santa Rosa, and while Rosinski says she hasn’t started shopping yet, when she does, “We got to the mall, the Santa Rosa Plaza” (1071 Santa Rosa Plaza, Santa Rosa. 707.575.0115).

My inner suburbanite was pleased to no end at this admission, since I happen to love that mall without a shred of irony or shame. It could use an Orange Julius, however.

Tom Gogola



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