Boutique Bailout: It’s back-to-basics this holiday, as the econo-enviro-political rollercoaster we’ve been riding has left us acutely aware of what this season is really all about-and, perhaps, a little nauseous. Giving feels good, but money is tighter than your skinny jeans after three cups of eggnog, 14 mini-quiches, and five pieces of fudge. (Not that I would know.) And, although I don’t have my head up my last-year’s-denim-clad ass, I’m going to encourage you to spend some. Retailers are hurting, and in S.B., where national chains have waged an all-out war on our mom-and-pop shops, those stylish mamas and papas need our support more than ever. So, this recessionista says, if we must shop, let’s keep it in the family. And if community support isn’t a good enough cause for you, I’ve chosen to highlight two shops where the inventory is unique, affordable, and perfect for giving, and an extra shot of do-goodery is automatic.
Strong Like : Lotus? If you haven’t made it by the Lotus Boutique (637 Chapala St.), now is the time. Since opening in 2005, owner, jewelry designer, and S.B. native Erica Forbes has searched out small, stylish, locally, organically, and sustainably made lines for everyone. Recently, Forbes and her family lost their home to the Tea Fire, which has done nothing to cramp their strength, attitude, or style. In addition to the usual (if fabulous) suspects-like Rene Geneva, Rhythm Apparel, and Of the Earth-check out the adorable green-spun yarn hoodies and vintage-inspired tees from Sustainable Kids-each comes with a recycled, postage-prepaid, pre-addressed box, encouraging children to donate a toy or other goody to children in Haiti. And don’t miss the remaining pieces of Forbes’s jewelry line, Erica Om.
Fair and Fabulous: Since we’ve established that we’re gonna have to suck it up and do at least a little shopping and we’d probably prefer that our dollars do double-duty, Arcobaleno Trade (7 W. Haley St.) is another must-stop. The shop, which opened in April ‘07, sells only ethically produced, fair trade-certified products, and most everything is made from creatively recycled ex-junk. Sandie Doles Garcia, the shop’s original owner, passed away this year, but her daughter Amesia has taken the reins and is doing her mom proud, keeping the space true to Sandie’s vision: full of special gifts, like knitted Alpaca wool gloves, arm warmers, and beanies, recycled candy wrapper clutches, and adorable tree-topping angels, made of recycled Coke cans. Few things could be sweeter, except maybe a Mountain Dew.