Shop Talk: ShopTalk

Publication Date: Wednesday Dec 16, 1998

Shop Talk: ShopTalk

by Dona van Bronkhorst

ALTERNATIVE SHOPPING . . . Some holiday gifts can actually give twice. Several local not-for-profit organizations operate gift shops that always have a selection of interesting gifts. You buy a unique gift and support a local organization at the same time. The Gallery Shop, tucked into the front lobby of the Palo Alto Cultural Center at 1313 Newell Road, has one-of-a-kind pieces by local artists. These "cutting books" are cutting boards made in four sizes by Ron Trumbull. The 5-inch-by-7-inch size is $15. The 9-inch-by-12-inch size is $35. This ceramic menorah is raku-fired in rust, white and black by artist Susan Felix. The piece, which is 10 1/2 inches wide, 10 inches tall and 2 1/2 inches deep, is $295. The "shoe as sculpture" pieces are made of wire mesh screening and painted in bright colors by Estelle Akamine. These are bright yellow with hot pink trim. The jeweled mule is 10 inches long at $65 and the flat is 5 inches long and $27. The Palo Alto Cultural Center is closed Mondays.

SHOP GLOBALLY AND LOCALLY . . . The United Nations Association Shop carries the full line of games and books produced by UNICEF for children as well as UNICEF holiday cards. The shop also has many gifts for adults made by crafts people all over the world. The patterns on these handbags are stitched on by hand in Hunza in northern Pakistan. The products are the result of the Karakoram Handicraft Development Project, a community-based enterprise aimed at reviving the traditional mountain crafts of the area. It generates income for the rural women, low-income families and the disabled in the community. The bags are 5 inches by 8 inches, with a zippered top and a black satin cord handle, and are $28.35. The double-sided fringed bag has bright floral embroidery on a dark purple background and four zippered pockets. It is $16. The eight-piece terra cotta nativity set is made in South America and is $39. Wooden nesting dolls, called matrjoshka dolls, are hand-painted in Russia and range from $10 to $60 a set. The set pictured is $15. The United Nations shop is staffed by volunteers and is located at 552 Emerson St. in Palo Alto.

The Museum of American Heritage has a gift shop full of replicas of old-fashioned toys, wooden toys, metal windup toys, books and other gifts. The museum and shop are open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 351 Homer Ave. in Palo Alto. The Craft Shop at Avenidas (formerly the Senior Coordinating Council of Palo Alto) has handcrafted items for all ages at reasonable prices. You'll find children's clothing, toys, stuffed animals, ornaments and cards, household items and the infamous sock monkeys. John Thomas at Avenidas says the sock monkeys are all over the place and are one of the most popular items in the shop. They are $15. The Craft Shop is at 450 Bryant St. in Palo Alto and is open weekdays 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

ART AT RETAIL . . . Phyllis is a contemporary women's clothing store featuring unique and fashion-forward designs. Store owner Phyllis Newhouse is experimenting with a new combination of art and retail by featuring ceramic sculpture pieces in her clothing store. The pieces by Benjamin Hirschkoff all use found objects with ceramic, and they resemble fossilized semimechanical fish, birds and other creatures. They range in price from $10 to $600. The show-in-a-store called Gravity vs. Evolution features 35 pieces and will continue through Dec. 23. Phyllis is at 611 Emerson St. in Palo Alto.

LOST AND FOUND . . . Sheridan-Flynn, a children's clothing store, recently moved out of Stanford Shopping Center. It was one of Weekly reader Virginia Rader's favorite baby stores. Sheridan-Flynn has not reopened elsewhere, but yes, Virginia, they can be contacted by mail at Box 590666, San Francisco, CA 94159.

Send tips about store openings and closings, great deals and places to buy interesting things to Dona van Bronkhorst, ShopTalk, Palo Alto Weekly, P.O. Box 1610, Palo Alto, CA 94302. You can also leave a message for ShopTalk 24 hours a day at 326-8291, Ext. 357, or send e-mail to 

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