Holidaze 2020: Better to give

With rising numbers of COVID cases, public health experts are urging us to avoid large gatherings of extended family this holiday season. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take the time to find tokens of appreciation for the loved ones in our life. Here we present a gift guide of local shops where you’re sure to find the perfect gift for the special someone on your list.

 The pandemic may have spoiled many of our usual group activities in 2020, but it doesn’t prevent us from getting on our bikes and going for a ride! Whether you need a new mountain bike to hit the hilly trails, a street bike for local roads or a recumbent bike so you lean back in your seat while pedaling, Ajo Bikes, 1301 E. Ajo Way, has just what you need to get the wheels turning. Or maybe you have a bike that’s been gathering dust. If that’s the case, take it in for tune-up. And if you’re looking for stocking stuffers, these guys have all the accessories you could need.

 With our winter weather bringing temps down to the chilly 60s during the day, the great outdoors are beckoning. Where else to find the perfect supplies for a hike or camping trip than Summit Hut? Tucson’s signature outdoors store has two locations, at 5251 E. Speedway Blvd. and 7745 N. Oracle Road. You’re sure to find some big presents and plenty of stocking stuffers for the outdoorsman (or outdoorswoman) on your list.


Central Tucson’s delightful Blue Willow isn’t just a restaurant serving up innovative takes on comfort food. It’s also a gift shop filled with stocking stuffers from local artists, from salt-and-peppers shakers to fun socks to jigsaw puzzles to jewelry. And there’s no better place in town to shop for Christmas cards. Wrap up your holiday shopping and then reward yourself with a crepe on the open-air patio.

Who could use a little pampering these days? If you want to take better care of your skin, consider an appointment at Avant Dermatology, where you’ll find expert advice and a variety of treatments, from medical interventions for your acne or psoriasis to surgery for melanoma to less invasive approaches to ease those wrinkles and loose skin. Or if you just want to relax and look your best, take a spa day at Fuchsia at La Encantada, which offers massage, facials, manicure and pedicures and more. 

If you’re looking for a gift that will dazzle your sweetie, consider a visit to Caldwell Jewelers, 7225 N. Oracle Road. They’ve been in business for more than four decades and will not only sell you a diamond, but will take it back in trade if you’re looking to upgrade down the road. 

If your taste in jewelry runs more bohemian, consider Silver Sea Jewelry, a perennial Best of Tucson® winner. Silver Sea has a general nautical theme but there’s plenty for a land-lubber to love. While they are closed for in-person shopping, Silver Sea goes live most Sundays on Facebook for you to do some browsing, Home Shopping Channel-style.

If you’re more interested in something in Navajo silver or Hopi turquoise, consider a visit to Bahti Indian Arts (4330 N. Campbell Ave. in St. Philip’s Plaza), where you’ll find not only jewelry but a wide selection of rugs, Katsina dolls, Zuni fetishes and much more. This shop has been working with Native American artists for about seven decades, so you know they have the authentic stuff.

You know those ads where a loved one discovers a new Lexus in the driveway for Christmas? Well, imagine that joy if you discovered a new RV ready to take you on a lifetime of adventure! You can still travel the continental United States without having to worry about the contagious droplets you might encounter at an airport. RV City has a wide selection of recreational vehicles to choose from when you’re looking to head out on the road during a pandemic.

While visits to museums and other attractions are different these days, many of our favorite spots are open with pandemic safety measures in place. Consider a gift certificate to a place like the Tucson Museum of Art (which has an outstanding gift shop full of charming work by local artists), Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Children’s Museum Tucson, International Wildlife Museum, the Tucson Botanical Gardens or MOCA Tucson. 

Toys stores, whether big (Toy R Us) or small (dearly departed Yikes), are vanishing like our childhood memories. 

But Tucson is still home to Mildred & Dildred, the delightful toy store at La Encantada, where you’re sure to find something that will make a kid’s eyes light up, whether it’s a stuffed animal, new doll, thrilling book or any other wonderful playthings in stock. You’ll also find plenty of toys, along with cards, puzzles, needlework supplies and other great gift ideas at The West (5615 E. River Road). And shopping here won’t only make the people on your gift-buying list happy; it’ll also help the community, as The West is a nonprofit corporation that provides grants to local organizations such as Emerge! Center against Domestic Abuse, Mobile Meals of Tucson and Children’s Advocacy Center of Southern Arizona. 

Pop Cycle is one of those places that can make a person rethink their home decorating strategy. Once inside and surrounded by these handmade, repurposed artifacts, it’s hard for the average person to resist acquiring a few items for their abode when at their shop, located at 422 N. Fourth Avenue. From kitschy desert-vintage homewares to large saguaro-schlacked artwork, and always with a truly Southern Arizona feel, Pop Cycle has something geared toward everyone’s liking. 

Looking for something special for that mallrat in your life who frequents Hot Topic, but still want to support local business? Look no further than Razorz Edge, located at 427 N. Fourth Ave., to have all your counterculture and pop culture needs. Did your significant other ask St. Nick for a Hogwarts purse? They got it. Your little brother wants a T-shirt of a saguaro wearing overalls and holding a shotgun? They got it, too. Or, if you just need a little more goth in your life, Razorz Edge is here for you. 

If ’80s and ’90s nostalgia is what your secret Santa is into, then Generation Cool is your place. Whether it’s original stock Bart Simpson sweatshirts, bootleg Gucci, all kinds of Jordans or a simple Power Wheels Wienermobile, this shop, located at 404 N. Fourth Avenue has it.

Army-Navy stores, like Sixth Avenue’s Miller’s Surplus, always stocks some of the most unique presents for that person who has everything. But Miller’s Surplus (406 N. Sixth Ave.) is so much more than just military wares from yesteryear. They have everything you need for that outdoor recreational enthusiast on your holiday gift list and more.

It’s not really a Christmas if you don’t get a new book. Let the folks at Antigone Books (411 N. Fourth Ave.) know what books you are after and they’ll have them ready for you when you pull up. Or else visit Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, where you can find used books alongside DVDs, CDs, video games and a whole bunch more.

Everyone wants their home to smell nice. This year, make a commitment to stop stinking up the place with crappy gifts and hit up Rustic Candle (324 N. 4th Ave.) for the best scented candles, essential oils, windchimes and incense available this side of the Santa Cruz River. 

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to get that special audiophile in your life. Trying to find that certain present in a sea of vinyl records can be intimidating—even to the most grizzled crate-diggers. The knowledgeable and friendly staff at Wooden Tooth Records, located at 426 E. Seventh Street, is always ready to help you find that rare copy of Joy Division’s 1979 masterpiece, Unknown Pleasures, for that special sulky someone in your life.


Gift guide entries by Austin Counts and Jim Nintzel 

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