Whether we’re talking about an odd shop, or just finds where you least expect them, here are some ideas.
Exit through the gift shop? Actually, it’s right near the (free) entrance—where unique items made by Guild artists are for sale. Amanda Duchen’s bowl, with words scripted inside, is an interesting find, and at $320, will keep your winter soup very warm. Leslie Giuliani’s cozy knit scarves (at $150) are best sellers, too, but I like Nina Bentley’s bookmarks most ($12 apiece).
1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan; (203) 966-9700
A curious place filled with curios! Wooden clogs? Get your klompen there for $30. Delftware with irreverent slogans for $25? Ja! Charming Dutch-house piggy banks? Tiny ceramic windmolen? And it’s also a full-service cheese and food shop (with a Dutch-language book-exchange library). Huh? But my faves here are those piggy-bank houses. Give a few as gifts and, for less than $50, they’ll make a tiny Amsterdam street filled with savings for friends or family—though all you need do is get to Washington Street.
83 Washington Street, Norwalk; (203) 838-6161
A stellar place with standouts: The Bungee High-Back Office Chair for $295; their handmade Balinese boat—$700—hanging from the ceiling; and, literally, signs of home, if you’re a New Canaanite, for $350 (five-feet-long). My pick is the $35 Gummy Bear Lamp. Try it. Nice thing about this place? It’s right on Elm Street, near Franco’s.
146 Elm Street, New Canaan; (203) 966-3116
Until Christmas Eve, stop by the annual gift show for affordable, unique arts-and-craftsy gifts, from all price points. This includes: Small canvases, jewelry, fabric, ornaments, pottery, ceramics, wooden bowls, home accessories (and wearable fashion items), as well as things that work all year round. Everything is handmade, as the RAC is very picky, and each piece is unique, produced by a regional artist.
145 Rowayton Avenue, Norwalk; (203) 866-2744
If you’re thinking Glass House Snow Globe…go beyond with a better gift, the funky Architectural Candles for $35. Grab a couple, or get one and add a pack of 10 Glass House 3D Cards for $80, so your recipient can view the house three-dimensionally in moody luminescence when it’s closed.
199 Elm Street, New Canaan; (203) 594-9884
For someone who’s got water on the brain—ha!—tack on down to Darien’s Tokeneke Road. The shop has handmade nautical wreaths, featuring shells and driftwood, by local artists ($90-$260); ION Lights or simple—and not-so-simple—solar lanterns ($15-$200); and Buck and Swiss Army knives ($20 up). Naturally, there’s fishing equipment aplenty, and housewares, including cutting servings boards. Basically, EVERYTHING seaworthy—even, pewter trays, for example, with nautical rope accents.
51 Tokeneke Road, Darien; (203) 956-5893