2011 has brought more reasons than ever before to do your holiday shopping in Burlington, Ontario.If you love unique stores, thoughtfully curated product selections, memorable service, and giving your loved ones gifts that have them asking “where did you get this?” then I promise you, Btown has exactly what you need.In recent years, this lakefront city has cultivated a plentiful crop of one-of-a-kind boutiques.This fills me with genuine glee because I just don’t think I can take another year fighting the crowds in the GTA mega-malls, and I know I’m not alone on that one!You take your life into your own hands in some of those parking lots!As for Btown (where parking is both plentiful and peaceful) here are 10 shopping gems to get you started, along with the year’s best gift ideas, in our 2011 Burlington Holiday Gift Guide!
A Different Drummer: Locals fill with pride when they speak about this longstanding bookshop, and for good reason.This is the kind of bookstore you usually only see in movies; where parents bring their kids to browse for hours and excitedly choose a new story to take home, because that’s what their parents did for them as kids.They host author events (Adrienne Clarkson, for example) that few other bookstores have the credibility to pull off.And because it is a true bookshop, with ever-changing titles you can browse through in your actual hands, this store reveals new and unexpected treasures to you each time you visit.Whether it’s through the recommendations of dedicated staff (who are there because they truly love books), or simply because the many tables, shelves and stairwells are brimming with covers that catch your eye and ultimately your imagination, A Different Drummer has a book for everyone on your list.My 2011 Gift Pick: Wonder Struck by Brian Selznick.Perfect for the “tween” in your life.
Centro Garden: Newly opened and worth the wait, this gorgeous shop is filled with home décor items, greenery and gifts that will dazzle all your senses.Whether you need a completely original centerpiece, a modern and artful wreath, Christmas ornaments or candles, Centro Garden has you covered.Helmed by Jason Pepetone, who is part of greenhouse royalty (having started the Terra brand with his father and brothers), you can quickly see how Jason has brought his wealth of expertise into a totally new endeavor that is distinctly his own.It’s a great store to get you started on your own holiday decorating this year.My 2011 Gift Pick: any holiday party you’re attending this year would be a fabulous reason to grab a gorgeous ornament from their endless and sparkling selection as the perfect hostess gift.
Fairhome Interiors:A new renovation is almost complete for this mecca of home décor.Along with professional design services, area rugs, custom sewing and window treatments, you’ll also find countless gifts like jewellery, candles, popular Emma Bridgewater tableware, and a cheeky assortment of memorable cards.If you’ve got newlyweds or new homeowners on your list this year, you simply must consider my 2011 gift pick: this Canadian-made serving tray made from repurposed oak wine barrels and vintage-inspired cutlery.I’m sure you can imagine serving delicious artisanal cheeses and fresh fruit on it every time you entertain!
Joelle’s: Every fashionable woman within driving distance of Burlington has heard of Joelle’s.It has reached veritable cult status these days, with the best brands, the best service, and the most stylish selection of clothing & accessories in the west end of the GTA.It’s nearly impossible to leave there empty handed, as my credit card statements will gladly attest.Recently expanded lines include Milly, Trina Turk and more of much-loved Michael Kors.With a stylish maternity section surrounded by kids & baby items, a denim wall full of skinny jeans and flattering boot cuts, and a sea of sparkling accessories, you will find something for every girl on your list this holiday season.If you want to look fabulous at an upcoming holiday soirée, you’ll find something truly special in Joelle’s glittering assortment of cocktail dresses and LBDs.As for gifts, my 2011 Gift Pick has to be Bootights.Tights on top + socks on the bottom = warm stylish comfort in your boots this winter!A perfect stocking stuffer for your sister or BFF!
Jeff’s Guy Shop: Walk through Joelle’s and you’ll find yourself in stylish-guy heaven!This store has suits, cufflinks, dress shirts, ties, an equally impressive denim wall, and enough trendy sweaters and outerwear to dress every guy you know.Grab a funky watch, a sleek billfold, or a fabulous & fitted going-out shirt.My 2011 Gift Pick: the perfect men’s item – a vintage inspired football or hockey tee from their favourite team.We all know men can’t have enough t-shirts…nor enough team pride…so this gift is a surefire hit!
Great Gift Shops: Canadiana abounds at two of Burlington’s most prized and original gift shops:The Burlington Art Centre’s Art Etc Gallery Shop, and The Royal Botanical Gardens’ Shop @ The Gardens.Aside from the obvious reasons for visiting these artful year-round destinations (gorgeous art and inspiring greenhouses & gardens anyone?), the gift shops are must-sees as well.If you have relatives visiting this holiday season from overseas, why not send them home with something truly unique and Canadian-made?Pottery, jewellery, sculpture and more can be found at both.My 2011 Gift Pick has to be anything from Robert Held’s gorgeous art glass collection at The Art Etc Gallery Shop.
Ohh! Beautiful Things:The name of the store pretty much sums up what you’ll find here: beautiful things!In addition to jewellery by local artisans, a truly unique and hip assortment of clothing and accessories, mini chandeliers and fantastic home décor items, you’ll also find a well-stocked section dedicated to kids.I love the retro flare of sock monkeys and vintage toys like tin cash registers and spinning tops.My 2011 Gift Pick for that hard-to-please young boy on your list: The Box of Jokes.Where else can you get classics like the hand buzzer, squirt ring and fake vomit?Now that I’ve said that, I’m realizing there are likely many grown men on my list who would go crazy for it too!
Snuggle Bugz: Started not long ago by a husband and wife team who are passionate about modern, stylish and unique baby products, Snuggle Bugz has filled a void in the marketplace that existed for far too long.Where else can you find adorable bedding, sexy nursing bras, cozy sleep sacks, the best assortment of strollers in town, and gorgeous furniture and art work for kids & baby rooms.All this in a boutique environment, with attentive staff who know their stuff.It’s almost impossible to pick just one thing but since I have to, my 2011 Gift Pick are the Wheely Bugs by Prince Lionheart that are totally perfect for toddlers who are ready to move!Ladybugs, bumble bees and adorable mice are just a few of the options!It’s the perfect gift from a doting Grandma & Grandpa!Be sure to follow them on facebook for news on their upcoming Twelve Days of Christmas – 6 weeks of special deals and cool in-store events!
Wills & Co. Fine Food Market: Canada is full of foodies, and Burlington is no exception.That’s why it’s no surprise to find a great gourmet shop in town.Taking it a step further than great taste alone, Wills & Co. focuses on fresh, local and natural food.Their passionate & knowledgeable team can tell you the provenance of every item and provide tips on how to best prepare it.It’s a fantastic place to get your organic free-range turkey for Christmas dinner, as all their meats are local, and free of hormones & antibiotics.If you’re in the mood for gift-giving, it’s hard to resist their amazing selection of chutneys and preserves!My 2011 Gift Pick has to be the Bumpercrop line of mason jars full of goodies like Beer Sweet Peppers or Twisted Pears!What a great hostess gift or stocking stuffer!
Saltridges: This is the shop you need to go to if you really want to wow the ladies on your list.Luxury brands are a staple here, and you’ll find unique products like COR soap, Lubin perfumes (try Marie Antoinette’s personal perfume Gin Fizz), and my new favourite brand – Lipstick Queen – just to name a few.My 2011 Gift Pick for the classic and elegant woman is a pair of their posh pajamas.Who wouldn’t want to sleep in and then leisurely read the Sunday paper in these?
Burlington is a city worth visiting any time of year, but the holiday season always showcases the festive spirit of our unique local merchants better than any other.Did I mention all these shops are surrounded by delicious cafés and coffee shops to keep you energized (and rest your weary feet) as you check off everyone on your gift list?Here’s hoping you found our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide helpful, and we look forward to seeing you strolling around Burlington’s boutiques with a rich cup of hot chocolate in the days ahead.Rest assured you’ll find something worth treasuring for everyone on your shopping list this year.Happy Holidays!
Victoria Hughes is a local entrepreneur, social media specialist and website & blog author. Born in Burlington and living in the GTA her whole life, her professional career has taken her through the diverse worlds of leadership consulting, fashion retail management, fine dining, communications technology and online travel. After launching her own business in 2008, she began authoring the daily Girl It Up! fashion and discount blog, tweets on topics of the day @vbhughes and recently spearheaded a site full of guidelines and resources to keep youth safe & smart as they explore the ever-changing world of social media: safesocialmedia.ca . Her greatest loves are travel, shoes, laughter and family.