10301 Comanche NE • 237-2048 applemtnmusic.com Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday and Monday by appointment
Autoharps and hammer dulcimers are hard to come by in New Mexico. But Apple Mountain Music has them, along with a host of folk instruments you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Bodhráns, bouzoukis, Irish and Native American flutes, djembes, and didgeridoos are neatly displayed alongside more recognizable harps, ukuleles and fiddles. Ever hear of a bowed psaltery? Owner Debra Fortress is happy to pull one off the shelf of her cozy store and show it to you. They’re as beautiful to look at as they are easy to play. There’s not a lot of plastic at Apple Mountain—these instruments were clearly made with care. They glow with rippling wood grains, Celtic fretwork inlays, ceramic glazes and animal skins. Of course, Fortress sells the sundries—instruction books and strings, for example—that keep players in tune. Be sure to ask about regular playing circles, classes and performances at the store.
When Southwest Grape & Grain moved around the corner in October, it gained about 1,000 feet and doubled its inventory. In addition to more homebrewing and winemaking supplies than ever, the store can get you making your own yogurt and cheeses in a half an hour. Owner Kevin Davis and his staff are in the building seven days a week to walk customers through every step. Davis’ favorite entry-level kit will give you the recipe, ingredients and instructions for a fabulous Russian imperial stout for about $35. (It makes five gallons—about 10 six-packs’ worth of beer.) For advanced brewers, Davis has the Southwest’s largest selection of hops and yeasts, an entire room dedicated to specialty grains, and enough geeky gadgets (hydrometers, beakers and the like) to make you feel like a mad scientist. He’ll even show you how to build your own kegerator on the cheap. If you’re content to just drink the beers that other people labor over, buying them growler koozies that proclaim “I made this beer!” would be a nice gesture.
9821 Montgomery NE • 299-6640 gatheringsinvite.com Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Gatherings is a one-stop special occasions shop that’s been in the same neighborhood for 15 years. While you’re getting custom invitations printed or picking out ready-made stationary and other paper goods, a large retail area overflows with gifts to complement your cards. One corner of the store is stuffed with plush toys from Gund, Jellycat and Uglydoll—baby shower central. Next to that is the biggest display of Thymes scented candles, room sprays and bath products we’ve ever seen. (A whiff of the Frasier fir scent makes you feel like you’re standing in an actual forest, not the Pine-Sol aisle.) There are jeweled cocktail rings, whimsical wine stoppers, Beatriz Ball serviceware (kind of like Nambé only more affordable, and it’s oven- and freezer-safe), picture frames and limited-edition tile wall hangings. And you can’t beat the price on the year-round gift-wrapping service—it’s free.