Let's get right down to business: You still need gifts, and Christmas is less than two weeks away.
Featured in magazines like Elle Decor and In Style Home, this furniture, décor and fashion store runs most of its business online. But passing up the exquisite showroom with custom design leather trunks, woven blankets from New Zealand (made by the same weavers who created the magic cloaks in Lord of the Rings), hand-felted wraps and camel bone necklaces would be a crime. Plus, it's remarkably affordable.
Thrill your lady love with frilly lingerie and soft robes from this charming boutique. If her dresser drawers are already overflowing with silky undergarments, opt for some fragrant lotions or tasteful accessories instead. Most of the bras and panties sold here are from French clothing lines, and while that may not mean anything to you, chances are it will to her.
If beads are what you're after, you can find thousands from all over the world at Elinor Oldham's Art & Bead Gallery. Oldham also carries dozens of fine art pieces, jewelry, earrings, decorative pots and tons of trinkets. You won't have to know what you're looking for when you walk into the gallery—a few minutes of browsing should have your head jam-packed with possibilities.
This high-ceilinged adobe is flanked by tall windows and has the feel of a church. Acequia Booksellers' approach to the printed word is indeed reverential, but it's not inaccessible (cued by comfy, crackling jazz piped in from iTunes). The store specializes in rare and out-of-print works, Southwest and Native American subjects, and the humanities, with a large number of French selections. "It's called Acequia because bookstores feed people's minds like an acequia feeds farms," explains owner Gary Wilke. "And it starts with A."
Run by Paddy O'Riley and his grandson Kenneth, this strip-mall repository has a lock on Albuquerque's paint-flinging needs. For $170, you can score a Tippmann 98, a full-package machine for the beginner. Upgrades are easy, and these folks live up to the “N-Stuff” part of their name with tons of custom stocks, barrels and response triggers. Fill a stocking with paintballs ($14 a box, $54 a case) and don't forget the masks!
On the higher end of used clothes, Karleen's collection of recycled fashions is fairly select and not built with fly-by-night teen or college trends in mind. Quality, timeless fashions live in the racks of this tiny shop. With women's clothes only, gift your favorite fashion queen with jewelry, a hat, a vintage purse or campy poofed slippers. The friendly, eager staff will gladly assist you in choosing the right one-of-a-kind item.
Walking among the whitewashed bookshelves of the converted house that is now Big Star Books feels more like perusing a historic library. Shelves of pre-loved volumes neatly organized by topic make the selection process effortless, and you never know what you'll stumble upon since Big Star buys out libraries and collections. There were a few classic Choose Your Own Adventure books on the shelves not long ago—nostalgic stocking stuffers, anyone?