last-minute gift guide
H/G Fashion & Art Boutique
Funky Midtown fashion boutique H/G (or Hallowed Ground, to those in the know) packs its San Mateo Pavilions storefront with new and recycled fashion. The style is a mix of cool club wear and '80s fabulous—everything a retro-minded fashionista could want. Twenty bucks seems to be the break point for most items. Two of the store's walls are lined with Hallowed Grounds' own paint-spattered, graffiti-covered T-shirts—which bring to mind Malcolm McLaren's legendary punk boutique SEX by way of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Several tees are adorned with cassette tape imprints, furthering the '80s aesthetic. And yes, H/G also features a gallery of reasonably priced paintings and drawings from area artists.
LMGG: Nob Hill
The people that brought us Zap ... oh! children's boutique opened a sister shop, Besitos—which means "little kisses"—in October. Babies ages 2 and under will appreciate soft, plush blankets and clothes made from organic cotton. Practical pieces abound, with the occasional luxury item—rattles, books, toys and fancy little shoes—mixed in.
LMGG: Old Town
Nestled in the Poco-a-Poco garden patio, Tinhorn Toys offers merchandise that couldn’t be more different from the touristy souvenirs that pervade Old Town. This old-fashioned, battery-free store specializes in reproduction tin toys from the '40s, '50s and '60s—there are tops, trains, tea sets and a wide variety of robots. Tinhorn also carries classic toys such as Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, marbles, jacks, tiddlywinks, pick-up sticks and blocks. Bobbie, Tinhorn's exceptionally friendly co-owner, will help you find a gift, be it zombie action figures for an adult child or a sock monkey for a baby.
LMGG: Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
The Fat Finch
The Fat Finch calls itself a “Boutique for Birders,” but it’s so much more. Sure, the two-year-old shop owned by lifetime bird enthusiast Roberta Beyer is stocked with seed, feeders, baths, houses and an impressive array of bird-watching books. But you could find something for most anyone on your holiday list here. Its three rooms are dotted with games, puzzles, jewelry, T-shirts, locally hand-painted silk scarves, bath and body products, finger puppets, baby clothes, and some of the best cards we’ve seen in the city. Almost all of the inventory is bird-themed, in styles that range from the more mature to the decidedly hip.
Galeria de Corrales
The vibe at Galeria de Corrales is pleasant. It's nestled behind a yarn store on Corrales Road and easy to miss if you aren't looking. But once you find it, an artist on duty will take you on a tour of the newly expanded gallery, which features about 25 artists. Wildlife and landscape paintings abound, but there’s also a good deal of pottery, art clocks, stained glass, quilts, handbags, sculptures big and small, a futuristic metal kachina, and lots of metal working. For those on a budget, there are relatively cheap prints of paintings and greeting cards. Good gift idea: the mirror lined with beer caps. Another has googly eyes.
Last-Minute Gift Guide
With only two weeks left to find the perfect present for everyone on your list, the stress of holiday traffic and early morning door-busters is starting to take its toll. Park your sleigh, Santa, and back away slowly from the big-box stores. Our annual Last-Minute Gift Guide takes the hassle out of the mad dash for holiday gifts by focusing on great mom-and-pop shops within walking distance of each other. Neighborhood by neighborhood, these local merchants are working hard to make the holidays enjoyable again.
Rio Grande between Lomas and Mountain
This is where you go for the serious blang-blang. (Ahem, fine jewelry.) Mati's inviting corner shop on the plaza is not only the most pleasant of the local jewelry giant's three Albuquerque locations, but this store also has the best deals. In a twinkling sea of top-notch personal adornments lie several cases of 40-percent-off merchandise and one that's—gasp—75 percent off. That means the $2,000 cocktail ring I tried on is only $500! Bargains aside, in addition to Mati's beautiful, unique pieces, they also do custom work, engraving and repairs.
Off Central between Carlisle and Wellesley
Zap ... oh!
Though celebrity kids may have upped the fashion ante, this children's boutique is anything but hoity-toity. Fun and affordable, Zap ... oh! has what salesperson John Besante calls "a different perspective in children's clothing." All of the staff are bonafide kid experts eager to help you find the perfect piece for your favorite tiny humans. Our favorites include alien overalls, tutus and the Pee-pee Teepee—if you've met an infant boy, you get it.
Off Central between First and Sixth Streets
Microwave owner Ray Chavez has skateboarding in his blood.
His grandparents opened the South Valley's Concrete Wave in 1988 (it's still there). Ray, whose feet were already glued to a deck, started working the counter when he was 9 or 10 year old. "Back then, there wasn't a lot of shops. There was the mall, and that stuff was overpriced," he says. "That's why this is the Microwave. It's the little one."
Chavez' three-year-old satellite store is, in fact, very small. But it's filled with all the right gear. "Even if we had the room, I wouldn't carry anyone besides the brands we do. They're good people with quality products. And quality products is probably the main thing in skateboarding—that's what we look for." Chavez’ is one of only a few stores in town to carry SBs—Nike's chunky, colorful, tricked-out skateboard shoe line that's sought after by "sneaker head" collectors and straight-up skaters alike ("pro" boat-style shoes run around $70, high tops jog up to $200). And since he was the first SB account in Albuquerque, he gets hooked up with a constantly changing selection of special and limited edition shoes.
Far Northeast Heights
Paseo del Norte near Wyoming
4D's Board Shop
The low-lit atmosphere and friendly staff make admiring this shop’s numerous boards for snow and skate a reverent experience. Browse the extensive T-shirt collection, or check out the watches, stickers, wallets and DVDs that would make great gifts for the skater (or anyone else) you know.
Camino del Pueblo and U.S. 550
Camino Real Antiques & Collectibles
Step through the door of this teeming antique shop and the squeak of the wood floors alone is enough to send you back in time. Wander the free-flowing aisles and you're guaranteed to trip over (maybe literally) some bygone goodies—most dating from the middle of the 20th century or so. You won't find a lot of Victorian clothing or Federalist furniture here, but there are plenty of pop cultural gems, from the big (a full-size Pepsi-Cola cooler) to the small (a tidy selection of classic 45 records). You can spend a little ($2 for rustic, decorative kitchen utensils) or a lot ($3,000 for an actual juke box). Alongside your standard Americana (old advertising signs, rusted license plates, collectable salt-and-pepper shakers) are some sharp Western items. Ornate, hand-tooled saddles will run you upwards of $400. Professional branding irons go for $145. Indian blankets range between $85 and $125.