Keeping the doors open at independently owned retail stores this year has required a combination of innovation, flexibility and sheer grit. With only six days left until Christmas, here’s some last-minute inspiration from Clark County merchants that will make you feel extra good about shopping local. All places take phone orders for curbside pickup or can be contacted through the noted social media. Some have e-commerce websites offering online shopping with delivery. If you shop in person, mask up and give other customers plenty of space while browsing for holiday treasures.
The French Door, 109 W. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver. 503-319-1656, www.facebook.com/thefrenchdoor109, @thefrenchdoor109. Owner Kathryn McIntire has spent the past five-and-a-half years creating one of downtown Vancouver’s most enchanting retail spaces in a historic building, with a vaulted ceiling, exposed brick walls and a secret loft for curious browsers. The store feels especially magical at Christmastime, with a sparkling mix of antique, new, handmade and refurbished items, plus an abundance of potted greenery. What’s special this year: McIntyre is offering a line of wrapping paper and cards created by local artists Christina Kuntz, Julie Verburg and Rebecca Fisher. Purchase paper ($8 a sheet or two for $12), gift tags ($1.75) or cards ($6.50) to take home, or McIntire will use the artisan paper to wrap your gift herself.
Juxtaposition, 425 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas, 360-834-1810, www.artfuljuxtaposition.com, www.facebook.com/JuxtapositionCamas, @juxtapositioncamas. Suzanne Ferguson opened her home furnishings and housewares store on Feb. 28 — practically the eve of the pandemic. Even so, she’s found a winning combination in her savvy pairing of contemporary design with handcrafted items and art. Juxtaposition has also “adopted” a local family of four, donating a sleigh-load of gifts and food to help them celebrate during a lean year. What’s special: Super-soft and cuddly “Giving Bears” ($32.50) and cozy, stylish “Giving Shawls” ($52) come with messages of love for the recipient; a portion of proceeds benefit Kansas City Children’s Mercy Hospital. Also find holiday art customized to reflect the Camas location ($65 to $85).
Kazoodles Toys, 13503 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, 360-823-0123, www.kazoodlestoys.com, www.facebook.com/KazoodlesToys, @kazoodles toys. Leah Pickering recently took over ownership of this shop, which has been making young spirits merry for 14 years with playthings, games and books that you won’t find in big-box stores. What’s special: Ninjaline backyard obstacle course kit ($109.99); Froggit ($29.99), an award-winning Chinese checkers-style family game with playing pieces that Pickering said “are the cutest things you’ve ever seen”; and the best-selling Whirly Squigz sturdy silicone fidget spinners for babies ($21.99) — a toy that parents love to play with, too.
Vintage Books, 6613 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, 360-694-9519, vintage-books.net, www.facebook.com/VintageBooks.net, @vintagebookshop. Clark County’s oldest independent bookstore will celebrate its 46th year in February, said owner Becky Milner. This cozy, welcoming shop is full of new and used books and gifts for readers of all ages, and during nonpandemic times is home to book clubs, writers’ groups and author events. What’s special: a local urban trails guide ($16.95); National Outdoor Book Award-winner “Underland: A Deep Time Journey” by Robert McFarlane, an exploration of the Earth’s mythical, literary and geological underworlds ($17.95); the children’s picture book “Catch the Sky: Playful Poems on the Air We Share” by Robert Heidbreder ($17.95); and signed copies of Sabaa Tahir’s “A Sky Beyond the Storm” ($19.99), part of “Ember in the Ashes” young adult series.
Posh + Tattered, 14 S.E. Clark Ave., Battle Ground, 360-702-9081, www.facebook.com/poshandtattered, @poshandtattered. Over the past six years, owners Karen Helmes, Holly Kandoll and Lily Isaacson have built a reputation with their boutique’s handcrafted, locally made goods. Find gifts for mamas and babies, candles, body products, jewelry, potted houseplants and holiday decorations. What’s special: handmade scarves, hats, mittens and ornaments as well as skeins of Sandnes Garn, a hard-to-find, cloud-soft Norwegian yarn ($5.99 to $8.99); eco-friendly, reusable kitchen wares, baby clothes, and wooden signs made nearby in Battle Ground ($16.99 to $49).
Reliques Marketplace, 7601 N.E. Vancouver Plaza Drive, Vancouver, 360-254-1402, www.facebook.com/reliquesmarketplace, @reliquesmarketplace. Owners Chris Lutz and Scott Wyckoff opened Vancouver’s largest antique mall in April 2018, featuring antique, upcycled, refurbished and repurposed goods from 95 vendors. Most items are one-of-a-kind antiques and midcentury finds, everything from furniture to home decor and kitchenware to jewelry, books and clothes. What’s special: vintage holiday decorations, especially the silver Christmas trees in the front window. Trees ($175 to $500) range from 4 to 7 feet tall, in the sought-after palm style with rotating stands and color wheels.
Willows, 104 Grand Blvd., Vancouver, 360-993-1318, willowsclothing.com, www.facebook.com/willowsboutique, @willows_shop. Janna Moats and her mother started this women’s clothing store in 1997 and it’s been a local favorite ever since. Find clothing, shoes and accessories plus fun extras like perfume, soaps, stainless steel water bottles and tumblers and even puzzles. What’s special: The “Favorite Comfy Tunic” in a rainbow of colors ($29); knit scarves and beanies ($18 to $26); initial necklaces ($12 to $52); citrus-scented Capri Blue Volcano candles ($20 to $35); and paint-by-numbers kits for kids and adults ($29 to $42).
Rare Earth Decor, 109 S. 65th Ave. 108, Ridgefield, 360-887-4762, www.facebook.com/rareearthdecor. Interior designer Suzie Pietz and daughter Kolby Collins opened Rare Earth 19 years ago, a retail destination known for holiday decorations. Collins said shoppers come from as far as Olympia to see the store’s seasonal displays. What’s special: The Mariana jewelry line ($25 to $300) features Swarovski crystals with precious and semi-precious stones and the customizable “Guardian Angel” necklaces ($62) are especially popular; add bling to your mask with stone, crystal and pearl mask chains ($25 to $60) that can also be worn as necklaces, bracelets or anklets.
Although they’re not retail establishments, beloved landmarks Kiggins Theatre and Clark County Historical Museum are valuable to the local retail landscape because of the customers they attract with movies, community events, tours and exhibits. They’re not currently open, but there are lots of ways to ensure they remain a part of our post-pandemic life.
Support the Kiggins Theatre by renting its famous marquee for personal messages, watching a streaming movie from its virtual screening room, or buying a bit of cinema history in the form of old movie trailers. Kiggins gift cards are ideal stocking-stuffers, and you can order freshly popped popcorn and other concessions for pick-up every Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. Get details at www.kigginstheatre.com.
The Clark County Historical Museum Store, clark-county-historical-museum.square.site, offers a useful holiday gift guide. Shop online for only-in-Clark County gifts like tote bags emblazoned with historical maps, a 28-by-40-inch reproduction 1888 map of Clark County, books like Pat Jollota’s “Haunted Vancouver,” and puzzles featuring local landmarks like the Kiggins, Interstate 5 Bridge, Grant House and Amboy’s United Brethren Church (home of the North Clark County Historical Museum). A portion of puzzle proceeds support the landmarks represented. Also find jewelry by indigenous artists Lillian Pitt and Lauren James, including Pitt’s “She Who Watches” series, inspired by Columbia Gorge petroglyphs.