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Hard times call for ÔnaturalÕ pleasures

By December 7, 2008

Enterprise columnist

At last, two brave economists declared what weÕve known for a while … weÕre in a recession. OK, we get it. Time to make adjustments.

Simplicity is hot this holiday season, and thereÕs no better business to feature than one specializing in haute couture minimalism Ñ The Naturalist, 605 Second St.

When I first came to Davis (those of you who know me will understand), I was pretty skeptical about this store. Nothing about me says, ÒI love the great outdoors,Ó but, despite my doubts, The NaturalistÕs enchanting window displays (this yearÕs holiday window judged by me to be DavisÕ Best of Show), won me over. Not only did this store shed my delusions of crude discomforts, it yielded one of my best shopping arsenals: the hostess gift.

This December, most of us are not destined for luxury soirees in head-to-toe newness. That means no more Foie Gras de Moulard nested in white truffles dug by French boars and accompanied by Hermitage wrapped in a carbon footprint the size of Connecticut. This year IÕm thinking potluck. And yes, when you attend, youÕll need to show up with something respectable for the host(ess). HereÕs what I found on a recent trip, all for less than $10.

IÕll start with my favorite: votive candle holders shaped like Christmas balls. These elegant beauties were only $6 and $7.50, depending on design. I also loved the $9 tea towels that look and feel crafted by a grandmother, and quaint hand towels rolled and accessorized to resemble intricate desserts.

Try the Austrian crystal necklaces and earrings, or aromatic glycerin soap rocks for a little solstice sparkle. Ornaments for all tastes (the animal prints caught my eye) are abundant, as are gifts for the humored.

Consider their collection of clever note pads, like those with beavers messaging, ÒDammed if you do, Dammed if you donÕt,Ó a global warming coffee mug featuring a world map (the shorelines disappear when filled with a hot beverage), or the Sarah Palin store shocker, a pissed-off, gun-toting mallard duck.

I could go on, but the surprises are reserved for you.

ThereÕs a lot more to this store Ñ something for anyone of any age on your list, from the outdoor enthusiast to the indoor devotee, all easily discovered with the aid of friendly staff and free gift wrapping for any purchase over $5. Browsing is a treat, but if you eye the whimsical penguins over the threshold, forget it. The middle three are mine, reserved to purchase after Christmas. Right, Cheryl?

Whatever you choose to celebrate this holiday season, I only ask you to keep this in mind. Most of us will be buying less and living more simply; this isnÕt a bad thing. In fact, itÕs an opportunity to look around and decide what businesses youÕd like to survive into 2009. Think creatively, spend locally and give yourself something lasting Ñ the gift of a beautiful, flourishing community.

ÑÑÑÑ

In memoriam: Sadly, 2008 brought an end to some cherished businesses. This tribute is for you, the ones I loved: Hibachi Grill (OK, it closed in 2007 but I still miss it), BogeyÕs Books, Carousel Stationery, Fins and Bower Bird (you can now find Deborah at The Naturalist!).

Best new business: I wonÕt end on a downer, so my pick for Best New Business of 2008 is … El Macero Pharmacy Ñ an independent, service-plus, European-style health experience, coming soon to a column near you!

Ñ Heidy Kellison lives and shops in Davis. Her column appears monthly. Reach her at [email protected]

Heidy Kellison

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