Local retailers nominate their best buys for the holiday season.
Cooks of Crocus Hill brand Fleur de Sel, $14, is harvested from the top of a salt pyramid, "where the best flavor is retained," said Elisa Lobo Neese, manager of the St. Paul store. "It retains that wonderful flavor of the ocean with the minerals ... It's the Ferrari of the salts, but it's affordable." An Emile Henry baking stone, $50, are made of Burgundy clay and can be used on the grill. "People keep grilling, even in the winter time, so I imagine they'll sell well," Lobo Neese said. Mauviel copper pans, lined with surgical stainless steel, start at $95. The steel is highly cleanable and the copper provides "the best heat retention that you have out there," she said. "The best of all would be silver or gold, but we don't make cookware with that."
Know somebody addicted to Angry Birds? Angry Birds plush toys, $9.99, "make noise and they're round, so you can make a neat little plush animal out of them," said Dave Graves, co-owner of Discland in Bloomington. Dr. Who Sonic Screwdriver, $29.99, from the British TV show, is "kind of a goofy little thing, with a pretty big following" as well as lights and sound effects. The latest installment of the Call of Duty video-game franchise, Modern Warfare 3, $59.99, just came out this month. The previous installment "had the biggest week release of any media release" ever, Graves said. "The first day, it did like an insane number."
Chamilia beads, starting at $30 from a Minneapolis-based company, are "the modern version of a charm bracelet," said Bob Zagaros, president of Bergstrom Jewelers, which recently opened a new store in the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park. Pieces of Belle Etoile, a sterling silver, enamel and cubic zirconia line of fashion jewelry, start at $150 and are "the hottest thing in the jewelry business," he said. "Very colorful and well-made." If you're shopping someone you really like, you could shell out $1,500 for a diamond necklace or earrings from Hearts on Fire. "When you're looking to wow somebody, this is what you want to go with, because it's absolutely gorgeous," Zagaros said.
At $16.99, Disney Flying Fairies, such as Take Flight Tink, make a good stocking stuffer, said Target spokeswoman Kristy Welker. "We're anticipating that to be a top seller, based on the great price point and also the Disney characters being so popular," she said. 'Tween girls may like Fijit Friends, $52.99, little creatures that play music, dance and talk to you. And for slightly younger fans of music-playing toys, Let's Rock Elmo is a fun choice at $54.99.
A crayon necklace, $8.50, looks like a traditional candy necklace, but you don't eat it -- you color with it. "I love this for kids because it is kind of like a little secret 'boredom buster' weapon they can wear to Christmas morning church," said Happi Olson of Creative Kidstuff. A Spy Gear Secret Agent Briefcase, from Wild Planet Toys, for boys and girls ages 6 and up, "looks really cool and the tools really work." Tegu Tints ($59.99 for a 22-piece set) are wooden building blocks with magnets. "I saw these at toy fair in February and was excited to have a preview set for my kiddos," Olson said. "They are used every day!"
Stocking-stuffer for the stressed-out: Dammit Dolls, $12.95, cloth dolls with yarn hair and embroidered faces are a "positive take on a voodoo doll," said Molly Pool, home, décor and seasonal buyer for Patina. Whack one against a table to let off steam. Only slightly more expensive is the Rednek Wine Glass, $16.95, a lidded Ball jar atop a fancy wine-glass stem -- "your mom's wine glass," Pool said. A more refined beverage vessel, Ekke Stone shotglasses are $38 for a decorate box of four. Made of gray soapstone that you can freeze to keep your beverage cold without watery ice, "they're super classy," Pool said.
Rocketfish accessories include chargers, styluses, phone cases and other gadget accoutrements for under $25, said Ruth Jenneman, operations manager of Best Buy in Eden Prairie. They're "a good stocking stuffer -- small and at a lower price point," she said. The 14.2-megapixel Samsung Wi-Fi digital camera, $179, lets you upload your pictures and high-definition videos instantly to Facebook, email and elsewhere on the internet, Jenneman said. The Kindle Fire is sure to be hot (pardon the pun). The e-reader and video-viewer has wi-fi, internet connectivity and a color screen. "At $199, it is as inexpensive as an e-reader, but has the features of a tablet," Jenneman said.
Katy Read • 612-673-4583