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Shopping in the Catskill/Woodstock/Ulster Area (Catskills Blog)

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Shopping in the Catskill/Woodstock/Ulster Area

Toys, Books, Housewares and Other Fun Things

The Parent Teacher Store. Photo by Craig SarichWith Black Friday in the past and the holidays approaching fast, I thought it might be nice to explore shopping in the Catskill & Ulster County area. I’m avoiding the big box stores and going for the independents as they tend to have more unique gifts rather than the usual suspects.

We begin our journey in Kingston at The Parent Teacher Store. With today’s kids playing video games with cutting-edge graphics and battery-powered devices that make crazy noises, this store offers a refreshing break from the irritating. The aisles are lined with wooden trucks, finger paints, wooden activity desks, board games, puzzles, and toys made from recycled plastic. They also have miniature action figures that I couldn’t keep my hands off of. Where else could Geronimo, Robin Hood, and T-Rex battle Leif Ericson, King Arthur, and Bones the skeleton?

Moving up the line to Saugerties is The Inquiring Mind Bookstore & Café. This cavernous space has those great wood floors that creak as you walk on them. The store is lined with books, books, and more books. The graphic novel section is something the big stores can’t match. There’s something great about holding a book and dog-earring pages; and you can’t wrap an eBook. There’s something here for everyone on your list. Who doesn’t love books?

Mahalo. Photo by Craig SarichIn the heart of Catskill is Mahalo. It this eclectic shop, one can find a gift for almost anyone. There are metal flowerpots in the shape of cartoonish animals, birdhouses shaped like cats (the birds enter through the cat’s mouth), handmade glass jewelry, and unique candles of all shapes and sizes. I bought a Wood Wick Cotton Flower candle that makes my office smell like a dewy meadow.

Tinker Street, in the Town of Woodstock, has a vast array of stores for all of your holiday shopping. I attempted to write about just one store, but Woodstock seems to have an interesting shop every fifteen feet. I found myself zig-zagging up and down the street with a new discovery around every corner. There is the independent bookstore The Golden Notebook which has the feel of my living room and seemed to have some of the most intriguing books. I picked up a graphic novel called RASL by Jeff Smith that Barnes and Noble doesn’t seem to stock.

Legends. Photo by Craig SarichJean Turmo is a few doors down; JT has a wide assortment of teas, teapots, crystals, aroma beads, and crystal fairy figurines. Other stores to check out are Chez Grand’mere, The Rare Bear/Dove’s Nest, Timbuktu, Empty Spaces Handmade Furniture, and Legends. Legends is a time machine to the 1960s; it encompasses all that is The Woodstock Festival complete with The Blues Brothers on the front porch.

In the heart of the New Paltz is Cocoon. This gift shop has something for everyone on your list. There are bowls made with recycled plastic that my sister-in-law uses for everything. The exposed brick walls and diagonally laid wood floors house bamboo cutting boards and purses and clothes for baby and ‘Wreck This Journal’ and I Love NP coasters and soy candles, as well as the coolest drain boards that look like something out of an alien craft. When I can’t find that perfect thing for that hard to shop for person, I go to Cocoon.

One of my favorite things to do for holiday shopping is to stop in one of the towns listed above and putter around. The most interesting stores and gifts I found almost by accident. And I picked up a few things for myself along the way. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon and avoid the holiday lines. And you won’t need a Sherpa to help you walk the marathon distance from your car to the mall entrance.

Happy shopping!

Craig Sarich is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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