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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Help for Last-Minute Shoppers

Posted By on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 11:42 AM

click to enlarge Vermont's Own Nutcracker - COURTESY OF VERMONT BALLET THEATER SCHOOL
  • Courtesy of Vermont Ballet Theater School
  • Vermont's Own Nutcracker
A parade of holiday events marches on this weekend. Highlights include Vermont's Own Nutcracker at the Flynn in Burlington, ice skating with Santa in Stowe and an old-fashioned Christmas celebration at Health Hero Island Farm in South Hero.

For many dawdlers, though, the days leading up to Christmas will more likely be spent scurrying about in a burst of last-minute buying. It’s not just the big box stores that have extended hours in the coming days. Below is a sampling of kids’ retailers in our area keeping their doors open a little later than usual to cater to procrastinating purchasers.

(If you want a more extensive list of where to buy local this season, here’s a link to November’s Kids VT holiday gift guide.)

Bear Pond Books (77 Main St., Montpelier, 229-0774) is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

The upstairs of this independent bookstore is devoted to kids books and fun items, from moon-shaped nightlights to clothing emblazoned with familiar literary characters such as Harold and his Purple Crayon. A cozy, oversize chair and braided rugs in the corner of the room invite parents and children to curl up together and read. “People definitely do just sprawl out here,” says owner Claire Benedict.


Buttered Noodles (64 Harvest Lane, Williston, 764-1810) is open from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Monday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday; and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

This kids emporium sells baby gear, kids shoes, clothes and lots and lots of toys. Hot new items such as Bubber modeling clay, kinetic sand and FunLooms share the shelves with tried-and-true classics — think Sophie the Giraffe, art easels and John Deere toy trucks. Little ones can let loose in Club Noodle, a play area in the back of the store with a toy kitchen and train table.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF BUTTERED NOODLES
  • Courtesy of Buttered Noodles
The Flying Pig Bookstore (5247 Shelburne Rd., Shelburne, 985-3999) is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday to Monday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve. 

This indie shop was named 2013’s Best Children’s Bookstore in New England by Yankee Magazine. Local authors are celebrated here: Vermont authors Kate Messner and Dayna Lorentz both have new releases on the shelves. In the back of the store sits a collection of flying pigs, gifted by customers. There you’ll also find good stocking stuffers such as 3-D puzzles and crocheted indoor Frisbees.

Jamie Two Coats
(54 Falls Rd., Shelburne, 985-3221) is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Monday; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The stately shop — which occupies a pillared white-brick building that was once the town library — started out as a Waldorf school supply store nearly 20 years ago. It still stocks Waldorf-inspired products, such as Stockmar modeling beeswax, Woolpets needle felting kits and soft-bodied Kathe Kruse dolls. Capes, tutus and medieval Schleich figurines fill the “fairy room” in the back of the store. Other unique products — such as Mama K’s Aromatic Play Clay, made with lemongrass and geranium essential oils — elevate toy shopping to an elegant pursuit.

Kids City (10 Farrell St., South Burlington, 859-9130) is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

“Our biggest thing is service,” says store manager Tina Benoit. That translates to free gift wrapping, play stations peppered throughout the store and a rewards card that gives $10 off for every $100 spent. This kids department store carries LEGOs, Playmobil and Calico Critters brands, and has an extensive hobby section with rockets and model trains. Magna-Tiles, a magnetic building toy, are a hot commodity. “We can’t keep them in stock,” says Benoit.

Lenny's Shoe & Apparel (2121 Essex Rd., Williston, 879-6640; 295 Swanton Rd., St. Albans, 527-0532; 359 N. Main St., Barre, 476-7446) is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Christmas Eve at all three locations.

The variety of kids’ shoes at Lenny’s is extensive, from fur-lined camouflage Crocs to waterproof Bogs to red suede Emu boots that look like ladybugs. Carhartt overalls in tan and pink, SmartWool and Darn Tough socks, and outerwear by Columbia, Burton and Spyder help kids ride out the winter months in style.

Onion River Kids (7 Langdon St., Montpelier, 223-6025) is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Monday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

This offshoot of Onion River Sports sells established brands such as Patagonia, North Face and Columbia alongside products from smaller companies, such as Vermont-based Bitybean’s lightweight child carriers, Bunnytail all-weather baby blankets and Eco Vessel triple-insulated water bottles.

Phoenix Books (191 Bank St., Burlington, 448-3350; 21 Essex Way, Essex, 872-7111) Burlington location is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The Essex location is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Monday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Children’s-book posters decorate the walls of the lower level of Phoenix’s Burlington outpost. There’s a large selection of graphic novels and books by local authors. Sprinkled throughout the store are notecards highlighting staff recommendations. For a $25 yearly membership, patrons get 10 percent off all their purchases. Phoenix’s Essex store has a similar but slightly smaller selection of kids' books.

Zutano Company Store (79 Main St., Montpelier, 380-6043) is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Cotton leggings, tops and onesies in bright colors and whimsical prints fill the shelves of this store on Montpelier’s main drag. Reversible hoodies and faux-fur vests go beyond the basics. Staff recommend the fleece and cotton booties with Velcro closures as a fail-safe baby gift.

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