In a drive-through, mail order world, it’s nice sometimes to take a detour back to the days of lovely customer service and goods with close-to-home origins. My latest pair of earrings came from the gift shop at Tempe Center for the Arts, where amazing volunteers speak with genuine enthusiasm of the local artists whose works they sell and support.
After attending a recent Arizoni Awards ceremony at TCA, where bright fushia, teal and crimson feathers took center stage for a musical number from “Seussical, Jr.,” I was thrilled to find more subdued art ala feathers among the gift shop’s selection of hair bobbles — something I notice more than most now that my locks are getting rather long.
The week before, I’d visited the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts gift shop with my son Christopher, who was searching for fun care package items to send to sister Lizabeth in New York City. I wish I had known about their retro-vibe totes back when Lizabeth still spent most of her time hauling around pointe shoes and other ballet paraphernalia.
I left with all sorts of buttons featuring fun images and sayings, something I’m also a sucker for at the Phoenix Art Museum. Never mind that they have artsy kitchen utensils, kids’ crafts, accessories and such. I’m a sucker for a bin full of buttons — and the classier black flower crafted of zippers that I always pine for when I’m there.
I hit the Heard Museum gift shops in Phoenix and Scottsdale while on the prowl last year for unique holiday ornaments. Their “when pigs fly” folk art offerings were a big hit at last year’s holiday shindig with my magazine family. I also picked up a tiny silver charm that helped ease Jennifer’s nerves one day as a particularly tough test was looming at ASU.
I rarely leave the gift shop at the Musical Instrument Museum empty handed since I’m ever so fond of their world music offerings. They’ve got fun instruments like thumb pianos, a diverse selection of books for kids and adults, and sterling silver jewely that makes my heart skip a beat.
We’ve also enjoyed our time at gift shops for the Phoenix Zoo, the Rio Salado Audubon Society, the Desert Botanical Garden and other places where art meets nature. Plus smaller venues offering funkier fare — like the art galleries and shops along Roosevelt Row in Phoenix. Also library gift shops run by lovely volunteers and “Local First AZ” businesses with an arts twist.
As you’re shopping in coming months for special gifts for family, friends and teachers, remember the museums, performing arts venues and other places with gift shops that make it fun, easy and affordable to couple shopping with supporting Arizona arts and culture.
Note: Find Tempe Center for the Arts at www.tempe.gov/tca, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts at www.scottsdaleperformingarts.com, the Phoenix Art Museum at www.phxart.org, the Heard Museum at www.heard.org and the Musical Instrument Museum at www.themim.org. Find Roosevelt Row at www.rooseveltrow.org and Local First AZ at www.localfirstaz.com.
Coming up: Dance meets father/daughter time, Performing arts meets pajamas