'Tis the season to give: Shop local & everybody wins
Our cover girl Linda Thach supports local businesses. Photo by Tory Germann.
By The Howl Street Team
The holidays are here and so are long lines at stores and in traffic anywhere near a mall.
How do you survive the season without busting your budget or going crazy?
Shop Greater Lowell.
From toys and the latest electronics to art, jewelry, books, great clothes, home goods, flowers, food and a whole lot more, you can find all you need to cross off everyone on your gift lists while avoiding mall crowds and killing your wallet.
Howl loves local businesses. When we shop local, we help feed our local economy, making the merriest of holidays for everyone. So check out our Shop Local Holiday Guide to help you navigate the seasonal madness without losing your mind.
Let the shopping begin â
TOYS FOR THE YOUNG + THE YOUNG AT HEART
Rogers' Toy Store, 150 Middle St., Lowell
Some toys never go out of style. Adults can rekindle memories of their youth when passing on these "oldies but goodies" to the kids on their list. Gary Rogers, owner of Rogers' Toys has shelves stocked with classics like Mattel's Rock'em Sock'em Robots ($24.99), Twister ($17.99), Mr. Potato Head ($8.99), the Operation Game ($24.99) and many more fun finds like sea monkeys, magic sets and classic Star Wars action figures. Plenty of this seasonâs new toys in stock too. Shop online.
The Toy Shop of Westford, 160 Littleton Road, Westford
The ultimate experience for parents looking for toys that are fun and educational. This specialty toy store is full of cool finds, like the Big Bag of Science with more than 70 fun activities â kids can make a blizzard of snow and erupt a 30-foot geyserâ ($39.99); and the Bubble Gum Factory with everything you need to make your own fruity, minty or sour recipes for hours of bubble blowing fun ($19.99). The Box of Jokes ($14.99) is chock full of silliness with classic goofy gags like the hand buzzer, ugly teeth, whoopee toot, fake vomit and more. We also love the Sustainable Earth Lab kit packed with 40 expereinets to help teach kids about saving our enviornment ($54.99).
Western Avenue Studios, 122 Western Avenue, Lowell
A holiday shopperâs dream come true, the Western Avenue art complex is a wonderland of gift ideas for everybody on your list, including some awesome one-of-a-kind toys and accessories:
Arlette Laan, Studio 532 at Western Ave.
Arlette makes the cutest and softest dolls kids of all ages will love. Visit her website here.
Eyeformation, Studio A302 at Western Ave.
This is the kind of local gem that just makes you say, Wow! An imagination playground, Eyeformation sells toys and gifts marked with original designs planted on everything from iPhone covers, sneaker stickers, pillows, coloring books and more â all made in Lowell. A very cool find. Shop online.
Tabletop Arena, 103 Market St., Lowell, MA
A gamerâs paradise, this downtown shop carryâs playing cards of all kinds (including
Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Warhammer), gaming accessories and a wide variety of popular board games, action figures and more.
Welles Emporium, 175 Merrimack St., Lowell
This downtown landmark shop is independently owned and features a little bit of everything including childrenâs toys by Melissa & Doug, jewelry (rings for under $10 and more), holiday ornaments and original artwork (here youâll find an assortment of nostalgic Lowell scenes painted by Janet Lambert Moore). Their website is currently under construction but keep an eye on it here and pay them a visit in store.
Main Trains, 210 Boston Road, Chelmsford
For the hobby enthusiast, this full-service model train shop has been in Chelmsford for years and stocks everything. Customer service is out of this world. If they donât have it, ask for it.
Larryâs Wonderful World of Comics, 66 Lakeview Ave., Lowell
Heaven for comic buffs, Larryâs is wallpapered in action figures, unique novelty items, and of course, comics, to satisfy kids of all ages. New releases ship Wednesday by 9am.
Target, 181 Plain St., Lowell
For the latest in electronics, like the kid-durable Oregon Scientific Meep Tablet ($149.99); talking Furby ($54) and cool app toys including Discovery Bay Games
Duo Pop with four joysticks that work wirelessly with your iPad to create a fast-paced interactive game show right at home ($38.59). For some pure, simple
fun on Christmas Day, throw in a no-spill Bubble Machine ($13.69). Shop online.
Radio Shack, 97 Church St., Lowell
A great place to score the inexpensive yet super popular Hexbugs â tiny robots shaped like real insects with sensitive antennae that respond to touch and sound
($10), or the Emerson Portable Karaoke Machine ($49.99) to bring out your kidâs inner rock star.
Walmart, 333 Main St., Tewksbury or 66 Parkhurst Road, Chelmsford
Introducing two-screen console gaming â one on a TV and the second on the touch screen GamePad controller â Wii U offers new possibilities for gaming,
allowing players to have different experiences with the same game at the same time.The new system features motion control, high definition graphics,
compatibility with most Wii games and accessories ($299.96 and up). Also, for kids 3 and up, Jake and the Neverland Pirates Musical Ship is one
of the seasonâs top toys by Fisher Price ($38.89).
GIFTS FOR HER
Humanity, 128 Merrimack St., Lowell
Whether itâs a new outfit or something simple like a cozy scarf or great pair of earrings, this downtown clothing boutique showcases the latest trends at prices that wonât kill your wallet â but will make her look like you did!
Visit them on Facebook.
Eyeful Beauty, 33 Middle St., Lowell
Sheâll be the fairest of them all this holiday season with a new hairstyle from one of downtownâs most popular salons. And you can never go wrong with a goodie bag of high-end hair products from the Kevin Murphy line (a personal fav of Howlâs editor, the Born Again rinse and Angel Wash is to die for!) or Soma Hair Technology. Both lines are organic and will make her tresses picture-ready.
Visit them online.
Salon City, 173 Market St., Lowell
What girl doesnât want to be pampered? Our friends are always buzzing about the amazing and affordable massages, manicures and pedicures from this friendly downtown salon that stocks Aveda products.
Visit them online.
Indigo Salon and Day Spa, 165 Merrimack St.
Give her gorgeous and glowing skin with a variety of different facial packages from Indigoâs popular aesthetician who uses lush Suki skin care. Salon owner Lori
Contarino is also known for giving fantastic cuts. Full line of Bumble & Bumble hair care and Suki skincare.
Visit them online.
Unique You Salon, 216 Central St.
Salon owner Rose Agbede specializes and cares for all types of hair but her full-service salon is downtownâs go-to spot for braiding, dreadlocks, weaves + extensions and the latest and greatest styles for black natural hair.
Visit them online.
Robert Anthony Williams Jewelry Design, Western Avenue, Lowell
Girls never mind getting jewelry, but itâs even more special when itâs one-of-a-kind. Bob Williams is a metalsmith who handcrafts beautiful custom jewelry at Western Avenue Studios. Got an idea, or want to reinvent a family heirloom for someone special? Robert can make it happen.
Visit his website.
Walk on The Moon Jewelry, Western Avenue, Lowell
Regina McGearty makes original and whimsical designs to fit any budget.
Shop online or visit her studio.
Marshallâs, 211 Plain St., Lowell
Still the best place for wrapping her in a nice and warm, high-end winter coat at an affordable price. Also great for snapping up brand name fragrances, gift items and designer fashions for less.
The Flower Mill, 96 Merrimack St., Lowell
Whether itâs a seasonal arrangement for the hostess of the party, momâs favorite bouquet, a handcrafted vase or a calming terrarium that makes her think of you every time she eyes it, the colors, scents and always-fresh arrangements from this downtown florist are sure to put a smile on her face. Vist them online.
Target, 119 Plain St.
Great one-stop shopping in Lowell for all her audio + visual needs from the small, like Skullcandyâs comfy and cool earbuds in pink ($24.99) to middle-of-the-road, like this nostalgic and cool red Crosley turntable ($79.99), to splurge items like the Vupoint Compact iPhone Photo Printer that quickly and easily grabs analog copies of all those fun holiday group shots. Just dock to your iPhone and out they come ($129.99).
GIFTS FOR HIM
Persona, 51 Market St., Lowell
Specializing in street wear and menâs apparel, this cool boutique shop also carries some of the best skateboards around. Here youâll find brands like Converse, boots by Timberland, coats warm enough to brave the New England winter by Penfield and plenty of other fly brands including HUF, Stussy, 10 Deep, ALFIE, Crooks And Castles and a whole lot more.
Gentlemenâs District, 23 Central St., Lowell, MA
In this downtown menswear shop filled with cargo pants baseball hats, button downs and graphic Ts, you can score a slick pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses. The Sunglasses made famous by Tom Cruise in Ricky Business, Wayfarerâs have become an iconic and timeless fashion piece similar to a womanâs little black dress. The reason? Anyone can wear these sunnies because they flatter every face shape.
If youâre looking to splurge, why not pick up the JVC 42â HDTV ($369). When it comes to flat screens, buyers often overlook sound for picture quality. This TV has both. For more budget friendly items, or to compliment the flat screen, you canât go wrong with the Dark Knight trilogy.
Christopher Nolanâs $3.5 billion grossing franchise is the state-of-the-art superhero franchise for good reason. Try and name another recent bank robbery as great as the opening sequence in The Dark Knight ($29.96). For a gift your guy will surely still be using in 2013, opt for Halo 4. The ultimate achievement in pixilated sci-fi combat will keep him busy working on his survival skills for hours on end ($59.96).
And for a sweet little stocking stuffer, snap up a Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver. This small and simple device can be plugged into an audio system for streaming wirelessly from your smartphone, laptop or tablet directly to your stereo while eliminating a messy tangle of cords ($24.99). Shop online.
A crew neck sweater, stripes or plain ($19.99), is that rare sweater that will work in any wardrobe.
Harrington Liquors, 10 Summer St., Chelmsford, MA
Give him a taste of Russia with a local flavor. Hammer + Sickle Vodka is imported by Klin Spirits with offices based in Chelmsford. The sleek packaged alcohol was only available in Lowell and Boston when it first rolled out on the market in 2007. But the smooth flavor increased demand, making this vodka easier to find in several local liquor stores (around $30 for a fifth of a gallon).
Visit them online.
FOR THE BOOK WORM
UMass Lowell Downtown Bookstore, 151 Merrimack St., Lowell
A list of books new this fall:
How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life by Sheila Heti. A smart and hilarious book perfect for fans of HBOâs show Girls; This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, hysterically empathetic Dominican-American novelist Junot Diaz writes about the likable Junior who gets his heart broken nine different ways â each one almost painfully honest; Life of Pi by Yann Martel touches on religion, zoology, fear, sheer tenacity and what it means to be human; The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, this portrait of a teenage cancer patientâs first experience with romance will have you laughing and crying; Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a riveting thriller about the aftermath of a girl gone missing with a very chilling ending; Swimming Home by Deborah Levy, short, simple and haunting; The Elephant Keeperâs Children by Peter Hoeg, an escapist farce with a serious core; Immobility by Brian Evenson, a dark and compelling dystopian vision; Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery by Bill Clegg, a raw and honest tale of alcohol and drug abuse by a big-name literary agent; The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, a lyrical and unpretentious book about the Iraq War; The Lifespan of a Fact by John DâAgata and Jim Fingal, a fascinating examination of the gap between truth and literary truth; Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room by Geoff Dyer, part memoir, part commentary, Dyers work is artful and engaging.
For the music fan, look for memoirs by just about everybody this season, including Neil Young, Pete Townshend, Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart.
FOR THE FOODIEâS
Brewâd Awakening Coffeehaus, 61 Market St., Lowell
For the coffee lover, you canât go wrong with some delicious fair trade coffee from Brewd. Itâs coffee that not only tastes great, but sends a portion back from all fair trade purchases to the people who produce the products so they earn fair wages and can help better develop their communities.
Visit Brew'd online.
Sweet Lydiaâs, 160 Merrimack St., Lowell
Lydia Blanchard has a saying: âMoney canât buy happiness but it can buy marshmallows which is kinda the same thing.â Weâre confident that one bite of her homemade gourmet marshmallows and youâll agree. Lydia has put a delicious modern twist on the classic campfire treat with so many different flavor combinations (including her limited edition peppermint candy marshmallows), it will make the sweets lover on your list swoon.
View her delicious gift options and handcrafted concoctions here.
Tutto Bene, 58 Prescott St., Lowell
This downtown wine and cheese cellar is a great place to score some beautiful wine gift baskets pre-made or hand selected by you for a personal touch. Tutto Bene carries dozens of wines from regions around the world â many bottles are award-winning wines priced below $20 â and the shop has a nice selection of fine chocolates, cheeses, pastas, sauces and cute gift items like sleek and artistic wine stoppers that will help keep that bottle of vino fresh after opening. If youâre really looking for a gift thatâs different, you can also purchase gift certificates for a private wine-tasting party, where the lucky recipient and friends can learn about wines, taste several different kinds and sample complimentary hors dâoeuvres. Or, if you have an art and wine lover in the family, Tutto Beneâs Art of Wine classes offer a fun and social night out where attendees sip three different wines while painting their own work of art to take home. Canvass and paints provided and the group tutorial is given by experienced local artists. Learn more on Tutto Beneâs website here.
Lowell Provision, 23 Aiken Avenue, Lowell
For some people, nothing says I love you more than a basket of meat. Seriously, you canât go wrong with some of the great value packages offered by Lowell Provision and its sister store, The Alpine Butcher at 963 Chelmsford St. Pick up some of your loved oneâs favorite beer or wine, and place in a basket or gift bag with a gift certificate for the B.B.Q. Special ($44.95), which gets you 6 lbs. of beef patties, 3 lbs. of hot dogs, 2 lbs. of Italian sausage, 5 lbs. of whole or cut chicken, 2 dozen hamburg rolls and 2 dozen hot dog rolls; the Game Days Special ($49.95 plus deposit) including 1 rack of smoked baby back ribs, 2 lbs. of buffalo or teriyaki wings, 2 lbs. of meatballs (64 count), 2 lbs. of kielbasa and a 12 pack of domestic beer; or the Health Choice Special ($58.95) with 3 lbs. of extra lean hamburg, 3 lbs. of sirloin strip, 3 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken breasts and 3 lbs. of ground turkey. View all the other meat pack specials here.
Mrs. Nelsonâs Candy House, 292 Chelmsford St., Chelmsford
From candy canes made right in store to chocolates packaged in holiday gift boxes, this landmark sweet shop has plenty to fill your holiday stockings.
Edible Arrangements, 60 Merrimack St., Lowell
Whether youâre in need of a gift to bring the hostess of that holiday gathering or just want to send a greeting to brighten someoneâs day, the collection of fresh fruit baskets, fruit bouquets and legendary chocolate dipped strawberries are a nice switch from all those holiday pies.
Gift certificates sure to please the foodie on your list
Who doesnât like a night out on the town without worrying about the check? A gift certificate to any one of Lowell's amazing restaurants is another great idea. Some of our favorites include:
Athenian Corner, Greek
207 Market St., Lowell
Babylon, Middle Eastern
25 Merrimack St., Lowell
Blue Taleh, Thai & Japanese
15 Kearney Square, Lowell
573 Lawrence St., Lowell
24 Market St., Lowell
Cobblestones, Comfort & American Fare
91 Dutton St., Lowell
Life Alive, Vegetarian & Vegan
194 Middle St.
Ricardo's Cafe Trattoria, Italian
110 Gorham St., Lowell
Tepthida Khmer, Fine Cambodian Cuisine
115 Chelmsford St.
Ward Eight, Gourmet Cheeseburgers, Pub Food & Craft Beer
280 Central St., Lowell
HEALTH, FITNESS & FUN
All that holiday feasting will require working off a few pounds. Consider a gym membership or a fun activity to keep your nearest and dearest feeling fab.
Sangha Yoga Collective, 256 Market St.
Help them find their inner zen.
Brunswick Zone Bowling, 647 Pawtucket Blvd. Lowell
The gift that keeps on rolling. A gift card to the Lowell lanes makes for some group fun.
Lowell Taekwondo, 17 Shattuck St., Lowell
Great self-esteem booster and exercise for kids of all ages.
Ramalho's, (boxing) 900 Lawrence St., Lowell
This is the gym where retired pro boxer Micky Ward got his start. A gritty but friendly and family oriented neighborhood gym.
The Club, 80 Middlesex St., Lowell
Downtown health club offers a full gym, classes, spa services and pool area.
Best Fitness, 265 Chelmsford St.
One of the more affordable gyms in the area, itâs bright, clean and has everything theyâll need to keep in shape.
Chelmsford Cyclery, 30 Chelmsford St., Chelmsford
Helmets, lights, gear and over 500 bikes in stock. Get them ready to ride.
City Bicycle, 181 Market St., Lowell
Expert repair and custom bikes in the heart of downtown. Do you have a cyclist on your gift list? Get them a certificate for a tune-up.
FOR THE MUSICIAN
University Music, 1717 Middlesex St., Lowell
This friendly shop operated for years by Marlene and Brian Buckley stocks Dean and Luna electric, acoustic and classical guitars, ukuleles, banjos, mandolins, bass guitars, amplifiers, sheet music, and more. They also offer lessons and do repairs. Discounts are offered to students. Visit them online.
Whitsett Guitar Works, 181 Market St., Lowell
If itâs broken, Whitsett can fix it. One of only 32 guitar shops worldwide selected by Fender as a custom care service center, owner Bill Whitsett and his crew can give that six-string a tune up so it plays better than ever. Whitsett also offers guitar lessons at their beautiful downtown studio. Click here to learn more.
Carlâs Custom Guitars, online store based in Lowell
From boutique effects pedals that will give their guitar a sound like Hendrix or Page to customized volume attenuators, dovetailed pine speaker cabinets, 6-string cigar box guitars and more, youâll find quality craftsmanship at affordable prices. Visit Carl's online.
Harmonâs Paint & Wallpaper, 314 Market St., Lowell
Got someone on your list who just moved, or maybe a family member has been planning to give a room in their home a makeover. Well nothing helps push the job along and make life easier than a gift card. Independently owned and operated, Harmonâs has a large selection of home decorating needs. Visit their website.
Durkinâs Carpeting & Interiors, 287 Appleton St.
One of the cityâs oldest operating businesses, Durkin's specializes in servicing all types of flooring including vinyl, ceramic, hardwood, linoleum, laminate, carpeting and braided rugs, drapery, window dressings and furniture upholstery.
Lowes, 50 Lowes Way, Lowell
For in-depth projects like home remodeling to simple fixes and the supplies for getting the job done, a gift card to this staple home improvement and hardware store could mean a very merry holiday for the do-it-yourself person on your list. Lowes also stocks a wide selection of appliances.
The Merrimack Repertory Theater, 50 East Merrimack St.
Tickets to a show always make a great gift. The MRTs new season just got started. Take in the experience of live theater brought to the stage by several award-winning playwrights, all in a beautiful newly renovated auditorium. Click here for more.
UNIQUE GIFTS FOR EVERYONE
Found, 33 Middle St., Lowell
A funky haven piled high with one-of-a-kind items from every era, here youâll find plenty of gifts â from retro toys like a JFK collectorâs doll to vintage hats and luggage, dishes, furniture, lamps and lighting, novelty lunch boxes, typewriters, instruments â you name it and you can find it at Found. Visit them online.
Traveling Rhino & Friends, 2 Central Square, Chelmsford
Another fun store to browse around in, this Chelmsford specialty shop has hilarious greeting cards, interesting garden and home statues, including a giant sculpture of a big toe, soy candles, organic soaps, unique jewelry, glassware, pottery, funky housewares, original artwork, clothing, shoes â even candy. No website is available.
Downtown Dancewear, 120 Merrimack St.
Dancewear, shoes and accessories for the littlest ballerina on your list to the principal dancer. Everything from ballet to jazz and tap.
Visit them online.
Garnickâs, 54 Middlesex St., Lowell, MA
For the music lover and nostalgia buff, this landmark store carries a ton of vinyl and vintage turntables. And meeting the brothers who run the shop is an experience in itself. A real Lowell gem.
Van Goghâs Gear, 200 Middle St., Lowell
A nice selection of art supplies for the beginner and the professional artist, stocking brushes, Gamblin oil paints, FW Artistsâ Acrylic Inks, Cold Flexible Tools, encaustic color sets and much more. Custom picture framing also available. Visit them online.
JWH Studio Statuary, Studio 524 at 122 Western Ave., Lowell
Sculptor Jay Hungateâs intricate stone carvings offer a variety of unique gift options from gothic gargoyle book ends ($56) and several stone wall hangings and garden sculptures for under $20.
Visit Jayâs website here.
Aaron Slaterâs Glass Studio, Studio 216, 122 Western Avenue, Lowell
You canât beat Aaronâs handmade glass ornaments. For $15, these icicle-shaped beauties with a ribbon of peppermint floating in the center make a pretty and inexpensive gift.
View more of Aaronâs work here.
Peter Zimmermanâs Glass Designs, Studio A205 at 122 Western Avenue, Lowell.
Peterâs glass animal ornaments, like the popular flying pig ($20), and other small animals will add some playfulness to the tree or make a nice surprise in any holiday stocking. View more of Peter's work online.
Megpix Professional Photography, Studio 513, 122 Western Ave., Lowell
A picture can be worth 1,000 words, so tell them you love them with a portrait. Lowell photographer Meghan Moore has a talent for capturing the heart of personality in her stunning portrait photography. Lern more about Meg here.
Jeanne Osborne Style, Studio 302, Western Ave., Lowell
Jeanneâs fashionâs are girly and have that vintage look. Think shabby chic meets Burberry. Some of her pieces seem picture perfect for a trek along the English countryside, like this plaid cape ($178) that works great with skinny jeans and riding boots. Jeanne also makes a variety of one-of-a-kind handbags, cozy scarfs and has an eclectic assortment of hats and home accents like throw pillows at her Lowell studio. Click here to learn more.
Jessica Cohen, Studio 219, 122 Western Avenue, Lowell
Jessicaâs pen and ink drawings are intricate and stunning to see in person. If youâre looking for something different, Jessica draws portraits as well.
Linda Branch Dunn, Studio 512, Western Avenue
A talented artist who dyes, paints, disassembles and rebuilds fabric into functional art, Linda creates beautiful wall art and unique greeting cards for that writer on your list. Learn more about Linda here.
In addition to Western Avenue Studios (thereâs just too many amazing artists to mention on this list so please pay them a visit in person), youâll also find original art to suit all kinds of tastes at Lowellâs many other studios and galleries including:
119 Gallery, 119 Chelmsford St., 01852
Arts League of Lowell, 117 Merrimack St., 01852
American Textile History Museum, 491 Dutton St., Lowell, MA 01852
Ayer Lofts Art Gallery, 172 Middle St., 01852
Brush Art Gallery, 256 Market St., 01852
UnchARTed Studios, 66 Merrimack St., 01852
The Loading Dock Gallery at Western Ave., 01851
Zeitgeist Art Gallery, 167 Market St., 01852
New England Quilt Museum, 18 Shatuuck St., Lowell, MA 01852
Whistler House Museum of Art, 243 Worthen St., Lowell, MA 01852
Fins & Feathers, 83 Parkhurst Rd, Chelmsford
This mom and pop pet shop has been around since 1984 and specializes in fish and exotic birds. Youâll also find plenty of holiday treats and presents for all family pets from dogs and cats to lizards, rabbits and rodents. View their website here.
Levi & Annieâs Dog Bakery, available at Brewâd Awakening Coffeehaus, 61 Market St.
Homemade organic treats â in chicken and peanut butter flavors â that dogs love. Made in Lowell. Dog tested and approved. Like them on Facebook.