Buy this: Kokedamas, a style of bonsai in which plants are grown in suspended, moss-covered balls of soil, like tiny green planets ($14-$50).
Wine has sommeliers; now salt has selmeliers, and the best place to find one is at the Meadow. Since it opened in 2006, the Meadow has earned a well-deserved rep as the place to explore the innumerable forms of sodium chloride. The small shop features walls of vials filled with a rainbow of black, brown, red, pink and gray salts, as well as stacks of Himalayan salt blocks for cooking or serving. You can taste anything. Beyond salt, the Meadow offers wine, chocolate, fresh-cut flowers and the widest selection of bitters anywhere in town. A great stop for your foodie significant other or any of your bartender friends.
Buy this: Barbecue salt set ($36), organic lavender spice bitters ($23.95).
Flutter is ready for Christmas: Bowls of beautiful glass ornaments shaped like whales and other critters lie about, and the shelves are full of fabulous stocking stuffers. This is one of those shops where a speedy visit is impossible. There's far too much to look at, including funky bottle openers, unusual scents (tamarind cocoa and pipe smoke were two worth a sniff) and gag-gift coffee-table books like
. Flutter also offers several racks of colorful vintage women's clothes scattered amid the baskets of sparkly silver letters and the brightly colored wrapping paper.
Buy this: Little red toy accordion ($32), The Moustache Grower's Guide ($9.95).
Nearly everything in the modern world is bad for kids these days. Luckily, worried parents can visit Black Wagon, which, although its name sounds more like a death-metal band than a children's toy store, specializes in eco-friendly kiddy clothes and nontoxic playthings. Offerings include wooden trains, PVC-free rain gear and fun, felt toys. For the vegan parent, how about giving their toddler a "healthy, gourmet pita-pocket lunch" felt playset? For a beer-brewing dad with an 8-year-old, the ginger ale brewing kit will ensure a couple of hours of father-son time.
Buy this: Soopsori wooden rattle set ($25), rain boots with butterflies ($34).
Buy this: Doggie hoodies by Zack & Zoey ($15.95 and up).
Buy this: Bullet buddies vibrators ($13), Gun Oil silicone lube ($16.50).