Creative Loafing - Atlanta
Where to shop locally without dropping a lot of cash
by Scott Henry
Money's tight. How are you going to get everyone on your shopping list interesting gifts that don't break the bank? The answer is: Shop where you're going to get the most bang for your buck-and-a-half. The goal is to find tchochtkes and presents that are so unique, they'll distract the recipient from how little money you actually spent.
It doesn't get much more unusual than Rondo, downtown Atlanta's own superstition superstore. Who couldn't use a "jinx-removing, drive away evil mojo bag"? Or a powder to ward off hexes? Or "Come to Me" spray for snaring a paramour? Rondo has the craziest selection of lucky incense, magic charms and mystic herbs this side of New Orleans, all packaged with kitschy, old-school labels.
There are a half-dozen fascinating Asian and Latino grocery stores along Buford Highway; one of our favorites is 99 Ranch Market. It has aisles filled with cheap incense, tea sets, unfamiliar cookware, prayer supplies and weird herbal remedies that make great stocking stuffers.
For those with less eccentric tastes, there's Richard's Variety Store (931 Monroe Drive, Suite 113), which carries an almost random selection of toys, housewares, candles, old-time candy and hard-to-define knickknacks. A Buckhead mainstay for decades, Richard's recently opened a second location in Midtown.
Antique stores can be seriously expensive, and flea markets tend to be filled with junk. To find that sweet spot where vintage goods are offered at decent prices, head to Kennesaw to visit the Big Shanty Antique Market. One of the larger antique malls in metro Atlanta with more than 100 dealers' booths, it has a no-frills atmosphere where a little digging can turn up great deals on old books, vintage clothes, antique china and other stuff you didn't even know you wanted.
Atlanta has a number of fine used bookstores, but if your budget is stretched thin, you might opt for Book Nook, which offers hours of browsing through shelves of hardcovers, paperbacks, CDs, LPs, comic books, action figures and other gifts for the geek in your life.
For gently worn dresses, jackets, shoes, T-shirts and accessories, you could do worse than Rag-O-Rama in L5P. The store has possibly Atlanta's largest, hippest selection of used clothes – most up-to-date, with a few vintage items thrown in – and everything's priced to move.
The boutique attached to Young Blood Gallery carries affordable art and crafts produced by local artists, from screenprinted T-shirts to handmade light-switch covers, from funky jewelry to one-of-a-kind toys. Not only will you be getting a unique gift cheap, you'll be helping some hipster buy his or her next pack of smokes – and isn't that a good feeling?
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