Gifts that say ‘Encinitas’

Local business groups, merchants offer tips on hometown holiday shopping


The communities of Encinitas each offer holiday shopping with singular character, according to area merchant groups. (North Coast Current photo illustration)

Debbie L. Sklar

The tree has been decorated and the stockings hung with care but the shopping list is still incomplete.

There’s no reason to worry if you haven’t picked up a gift for your boss or a small trinket for your neighbor just to say thanks for watering the plants while you were on vacation over the summer.

Forget the mall this season and head to your local communities such as Encinitas, Leucadia and Cardiff to check off your holiday shopping list.

While each community has its own personality, chambers of commerce and business districts, they all have places within their limits where you can shop ’till you drop.

Enjoy Encinitas

“Encinitas does not have a fashion mall per se. What makes us different is all the small retail shops in and around our city,” said Mimi Gattinella, Encinitas Chamber of Commerce office manager. “From Leucadia to Cardiff on the 101, you can find anything from vintage antique stores to modern new-era yoga clothing stores.”

She said a perennial favorite is Hansen’s on Coast Highway 101, where you can find the latest and hippest in sports fashions from beachwear to ski wear.

“Along our El Camino (Real) corridor, you will also find some small mom/pop retail stores along with some of your big-box regulars,” Gattinella said. “We believe in supporting our business community. It can’t be helped if the kids want a specific toy, but for your sister Amy she’d love the sweater from that small personalized boutique store.”

In addition to local shopping options, the city of Encinitas has many activities that it conducts to get folks into the holiday season, too.

For example, Gattinella said, the city recently had its Holiday Parade with its theme “Dropping in for the Holidays” to represent the healthy athletic lifestyle of Encinitas.

“We even had Tony Hawk riding on a 35-foot-long skateboard … oh and Santa, also,” she said. “As for the chamber, we primarily are here to assist businesses in the community; however, we advertise all of the holiday events in our weekly blast that goes out to over 1,600 emails each week.”

She said moving into 2015, it looks to be another strong year in Encinitas.

“We hope that our city has lots of visitors to come and experience what the vibe of Encinitas is all about,” Gattinella said.

Look to Leucadia for gifts

Over in Leucadia, there are also many places where you can fill your shopping bags with all sorts of gifts for friends, colleagues and loved ones.

“Leucadia is full of hidden gems for holiday shopping. The Gold Coast Plaza is a one-stop-shop for anybody on your list,” suggests Kellie Shay Hinze, a program assistant at Leucadia 101 Main Street Association. “Three Sisters Jewelry design makes heartfelt and custom designs that are heirloom quality. Fully Loaded Juicery offers gift certificates for cleanses that will be useful in the months following the holidays.

“There are so many unique small businesses that go all out for the holidays that you feel the pay-it-forward satisfaction of shopping locally while finding highly individual gifts that really aren’t available anywhere else.”
— Kellie Shay Hinze, Leucadia 101 Main Street Association program assistant

“Sugar Coffee and Tea is a great place to relax with a cup of tea or for a caffeine boost during your shopping,” Hinze continued. “Leucadia has many places selling iconic gear from its favorite establishments. T-shirts from Ducky Waddles read ‘Keep Leucadia Funky,’ Pannikin Coffee and Tea has t-shirt designs that go from being your favorite piece of clothing to vintage treasures over the years. Surfy Surfy consistently turns out clever surf gear particular to the area, Seaweed and Gravel features awesome designs.”

Additionally, Shatto and Sons have so much local gear to choose from you could make anyone on your gift list happy. There are also many popular restaurants selling fun hats and clothing such as Fish 101, Haggo’s Organic Taco and HapiFish; while you’re there, you can also pick up dining gift certificates. Gift certificates for Leucadia’s best salons is another great way to go, Hinze said.

“Fabrika Monet is worth a visit to see their adorable cottage community of stylists and estheticians and Noni Salon Boutique Spa is a full-service salon with a boutique full of good finds,” she continued. “Vixen Boutique is another must-visit because of its selection of new and vintage finds.

“Leucadia has come to symbolize a lifestyle of satisfaction and simple happiness. Not only is the experience of shopping in Leucadia awesome, there are so many excellent restaurants and coffee shops lining Highway 101 in Leucadia such as Vigilucci’s, Priority Public House, Solterra, Pandora’s Pizza and Coffee Coffee,” she said. “You can make a whole day of holiday shopping including stopping to enjoy a meal and a drink while you chat with friendly locals and merchants. There are so many unique small businesses that go all out for the holidays that you feel the pay-it-forward satisfaction of shopping locally while finding highly individual gifts that really aren’t available anywhere else.”

Like Encinitas, Leucadia is also getting into the holiday spirit with what it calls “Light up Leucadia.” A local company called Homefront Lighting and Electric lit up the trees in the Leucadia Roadside Park as a donation to the community and Leucadia 101 Main Street. It’s offering specials to merchants and residents who choose to have their holiday lighting done through its family-run company.

Leucadia also hosted the largest “Shop Local” campaign in San Diego County on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and merchants offered special gifts, offers and refreshments to shoppers, according to Hinze.

“Many merchants host holiday fundraisers in the vein of giving. Bing Surfboards, HapiFish and Fish 101 are just several of the local businesses participating in toy drives or seasonal fundraisers committed to improving the lives of others,” she said.

And beside all of this, Leucadia has a strong floriculture tradition that carries on Encinitas’ heritage as a flower-growing center, she added.

“Floral Design by Ari does outstanding holiday arrangements that leave the house smelling incredible and looking festive for family gatherings,” she said. “Leucadia Floral and Plant does really inspiring arrangements with succulents and air plants that are currently so trendy. The Madd Potter goes to a lot a trouble to have in stock hard-to-find pots and handmade tiles that are great gifts. You really can’t go wrong in Leucadia.”

Crazy for Cardiff

Not far away is Cardiff-by-the-Sea, where shopping is also aplenty, according to locals such as Chris Fowler of Fowler’s Boutique.

“Cardiff is definitely a small town; there is really only one central hub, which is Cardiff Town Center and the immediate surrounding area, so clothing-wise besides Fowler’s, Patagonia is a great store, Iron Cross is a great local surf shop and Seka is the new women’s store, in the Town Center,” Fowler said.

Even though it is a small area, locals as well as visitors might like to shop Cardiff because of its unique offerings and quaint small-town appeal.

“It’s a great place to shop for the experience, too, I think. Obviously, we all carry great lines, but the customer service and small town vibe is more impressive to me,” Fowler said. “The city and the chamber are great in decorating the town, the parade is awesome and a couple of events that they throw like the Kringle Mingle is great.”

Fowler also added that a fun day in Cardiff for anyone visiting might be “to start at Zumbar Coffee & Tea for your first cup, walk to the beach, then shop at Fowler’s, eat lunch at Rimel’s Rotisserie, fill your coffee at the local Starbucks, and then get ‘Cardiff Crack’ from the Seaside Market (the market’s famous marinated tri-tip.) What a day … Maybe a night cap at Zenbu with some live music?”

If you need even more suggestions Cardiff 101 Main Street Association Executive Director Tess Radmill recommended a few others locations: Patagonia for the eco-conscious consumer, Dirty Dogs for your pup, Rancho Coastal Humane Society Thrift Store for bargain deals, or get a stay-cation health and wellness package with gift certificates for a facial at Releaf Day Spa, a massage at Pure Life Thai Spa, yoga at Soleil Yoga or Vinyasa Arts Yoga, manicure or pedicure from 20 Lounge, new workout gear from New Balance, and healthy treats from Sambazon Acai Café.

Whatever gifts you choose and from whichever community within Encinitas, you’ll be supporting local small businesses while getting unique gifts at the same time.

Debbie L. Sklar is a freelance writer in the region