By Michele Meleen
Holiday shopping can sometimes feel more like a chore than an experience in giving. But, thanks to the slow, rural pace of western New York and some smart local business owners, this holiday shopping season can be fun. Forget hours hunched over a computer screen ordering online or planning several trips to traffic packed areas with overwhelming selections. This fall, pack up the family, take a shopping adventure to Chautauqua County, and find gifts for everyone on your list.
The Stagecoach West
At first glance this massive store is a leading retailer of all things horseback riding. Upon further investigation you will be amazed at the vast selection of gifts geared toward all age groups and non-riders. Family owned and operated since 1980 The Stagecoach West is located just off I-90 exit 58 on routes 5 & 20 in Irving, NY.
Much of the merchandise does have a western or rural theme which includes horses and farming, but you could certainly find appropriate gifts for any family member here. For kids there are educational toys, costumes, footwear, and apparel. For riders you can expect the best in equine supplies, western wear, and trail riding gear. For the average adult there is footwear including slippers and Muck boots, kitchen decor, jewelry and accessories, and a wide variety of other unique gifts. Before you make the long haul to Buffalo for holiday shopping, consider stopping off at The Stagecoach West Monday-Saturday from 9 am to 8 pm or Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm.
Chautauqua Miniatures and 2 Chixx Gift Shoppe
Located in the Red Brick Farm Marketplace on West Lake Road, Route 394 in Mayville, this hidden shopping gem holds more surprises than you might imagine. Don’t let the name fool you, Chautauqua Miniatures and 2 Chixx Gift Shoppe is much more than a miniature collector’s paradise or a girly gift shop. The cozy atmosphere of this restored barn is enough to make you feel welcome, complete with background music and bubbly owners to help you have an unforgettable shopping experience.
On the first floor you will find an incomprehensible selection of dollhouses and miniature items for children and collectors alike. Don’t worry parents – most of these items are out of reach or in glass cases so little ones can be free to browse without fear of damage. This area of the shop also features small toys perfect for stuffing stockings, kitchen wares – including kid’s aprons, games, stationery, books for all ages, clothing, and accessories. The second floor houses what is referred to as Toy Land. Once you move through the large selection of home decor you will find yourself in the middle of a huge selection of toys for all ages from trusted, unique brands like Melissa & Doug and Calico Critters. Chautauqua Miniatures and 2 Chixx Gift Shoppe is open year round from 10 am to 5 pm, Monday-Saturday and 12 to 5 pm on Sunday during the holiday season. As an added bonus, if they aren’t too busy, the store offers complimentary gift wrapping.
Webb’s Cottage Collection
Part of Webb’s Resort in Mayville, the Cottage Collection is a beautiful shopping space filled with a wide variety candles, bath and body, kitchenware, toys and games, furniture items, wine accessories, and much more. The shop features a great cafe offering a variety of coffees, teas, other drinks, and soups. The front of the shop is generally lined with an assortment of colorful rocking chairs. The Cottage Collection is situated with a beautiful view of Chautauqua Lake and is conveniently located in conjunction with Webb’s Restaurant, Candy Factory, and Motel. Each season at the Cottage Collection brings an appropriate change in decor and now is the time to enjoy the upcoming holiday shopping and Christmas periods.
Chautauqua Institution is more than a summer destination for tourists. Modeled after a campus bookstore, the Chautauqua Bookstore is open all year from 9 am to 5 pm daily. They carry books from New York Times Bestsellers and local authors. If they don’t have what you’re looking for in stock, you can even request a special order for in-print books at no additional cost provided you plan to pick it up in the store. As a truly unique gift for lifelong learners the store sells recordings of the amazing music and lectures from the summer season. For the non-readers in the family, there is a wide variety of Chautauqua-themed clothing, accessories, and souvenirs available. Pulling from the community focus on education and the arts you can also find great kids toys or books that encourage learning and creativity.
Blue Heron Gift Shop at the Audubon
If a fun-filled family shopping adventure is on your to-do list this holiday season the Audubon Community Nature Center at 1600 Riverside Road in Jamestown is where you need to be. Located inside the Nature Center Building, the Blue Heron Gift Shop features nature-related gifts for people of all ages. Educational toys like puppets, stuffed animals, explorer tools, puzzles, and books will delight children all year long. Stationary, embroidered shirts, walking sticks, bird feeders, and nest box kits are available for children and adults. For a truly unique gift consider giving a membership to the Audubon so families can enjoy their present over and over again.
Once you’ve taken care of your shopping list, grab the kids and head into The Nature Center for some hands-on displays or a visit to the Discovery Room where live local reptiles and amphibians are on display. As an added bonus you can escape the crowds for a quick break in your day with a walk around the property on one of the many trails.
The trails at the Jamestown Audubon Nature Center are open year round from dawn to dusk, but the Blue Heron Gift Shop and Nature Center Building are open November-February on Monday-Friday from 10 am to 1 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm, and Sunday from 1 to 4:30 pm.
For an additional nature experience, stop at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute on Curtis Street in Jamestown. The Nature Store offers popular Peterson Field Guide titles, signed and limited edition Peterson prints, note cards, bird-friendly coffee, children’s books and more. The Nature Store is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm and on Sunday from 1 to 5 pm.
Our Own Candle Company Gift Store
Technically considered two separate stores that are located right next to each other, Our Own Candle Company Outlet Store and Our Own Candle Company Gift Store in Findley Lake offer endless amounts of gifts for people of all ages. The Outlet Store stands as the only place in the country you will find every scent in every style of their signature candles. If it fits into the categories of candles, scents, or illumination you are likely to find it here.
After you’ve worn your nose out sniffing candles head over to Our Own Candle Company Gift Store where you’ll find gourmet foods, home decor, gift baskets, jewelry, apparel, garden items, and fun gifts for the whole family. If you’re nice you might even get to say “Hi” to Santa. Both stores are located on North Road and are open Monday-Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.
The Nostalgia Shoppe
A truly unique shopping experience, The Nostalgia Shoppe is located inside the red barn at The Blue Heron Inn in Findley Lake. Shop their inconceivable selection of nostalgic toys and games or visit the candy counter where you can find sweets that were popular in decades past. For the more mature shopper there is also a wide variety of artisan crafted items, spiritual and new age accessories, and Findley Lake souvenirs. The Shoppe is open all year with winter hours from 11 am to 5 pm on Thursday and Friday and 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Be on the lookout for special events which are held at the store throughout the year.
Triple Crown Sports Cards
Collectors, gamers, and nostalgia junkies will love this overloaded store in the heart of downtown Westfield. You’ll have fun finding gifts for the whole family with items including collectible sports cards from decades past, sports memorabilia, popular kids card games and accessories like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh, character memorabilia, and a wide variety of decorative metal signs. The shop also hosts regular games and tournaments the whole family can participate in. The friendly and knowledgeable owner can help you find truly unique gifts in his vast collection of old and new items, most in original packaging. Located at 23 East Main Street, the store is typically open Monday-Friday from 2 to 7pm, Saturday 12 to 6pm, and Sunday 12 to 4 pm.
When planning your trip, be sure to visit the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau for suggestions on dining and more places to shop. You may also want to stop at a museum or history center along the way.
Author Michele Meleen is a play-at-home mom and freelance writer living in her hometown of Westfield, NY. When she’s not sword-fighting with her 4-year-old son, Michele and her family enjoy exploring the local terrain.