6 places around Wilmington to get unique and local gifts this Christmas

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WILMINGTON — The window for thoughtful gift shopping is rapidly closing. At large shopping malls – a traditional destination of last-minute shoppers – it can be difficult to avoid generic gifts, not to mention congestion. Port City Daily visited six local places where you can find unique gifts, from eclectic antiques to bonsai.

1. Zartiques

Located at the edge of downtown Castle Hayne, Zartique’s is a warehouse-sized antique store.

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It is not the kind of place you go for a particular gift; instead, the right gift has a way of presenting itself, popping out of the clutter as you walk through the store. Zartique’s is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 12-5 p.m. on Sunday. It is located at 6304 Castle Hayne Road and can be reached at (910) 602-6400.

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2. Seasoned Gourmet 

Opened in 1995, the Seasoned Gourmet offers a wide selection of kitchen tools, specialty ingredients, and wines.

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The store recently moved to a larger location with a classroom-kitchen. That’s where the business offers cooking classes taught by local chefs, including Pinpoint’s Dean Neff and Catch’s Keith Rhodes. More information at the Cape Fear Food & Wine Club, including a schedule of classes, is available at their website.

The Seasoned Gourmet is located 5500 Market St., Suite 110 (those traveling toward downtown Wilmington on Market should take Old Eastwood Drive to get to the new location). Seasoned Gourmet is open from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, 12-5 p.m. Sunday, and can be reached at (910) 256-9488 or via email at info@theseasonedgourmet.com.

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Keith Rhodes teaching a cooking class at the Seasoned Gourmet. (Courtesy The Seasoned Gourmet).

3. Ella Vickers Sailcloth Collection

Ella Vickers’ company has been recycling sailcloth into handbags since 1989. The Wilmington-based business, located right before the bridge to Wrightsville Beach, has a factory-store full of unique designs.

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And, while you can order online, a trip to the store means a chance to meet Theo, the shop’s doorman/security/model.

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Ella Vickers is located at 2035 B Eastwood Road and can be reached at (910) 350-887 or info@ellavickers.com. The store is open from 10 a.m.- 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday (call ahead for Sunday hours, the store is sometimes closed).

4. Honeybee

This boutique in Porter’s Neck offers a carefully curated collection of potential gifts. Owner Julie Bell said, “We really encourage people to get one thoughtful gift, instead just getting the most expensive thing, or going for quantity.” Bell said her staff are happy to help customers find the right gift, even for difficult-to-shop-for friends and relatives.

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Honeybee is located at 8211 Market St. and can be reached at (910) 319-7693. Its inventory and specials rotate frequently, so updates are posted on twitter @honeybee_gifts. Honeybee is open from 9 a.m.- 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. on Sunday.

5. The Blind Elephant Speakeasy

Down an alley off of Front Street, in the heart of downtown Wilmington, the Blind Elephant is hidden behind a steel door.

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The bar and lounge, known for its annual “Great Gatsby Party,” takes cues from both jazz-age culture and modern mixology. It also offers what is possibly the best gift in town for a whiskey enthusiast: the Blind Elephant’s “Bourbon Club.”

Membership to the Bourbon Club includes 30, one-ounce pours of bourbon. Bartenders can guide members through their extensive selection of rare and expensive bourbons, while the members track his or her journey with ratings and tasting notes. Of course, members are also welcome to take 30 pours of their favorite, if they prefer. Membership is $100.

The Blind Elephant is located down Smith Alley, at 21 N. Front. St., between Port City Java and Front Street Brewery. It can be reached at (910) 833-7175 or through it’s website. The Blind Elephant is open from 5 p.m.- 2 a.m., Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Monday. The third annual Gatsby party will be held Friday, Jan. 13, 2017.

6. Painted Lady Bonsai

The store behind the sign that most Wilmingtonians recognize from the corner of Market and 23rd streets, Painted Lady Bonsai is more than just a place to get a bon-sai plant.

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The cost of the trees, which range from $20 to over $200, includes owner Ronald Sellers’ expertise with maintaining the tree and his eccentric sense of humor (Port City Daily reported on Ronald Sellers and his bon-sai collection last month).

Painted Lady Bonsai is located at 2 N. 23rd St. and can be reach at 910-762-8974 or via email at bonsai@paintedladybonsai.com (Sellers requests emails have “Bonsai Tree” in the subject to avoid getting flagged as spam). Painted Lady Bonsai is usually open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Sunday, but calling ahead is recommended.

Know of any more unique gift ideas in the greater Wilmington area? Let us know in the comments section, at PCD@localvoicemedia.com or on our Facebook page.