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I’m not big on shopping. Big box stores give me the howling fantods, and Christmas time is the worst. Just google “Black Friday” and “Walmart” for a laundry list of unholy acts of carnage all in the name of consumption. For the most part, I stay home. However, I love giving. Finding that perfect, obscure item that a loved one may not have even known existed but now cannot imagine life without? Yeah, that is the best. Champaign-Urbana has quite a few lovely little shops that carry unique items. And when I said I wasn’t big on shopping, these places are the exceptions to that rule: I love supporting local businesses.

For the bibliophiles:

Jane Addam’s Book Shop – The first time I stepped foot in this store, I found myself immediately dizzy and delighted. Jane Addam’s boasts three floors filled with vintage books! I’ve spent hours perusing their many sections; my favorites are the foreign languages & linguistics section and the gender studies area, but I’ve been known to lose myself in history, autobiography, and fiction as well.

Priceless Books – This little vintage bookstore, located in Urbana, is much smaller than Jane Addam’s. Even so, I’ve found some truly great treasures here, a side-effect of less traffic, no doubt. Make sure you leave yourself a decent amount of time to look around– the store is a bit disorganized, but I think that the search is half the fun.

For music lovers:

Exile on Main – Yes, I still by vinyl records. What can I say? My mother grew up with ’em, I grew up with ’em, and I can’t imagine my daughter being denied such wonderful objets d’art. Exile is the best place in town to get new vinyl, but if you prefer CD’s, they have a large selection of those, too. Additionally, they have offbeat, local, and indie magazines, as well as a small selection of new and used video games, dvds, and blu-rays.

Record Swap – While most of my new vinyl comes from Exile, this is place has a huge selection of older and used vinyl. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m picky when it comes to music, and so many new artists just seem bland and derivative to me. Record Swap fills my musical needs: I get to discover artists that are new to me, gain historical perspective, and expand my base of knowledge. Okay, when I put it like that, it all sounds pretty dreamy and magical.

And while we are talking about music lovers, let’s not forget those that love to make music. Admittedly, I’m not very well acquainted with these shops, but if you have a musician on your list, be sure to check out Corson Music, CV Lloyd’s, and Skins-n-Tins.

Well, I am running out of time this morning, so I think I will make this a two-parter. Next time: children’s gifts, arts, and more!

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