Despite those doomsday prognosticators who’ve been trying to scare us into thinking we’re one minor calamity away from being a third world country, things really aren’t that bad, fiscally speaking.
Need proof? Years ago, economics guru Alan Greenspan posited that a strong economy could be linked to the sales of men’s underwear, which can be tracked via the imaginatively titled Men’s Underwear Index. And get this: The Washington Post recently ran a report by a prominent market research company that, indeed, the MUI is up 6 percent since 2011. That’s right — buying boxers or briefs for that guy on your holiday list is good for America. U-S-A! U-S-A!
In addition to the MUI’s bounce back, the economy has also seen upticks in haircuts and hair coloring (up more than 5 percent since 2009) and eating out (up nearly 9 percent this year). And wouldn’t you know it: Lansing is just chock-a-block with retail clothing centers, hair salons and restaurants.
So as you begin your holiday gift buying, here are some places with out-of-the-ordinary (or ordinary-with-a-local-twist) items for everyone on your list:
Compiled by SAM INGLOT, ANDREA RABY and Hélène Dryden
The crafty aunt
Polka Dots in Old Town features handmade jewelry and headbands ($16), beaded wine stoppers ($16), collectable ornaments and figurines, Embellish Your Story magnets and Curly Girl Design home décor.
And get a load of what Mackerel Sky has under its roof: happy clay monsters, cast concrete garden sculptures, folding wooden salad servers, etched frosted colored glass, woven kitchen towels and — get this — the only traditionally embossed alphabet blocks still made in this country. There are also hundreds of pieces of jewelry by 40 different artists with prices starting at $10.
Polka Dots, 1207 Turner St., Old Town Lansing. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; noon- 4 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday. (517) 267-1479.
Mackerel Sky, 211 M.A.C. Ave., East Lansing. Holiday hours start Sunday, Dec. 9. 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Monday–Friday; 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday; noon–4 Sunday; 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 24. (517) 351-2211.
Co-worker who loves living in Lansing
Lori Lanspeary has the fun title of “leisure marketing manager” at Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau in downtown Lansing’s stadium district (the organization recently opened a second location in downtown East Lansing across from the new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum). In addition to dispensing maps and advice on where to go and what to do around the area, the GLCVB also sells Lansing-themed gear, such as black ceramic travel mugs ($10.50) and t-shirts by local company 517, featuring the distinctive BWL towers ($20 for short sleeve, $25 for long sleeve). Or if you want to capture the king daddy of Lansing skyline sights, you can get that person a snow globe featuring the Capitol dome ($16.50).
Smith Floral, meanwhile, carries table coasters by local photographer Roger Boettcher ($40 for a set of four, or $10 each) that add local splendor to anyone’s coffee table.
Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau. 500 E. Michigan Ave., Suite 180, Lansing. 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; closed Saturday-Sunday. (517) 487-6800.
Smith Floral, 1124 E. Mount Hope Ave., Lansing. 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday. (517) 484-5327.
Your reliable mom
You know better than anyone how much grief your poor mom endures (after all, it is all your fault). So what a great way to tell her how much you love her than a trip to Creative Wellness or Massage and Wellness, both in East Lansing. Creative Wellness offers different packages, such as Wellness ($120), Serenity ($177) and Peak Performance ($329), which include different levels of massage, professional consultation and classroom instruction. Not to be confused with Massage and Wellness, which features massage therapy, facials and body wraps.
To tie it all together, why not make her look as good as she feels? The recently opened Salon 1131 features waxing and full nail and hair care.
Creative Wellness. 2045 Abbot Road, East Lansing. 8:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday- Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. (517) 351-9240
Massage and Wellness. 201 Grand River Ave. Suite 19, East Lansing. Open seven days, flexible hours. (517) 203-1113
Salon 1131. 1131 N. Washington Ave., Lansing. 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.; closed Sunday. (517) 367-2060
The niece or nephew who needs to be introduced to nature
With a Jr. Ponics Fish Garden or Bubble Garden (starter kits begin at $40), you can encourage that elementary school kid on your list to unplug from Halo 4 and start a worthwhile hobby that could also result in the Holy Grail of pre-adolescent achievements: a blue ribbon at the science fair. Hydroponics experts Superior Growers Supply sell the kits that allow your budding farmers to grow plants in cups that nestle on top of the -gallon fish tank. The fish swims through the plant’s roots, creating a miniature ecosystem that’s sure to teach that kid a thing or two about ecology — and take a much-needed break from the boob tube.
Or if you’re looking for something bigger, Preuss Pets carries the 6-gallon Fluval Edge desktop aquarium ($150) featuring LED lighting with moonlights, an ambitious filtration system in a modern encasement.
Superior Growers Supply, three locations: 4870 Dawn Ave., East Lansing. 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday–Friday; closed Saturday-Sunday. (517) 332-2663. 3928 W. Saginaw Hwy, Lansing. 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday–Friday; 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday; noon–5 p.m. Sunday. (517) 327-1900. 5716 S. Pennsylvania Ave., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday. (517) 393-1600.
Preuss Pets, 1127 N. Cedar St., Lansing. 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. (517) 339-1762.
The artsy sister
Sure, she’s still honing her taste, and with a wide variety of styles and media to choose from, Lansing Art Gallery is a convenient place to help her find it. It just kicked off its Holiday Art Market (running through Dec. 22) that features over 100 Michigan artists, with a wide selection of paintings, pottery and wearable art ranging from the traditional to the decidedly non-traditional.
Lansing Art Gallery, 119 N. Washington Square, Lansing. 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Tuesday – Thursday; 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday; Closed Sunday-Monday. (517) 374-6400.
The bookworm uncle
Sometimes it’s best to just throw him a book so he doesn’t bug you. “The Lands of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones)” map book ($40) should keep him busy through the New Year. For the MSU fan, “The Heart of a Spartan: The Story of a Michigan State University Football Renaissance,” ($50) is a good resource packed with impressive photos. Or if he’s the family clown, try “The Onion: Book of Known Knowledge,” ($30) which is simultaneously one of the funniest and most cynical things you’ll ever come across.
Schuler Books & Music. Two locations: 1982 Grand River Ave., Okemos. (517) 349-8840. 2820 Towne Centre Blvd., Lansing Township, (517) 316-7495. 6 a.m.-10p.m. Black Friday; 7 a.m.–10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24; 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25. December hours vary.
Your industrious dad
You know the wet bar that dad keeps promising to build in the basement? The one he keeps arguing will add so much value to the house (wink wink)? Well, here’s your chance to get him going in the right direction. Elliott Food Equipment sells a full line of commercial-grade kitchen and bar equipment that will help transform your basement into Cocktails & Dreams (neon sign not included).
“We sell everything that goes into a restaurant but the food,” says salesperson Mike Theisen. That includes the heavy equipment like sinks, ice machines and beer taps as well as the little gear like glassware, utensils and ice buckets. So practice your bottle flipping now — it’s just a matter of time before you’ll be entertaining your friends when the folks take off for the weekend. And if they catch you, just tell them bartending is a marketable skill.
Elliott Food Equipment. 2224 W. Willow St., Lansing. 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily. (517) 482-4395.
Your environmental conscious partner
Never again will you feel guilty at the words of a seasonal John Lennon song. War may not be over, but you can spread a little happy X-mas by shopping at fair trade store Kirabo in East Lansing.
“When you spend money at our store you are helping fight world poverty,” says owner Gail Catron. “Up to 38 percent of the profit goes directly to the artisan. The items are all handmade and are very unique.”
Kirabo carries birdhouses made of naturally water resistant sheep’s wool ($29), clam shell serving bowls from Bali ($49) and knitted, crocheted, and beaded hair bows ($4.50-$8.)
Kirabo. 225 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday & Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. (517) 337-8000.
Your brewing buddy
Some folks prefer to do their drinking at home, and chances are you’ve got at least one person on your list joining the growing ranks of home brewers. That’s How We Brew in Frandor sells a brewing equipment kit that includes everything a beginner needs to start home brewing ($104.99); beer ingredient kits for those who already know what they’re doing ($16-$46); how-to books ($15-$20); pint glasses ($15); and wine-making kits ($70). Home brewing: the gift that keeps on giving.
Vine and Brew’s gift baskets include the big hop six-pack ($38), the holiday party pack with a six-pack of wine ($44) and the elegant holiday pack ($93.61).
That’s How We Brew. 3000 Vine St. Lansing. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. (517)708-7548.
Vine and Brew, 2311 Jolly Road, Okemos. 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday–Thursday; 10 a.m.–8 a.m. Friday–Saturday. (517) 708-2030.
The grandma who still looks hot in jeans
Just because she’s your grandmother doesn’t mean she’s not fashion-conscious. Retail Therapy in Okemos specializes in gear that “you would wear and your mom would want to steal,” according to owner Celeste Saltzman. There is a wide range of dresses, jackets, jeans (such as DL Jeans, from $138) and accessories — including necklaces (from $58) and locally made scarves ($98) — to choose from, all hand-picked by Saltzman herself in styles she thinks best represents the modern mid-Michigan woman.
Retail Therapy also has candles ($32), soaps ($8.50) and perfumes ($35) by Elizabeth W and wallets by Sorial ($25).
Retail Therapy, 5100 Marsh Road, Okemos. 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday–Friday; 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday. Open at 8 a.m. on Nov. 23. (517) 574-4427.
The guy who needs underwear
Bob Reid, co-owner of Holden-Reid Clothiers in the Frandor Shopping Center, says that business is indeed up this period versus last year.
“I can definitely say I’ve seen a spike in higher-end clothing,” Reid said. “And yes, I’ve also noticed that underwear sales are on the rise, no pun intended.”
Holden-Reid stocks Jockey briefs ($25 for three-pack) and boxers ($19 for two-pack), and Reid says there’s a large sale in honor of the retirement of founding owner Wayne Holden, who opened the store in 1951.
Elsewhere in menswear, Kositchek’s in downtown Lansing also stocks Jockey as well as Hugo Boss boxer briefs (three-pack for $35). The men’s clothier also does a lot of business in shirts, tailored suits and neckwear.
Holden-Reid Clothiers, 444 Frandor Ave., Lansing Township, 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; 1 p.m.-5 p.m. (517) 351-6969.
Kositchek’s, 113 N. Washington Square, Lansing. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday (Nov. 29 open until 8 p.m.); 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; noon-4 p.m. Sunday (December only). (517) 482-1171.
So there you have it. Another holiday season upon us, another City Pulse Gift Guide to help you get the best stuff for your friends and family using all local retailers. And if you still can’t make up your mind, there’s always the Last-Minute Gift Guide (Dec. 12) to look forward to.