What’s new … beyond the bridges: December

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By Jane Bartnett

’Tis the season for holiday shopping! 

We’re dedicating this month’s column to highlighting a number of local specialty stores right in our own back yard. We’ve discovered some hidden gems that hold quite an array of unique offerings for your holiday gift giving. Why not play Santa to yourself while you’re at it?

While Gulf Gate continues to make news for the new restaurants that are popping up, the area is also home to a number of small shops with beautifully curated collections of jewelry and antiques, gifts for the cook, and specialty items for the home. One of these may become your favorite new shop. Spend an afternoon wandering around either side of Gulf Gate Drive and you’ll be glad you did. There’s also plenty of places to grab a bite to eat or drink.

At Scandinavian Gifts, Baked Goods & Grocery, 2166 Gulf Gate Drive, treasures from Sweden, Norway, Finland and all things Nordic await you. That includes gift items from Kosta Boda, Marimekko, and Orrefors, along with a collection of Swedish Christmas ornaments. You’ll also find decorations for the home that include brightly painted Swedish wooden birds that were featured in Martha Stewart’s magazine.

A children’s corner is filled with books, dolls, whimsical soft toy animals, and colorful mobiles. 

The shop is also known for its foods and baked goods. Take home a delectable and best-selling 14-inch kringle pastry (frozen) for your holiday party. Described as “The most delicious thin, flaky pastry you’ve ever tasted,” it is brought in from Racine, Wisconsin’s O &H Danish Bakery and available in 13 different fillings.

Visit scandinavian-south.com or call (941) 923-4313.

A few doors away, at Weldon’s Jewelry & Antiques at 2132 Gulf Gate Drive, there is an impressive selection of estate jewelry, antiques, collectibles and watches for men and women in gold, platinum and sterling silver. Select from quality “pre-loved” diamonds, colored gemstones and pearls.

Fluffy, friendly Bogart greets customers at Weldon’s. (photo by Jane Bartnett)

A family jewelry business that began in the 1860’s, the Gulf Gate Weldon’s store traces its roots back to 1915 Southport, England.

You’ll receive a warm welcome from certified gemologists Nigel Weldon and his daughter and co-owner Tamara Weldon, as you browse their ever-changing collections of sterling silver and gold. They also offer appraisal services for fine jewelry and accept select items for consignment. Watch and jewelry repairs are also offered on-site.

“We specialize in diverse, interesting and unique jewelry as well as antique items,” says Nigel Weldon.

Visit WeldonsJewelry.com or call (941) 923-6242

Jewelry of a different variety can be found at Hidden Gems SRQ at 6526 Gateway Ave. After opening in the early fall months of 2021, licensed jeweler and owner Tynan Elliot said he creates handcrafted beautiful jewelry items and shoppers may select from his vast selection of crystals that range in color from deep amethyst to the blue-green color of the gulf water.

Laser-engraved art and laser-engraved crystal jewelry, as well as unusual large crystals, gemstones and minerals that can be displayed as a piece of art, can also be found here. Visit HiddenGemsSRQ.com or call (941) 404-1413.

Handcrafted gifts from Africa await you in Nontando, 6578 Gateway Ave., in Gulf Gate.

Owner Gary Stern, a South African native who spent his earlier career as an executive in New York City before discovering Sarasota, personally curates all of the items and returns to Africa on buying trips for his store.

Small hand-carved wood statues of giraffes, cheetahs and native African animals from Kenya and Zimbabwe are among the many items that could grace a home’s bookshelf.

An assortment of brilliantly colored woven baskets, bowls and masks make this unusual store a must see. Visit nontando.com or call (941) 929-7844.

Do you remember your own Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls? At the Coastal Flow Ocean Inspired Gifts and Decor store, found at 7216 S. Tamiami Tr., the classic red-headed rag dolls are adorable as ever and a wonderful gift for a young child.

The art work of some 60 local artists fills the store. Paintings, sculptures and all forms of coastal art pieces are here. Visit CoastalFlowGifts.com or call (941) 263-9081.

Is there a surfer/beach boy or girl on your holiday gift list? Be sure to check out the Surfboard Tables store at 4501 S. Tamiami Tr. where you’ll find a selection of one-of-a kind handmade surfboard tables and chairs. A collection of hand-crafted home decor items, all with a distinctive coastal vibe, are also on display and ready to find their place under the tree. Visit surfboardtables.com or call (941) 799-1111.

Finally, the big news at the Pelican Plaza Shopping Center, at 8732 S. Tamiami Tr., is the arrival of the Burlington store, in the space once occupied by Sports Authority. Having opened just in time for holiday shopping, this big-box store offers discounted prices on brand-name clothing for the whole family as well as home goods, toys, baby supplies and pet-care items at great prices.  Visit burlington.com or call (941) 499-3450.

Happy holidays to one and all!

Jane Bartnett
Author: Jane Bartnett

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