Whenever I need a gift for someone, I know I’ll find it in one of three shops in a two-block stretch of Penn Avenue. This busy thoroughfare, lined with one-story buildings and early examples of strip mall architecture, is a drive-through zone connecting people to highways 62 or 694. But it’s my go-to area, especially this time of year. I love getting my holiday shopping done early — I can beat the crowds and have plenty of time to relax in front of my fireplace DVD. Head to the watertower in Richfield and prepare to cross names off your list!
6400 Penn Ave. S.
M–F, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.;
Sa, 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Su, noon–5 p.m.
What started as mostly a store for model train and airplane hobbyists 30 years ago has grown into the region’s premier destination for toys and games and creative projects for kids of all ages. The shelves are packed in this ever-expanding store — bring a list because this place can cause overstimulation. Hub Hobby prides itself on having hard-to-find products that engage minds and occupy hands. There are no video games in this store. Art projects, science kits, car and airplane models, radio controlled vehicles of all sorts fill aisles next to what has to be the largest selection of board games and jigsaw puzzles per foot than anywhere. A Minnesota puzzle company called Something’s Amiss commissioned a local artist for a beautiful painting of the skyline but a surprise appears on the completed puzzle that’s not shown on the box front. Puzzle aficionados will love this twist on an old classic! For girls, boys and hard-to-buy-for brother in laws, you’ll find it here. The staff is helpful at making suggestions for age groups and interest levels too. If you can’t decide, go with a radio controlled helicopter .. or the brew-it-yourself ginger ale … or the paint-by-number model horse.
Acadian Candle Company
6400 Penn Ave. S.
M, W, F, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.;
Tu and Th, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.;
Sa, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.;
Su, noon–5 p.m.
Who can’t use a beautiful, new candle? This store is a combination candle retail store and an outlet store for the Acadian Candle Company who manufactures all their product in Bloomington. The large store is packed with displays of candles in various shapes, colors, textures and thematic styles. They have the largest selection of tapers in the area. In addition to regular cotton wicks and battery-operated candles, they have wooden wicks that crackle like a real wood fire. Multicolored candles, silkscreened designs, embedded decorative elements and green soy candles make this an easy gift stop. Plus, the back of the store has a big discount section.
6625 Penn Ave. S.
M–Th, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.;
F–Sa, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; closed Sun
Both amateur and professional acoustic musicians have flocked to this much-loved store since it first opened in 1979. Pick up CDs from national and local folk musicians, gifts for music fans, instruction books, DVD documentaries, concert tickets, instruments ranging from jaw harps to banjos to dulcimers, and even lessons on how to play. If you have a budding musician in your family plug this address into your GPS.
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