Shop Talk: Affordable Holiday Shopping Here in Harrison

The following was originally published in The Harrison Report on Dec. 2, 2010. 5 Affordable Gifts & Where to Get ’Em

Written by Carla Rose Fisher

Thursday, 02 December 2010 14:18

ASK & YE SHALL RECEIVE: Last month, I asked readers to submit their favorite affordable holiday gifts ($30 and under) that make an impression. Your top five gifts are listed below, along with where to purchase them locally.

1. Wine

A good bottle of wine doesn’t have to be expensive, and many can be had at the family-owned Friendly Spirits, 355 Halstead Ave. Manager Frank Hahn, whose parents JoAnn and Robert opened the shop 29 years ago, recommended a couple whites and a couple reds that will make an impression without breaking the bank.

For the reds, Hahn said a Pinot Noir will go nicely with holiday turkey, and suggested La Crema for $22.99. For cold weather, he suggested the dry full-bodied nature of a Cabernet Sauvignon. His pick? Simi, for $22.99. As for whites, Hahn said a Pinot Grigio is perfect for when you’re not sure what kind of wine your recipient prefers. “It’s hard not to like a Pinot Grigio, because it’s light and easy,” he said. A nice choice is Altanuta, which will only run you $13.99. He also recommended a French Sancerre for $19.99. Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. 914-835-3222.

2. Holiday Cookies

Many people don’t know that Bakery & Patisserie, at 247 Halstead Ave., is not the same bakery that was there before, so you best get over there and treat your taste buds to the best brownies, cannolis and low-fat muffins around. But it’s their fancy cookies that are the stars of the holiday season. They’re a delicious gift for anyone on your list, and with the bakery open on Sunday, you can shop last-minute. Mention this article through Dec. 31 to get this special deal: Buy 1 pound of holiday cookies, get a 1/4-pound free. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. 914-630-1476.

3. Chocolate Yes, readers voted for chocolate, but here’s my fun take on the box o’ chocolates holiday standby: Visit Oishinbo, the Japanese grocery at 283 Halstead Ave., and give the gift of Pocky!

Pocky is like eating a chocolate cookie without all the guilt — that’s because it’s a rather thin biscuit stick that’s only partially coated. While chocolate lovers will enjoy the crushed almond and mint chocolate varieties, Pocky also comes in strawberry, green tea and a bevy of other mouth-watering flavors. Trust me, Pocky goes over great with everyone from children to co-workers, and makes a great gift for Hanukkah or as a stocking stuffer. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 914-835-4390.

4. Lottery Tickets The gift of chance is always exciting, and there are dozens of places throughout Harrison to play the lottery. But I recommend Trotta’s West Street Pharmacy, 15 Halstead Ave., simply because they’ve got a Lotto Bar, and I know that when you’re buying your scratch-off gifts, you’ll want to try a game or two of your own. Belly up to the counter complete with footstool and scratch off your cards, then head to the fine gifts aisle for others on your list. Sign up for Trotta’s Rewards Card Program and each of your non-pharmacy purchases earn you points toward $5 credits. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; and Sunday, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. 914-835-1125.

5. Charitable Donations Giving to those in need warms the heart, but giving in someone’s name will warm the person on your list all the way down to his or her toes. Try to pick a charity with personal meaning for the recipient (example: If the person is a fan of the arts, consider donating to a theatre or arts organization). Businesses get into the spirit as well, like Harrison Printers, whose “Home for the Holidays” campaign donates 10 percent of every purchase to the Harrison Food Pantry through Jan. 1. In addition, nonperishable food items for donation can be brought to the shop at 246 Harrison Ave.

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NEW & NEARLY OPENED: Congrats to the friendly staff at Goldberg’s Rocking Bagel Café, 379 Halstead Ave. near the A&P, on their recent opening.

Harrison’s need for a dollar store is slated to be filled this week, when Harrison Dollar Plus Store will open at 267 Halstead Ave., in the space that formerly housed Gold Rush Jewelers. Partners Saira Ahmed and Mae Comunale are introducing a quality dollar store, where some prices will be higher than a dollar (hence the “Plus” in the name). “It’s the kind of store that will bring a lot of people to downtown Harrison,” Comunale said. With unusual items and unique gifts, this could be the perfect way to round out our holiday shopping lists!

DON WE NOW OUR LOCAL PRIDE: Thanks to a combined effort between the Harrison Chamber of Commerce and the Town Board, 16 holiday-red banners displaying the names of town merchants and other sponsors now remind shoppers to think local when gift-giving and dining this season. The banners are displayed at each cross street along Halstead Avenue, starting at the A&P and stretching to Food City. Everyone at the Chamber of Commerce, including myself, President Ada Angarano and Financial Advisor Zack Bsharat, wishes you a season filled with good food, family and cheer.

Carla Rose Fisher is a freelance writer for Web and print. She is also an award-winning songwriter and is on the Executive Board of the Harrison Chamber of Commerce. E-mail her your favorite business at carla@saidandsung.com.