by Betsy Weinberger
’Tis the season for holiday shopping, and though most of us are resorting to e-commerce due to convenience and COVID-19, the Claremont Village shops have plenty of offerings. There’s also a steady stream of foot traffic, thanks to loyal customers and unique specialty shops.
There’s no question you can pretty much find a gift for everyone on your holiday list in the Claremont Village. There’s a men’s specialty clothing shop, lots of jewelry and women’s apparel shops, and a children’s toy store that’s been open for 36 years on the same corner of Harvard Avenue and Second Street. There’s also an excellent selection of one-of-a-kind gifts. Well, perhaps not everything. You can’t find a swanky cannabis dispensary in town, but that’s how the city prefers it.
This is the time when small retail businesses see their ledgers move from red to black for the year, and now more than ever they need Claremont’s full support. There’s never been a better time to “shop local!”
Last week’s Los Angeles County order prohibiting restaurants from offering outdoor dining could have an impact on Village traffic, but many eateries still may serve outdoors regardless. Business owners such as Donna Daniels of The Grove Vintage clothing and gift store is hoping they will not shut down the retail shops. Most local establishments like The Grove had to adjust these past months by offering more online buying. Plus, there’s always curbside pick-up available.
Yes, online shopping is easy and convenient but there’s nothing more enjoyable than sauntering into Claremont’s quaint and eclectic village to find that special, unique gift. Here are some suggestions—and don’t forget to wear your mask and practice social distancing!
Tina G Cosmetics
Christina Gaudy Prentiss could not have opened her larger custom makeup shop at a worse time. She moved from Harvard Square into a 1,300-square-foot location for Tina G Cosmetics on March 1. A makeup artist for 25 years, she appeared on the first season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Tina has created her own all natural cosmetics line that custom blends lipsticks, lip gloss, foundation and eye shadow. She calls it “bespoke beauty,” the lipsticks and gloss hot molded and poured as you watch. You’re even able to include a flavor.
Ms. Prentiss envisioned large groups of 30 for Girls’ Night Out or teen birthday parties, but those have been put on hold. Over Father’s Day she did offer a Daddy-Daughter lip gloss making party, which was a big hit.
She’s able to now offer parties for up to 10 people and takes individual appointments. Walk-ins are also welcome. Currently, she’s offering 15 percent off gift cards. The best way to reach her is to text at 909-285-7030 or email at [email protected]
Owners Abby and Blake Brewart opened Ubatuba Acai two months ago on Yale Avenue. They had a shop at Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga, but always wanted to move closer to home in Claremont.
Ubatuba is a location in Brazil where they source the acai. Nothing is frozen—everything is served fresh. You build your own bowl for one set price, and smoothies are blended with a variety of juices or hemp milk, pitaya or acai, and fresh fruits. Delicious baked Argentinian empanadas from Noma’s in Beverly Hills come in a variety of fillings.
An e-card would make a great gift for the health-conscious person on your holiday list.
Nekter Juice Bar
Another place to find freshly made juice, cold-pressed juice cleanses, smoothies and handcrafted acai bowls is the recently opened Nekter Juice Bar, in the Claremont Packing House.
You can download their app and order ahead while earning rewards. An elderberry smoothie is on the menu this month for the holidays.
TRIED and TRUE
Find everything you need, including Baby Yoda, at Claremont’s toy store on Harvard Avenue. John Peltekci took over Boon Companion six years ago.
It is a comforting, wonderfully stocked store that’s been in town for three decades.
The store carries everything needed for that youngster on your list, and offers gift wrapping and delivery for a fee. There’s no online shopping, but you can view the inventory on their website and call 909-625-1993 to place an order.
Kiwanis See’s Candies Holiday Store
The Kiwanis Club of Claremont is back with their annual See’s Candies fundraiser. The Kiwanis Club of Claremont is dedicated to serving the local community through various service and fundraising projects, including the Read Me Program, and sponsorship of Monday Night Concerts and Pancake Breakfasts.
The See’s Candies Holiday Store is open until December 24 at the Richard Hibbard Auto Center at 191 S. Indian Hill Blvd. Hours are Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Sundays you’ll find the Kiwanis selling See’s Candies at the entrance of the weekly Farmer’s Market at Harvard Avenue and Second Street from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information and view the items available for sale, visit ClaremontKiwanis.org.
The Grove Vintage
This well-known boutique shop that started in Harvard Square has now moved to curbside. At Grove Vintage, Donna Daniels has been selling women’s and junior’s clothing, shoes, jewelry and sparkly masks at one store location. Two doors down on Indian Hill Boulevard, you’ll find books, stationery, candles and other gift items including live plants. One reviewer called it a “Coachella-like lifestyle” brand.
Ms. Daniels had to pivot to selling online during the pandemic and is offering buy-one-get-50-percent-off a second purchase. Visit them in-store or at thegrovevintage.com.
The Hens’ Kitchen Shoppe
This popular boutique also started in Harvard Square and has also now moved to curbside. To survive these past months, the shop has been quite successful at curating gift boxes for Mother’s Day, summer and fall, so naturally you’ll find a Christmas baking gift bag for $99. Shipping is free for any order over $75.
Manager Kellie Wright says the store went from gnomes being the popular item in 2019 to mushrooms being all the rage this season. “They are whimsical and happy, and we need happy now,” added Ms. Wright.
Owner Charlotte Cousins was a customer of Buddhamouse when she took over nine years ago. The 34-year-old establishment on Harvard Avenue offers just what we all need right now. Ms. Cousins says the shop is all about “promoting peace, beauty and well-being” by offering imported ritual objects, art, music, books, jewelry and other gifts. There’s a room in the back that offers workshops in aromatherapy, mediation and even color therapy, in addition to tarot, astrological and psychic readings.
“People come here to seek inspiration and we offer lots of ways to stay connected and get inspired,” Ms. Cousins said. Visit their website at buddhamouse.com for pricing or call the shop at 909-997-0761 for more information.
Studio C Original Art
Stop by Studio C Original Art boutique on Bonita Avenue between Harvard and Yale to find truly one-of-a-kind gifts created by local artists. Owner Elizabeth Carr has also been busy these past months sewing—by her estimate—1,400 masks in various fabrics, including delightful holiday versions.
She and the other 20 artists are also showcasing holiday gifts this month, including ceramics, fused glass and enamel pieces. Check out her website at studiocclaremont.com.
Oh, and don’t forget to ask for Cleo, a year-and-a-half old gray cat who was left at the age of six months with a broken leg in front of Bert and Rocky’s. She a great addition to the gallery!
In need of a massage? I know I am! So far, Aromatique is still able to offer massages, but facials have been put on hold. Founded in 1989 in the Claremont Village, the day spa on W. First Street offers a range of skin care and gift items for your holiday shopping. This month it’s offering a “SPAliday” gift certificate—$69 for a 55-minute Swedish massage.
Finally, no shopping trip is complete without giving your visual senses a treat by stopping at Barbara Cheatley’s holiday displays on Harvard Avenue, or enhancing your taste buds with craft oils, vinegars, spirits and liquors at vomFASS on N. Indian Hill Boulevard. These unique and established shops are prime examples of why shopping Claremont is such a unique experience.