Gifts that pamper

Story by H.M. CAULEY/Photos by JASON GETZ

‘Tis the time of year to indulge, and that applies as much to gift buying as to the neighborhood cookie swap. Finding something exquisite and, possibly, unusual enough that it’s not going to turn up in multiple gift bags, can be a challenge. But we’ve scoped out several Northside destinations where owners work diligently to stock the shelves with unique items that both pamper and say, “Yes, I splurged!” Take a look.

Original Shea Butter House

The “original” here refers more to the product than the location, though it is the only shop of its kind so far. Owner Awa Diob, a native of Senegal, started selling pure shea butter in 2012 after observing its benefits in her own family. “I have special-needs twins with autism, and I got into natural foods and healthy products for their skin,” says Diob, who lives next door to the Sandy Springs shop. “I know my great grandmother used shea to heal a lot of stuff, and I wound up using the same thing.”

Diob imports the unrefined shea from Burkino Faso in West Africa and sells it as a cream that revitalizes and moisturizes. At $10 to $30, she admits it’s not inexpensive, but says it’s also exceptional. “It’s pure,” she says. “Not processed, not mixed with anything.”

The store also features organic candles with coffee or orange scents, Dead Sea salt soap, oils and herbal scrubs.

7875 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. 404-735-0533. atlantasheabutter.com

insider Tips

At the Ashley Marie boutique, shoppers can find a range of gift ideas, from home décor to jewelry. Proceeds from sales support children in the foster care system. 201 Vaughan Drive, Alpharetta. 770-255-1019. ashleymariegifts.com

Artist Joshua Avella blends stones with precious metals for create individual unique pieces that make memorable gifts at Gems in Art. 5930 Odell St., Cumming. 770-844-8005. gemsinart.com

Gifted! Artist Market and Gift Boutique

For 10 years, Debbie Rogers has offered the Northside a range of specialty items perfect for holiday gifting. Local artisans produce about 35 percent of her inventory, which means items are often one of a kind. “They’re handcrafted, so really, they’ll never be the same twice,” she says.

The selection incudes vases, photo frames, mugs, purses, towels, candles, granite slabs, wine glasses and jewelry. “Along with frames, candles and garden art, I’d say the jewelry is the most popular,” Rogers says. “This season, I’m also getting in 100 percent cotton blankets and scarves, and I expect they’ll do well, too.” Prices for most items are below $200.

944 Canton St., Roswell. 678-585-0071. giftedmarket.com

Nest Gifts and Décor

Nest owner Robin Mosele spent 20 years in the antique business before opening this Alpharetta shop three years ago. That explains her penchant for the vintage clothes and furniture scattered throughout the cozy, 800-square-foot store. “Even my display pieces — benches and tables — are for sale, too,” says the Milton resident. “I fit a lot of stuff in here.”

Much of it also reflects Mosele’s sense of humor: Look for witty and whimsical sayings on posters, mugs and more. One corner of the space is just for Fido, with posh doggie beds and leash holders; another is dedicated to kids. Cowhide rugs, handbags and jewelry made by local designers keep most shoppers coming back. And they’re particularly fond of the distinctive clothing selection, such as the silk blouses and tops made in Paris and Italy. “I try to keep the price range reasonable, so even the silk blouses are only $79.99.”

12280 Houze Road, Alpharetta. 678-587-5764. nestgiftsdecor.com

Isabella Bleu

A touch of France can also be found at this downtown Alpharetta store, where owner Lisa Baggett offers French antiques and French-inspired jewelry. Her clientele is crazy for the Kande pieces — jewelry that incorporates a medallion from a winery or bakery, for example. The medals are part of necklaces, rings and bracelets that Baggett says are among her top holiday gift purchases. “It’s what people want to treat their friends,” she says. “They love that they’re all different. We have a personal relationship with the supplier who allows us to make changes, [so] they do vary a lot.” Prices range from $150 to $350.

Baggett also manages La Belle Maison, where the focus is on unique luxury items at affordable prices. “We have some locally made jewelry, paintings, home décor items and handmade prayer beads, along with lots of unusual ornaments, stocking stuffers and hostess gifts for holidays,” she says.

Isabella Bleu, 500 N. Main St., Alpharetta. 770-609-6461. isabellableu.com

La Belle Maison, 20 Milton Ave., Alpharetta. 770-609-6182. labellemaison.com

Casabella

Last January, Kathy Linton bought a shop that’s been a mainstay of the East Cobb retail scene for 15 years. “We’ve tried to keep the things that have made us special — the unique Santas, Georgia nutcrackers and ornaments,” she says. “We don’t want to carry ‘the usual stuff.’” In addition to holiday-themed items, Casabella carries scarves, linens, tableware, pillows, artworks and gourmet edibles in a wide range of prices and often in limited quantities. “Whatever it is, there isn’t a lot of it, so you won’t see the same things in your friends’ homes,” Linton says. “And it’s why at a gift exchange [party], a Casabella bag goes first!”

4400 Roswell Road, # 128A, Marietta. 770-321-1708. casabellamarietta.com

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