The A.V. Club’s 2010 surprisingly specific (and Milwaukee-centric) gift guide
Buying local isn’t just for the DIY crowd anymore—it’s practically a necessity. After all, why would anyone in their right mind want to risk a soul-and-body-crushing ordeal at a big box store when they could quietly support a scrappy local business instead? With these homegrown haberdasheries in mind, The A.V. Club presents its annual ultra-specific gift guide, designed to eliminate both stressful gifting guesswork and the shame of simply giving in and getting everyone a $35 gift card from Target.
1. For the rapidly aging Riverwest couple who are finally thinking about having a baby and buying a house in Bay View: Retro children’s toys from Fischberger’s Variety (2445 N. Holton St., 414-263-1991)
As the thrill of drunken bohemia fades, and the specter of sober middle-age draws near, many Riverwest couples realize it’s time to leave their frivolous lifestyles behind, start a family, and settle down in that cool-kid retirement community to the south, Bay View. For those special someones in your life, some retro kids’ toys from Fischberger’s Variety are the perfect holiday gifts. Not only will they appeal to mom and dad’s hip sensibilities, they should instill in their future bundle of joy an early, much-needed appreciation of all things kitsch.
2. For the insufferable best friend who recently moved to Portland but still wants to score some points on their Midwest cred: T-shirt from Comet Café (1947 N. Farwell Ave., 414-273-7677), Foundation (2718 N. Bremen St., 414-374-2587), etc.
Since the beginning of time, Portland, Ore. has been the go-to destination for wayward Midwesterners searching for a cooler scene and better bike paths. Of course, these traitorous jerks still want everyone to know they come from the rough and tumble city of Milwaukee. A T-shirt from Comet, Foundation, or any other local eatery or bar is the perfect gift for a recent defector, and is certainly more than he or she deserves. Just make sure you get it to them before Portland’s crappy weather and high cost of living send them crawling back to Milwaukee in the spring.
3. For the small-town Wisconsin dad who thinks Milwaukee is a crime-ridden hell hole: Summerfest: Cooler By The Lake: 40 Years Of Music And Memories from Boswell Book Company (2559 N. Downer Ave., 414-332-1181)
Let’s say you’re a college freshman who’s recently made the big move to Milwaukee. While you’re thrilled to finally be far away from your podunk hometown, your father is most likely counting down the days until your face shows up on the 10 o’clock news. So what better way to allay his (mostly) unfounded fears than by reminding him of the one thing he probably does like about Milwaukee? Dad’s sure to warm up to the city as he scans through Cooler By The Lake’s many classic Summerfest photos, and might even fondly recall that one time he got totally plastered during the ’84 Huey Lewis And The News concert.
4. For the younger sibling who’s going through an unfortunate hippie phase: Hand-blown pipe from Atomic Glass (1813 E. Locust St., 414-967-7087)
It’s a phase we’ve all gone through: the hemp, the incense, the sudden infatuation with Syd Barrett. We grew out of it, of course (well, most of us did), and got on with our lives. But what about a younger sibling who’s deep in the throes of this hippie hell? A lovely hand-blown pipe from Atomic Glass may not help your younger brother or sister to put the patchouli behind him or her, but it’s still better to receive this piece of perfectly legal tobacco-smoking paraphernalia from you, and not from some punk on the street. Just make sure to remind your sib that it’s for legal tobacco products only, and not, heaven forbid, synthetic pot.
5. For the mother who doesn’t have any compelling interests, so you might as well just get her some fragrant bath shit: Slumber Time Tub Bubbler from the Cream City Soap Company (1721 Ludington Ave., 414-322-7690)
Sure, “lavender and eucalyptus-smelling bath gunk” is to “mom” as “striped tie” is to “dad,” but what else are you supposed to get the woman? She already owns all the Criminal Minds box sets, and her collection of Stieg Larsson books is tragically complete. So go ahead and take the easy road on this one, and pick her up some bath bubbler from the Cream City Soap Company. It may not be the most original gift in the world, but at least you can say you shopped local, and that you stuck it to those creeps at Bath & Body Works in the process.