Concord Chamber’s Melissa Rea shares her best holiday shopping tips

Keep it local with these great gift ideas for everyone on your list

The holidays are here and the season of shopping has started! Growing up in Martinez, I have spent a good amount of time shopping in Concord and have always supported local as much as possible. Whether I find the perfect gift at a large store or a small business, it is important to keep our spending local to support our immediate economy.

With three major shopping centers in Concord, you no doubt will be able to find the perfect gift for your family, friends, coworkers - anyone you need to shop for! Sunvalley Shopping Center was, and still is, my go to when I need a variety of gifts. St. Andrew Jewelers offers many different types of jewelry from rings to necklaces and even watches. Owners Brian and Cyndie hand pick each item they sell, so you may find some unique pieces you won’t find elsewhere. I have also been able to find quirky specialty gifts for my friends and their children at stores like BoxLunch and FYE. Grogu - aka “Baby Yoda” - from The Mandalorian has been quite popular and you can find him at these stores. While you are shopping, you can also freshen up for the holidays at Empire Barbershop - they even sell styling products, merch and gift cards for haircuts and the “Empire Experience.”

Across the freeway you have The Willows Shopping Center, another place I have frequented for years. A great addition to The Willows is Half Price Books, who moved there in 2019.  You can find any book from fiction to “how-to” books, which make great gifts for anyone! I have found woodworking books for my dad, who has loved working with wood his whole life. I also love that they offer other items like vinyl records, and even art kits for the kiddos. I consider this a one-stop-shop! Another store I personally love and admittedly spend a lot at is Ulta Beauty. One of my favorite aspects about Ulta is you can find both premier brands and drugstore brands of makeup and beauty products. For the holidays, you are able to find holiday sets, which I have purchased personally for my friends and cousins who are also beauty lovers. 

Next to The Willows is Concord’s newest shopping center, The Veranda. If you are shopping for a fashionista, you can find great pieces for the entire family at varying price levels at Banana Republic Factory Store, GAP Outlet, and Old Navy. If you are looking for worldly items like imported foods or wines, stop by Cost Plus World Market. My family on my mom’s side is Italian, and even though it is not the same as getting food from Italy, I have been able to find great options there. If you have not tried panettone yet, I recommend it! Much like Ulta, Sephora at The Veranda features high-end products, but also offers fun, value sets from perfume, hair products, and makeup. While you are shopping, you can also grab a snack and even see a show at the water fountain that happens every 30 minutes!

In lieu of physical gifts, some of my friends and I love to head out and do something fun together for the holidays. Nothing screams bonding and spending time together than trying to break out of an escape room. ATG Escape Rooms is locally owned near Downtown Concord and Red Door Escape Room is located at The Veranda. Did you know we have a pinball arcade right here in Concord? The Flipper Room is nestled inside The Art of Picture Framing, and also features an art gallery. If you know a gamer who is into the classics, they will be ecstatic to find Baby Pac-Man and Centaur.

For the beer enthusiasts, I highly recommend picking up locally brewed beer at Epidemic Ales and Side Gate Brewery & Beer Garden. Both have great beer, and branded swag to show your support for local brewers! The Hop Grenade also has cool swag and a variety of beers from breweries around the area. If you’re not sure which beer to pick up, consider a gift card!

Do you know an art lover? The newest art gallery in town, Local Artists Rock, and features art created from local artists. Small, large, paintings or jewelry, feel the inspiration flowing with creative gifts.  Check out their studio at 1924 Grant Street (above Baskin Robbins) in Todos Santos Plaza. 

Shopping for the holidays may seem like a daunting task, but with the right inspiration, you will be able to find the perfect gift for everyone. And I highly recommend the Shop Concord* gift card to get the most from your holiday shopping & dining dollars!