Thoughtful gift-giving sometimes requires considerable creativity or even a bit of serendipity as we browse in the hopes of happening across the right gift for that special someone. Don’t despair; these one-of-a-kind Vero Beach shops prove there’s no place like home for unique gifts with local flair.
While you’re visiting the exquisite galleries and sculpture parks at Vero Beach Museum of Art, stop by The Museum Store for a little artistic retail therapy.
“The Museum Store offers more than just a shopping experience,” says Sophie Bentham-Wood, VBMA’s director of marketing and communications. “It is about providing unique items inspired by our art collection and the exhibitions we have on view.”
In tandem with the exhibition “Changing Nature: A New Vision, Photographs by James Balog,” which runs through December 31, The Museum Store offers a selection of gifts, many of them eco-friendly, such as housewares, hostess gifts, art books, and a debut collection of Solo Perche and K. Carroll vegan leather bags. For the younger crowd, set your sights on traditional children’s toys such as holiday-themed puzzles, plush animals, and arts-and-crafts sets.
Proceeds from Museum Store purchases support VBMA’s educational programs. For the art lovers on your list, consider a museum membership for as little as $50. They’ll receive a 10 percent discount at The Museum Store in addition to free admission and news about exhibitions, classes, and programs all year round.
You don’t have to read between the lines to discover that the Vero Beach Book Center is more than a bookstore. The two-story, 11,400-square-foot retailer, which has served loyal customers and visitors since 1975, houses Vero’s only specialty toy store as well as a wide array of bestsellers, puzzles, calendars, stationery, and distinctive gifts.
“We are a grandparent’s go-to place for nice, high-quality toys,” says Linda Leonard, the Book Center’s co-owner and chief toy buyer. “We zero in on toys that have both play and educational value,” she notes, citing the abundance of wooden items, construction sets, and STEM toys over mass-market playthings.
Occupying the Book Center’s entire second floor, children’s books, toys, and games are organized by age and reading level to help shoppers with their selections. Downstairs, expect to find a plethora of fiction and nonfiction titles (some signed by visiting authors), cookbooks, travel books, art books and supplies, local guides, Bibles, daily devotionals, religious-themed gifts, journals, scented soaps, and hand creams.
Still puzzled over a gift? Don’t overlook the variety of puzzles and sudoku, trivia, and crossword books. “There is a large community of puzzle-doers here who want to keep their minds sharp,” remarks Leonard.
A trip to McKee Botanical Garden and its 18 acres of native and tropical plants, celebrated water lilies, and restored architectural treasures wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the garden’s Gift & Book Shop. In December, the experience is especially wondrous, as the garden is transformed into an illuminated winter wonderland during the Magic of McKee Festival of Lights.
This season, the gift shop is offering a collection of handblown glass garden items to coincide with the 2023 “Garden of Glass Exhibition by Jason Gamrath,” which will feature massive glass flowers and plants, standing from 6 to 14 feet tall. “The gift shop collection will include solar garden stakes, glass bells and flowers, small blown-glass flamingos, and air plant holders in four distinct colors,” says gift shop manager Michele Carvell.
Striving to offer made-in-America products, the gift shop also sells garden flags and mailbox covers, a variety of handmade soaps and lotions, and McKee baseball caps and shirts. Books paired with plush animals from the popular Turtle Tracks series are favorites among children, while pampered pooches will give a “paws up” to the Dirty Doggie Bar made from shea butter and olive oil.
Is there a nature lover on your gift list? How about a McKee membership? Every purchase at the Gift & Book shop helps support McKee Botanical Garden, and members receive a 10 percent discount.
Help promote and preserve Vero’s heritage with a citrus-themed gift from the Indian River Citrus Museum Gift Shop. Housed within the Heritage Center in historic downtown Vero Beach, the citrus museum features historical photographs, artifacts, and displays that chronicle the rise of the Indian River Citrus District’s world-renowned citrus industry.
The gift shop offers an array of treasures, most of which are sourced from the 210-mile Indian River Citrus District and crafted by local women-owned businesses. Alongside the museum’s memorabilia, you’ll find original and vintage crate labels, stickers, grapefruit- and orange-scented candles and soaps, cheese boards, salad tongs, hats, mugs, jewelry, artwork by local artists, books by local authors, and teas blended exclusively for the museum.
When you visit, don’t miss the exquisite hand-painted oyster shell necklaces, jewelry dishes, napkin rings, and ornaments. The shells, harvested directly from the Indian River Lagoon, are adorned with an exclusive orange pattern by local artist Leslie McKenzie of Salt Marsh Salvage Co., whose grandmother Millie Bunnell led the effort to save the Heritage Center from impending demolition and had it placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.
“It’s a little spot and it gets a lot of attention,” says the museum’s executive director, Heather Stapleton. “We call it our micro and mighty museum.”
Add some British flair under your tree with goodies or gift certificates from Sealantro British Café & Market. Choose from an array of authentic British baked goods and grocery items, including scones, biscuits, chocolates, teas, pies, and Queen Victoria’s favorite sponge cake. Better yet, treat your favorite Anglophile to an impromptu afternoon tea-to-go or a gift certificate for a full catered tea, complete with an assortment of dainty finger sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, and jam.
Do you fancy the idea of instilling the basics of dining etiquette into your children or grandchildren? Consider a gift certificate for Table Manners 101, a one-and-a-half-hour interactive class taught by Sealantro’s co-owner, Jayne Withers Clifford, a native Briton. Clifford, a dining etiquette consultant well-versed in international dining customs, also conducts modern formal dining sessions for adults seeking to polish up their own table manners when traveling afar.
Is there a stitcher on your holiday list? Look no further than Seaside Needlepoint, a well-known destination for the Treasure Coast needlepoint community. The comfortable, inviting store, owned by Linda Conner and Carol Kramer, has a large inventory of canvases, fibers, and accessories for stitchers of all levels; classes for beginners or those needing a refresher; and a monthly stitch club.
Examples of finished needlepoint projects are displayed thoughtfully throughout the studio, providing plenty of inspiration. Popular holiday items include needlepoint stockings, ornaments, and Christmas card boxes. Stitchers can also create custom-finished frames, stools, pillows, eyeglass cases, clutches, belts, trays, and doorstops or self-finished jewelry boxes, passport holders, and luggage tags from a wide selection of canvases.
“Many things can be monogrammed or personalized with college or club logos, sports icons, zip codes, and Vero-centric themes,” says Conner. “Whether it’s a holiday stocking or a jewelry box, our customers produce unique pieces, which become treasured family heirlooms.”
With such an array of canvases and items, your best bet is to purchase a gift card, advises Kramer, allowing the lucky recipient to select a project of his or her choice.