by Maggie Zeibak
Gathering time dilutes memories of idyllic days spent bronzing on the beach.
Briefly etched in the minds of visitors from chilly cities, are startling sunsets and passing trains which leap out from their photograph album, but there are no daily reminders to transport them back to their favorite beach town.
Wistful letters received from visiting relatives are apt to make me feel geographically smug, yet a plaintive request for a sweatshirt (hello, Sav-On?) started me thinking. When time is short, how could I provide better resources for vacationing family and friends? What better gift than to maximize their time for hedonistic pursuits? What do tourists want, anyway?
Benevolent Mother Nature provides us with the perfect climate and many visitors happily dampen their toes here. Mooching around San Clemente offers numerous opportunities to find the perfect souvenir, both for gift giving and self-reward. We're a beach town and they want to take home that precious memory of a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
For many of us, we've become Hotel California and very, very popular with our out of town relatives. Carve out a little breathing space and send them out with this list to complete their shopping painlessly. After all, who wants to spend an entire vacation looking for the perfect gift for Aunt Josie?
Some hot sellers can be found on Russell Stationers' well-stocked shelves. Framed lithographs capturing the beach scene at the pier, signed by local artist Jim Krogle, are priced at $55. Dozens of ornamental dolphins, gulls, sandcastles and a cute "Beach in a Bottle" containing sand and shells cost $9.98 and up. Colorful flags ($19.98) are easy to pack flat and the pelican or deck chair image is guaranteed to turn heads in the Midwest. Photo frames, spoons, and paperweights are good buys for collectors, all very reasonably priced.
Shelling out for shells is hard to resist. Bags of them or individual
spectacular specimens such as a White King Crown can be bought for a paltry 45cents. The Nite-Lites at $8.96 can provide a nightly remembrance, or a seasonal trip of nostalgia with shell Christmas tree decorations. Don't let them overlook the Puka Shell necklaces or the elegant shell candles these can be purchased for everyone on their list.
If they're buying for the guys, little ones will like the miniature Rav4
truck packing a surfboard on the roof rack ($6.98), while big ones will
think the brightly decorated surfboard ornament ($19.98) the coolest thing to grace their apartment since a lava lamp. They may even like a new mug from San Clemente. A green or blue conventional type ($8.98) or a purple/maroon Travel Mug priced at $5.98.
Paul Gallo, owner of Gifts on Del Mar, says that his most popular sales to tourists are silver-plated photo frames engraved with the dates and names of the vacationers. They start at $25, engraving extra. His sailboat key rings at $45 are also requested favorites.
There is a special beach section in Guinevere's where one can find high
quality, embroidered "Woody" golf and sweatshirts, besides beach bags
($7.95) and hand-painted Santa Surfer Tree Ornaments. Adorable tea light candle holders, sporting pewter shells and dolphins, are a steal at $6.95 and should be bought by the dozen. The best find? A $30 painted oar, complete with pegs, to be used as a towel rack. Cute, huh?
As your guests stroll over to Cheers, the scent of locally made soaps greets them. Individual bars run $5.50 while a package of six is $7. Babies can't be left out; they need to spit-up on surfboard logoed, embroidered bibs, blankies and onesies. Owner Kylie offers a great service with beach-themed, hand-painted address plaques she'll ship those home, all for $55.
Catering for all tastes, a little beach kitsch from Beach Club Sportswear
fits the bill. The Dashboard Surfer and swivel-hipped Hawaiian Hula Doll are big sellers along with Shell Barrettes and (what will Grandma say?) sexy toe-rings. All reasonably priced around $10. Although, if one wants to spend more, the locally designed Koko Island T-Dresses, showing off their Palm Tree insignia are worth checking out.
Roxy, Roxy, Roxy, this year's popular beach buzz, isn't easily attainable
for some folks but at the World Core there's a variety to enchant a gaggle of giggling girls. And one can't miss the eye catching Octane display of boxer shorts ($19.95) flaunting colorful Cigar, Playing Cards, Hawaiian and Surf patterns. They'd go well with the "Uhula" beachy duvet covers that come packaged in a cool, canvas tote. Besides the Surf Videos and Trestles T-shirts, remind visitors that college dorm rooms need "Stoked" and "Longboards Only" signs. Clocks in the shape of a surfboard will take pride of place, and, who knows, maybe they won't be late for class. In Fit's & Fashions, ladies can find upscale denim blouses embroidered with beach memorabilia - they're a "gotta-have" at $58.
Unquestionably, a stop at the Book Site is warranted to peek at "The
Surfer's Travel Guide"($14.95) by Chris Ahrens. Also, the exceptional,
give-it-to-everyone book is "Sea, Sand and Surf"($24.95) written by local
authors, Gia and Julianna Danson who have assembled the ultimate guide to Orange County Beaches. Stunning, glossy photographs are supplemented with nuts and bolts information, packaged ready for coffee table browsing. A perfect memory.
Councilwoman Susan Ritschel recently visited China as part of a political study program, interacting with civic, government and business people. What did she take for gift exchanges? Apart from T-shirts, magnets and postcards of our Pier, she said that the surfboard key-chains were a huge hit. Bet they were easy to pack