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FABULOUS LAST MINUTE GIFTS
A word about context.
When we say "fabulous," know that it's in the context of having just two shopping days left before Christmas day- only one if you open presents on Christmas eve- and you've been so uninspired by your loved ones you've failed to come up with an appropriate token of your affection.
It's understandable. Heart-warming and inexpensive gifts take tedious toil to make. Preassembled gifts from mass retailers are re-gifted at the next opportunity. So what's a last minute shopper to do? Roll up your sleeves and spend a little time at some of Fresno's bargain basement havens- at a minimum you'll leave with something unique and help some small, family-owned businesses in the process.
First stop is Big Save, at 555 H Street, at Ventura. This gigantic warehouse store is open to the public and sells everything from mini gold Buddhas for $1.99 to plaster panther planters for $100 and up. This place is especially good for children's toys- as long as you're buying for a not-so-savvy tot that can't tell the difference between name brand and generic.
Who doesn't have room for a fiber optic lamp? They've got a huge selection, and lava lamps to boot for under $10. But you best bets here are the novelty flower pillows for $3.99 and the awesome selection of sweatbands. The large pillows are soft and come in various colors- a funky addition to a college dorm décor. The ancient sweatbands are only $1.99 and say "fin," as in before you even start because these babies are strictly for form, not function. Turn your favorite hipster into Dov Charney or wear them to your next bocce ball tourney in Brooklyn.
Wondering when those platter-spin t-shirts were going to come back in style? You can do it single-handedly with this splatter paint refill kit from the 1980's. If the puffy paint hasn't already decomposed, you're good to go.
The Fulton Mall doesn't have as many great bargains as you'd think it would, given the immigration offices and ample retail space, but there are a few gems.
LA Girl, at 1237 Fulton, has a huge selection of women's mesh slippers. These things are great; any gal would appreciate a pair or two, to wear in the summer, around the house, or in those public showers. LA Girl has virtually very color in the rainbow, the round and point toe style, and even ones with heels (these are not recommended). Famous research shoes $3.99 is the going rate for a pair on the Mall; we've seen them for up to $9.99 elsewhere.
If you can only take the Mall in small doses, head to the Fulton Discount Mall, at 902 Fulton. What's that? You thought the whole thing was the Fulton Discount Mall? No, no, the discount mall is located at 902 Fulton (there is another stall-type shopping complex in the old Gottschalk's). Baby clothes, cowboy boots, and ladies lingerie- what more do you want? On the north side of the mall is the airbrush stall, where you can get almost anything you want airbrushed.
Something airbrushed is probably the most effortless, personalized gift you can give. Pick up a trucker hat somewhere else on the mall and get the guys to do your boyfriend's name for only $10. Or get them to airbrush something ridiculous, like "Economics" or "Schopenhauer" or "K-Fed." Airbrush is cool.
If all else fails, fork out a respectable amount and give your friends and family online gift certificates. We know we'd appreciate anything from Powell's Bookstore; Buy Olympia (for crafty items); or Insound for music. Happy shopping, and good luck out there.