Local shops serve as a source for holiday gifts


Clementine Cunningham

Nordic Nest, in downtown San Carlos, sells a host of gifts for holiday shopping. “We have great items like jewelry, candles, home decor, and crafting kits,” Téa Carranza-Doyle said.

Whether it is for a last-minute gift for a holiday party or a perfect secret Santa present, local shops are filled with unique gifts that give people the opportunity to support small businesses. 

Many stores get the most sales during the holiday season. According to Statista, retail sales went up 8.2% in 2020. This year they are forecasted to go up to 8.5%. The rising sales rates are due to an increasing supply of holiday gifts available to shoppers. COVID has pent up the demand for these gifts, to the benefit of local businesses. 

Conveniently located in the Carlmont Shopping Center, Ladera Garden and Gifts combines a nursery and a boutique. Selling everything from lemon trees to scented candles, there are gifts for green thumbs and homebodies. 

Adrianna Navarro is the daughter of Juan and Mercedes Navarro, the founders of Ladera Gardens and Gifts, and has worked there for many years.  

“People really like to buy plants as gifts. During the holiday season, candles and jewelry are also very popular. We have a lot of great stocking stuffers, too, like Christmas tree ornaments,” Navarro said. 

Ladera Gardens and Gifts has a large selection of plants, including succulents. The smallest-sized succulents cost $3 each, making them a fantastic little gift. 

“We also have seasonal items like Christmas trees, wreaths, and ornaments. This year, people are buying their gifts earlier, especially since shipping has been a bit funky and slow since COVID-19,” Navarro said. 


In San Carlos, Nordic Nest is a boutique downtown that sells Scandinavian-style home decor, jewelry, yarn, and crafting materials. Amongst their bestselling items, they have a wide range of tableware. 

“The melamine dishes are a very popular item since they’re really good quality, unbreakable, and BPA free. They come in different colorful patterns, and are all under $15 each,” Téa Carranza-Doyle said. 

Carranza-Doyle is an employee at Nordic Nest and a former Carlmont student. She has been working at the shop for a couple of months and has seen more customers recently. 

“During the holidays, many people come to buy gifts for their family or friends. We have customers buying gifts as early as November and others an hour before a Christmas party,” Carranza-Doyle said.

“During the holidays, many people come to buy gifts for their family or friends. We have customers buying gifts as early as November and others an hour before a Christmas party. ”

— Téa Carranza-Doyle

Nordic Nest offers many classes, including wool felting, knitting, and holiday ornament making. For people looking for crafty gifts, the store has many different kits. 

“If you’re crafty, the paint-by-numbers and felt kits are great. If not, we have really nice candles and jewelry,” Carranza-Doyle said. 

The paint-by-number kits cost around $35 and come in many different designs. 

The Reading Bug, a bookstore, is just a little farther down the street. Heather McDill, an employee, believes books are the perfect gifts for the holidays. 

 “For high schoolers, the books “One of Us Is Lying” and “Dune” have been really popular, especially because of the film adaptations,” McDill said. 

The Reading Bug has a large section of its store dedicated to children’s and young adult books, but they also have plenty of books for adults. 

“Cookbooks are popular as gifts for parents and grandparents. We have some really great ones,” McDill said.

Beyond books, the store also has board games, toys, and book-ish decor. 

“People really like to buy puzzles and stuffed animals during the holiday season,” McDill said. 

For those who love to cook, The Olive Crush is a store that sells artisanal olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pasta, and spices. Mike Fitch founded The Olive Crush after working in the semiconductor industry for many years. Nowadays, he finds his job more fulfilling as he guides his customers through their shopping experience. 

“Our traditional balsamic is our bestselling item. It is very different from the balsamic people purchase at the grocery store. We use twice the amount of grapes to make our balsamic richer and sweeter,” Fitch said.  

 The olive oil used in many of their products comes from family-owned olive groves around the world. Each oil is carefully tasted and selected to create high-quality products.

“As a gift, I would recommend the four-pack sets with two olive oils and two bottles of vinegar. We have ten different themes based on countries, like our French, Italian, and Californian sets,” Fitch said. 

These gift sets range between $25 to $55. Fitch sees many customers during the holiday season. 

“We make 20% of our sales in December, mainly from gifts set orders online,” Fitch said. 

The Olive Crush’s products are versatile. Olive oil isn’t only for salad. It can also be used in popcorn or even ice cream

“If you heat the Vanilla Bean Balsamic Vinegar, the balsamic vinegar will evaporate, leaving you with a vanilla syrup that is excellent with yogurts or desserts. We have a lot of unique flavors, perfect for the holiday season,” Fitch said.