Saturday, August 15, 2009


When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time hanging out in the area near the corner of Monroe and Oxford, stopping at places like Good Company, Village Green, and Brownbag Bookshop. A decade and a half later, those stores -- and several other independent shops -- have closed. The area looks very different, especially with the unfortunate addition of national chains like Pizza Hut and Subway. One store that has survived is Archimage, and I'm glad it did. I most recently stopped by the store on Friday after work.

The best word to describe Archimage is "eclectic." It sells

- clothing and accessories (including hats, scarves, bags, and jewelry)
- incense and candles (in fact, the whole store smells of incense, as will your purchases)
- drums, tambourines, and other musical instruments
- paper goods (like Moleskine, notecards, origami paper, and gift wrap)
- toys and other fun items ("novelty" stuff, for example, inflatable toast; magnetic poetry kits; and things from Fred & Friends)
- home decor and accessories (paper lanterns, batiks, wall art, sushi plates, decorative wooden boxes)
- many other things, from political buttons to Uglydoll to a Vincent VanGogh action figure

Since it had been months since I last went to Archimage, I spotted a couple of new things I hadn't seen before -- pretty boxes made to look like old, leather-bound books, and scarves "recycled" from saris.

I was looking for a tank top -- now that real summer weather is here -- and I found a pretty pink one from a company called Eucalyptus. The tag on the shirt said that the company donates 10% of pre-tax profits to an organization that improves health care and education for women and children in a small Guatemalan village. It was included in the store's current sale, so I got it for about $18, down from $28.50.

Since I got a deal on that, I also picked up a silk short-sleeved top, made from sari-type material, from Jedzebel, a fair-trade company based in Santa Cruz. That was also on sale for about $18. I noticed a few other Jedzebel items at the store, as well as Flax pieces.

TIP: Archimage is a great place to find gifts.

NEARBY: Astoria and Aladdin's, just to name two.

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