by Kathy Ruff
Whether you need a gift for a parent, spouse, child, friend or co-worker, we offer a few suggestions on what you can do to check those names off your list with businesses located in Northeast Pennsylvania.
For arts and entertainment fans
The Mauch Chunk Opera House offers a variety of entertainment alternatives for those who enjoy listening to tribute bands playing songs made famous by John Denver, Chicago, Linda Ronstadt or Fleetwood Mac – or dozens of other bands and acts.
Located in the downtown of historic Jim Thorpe, the venue presents year-round entertainment in a variety of styles including theater, classic rock, bluegrass and folk as well as special events to help bring a smile to the entertainment-lover’s heart.
“It’s a great venue,” said Christie McGorry, one of the facility’s event producers. “It’s very intimate. It seats about 360 people. We have a floor section of the theater and a lower and upper balcony.”
Restored and remodeled, the venue has offered entertainment performances since 1882, when a variety of emerging vaudeville stars performed for dignitaries, merchants and politicians.
“We have made a lot of repairs to it, upgraded our light system, our sound system,” said McGorry. “We have a really nice concession area and a bar downstairs and upstairs.”
In addition to gift cards available in a wide range of denominations, venue-goers can purchase T-shirts or sweatshirts, hats and other small trinkets.
Mauch Chunk Opera House
14 West Broadway, Jim Thorpe
Calling hours: Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m.
For those who appreciate nostalgic keepsakes
Weissport Antique Mall is a “multi-dealer antique mall,” according to Kelly Deutsch, who owns the business with her husband, Bryen.
“We sell a lot of furniture this time of year, but there’s lots of collectible kinds of things in there,” she said.
Collectibles including vintage ornaments, furniture and other fixtures rest intertwined among soaps, books, antiques and other items.
“People usually tell us what they are interested in,” said manager Rosemary Manbeck. “If people ask us for an opinion, we ask what are they interested in. We would show them anything we had in that area. We have such a high variety of things. People come in and they may be looking for something in particular but it’s not the same as the next person or the next ten people.”
Someone looking for railroad memorabilia may find old-fashioned lanterns, kerosene lamps or train sets. Offerings range from glass centerpieces, teddy bears and books to brass candlesticks, coffee tables and vintage cans and trays.
Formerly known as The Quiltery, the business still occasionally offers quilting materials and handmade quilts.
The mall’s inventory regularly turns over as more than 20 vendors update products.
Weissport Antique Mall
410 Bridge St., Weissport
Hours: Thursdays, 1-5 p.m. and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For the outdoor enthusiast
Opened earlier this year, the Lehighton Outdoor Center – comprised of Jim Thorpe River Sports, Northeast PA Kayak School, a retail store and cafe – offers a wide range of gifts for the outdoor enthusiast.
“For the outdoor adventurer type – whether they are walkers, bikers, rafters or kayakers – we have items big and small, everything from the stocking stuffer to a big-ticket item like a kayak,” said Jeremiah McAward, president. “(We offer) a lot of little things that are high-quality stocking stuffers, high-quality gear any outdoor adventurer of any level would enjoy having in their toolkits. For bicyclists, gloves are an ever-popular Christmas item. We have headlights and cycle computers. We have the little blinking lights – because visibility is all important with everyone texting and distracted – are gaining more favor than they have in the past.”
Specialized-brand electronic bikes provide a supportive alternative for the more physically challenged biker. The center also offers bike accessories, parts and full repair services.
For kayakers and rafters, stocking stuffers available include tether and tie-down straps, flotation bags and eyewear retainers designed for floating as well as other gear accessories and jewelry. Larger items available include roof-rack systems, paddles, life jackets and Jackson kayaks.
The center offers gift certificates for bikes, kayaks, rafting trips or a variety of localized T-shirts, sweatshirts and other apparel.
Lehighton Outdoor Center
123 Lehigh Drive, Lehighton
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Online: jtraft.com, lehightonoutdoorcenter.com and kayakschool.com
For the musically inclined
A third generation family-owned business, Robert M. Sides Family Music Centers offers a creative alternative to holiday gift ideas.
“Guitars get to be a pretty popular gift item for Christmas,” said Doug Stoddard, sheet music and lesson coordinator. “We sell a package of an acoustic guitar with a big bag and all the accessories someone who is beginning to play a guitar would need.”
The center sells gift certificates that can be used to purchase a variety of instruments including pianos, band instruments and ukuleles. It also offers a band rental program to acquaint new users without risk.
“It’s a lot about the younger generation, students or kids who are in the 10- to 15-year-old age bracket,” Stoddard said. “They watch a lot of shows on TV like The Voice, America’s Got Talent, things like that. They will see the current people who are winning those kinds of shows and a lot of them are doing musical acts like playing guitar, piano and so on. A lot of them might get inspiration that they would like to try it.”
Gift ideas also include lessons on all of the major band instruments, piano and string instruments such as the guitar, violin, cello and ukulele. The center also offers stocking stuffers such as music-themed pens, bookmarks, gloves and scarves and other accessories.
Robert M. Sides Family Music Centers
717 Center St., Throop
For unique, locally-made gifts
“We have a lot of hand-crafted items from different artisans throughout our area,” said Beth Zero, owner of The Wonderstone Gallery. “Probably 80 percent is made locally. We’re talking jewelry, hand-knit items, crocheted items, a seamstress who makes her owned stuffed animals. We have people who make soaps and pillow sprays, different body care items, all made by people within the Dunmore/Scranton area.”
The gallery offers its own line of natural sprays made with essential oils to complement its yoga and other holistic and wellness services.
Prayer and mala beads make great stocking stuffers.
“We also sell a lot of gemstone jewelry, gemstones themselves,” Zero said. “We are also a yoga studio, so people like to offer different gift certificates for yoga classes as well as Reiki sessions and card readings. It’s definitely not stuff you’re going to find at the mall. People who come here know they can get prints of original artwork or even original artwork, greeting cards that come from local people. They come here because they know it’s a one-of-a-kind type of gift here.”
The Wonderstone Gallery
100 North Blakely St., Dunmore
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For the young, the old & everyone in between
In business for four decades, Bendixen’s Giftware & Boutique offers a variety of unique gift items.
“We just added a new clothing boutique,” said Judy Bendixen, owner. “That has been a big hit because we’re basically the only one on top of the mountain here in the Pocono Summit, Blakeslee area that sells clothing with the exception of Walmart.”
Bendixen’s tries to offer American-made products. Its North Carolina-based Simply Noelle boutique offerings include women’s apparel while Utah-based Lazy One lines its sleepwear shelves. Specially-made souvenir T-shirts and sweatshirts add to its offerings.
“We have local jams,” she said. “We have hand-crafted things. We have some really neat, unusual items and not high-end (but) affordable. We have some Penn State items.”
Gifts range from aromatherapy candles, handbags and stationery to home décor items such as placemats, pottery and table runners.
“It’s not a huge store but we carry a lot of items, really things that you won’t see in Walmart or even in a department store, because a lot of the companies we buy from are smaller companies,” Bendixen said. “They are not big box items.”
Bendixen’s Giftware & Boutique
2414 Route 940, Pocono Summit