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Occidental: Small Town Shopping Tour
By Vesta Copestakes

« Freestone

You might as well continue along the Bohemian Highway into Occidental. The twists and turn ends up in the center of town, and again, you can just park your car and wander. If you want all the details of walking this town, go into Natural Connections next to Altered Images. You can easily spot these stores by the incredibly colorful displays and sparkly things outside and in the window of Altered Images. I love this place! Look up! Their door is on the right, Natural Connections is on the left. Here you'll find a walking tour book of Occidental, beautiful cards with butterflies and birds, etc, a wonderful t-shirt collection of wild creatures, stuffed animals of our favorite critters, and posters of the watersheds of Sonoma County.

On the same side of the street is Sonoma Fine Wine, where Benjamyn Gabriel makes a specialty of learning your tastes and making sure he can provide wines for you without you having to do the research. This works especially well for people with too-busy lives and those coming up to their weekend homes. He has wine tastings here for local, small boutique wineries that have no tasting room, his art gallery displays local work and he knows his wines. Benjamyn also turned me on to some incredibly good local music, so he's a resource on many levels.

This little collection of shops features one of West County's most revered and respected sources for local art, Hand Goods. This is a large store so don't just get caught up front where the pottery and jewelry resides. Delve into the back where clothing, scarves, books, cards, etc. can be found. You can actually spend a fair amount of time in this store because there are items of interest for many people. I even got a collection of bookmarks one year that I used as stocking gifts for my family.

Close by is an exercise in recycling that will amaze you. Renga Arts has bowls, jewelry, purses, dolls, ... all kinds of things that are made from discarded other things. One year I purchased a traffic signal glass lens for Alan that is the loveliest dark red bowl. You don't have to use your imagination, others have done the work for you. It's a small store very much worth exploring.

At the very end of this row of buildings is Verdigris where sweet and gentle Terry sells the fine art lamps created by his partner from unusual objects. I love the fact that the lamps do more than shine light. There are no two alike and they are made from so many different objects, you're bound to find something to delight. Terry also sells garden art and lovely vases and other antiques. He's quite an artist himself with his displays. Across the street is a row of stores with much to offer.
Aubergine is a wonderful used clothing store that specializes in colorful dresses, skirts, blouses and accessories. The place just teams with color. They also have wonderful old motorcycle jackets and piles of rugs. When you buy an item of clothing, you also walk away with it wrapped in a matching scarf - just because.

Stop in at Leapin' Lizzards for fun stuff, especially good for stocking stuffers. They have the best collection of bumper stickers around. And next door is all class and style. Galleria specializes in art glass and jewelry, and at this time of year has the most impressive collection of Santa Clauses you will find anywhere.

I'm going to leave the rest of exploring to you since there is much to see. But don't forget to go all the way to the end of town - not far - to Occidental Hardware store. It's still a piece of history and a wonderful male-female divided store. You'll see what I mean when you get there. I understand the Bistro across the street is also a really good place to eat, but I haven't tried it yet.

When you head out of town, take the second right past the fire station to Green Hill Road. When you get to a Y in the road, take it left - it's called Graton Road here, and will take you right into the center of Graton.

Graton »

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