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Sebastopol: Small Town Shopping Tour
By Vesta Copestakes

« Graton

This town is no longer all that small - but its small enough that you can still know the merchants who own the stores and have personal shopping experiences. Downtown got a huge shift in merchants this year when the Basso's decided to retire and remodel their building for numerous shops. I'm especially proud of my friends Jane and James who own Sebastopol Shoes - great place for excellent shoes and an amazing collection of socks you might want to stuff in a stocking!

AND Janet Rodina, who owns Silk Moon, greatly expanded her space and product line with this move. Janet is one of those rare individuals who travels abroad to shop from village artists to support their lives. She brings back stunningly beautiful fabrics and works of art, all tastefully displayed. Janet now also has a large selection of yarns which is especially important now that the yarn store at the other end of town closed.

Knitters and crochet artists have a place to go - as well as seamstresses who love to work with silks and other fine fabrics. My neighbor Robin is a fabric artist who works in the store, so you know she has intimate knowledge of the products.

The challenge of the size of this town forces me to skip stores along the way, so please drop in on your own. If you stay on this side of the street and head south, drop in to Apple Blossom Beads if you love to create your own jewelry - and also if you enjoy collector dolls. My favorite book store is the used book annex of Copperfield's Books. Brandy is consistently there and I've come to enjoy her peaceful manner that fits so well with shelf after shelf of beauty and words on paper. The bargain rack outside the door has provided me with hours of fiction pleasure over the years. Brandy is also excellent at finding that book you heard about but can't remember the exact title.

What a pity I'm forgetting the name of the little children's clothing store on this block. They used to have just used clothing and have now branched into new as well. The partners are parents of small children, so you'll find the kids in the store being lovingly tended among the items for sale. I like to step in here just to spend a little time with children since my own little family is too far away for visits. If you have children - or grandchildren, stop here for good clothing choices for little ones.

And right here you'll also find the very best art store in west county, Art & Soul. Marguerite and Sabina took over this store more than a year ago and have just completed yet another expansion of products to serve all levels of artists. They and their staff know the field and have provided materials for a broad spectrum of art - and even for children in their kid's section. You don't have to go into Santa Rosa for art supplies any more.

Near the end of this block are two places for music. One is People's Music where Bo and his delightful staff have provided musical instruments and instruction to the community for decades. These people enjoy the way they make a living. Every one of them also plays music professionally, they can repair instruments and inspire you to learn to play one. This store is a regular visit for me because I enjoy the people here so much. I also like to purchase percussion toys for friends. Anyone can play something percussion. The other music store is where you buy CDs, etc., Incredible Records. Beyond the broad selection of music - and the great posters on the walls, what makes this store stand out is that it's 100% personal. From Johathan's Picks on the counter by the register (his recommendations are infallible) to the fact that you can ask about music you've heard on the radio and more than likely, someone can find it for you here. It's called Incredible records for a reason!

Continue south and drop into Wild Things. I had no idea that this store was a combination of art and objects revering nature from such a broad spectrum of individuals until Maureen Ryan took the time to point that out to me. She told me the stories behind objects in the store that let me know the people and lives behind each. She carefully selects her merchandise to reflect her reverence for life. Mystic River is another store - on the corner, that is more than just a store, They serve and sell teas, specialize in books and objects of a spiritual nature and have discussion groups and speakers throughout the month. Get on their e-mail and mailing list so you can keep track of events at this store, including special tea tastings.

The next block south starts with Earth Child, a remarkably imaginative children's store. This is very high-end education and play, as well as costume and clothing. If you have children or grandchildren, this store will inspire and amaze you. And from here you go to Elyssium where everything is beautiful and beautifully displayed, all items for a lovely home. Then my favorite lamp store that's an amazing jumble of lamps and fixtures in brilliant illuminated color. Get down to the end at Shikki Monkey then cross over - at the cross walk of course and head back into the center of town.

Keep remembering that I'm not covering every store, so duck into any place that inspires your imagination. There are wonderful women's clothing stores on both sides of Main Street so make sure you visit them if you want true variety. The clothing store that has graced downtown Sebastopol for decades is Dressers. Mary sells both men's and women's clothing of incredible quality and variety, and children's as well. She also has trinkets and accessories as well as beautiful lingerie. Her scarf collection alone should draw you in as the weather cools.

My goodness, I'm almost forgetting the other toy store in town, Toy Works. It's still the same as it was when I brought my little daughter here. She's now 22 with a daughter of her own who I hope to bring here some day. Just watching the children play with toys at the front of the store brings back fond memories.

The center block of town includes some of my favorite Sebastopol people and their stores. I've come to enjoy visiting James Haug at the Wine Emporium. Just once I actually tasted wine here, which is his specialty! At any time he has more than 48 bottles of wine open and his shelves display wine in price ranges fro $10 to - what? $100 or more. I've watched potential customers come in, dropped in while he's pouring for someone and they always seems to be having a good time. Dick Starr covered this place in his Wine Junket, so I'll leave the rest to him.

Penny Kreiger of Paradise Oriental Rugs is a favorite person for many reasons, one of which is her unbridled enthusiasm for rugs. This is her specialty, her first love and her craft. She pairs people to rugs the way wine specialists pair wines to people and food. When she says she won't sell you a rug unless "you absolutely love it." she means it. She knows each rug, where it came from, the history behind the culture, products, dyes and everything you could possibly want to know about rugs. She doesn't just sell rugs, she lives rugs. Go meet Penny.

Down the end of this block is Sonoma Fine Furniture and Country Home, two stores in one. Steve and Wendy decided to combine efforts into one store when the space across the street from their old shops opened up. Steve's specialty is clean lines of fine wood furniture as well as leather and clothe couches and chairs. Wendy's specialty is frill and color and a zillion details in home décor. You'd think these two styles would clash, but somehow they blend together into a remarkable store with choices across the spectrum of interior design. It's a big store and right now the holiday decorations are out and ready to pluck from trees.

Turn on this block and head toward the Plaza, because in what used to be Silk Moon you'll find Oaxacan Fair Trade Co. right next to the West County Grill. Like Silk Moon, this store is filled with items crafted by artisans and brought directly here for us to own. There are beautiful paintings, embroidered clothing, hand crafted sandals, purses and woven bags. The store is a wealth of color and design. Every item you purchase helps feed, clothe and shelter an artisan in Mexico. It's these kind of stores that are keeping art forms alive in modern culture. We get to enjoy them and the artists keep their art alive in our modern world.

Across the street at Infusions Tea shop, you'll find a little table set up where Magic the Tarot Card Reader offers her many talents to grateful clients. She has provided a wealth of valuable information to me over the years, including predicting this newspaper and my wonderful boyfriend. I continue to use her services whenever I need clarity. You can stop at her table at Infusions, or call her for a private reading. She also does readings at parties and events, and I have to say that a Gift Certificate to magic is a very kind and generous gift to anyone you love. 707-824-1394.

I'm going to take you down to the south end of town to BeeKind because Katia has dedicated her life and store to all things bees. From the most dazzling array of honey by flower and vicinity to candies, candles, lotions, jewelry and even beekeeping supplies and books, this store will amaze and delight you. It's sweet in very sense of the word and changes constantly, so keep going back to see what new things have been added.
And speaking of changing things constantly, my favorite variety store owner is Carole's of Rose and Thorn just three miles west of Sebastopol. Carole's not only fills her store with items of beauty and interest, they change constantly. From clothing and pillows to jewelry and soaps, she also has figurines, garden pots and statues, perennials in summer and eggs from her chickens. This is an incredibly fun store with events throughout the year so Carole has collected a loyal following. Come experience her shop for yourself and see what we all love so much. Now that that it's holiday season, you'll also find one of the most extensive collections of tasteful holiday decorations.

Did I leave the best for last? You be the judge. Our home is filled with creative people making a living that benefits us as well as them. Getting to know them over time has brought joy to my life. I'm hoping to spread that joy around with this tour.

Wine Banter »

Art and Soul



Elmos Steakhouse

Marin DesignWorks Tile

Oaxacan Fair Trade Co

Paradise Oriental Rugs

Rose and Thorn

Silk Moon

Sonoma Fine Furniture

Wine Emporium

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