You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 5:45 a.m.

Ann Arbor is home to local treasures for holiday shopping

By Samantha Nielsen Misiak

As an Ann Arborite from the early 70s, I have always been passionate about its vibrant culture: the arts it encompasses, the painted wall behind The Michigan Theater, performances at the Power Center, our unique, local personalities, the legacy of Shakey Jake, Lucy Ann Lance and, of course, all of the unique, one-of-a-kind sights and experiences spread throughout Washtenaw county.

It's those one-of-a-kind sights and experiences that appeal to those of us that have been here for decades, as well as to the visitor who gets the chance to explore our area even for a short time. These are the places that show case our community's daily interests; they often have the faces that visitors see and are our town's first line of representation. These are our small businesses and our local shops. They are our area's entrepreneurs that are so passionate about our town and what it has to offer that they've decided to set up shop, plant deep roots into
the development of our town and provide a product or service that you can't find anywhere else. These are the unique parts of our town not to be missed.

Let me share with you just a few of these local treasures that I enjoy, along with some great finds to discover within each. I hope you will find time to enjoy them this holiday season, and also share them with others, near and far.


Pot and Box: 220 Felch St., Ann Arbor; Now is the time to put in your orders for seasonal floral arrangements. Pot and Box's unique simplistic style will make the perfect hostess gift if you'll be attending any holiday get togethers this season, or as a beautiful detail to your own holiday table. The owner Lisa, boasts that she has had her fingernails dirty for over a decade pursuing her passions in horticulture.

McFarland Tree Service: 5301 Whitmore Lake Road, Ann Arbor; Also in the name of planning ahead, don't overlook the task of hanging up your outdoor lights. If you're like me, and would rather have somebody else climb a ladder in windy 30 degree weather to get the perfect outdoor display, this is the crew you need.

As I drove down Jackson Road recently after having a wonderful dinner at The Earl, my jaw dropped open at the breathtaking display of lights near Mallek's Service Station (a great local station to get your car fuled and serviced). The colors and details inspired me to pick up my iPhone right away, and using a voice command feature, of course, phone McFarland Tree Service right away. Turns out that at 10:45 p.m. there isn't someone still in the office still — not too surprising. However I was thrilled that they returned my phone call the next morning by 8:15 and said they could have someone out that afternoon to give me an estimate to take care of my families' light hanging needs.

Lexi's Toy Box: 328 S. Ashley St., Ann Arbor; Lexi's Toy Box is inside of a
beautifully renovated home along Ashley, across from the old Kline's parking lot and right next door to the ever popular and beautifully collected art items of Red Shoes. Crystal, the store owner, searches for unique companies offering toys that inspire creativity, promote healthy play and spark the imagination. You'll find an array of natural wood toys, dress up clothes, and
beautiful fairy doors, of which I just couldn't resist.

Four Directions: New 2010 location is 211 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; You will walk into a large and comfortable space with wooden floors and exposed brick walls, with glass display cases showcasing everything from beautifully crafted jewelry to dinosaur fossils and handcrafted chess sets to the beautiful glow of sea-salt lamps. Along with their unique colection of items found all around the world by the owners Alan and Karen, Four Directions will ship your purchase for you, and they also offer free gift wrapping.


Over the next week Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are rich with fantastic art shows, offering untold unique finds, and hand crafted works at every price point.

Venturing to these shows make great memories as you discover talented artists, and explore their hand-worked creations which will make perfect gifts for young, old and everyone in between on your list. Don't miss these upcoming events:

Tiny Expo: Dec. 11, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., 325 & 327 Braun Court, Ann Arbor. Featuring some of Washtenaw Counties' most highly acclaimed art contributors.

Zingerman's Pre-Holiday Planning Party: Dec. 9, 4-7:30 p.m., 422 Detroit St, Ann Arbor. This is a free event held by Zingerman's to help you get all of your foodie friends and family taken care of. You'll be introduced to gift ideas, party planning tips to make your holidays tasty.

D.I.Ypsi Handmade Holiday Fair: Dec. 11, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Woodruff's 36 E. Cross St. Ypsilanti. Twenty-nine local artists with talents ranging from metal robot sculptures from Cre Fuller to apparel items for anyone. There will also be food provided by local foodies and culinary artists.

Samantha Nielsen Misiak is a freelance writer sharing her passions and interests for Ann Arbor, where she works, lives and plays. She can be reached at