Your friends aren’t like other friends, and therefore the usual style of gift giving (bottles of wine, socks, tins of popcorn) won’t work. That’s why we’ve put together a great list of great places where you’ll find gifts that are just as weird and unusual as the company you keep.
Made in Milwaukie
Okay, one of my favorite Portland shops isn’t exactly in Portland—it’s in Milwaukie, which is just a two-minute skootch over the Southeast city line. It’s Made in Milwaukie, a former video/DVD shop that sells local art, buttons, hats, doodads, and the funniest, coolest T-shirts I’ve seen in ages... all championing Milwaukie and stuff in its vicinity. Expertly designed, these shirts feature old-school renderings of Milwaukie Bowl, local mini-marts, chopper shops, Oaks Park skating rink, Blazers stuff, and my personal fave, a parody of those Southern California tourism tees that’s singing the praises of “Unincorporated Clackamas County.” These are witty, well-made, and a must for any Milwaukie lover (like ME) on your gift-giving list. (2026 SE Monroe, Milwaukie) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Andy & Bax
Everyone loves Next Adventure for its colorful raincoats and very cool water bottles—but have you been introduced to its old paranoid uncle who lives in a booby-trapped cabin and hasn’t bought a new pair of wool socks since the ’70s? Meet Andy & Bax, the army surplus store that carries both high-quality wilderness adventure gear and an extensive selection of gas masks and parachutes. Pick up a new water filtration system, camp stove, sleeping bag, or knit hat for your adventurous friends—and maybe a communist-era Russian hat and survival guidebook for your own old paranoid uncle. (324 SE Grand) ALEX ZIELINSKI
Kinokuniya, the Japanese-based retailer that recently took over the long-vacant Guild Theatre space, offers a carefully curated selection of books guaranteed to enthrall lovers of art, design, and adorable animals. Upstairs, you’ll find an entire loft dedicated to imported anime and video game art books and manga. Elsewhere, stationery supplies, Studio Ghibli gear, toys, games, and delightful Nanoblock kits make for ideal stocking stuffers. Once you’ve picked out a unique gift for everyone on your list, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy some sweets and authentic Japanese tea from the Book of Tea Café that’s tucked away in the back of the store. (829 SW 9th) CHIPP TERWILLIGER
I write for a living, so of course there’s something in me that longs for the days of physical correspondence, written or typed by hand, and sent to a friend or loved one by way of the US Postal Service. If you have a similar stick-in-the-mud in your life, give them a pleasant shock this holiday season by purchasing a refurbished typewriter from the good people at Pacific Typewriter. They’ve got a healthy stock of manual and electric models to choose from and can assist your lucky recipient when their typewriter inevitably breaks. (9513 SW Barbur) ROBERT HAM
Your loved ones are strange and special, and they deserve strange and special gifts. So be sure to pop in that weird building next to the Moon and Sixpence that holds a deli, post office, and Nordic gift shop—and hop down to the basement, where you’ll find a treasure trove of oddities and trinkets from 100 different sellers. You can find the expected thrift-store things, but there’s all kinds of unique stuff here, too, like: a Misfits baby onesie, a grass skirt, FernGully trading cards, ’80s lunchboxes, posters and prints, lots of German beer steins, a huge amount of Hawaiian shirts, old Playboys, and an indescribable garment labeled as “interestin unusual vest.” (2000 NE 42nd, located in the Hollywood 42nd Street Station) NED LANNAMANN
We’ve sung the praises of Wallace Books plenty of times, and we’re going to keep doing it, and you can’t stop us. That’s because from the first time you venture into this house-turned-bookshop—crammed with shelves bowing under the weight of hardcovers, overflowing with teetering stacks of paperbacks—you won’t shut up about it, either. Wallace Books is the platonic ideal of a bookstore: a small and warm labyrinth of cases, shelves, and boxes holding everything from slick new releases to battered old pulps. The latter is where you’ll find cheap, unique gifts for anyone who reads, like surreal, long-forgotten science-fiction oddities or in-depth guides to local trails that also extoll the virtues of backpacking with llamas. Every year, I frantically duck into Wallace Books a few days before Christmas, leaving with a stack of books that’re guaranteed hits for hard-to-shop-for friends. (7241 SE Milwaukie) ERIK HENRIKSEN
Tienda Santa Cruz
Some look inside Tienda Santa Cruz and see a small, unpretentious bakery/grocery store with a terrific taqueria in the back. I SEE THE PIÑATAS, which cover the ceiling from side to side. Not only does Tienda Santa Cruz carry a wide selection of one of the best gifts you can give, but they also have an entire aisle of CANDY TO PUT IN THAT PIÑATA. Give the gift of mystery, violence, and sweets. Give a piñata. (8630 N Lombard) SUZETTE SMITH
The Lippman Co.
If you’re in a rush and need something unusual, then the Lippman Co. is made to order. Last year I needed seven holiday gifts quick, so I ran in to Lippman’s and, in 14 minutes, came out with the following: A sash that said “KING,” a Keystone Kops helmet, a hula skirt, and a pack of mustaches. “But what about the final three gifts,” you ask. Ah-ha! I purchased three “1st Place” ribbons—actually, first, second, and third place ribbons which I gave to my friends randomly and watched with glee as they tried to work out why they were being ranked and in such a confusing fashion. Lippman’s is the best. (50 SE Yamhill) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY