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Sucker Punch of Love: For Everyone Else, There Are Oddities 

Tuesday, Nov 25 2014

In the menagerie of gift-giving, there's the mythical "person who has everything" who is impossible to shop for (solution: Give them love; it's as cheap and abundant as natural gas, and has ruined just as many small towns as fracking). There's the person who loves everything, for whom it's just a matter of sticking a U2 CD in a colorful bag. And then, somewhere in the middle, there's a sort of vortex for those people who have good taste — they really do! — and like things — lots of things! — but who are really difficult to shop for. They're so up on music or woodworking or grilling that they'll buy whatever they want before you can get to it. So what do you get them? The X-gift.

The X-gift is the bizarre choice. It's the lightning strike on a clear day. It's surprising, it's different, and you sure didn't see it coming. It's the sucker punch of thoughtfulness. Here, some options for your inscrutable friend.

Marbles the Brain Store

A place for toys and games to make you smarter — hand-eye, memory, critical thinking, and so on. Plus you can play against the employees! Best of all is to get to say "Marbles the Brain Store" over and over after you present the gift.

845 Market St. in Westfield mall, 278-0438,

Paxton Gate

The marketplace for the intriguing and weird for probably hundreds of years, Paxton Gate is like the parlor of an adventurer-scientist in some old pulp. Only everything's for sale, from mounted insects to more esoteric needs, like a dried sleeping bat ($65), badger foot kilt pin ($200), or the glass eye of a tiger ($10.25). Buy 'em something that'll stare back at them.

824 Valencia St., 824-1872,

The Succulence

Not an out-and-out strange place like some of the others on this list, The Succulence nevertheless is a slam-dunk. Look, everyone likes plants, but people kill them, so they say they don't. Succulents are very forgiving, and come in just a hallucinogenic variety of colors and forms and pointynesses.

402 Cortland Ave., 282-2212,

Upper Playground

The art and clothing shop puts out T-shirts that are not going to be found elsewhere, many by S.F. artist Jeremy Fish. Favorites are the hoodies and tees sporting illustrations based on marijuana strains — Sour Diesel for Dad, AK-47 for Mom.

220 Fillmore St., 861-1960,

Woot Bear

A shop for collectible toys in that zone of popular art between the adorable and the unsettling, Woot Bear is the storefront of music-poster legend Frank Kozik's studio, and home to many of his unpredictable, huggable visions. Smoking rabbit?

147 Clement St., 702-9602,


About The Author

Brandon R. Reynolds


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