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By Miriam Raftery

December 14, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) –Doing our part to support our local economy, we bring you more delightful gift ideas from Mom-and-Pop retailers in our community. (If you missed part I, click here: )  Scroll down to see our newest additions. Shopping locally not only helps support local merchants, artists and artisans and grows our local tax base, it also means you can view gifts first-hand, find some special items, get personalized service, and not worry whether items shipped from far away will arrive in time for the holidays.

“Secret boxes” at Galleria:  The Galleria, located at 8329 La Mesa Blvd. in La Mesa’s downtown village, is best known for its many consignment items and antiques over 100 years old.   A best-kept secret, however, is the shop’s delightful Heartwood Secret Box collection.  Priced from $12 to $20, these make ideal stocking stuffers to hide one’s favorite treasures.  Made in Illinois by a company that  plants five trees for every tree used in creation of its products, these are among our favorite finds. There are many other made-in-America products, both new and antique. Also check the “mantiques” cabinet filled with manly items such as a cribbage board with carved fisherman, pocket knives and shaving sets. In back, discover crystal perfume bottles and other treasures for the ladies in your life. Owner Cynthia Stein says she’ll give a 10% discount on any item in the store if you tell her you heard about Galleria in East County Magazine!  For more information call (619)337-8711.

Miniature paintings at O’Dunn Fine Art:  Original artwork for the collector on your gift list is a thoughtful and creative gift.  At O’Dunn Fine Art, you’ll find many miniatures by prominent artists—including life-like portraits of dogs and cats by local artist Melva Riley.  “Melva has a deep interest in animal welfare and donates some of her proceeds to the Helen Woodward animal rescue efforts, as well as other related causes,” says Gallery owner Shannon O’Dunn.  Mention East County Magazine and save 10% on all inventory in the gallery during this holiday season.  The gallery also has a fine collection of 20th century pottery as well as many full-size paintings and more. Gifts may be exchanged for store credit, providing the comfort of knowing the recipient will wind up with an original work of artwork that he or she will cherish.  For more information, visit

Carrizo Gorge Rocks and Gems:  If you need an affordably priced gift that’s both beautiful and practical, check out the assortment of colorful wind chimes and coasters made from geodes.  Once, these rockhounds polished local geodes, but these gemstones and minerals are now imported from Brazil, then assembled locally into attractive accents for any home.   Carrizo Gorge Rocks and gems is located at 44245 Old Highway 80 in Jacumba--but during the holidays you can buy their uniquely crafted items at their cart in Parkway Plaza shopping mall on Fletcher Parkway in El Cajon.  (Carrizo Gorge, incidentally, is the rugged canyon at the end of the line on the train ride from the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo.) For more information, call (619)647-3380

International foods at VineRipe Marketplace: Gifts of groceries are greatly appreciated by many in today’s economy.   Consider a gift certificate or better yet, assembly a gift basket filled with exotic and gourmet goodies from VineRipe Marketplace.  VineRipe is a truly international market featuring food items from over 40 countries.   From Turkish sweets to Tandoori spices, from Italian pastas to Greek baklava, from Middle Eastern dates to locally grown fresh produce, you’ll find a wealthy of gift ideas here.  VineRipe is located at 8191 Fletcher Parkway next to CostCo in La Mesa.  Get a coupon to save on your purchase at VineRipe in our Holiday Coupons section  (where you’ll also find a money-saving coupon for Zeytoon’s Restaurant under the same ownership, featuring Persian and Mediterranean cuisine): 

Romantic vacation at Jamul Haven:   What better way to say “I love you” than with a gift certificate for a romantic getaway at Jamul Haven, East County’s only five-star bed and breakfast inn?  Each suite is unique in this spectacularly restored Victorian home,  such as the Peacock, Celtic, Asian and Rose suites. Guests have access to six acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, a dramatic pool, spa, game room, gym, and the innkeeper’s wonderful cooking.  Or treat someone special to a Victorian tea on a poolside patio room. Jamul Haven is truly one of East County’s best-kept secrets--and the perfect place to pamper someone special.  The inn is located in Jamul, just past some great golf courses in Rancho San Diego. Details:

Gifts from nature at Mission Trails Regional Park:  Does your gift recipient need a hand-carved wooden walking stick for hiking local trails?  Perhaps a child on your holiday list would like a plush raccoon, or an adult in your life would enjoy a piece of Indian pottery or a picture book of spectacular natural scenery.  Find these items and more in the gift store at Mission Trails Regional Park.  In this era of  government cutbacks, the park relies on donations and revenue sources such as gift store sales more and more, so your holiday dollars also help support this spectacular park—the largest urban park in America.  Located off Highway 52 between San Diego and Santee, the park’s website is   


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