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River Towns: Holiday Shopping Guide 

click to enlarge Main Street in Cold Spring is a shopper’s mecca during the holidays. - STEFFEN THALEMANN
  • Steffen Thalemann
  • Main Street in Cold Spring is a shopper’s mecca during the holidays.

The holiday season is a time for thinking about the people who matter most to you. Rather than just buy a gift for the sake of giving one, it’s a time to show that you know and appreciate a person by choosing something that speaks to their interests and passions. The Hudson Valley’s river towns are filled with charming independent shops—from cosmopolitan boutiques to cozy book nooks. The following guide offers some suggestions for celebrating the diverse people on your list by sending a message that’s larger than the gift itself.

The Bibliophile

He’s a lover of the printed word, and you want to contribute something special to his seemingly endless collection. The Bruised Apple in Peekskill specializes in used, rare, and out-of-print books from as early as the 1600s. Find an original edition of a classic novel with illustrations, a local history book complete with maps of the Hudson Valley region, or a selection of vintage postcards from surrounding areas. Three Arts Bookstore in Poughkeepsie is Vassar’s campus bookstore alternative. The well-rounded selection of genres, including sports, travel, cooking, nature, language, and children’s books, are all hand-picked by owner Walter Effron. For the bibliophile on your list, an original edition of a book by his favorite author, a homemade bookmark, and a box of herbal teas is a gift that says more than Merry Christmas.

The Outdoor Type

Is there a special person in your life who measures time in miles, dreams about moisture wicking fabric, and looks forward to a different sport for each season? Hudson Valley Outfitters in Cold Spring is an outdoor speciality boutique where you are sure to find a gift that the outdoor type won’t only like, but will also use every day. Trustworthy brands include Merrell, Keen, Prana, and Patagonia and retail ranges from high-performance winter outerwear to essential night-sporting gear like headlamps and bike reflectors. Mountain Top Outfitters in Beacon is the official kayak outfitter at Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park, but they have plenty to offer for the colder months as well, like Smartwool socks and Tubbs snowshoes. Find out her shoe size, buy the hiking boots she’s been talking about, and accompany her on a day trip to Breakneck Ridge.

The Treasure Hunter

For the person who can spend hours amidst the worn fabrics and bygone tchotchkes of an antique shop, the real gift would be a trip to the Cold Spring Antique Center. Set in a 19th-century Victorian bank building, complete with the original vault, the center spans over 2,000 square feet, with more than 25 dealers of antiques and vintage collectibles. The diverse stock covers a wide range of periods, and the center is always adding to its selection of furniture, lighting, sterling silver, jewelry, rugs, fine porcelain, tools, kitchen gadgets, books, collectibles, and clothing. While in Cold Spring, check out Art & Antiques, with over 30 antiques and collectibles dealers including books, magazines, comics, painting, and photographs. If something doesn’t strike you at first glance, plan a shopping excursion. For a true treasure hunter, the looking is just as important as the finding.

The Fashionista

If you have a friend whose ABCs mean Armani, Banana Republic, and Coach, check out a local boutique with all the right names. Elizabeth Boutique in Poughkeepsie is home to an inventory of clothing, belts, vegan and leather handbags, accessories, intimates, outerwear, eyewear, fragrance, and shoes. In October, it hosted a fashion show benefiting the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation, and the website is filled with how-to videos and style picks from owner Elizabeth Madsen. Blackbird Attic in Beacon is a consignment boutique that offers a curated mix of modern and vintage fashions for men and women. Put together a look that only your daringly fashionable friend could pull off—like an '80s Blondie black backless dress ($18), a vintage Diane von Furstenberg trenchcoat ($85), and a pair of BCBG pink shimmery heels ($17)—then plan a night out together so she can show it off.

The phrase “It’s the thought that counts” is a cliché worth thinking about during the holiday season. A thoughtful gift that speaks to the different types of people you give to, the lifestyles they live, and the relationships you have with them is more than wrapping paper and receipts—it’s an exchange whose true value is priceless.

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  • A holiday shopping guide for the Hudson Valley's river towns.

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