Holiday Shopping: Three Days, Three Stops

Things to eat, wear or play with – ideas for last-minute shoppers
Sweet Gem

Nancy Biehn, owner of Sweet Gem Confections, makes pear puree with pink peppercorn truffles. Her business is in a section of Morgan & York's store on Packard Road.

So you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet? Here are three stops you can make – hitting four locally owned businesses – to help wrap up your 2008 gift-giving list.

Sweet Gem Confections, Morgan & York

When The Chronicle dropped by the Sweet Gem Confections kitchen recently, owner Nancy Biehn had covered her working table with an army of truffles, lined up like they were ready to march into someone’s mouth – which, eventually, they were. At any given time, Biehn makes about 16 different types of these chocolate bites of decadence, including seasonal flavors like eggnog and chestnut rum for the holidays.

She sells these chocolates at Morgan & York – her business is tucked into the corner of that Packard Road store – or you can order online. They’re also available at Arbor Farms and Zingerman’s Next Door.

Hers isn’t the only local company that’s found a home at Morgan & York. This specialty store, known for its wide selection of wines and cheeses, sells smoked fish from Durham’s Tracklements and Smokery in Kerrytown, and pastries and other baked goods by Miyoko Honma of Cafe Japon on East Liberty.

Tommy York and Sean Hartwig behind the counter at Morgan  York. York and his partner Matt Morgan have owned the store since 2001. Hartwig is the stores manager.

Tommy York and Sean Hartwig behind the cheese counter at Morgan & York. York and his partner Matt Morgan have owned the store since 2001. Hartwig is the store's manager.

Co-owner Tommy York was in the store when The Chronicle showed up, and gave us a tour of their offerings. [Editor's note: York's partner, Matt Morgan, is no relation to anyone working at The Chronicle.] They carry roughly 1,500 different wines, with an eye toward having a wide range of prices in their selection – from under $10 a bottle to upwards of $500. Their cheese selection is also ambitious, with as many as 125 different types on hand at any given time.

They sell oil and vinegar in bulk – shiny metal casks and green glass bottles with a Morgan & York label stand ready on a table near the cheese counter, with specialty selections like champagne and Piedmontese cider vinegar. As the classic sign in front of their store (the former Big Ten Party Store) states, “Olive oil and vinegar are life’s affordable luxuries.”

Address: 1928 Packard Road

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, noon-6 p.m.

Phone: 734-662-0798

Vicki Honeyman and her Papillon, Lucy, in her Ann Street shop, Heavenly Metal.

Vicki Honeyman and her Papillon, Lucy, in her Ann Street shop, Heavenly Metal.

Heavenly Metal

There aren’t many places in town where you can get your hair cut, buy a sweater and pick up a package of locally made pasta for dinner, but you can do all of that at Vicki Honeyman’s Heavenly Metal. The shop seems tiny until you realize there’s a large back room that’s filled with an eclectic mix of clothing, home furnishings, art and whimsy – like the Iron Fairies collection (no, not those fairies – these come from Australia and don’t have doors all around town).

This store has a following: When The Chronicle happened by, a mother and daughter from Toledo were there – they’d driven up with Heavenly Metal at the top of their list of places to shop. Books, jewelry, cards, buttons, felt key fobs shaped like pigs and cats, pillows, hand-painted candles, colorful Baggu reusable shopping bags in three sizes, Skif sweaters, Maruca handbags, Al Dente pasta gift boxes – it’s hard not to find something for even the most difficult-to-buy-for person on your list. And if you need to trim those bangs? Well, you’re in the right place.

Address: 207 E. Ann St.

Hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Phone: 734-663-4247

Bleux guards the shelves of biscuits, with scents like pizza and

Bleux guards the shelves of biscuits, with scents like breath mints and cheese fries.

Ann Arbor Biscuit Co.

Just around the corner and three blocks down the street from Heavenly Metal is the Ann Arbor Biscuit Co., which is worth a visit just to 1) meet Bleux and 2) marvel at the smells of these homemade biscuits, which might make the imprudent shopper think they were for humans. Cheese fries…..mmmmm.

Bleux belongs to Yvette and Sean Stayduhar, who own the shop and make the dog biscuits. They’ll tell you that though Bleux looks like an intimidating pit bull, he’s actually a pussycat. Well, not literally, of course. But he is a sweetheart.

In addition to treats for your pet (or someone else’s), the shop has a selection of pet toys, including chewtoys shaped like snowballs and red or green Christmas bulbs.

Address: 209 S. Fourth Ave.

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Phone: 734-994-5550

One Comment

  1. By Linda Diane Feldt
    December 22, 2008 at 10:48 am | permalink

    Morgan and York also have the best salt in town. That may sound weird, but if you’re making cheese or sourdough bread or other “from scratch” foods this salt makes all the difference. It is sold in bulk and explodes with flavor. Now that would also be a unique gift idea!
    A-salt your friends for the holidays (puns don’t work so well electronically, do they…)