If you haven't shopped Main Street lately, it's easy to be amazed by the variety and high quality of the offerings on display. It's a far cry from days gone by, when the only options for last-minute Christmas gifts could be found among the slim pickings at Valco Drugstore.
A quick stroll down Main Street this week confirmed it: this season, there's really no reason to shop anywhere else.
Start at the (630 Court Street at Main.) Operated by the Martinez Arts Association, the co-op gallery and store has hand-dyed T-shirts in rainbow colors ($10, $25 for four-pack.) Also on display: original paintings and photographs, pottery, fabric arts and jewelry.
Martinez is known for its many antique/collectible stores, but for a one-stop experience, you can't beat (720 Main.) Anyone who remembers the 60s will love the store's reproductions of psychedelic posters ($6.50-$20.) Also in stock: vintage lps, cashmere sweaters, silk ties, bakelike and sterling silver jewelry.
Need a sugar rush to get through the holidays? For a small shop, Main Street Sweets (815 Main) has a dizzying array of treats. Pick up handmade, individually wrapped caramel apples ($5-$10) or custom gift baskets ($15-$30.)
For luxury items, try Pandora's Box (613 Main.) Owner Tuncay Esener took us on a tour of his "Curious Turkish Boutique," which has richly colored carpets, mosaic lamps, pashminas, boots, jewelry, bags and (what Mrs. Santa wears to relax) belly dance outfits. We loved the handpainted Turkish plates and bowls ($10-$225) and Mother-of-pearl inlaid boxes ($35 and up.)
Martinez music lovers flock to the (511 Main) for good reason. Buy your sweetie a harmonica or a CD by local artists. If s/he's been really good, get a gorgeous Orpheus Valley classical guitar ($765.) Or dive into the Hawaiian music revival with a new ukulele ($30-$225.) The shop has the instruments, and an ukulele teacher on staff.