ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Sure Amazon has its “12 Days of Deals,” and holiday shopping specials drive consumers to malls and national chain stores, but what about a little hometown pride?
Given the difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever to shop local. Whether it’s retail, gift cards, experiences or more, a little spending in your community this holiday season could be the difference between a closure or staying afloat.
Rochester is brimming with great unique and local options for gift giving this holiday season. Whether you’re new to the area, a lifelong resident, or somewhere in between, these gift ideas represent the Rochester we know and love:
Wondering where to go for the music lover in your life? A Rochester staple has you covered. Whether it’s a classic record, or new album, you can find it at the Record Archive — a music and entertainment destination in Rochester since 1975. Specializing in vintage vinyl, the expansive store also includes the latest music releases as well as unique gifts, clothing, movies, audio equipment, two live music stages, local beer, event space and more.
Record Archive also buys, sells, and repairs all sorts of audiophile equipment. With a number of novelties available, it’s the perfect spot for premier gifts and stocking stuffers alike. In normal times, you could also catch a live performance whilst perusing the products as they offer in-store concerts regularly.
“Archimage” is an old English word that means “Great Magician” and dates back hundreds of years. If you’ve ever stepped foot in this Monroe Avenue gift shop, you’d agree that it’s appropriately titled. The store is described on its website as a “highly compact, alternative department store,” but a passerby could easily call it an imaginative wonderland. They have an expansive selection of remarkably diverse and unusual merchandise uniquely organized in their 3,000 square foot space.
Here you can find magnetic poetry kits, ethically sourced clothing, art supplies, children’s toys, musical instruments, artisan candles, ornate statues, bumper stickers, jewelry, books, and much, much more. It’s the kind of store you have to see to believe. They’ve been family owned and operated for 35 years now, and while a lot has changed on Monroe Avenue in that time, Archimage hasn’t. They’ve stuck to their core of selling unique and ethical merchandise and that strategy has maintained its status as a Rochester mainstay for more than three decades, with many more seasons of spreading holiday cheer on the horizon.
If you’re making the stop at Archimage, you can do a two-for-one with this awesome gift shop just a few doors down on Monroe Avenue in Rochester. Aaron’s Alley is a shop of eclectic wonders with jewelry, minerals, incense, clothing, and more. Operating in Rochester for more than three decades, it’s the ideal location for any jam band fans in your life (think tie-dye and Grateful Dead merch).
Founder Aaron Plunkett died in 2013, but the tight-knit community supporting the business has prolonged this unique retail shops, which in more normal times, also sells concert tickets for events in and around Rochester.
New York State Empire Pass
A gift doesn’t have to be physical — often a gift card or experience will make your recipient happier than a new pair of socks. New York State’s Empire Pass is perfect for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. This pass grants unlimited day-use entry for most of the New York State Parks, including all of its beaches, trails, forests and more. From the iconic Niagara Falls, to the gorgeous gorges of the Finger Lakes, all the way to the Thousand Islands, New York State’s park system provides both recreational and educational opportunities year-round.
Today the system totals 215 state parks and historic sites encompassing 335,000 acres. With plenty of state parks in our region, the Empire Pass can give the hiker in your life prime access to adventure — year round too, because sites as beautiful as Letchworth offer breathtaking views unique to each season. Whether it’s a spontaneous day-trip or an extended camping trip in the Adirondacks or Catskills, the Empire Pass is truly a gift that keeps on giving.
Rochester Red Wings gear
Everyone has a sports fan in their life, and why not gift that sports fan some local love? The Rochester Red Wings have a dugout full of memorabilia for the baseball enthusiast in your life.
Check out their team store online for deals on caps, apparel, coffee mugs, keychains, tumblers, stuffed animals, calendars, toys, baseball cards, blankets, pins, collectibles and more.
If you want to take the hometown pride thing ever further, skip the Red Wings merch and go straight for a Plates cap or jersey.
Seneca Park Zoo membership
Like we said earlier, sometimes an experience trumps a physical gift. If there’s an animal lover in your life, consider purchasing a zoo membership on their behalf. Many people don’t know this, but the Seneca Park Zoo is open year-round, except for a few holidays, and this membership will grant access to the zoo on any day they choose.
Seeing the lions pounce in the snow or watching the elephants play with a fantastic fall foliage background are reasons why people should consider visiting the zoo in seasons other than summer. Plans start at just $57 for an annual membership, which pays for itself in just two visits! Memberships also help the zoo save wild animals and wild places.
House of Guitars
The iconic music store on Titus Avenue in Irondequoit has been a staple in the local music community since 1964. The House of Guitars is a true “full service” experience, offering records, instruments, lessons, clothes, accessories, and a whole lot more.
Whether you’re picking up a guitar for someone beginning their musical journey, or selecting unique, vintage design, the House of Guitars likely has what you’re looking for. That goes for amps, cables, strings, picks, capos, straps, bags, bass guitars, stands, keyboards, drums, violins, and so much more.
If you’ve never been to this establishment, you should do yourself a favor and check it out There’s a reason it has been, and remains, a go-to spot for all things music in Rochester.
Genesee Brewery gear
Genesee Brewery has been operating in Rochester for 140 years. As you might imagine, they have developed a massive following in our region. If there’s a devoted Genny fan in your life, we recommend swinging through the gift shop on the first floor of the Brew House. There you’ll find clothing, hats, glassware, ornaments, gifts cards, gift sets, coozies, bottle openers, magnets, ties, playing cards, sunglasses, bumper stickers, mats, coasters and more.
Come for the gifts, and stay for the drinks and food. As you enjoy their latest beverage and food options, you can soak in an incredible view of High Falls and their famous holiday keg tree, which will be lit up through the holidays. For those wondering, yes you can also purchase Genesee beer to pair with your novelty gift.
What better way to celebrate Rochester throughout the art of gift giving, than giving the gift of art inspired by Rochester? Redundancies aside, this Etsy online store has tons of original Flower City merch that’s guaranteed to bring some hometown pride into your home.
Posters range in size and topics, including Midtown Plaza, Eastman Theatre, The Changing Scene, Kodak Tower, The Metropolitan, Mount Hope Cemetery, and more. Some of the pieces include free shipping as well.
These are just a few ideas to represent Rochester as you begin filling your shopping carts online or otherwise. Bring some hometown pride to the holiday season by supporting local business and celebrating what makes Rochester such a unique place to live.