When you visit downtown Sebastopol in western Sonoma County, you'll get a small town, main street kind of experience — and a shopper’s delight.
Full disclosure: there are more than four incredibly fun shops in Sebastopol you won't want to miss, these just get my local shopper’s vote for “irresistible.”
Park your car in any of the nearby lots and stroll around tree lined streets. Savor a leisurely lunch. Give yourself permission to melt into a totally pampering massage. Chill out with some Screamin’ Mimi’s ice cream. But above all: indulge your inner shopper.
Start your visit with Sagestone Gallery. If it’s been a while since you‘ve let yourself feel a childlike wonder at the stunning beauty of rock formations, this is your opportunity to catch up. You’ll find sparkling geodes the size of armchairs and highly polished multi-chambered ammonites, as well as the graphic and distinctly modern patterns of ancient fossils caught in stone that have been crafted to hang on the wall.
Don’t forget to check out the jewelry made from local river and beach stones, or dazzling “Lake County Diamonds” — which in reality are sparkling, water-clear quartz. They’re called diamonds not only because of their exceptional hardness but also for their dazzling brilliance. If you can imagine it, it’s here: everything from small bits of gemstones to home furnishings made out of polished rock formations … agate dinnerware anyone?
A few doors down the street is Sumbody. You may have read about their locally crafted products in any number of national magazines, including O Magazine, Lucky, Cosmopolitan, W, InStyle, marie claire … the list goes on. And who are some of their famous fans? Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Biel, Kerri Washington, and Kevin Bacon among many others.
What provokes such loyalty and accolades across the country? To begin with, these products are created in small, artisan batches, using as many locally sourced and organic ingredients as possible. Each is a unique creation of the founder and her team, so you won’t find anything like it anywhere else.
And then there’s the range of offerings for everyone in the family, including babies. It’s worth stopping by just to take in the possibilities for pampering, restoring, and healing your body – whether it’s their Milky Rich soap, sensual bath bon bons, or your own custom-made skin care regimen.
Insider Tip: Tell the folks at the counter that you heard about them from Sonoma County Tourism Bureau and they’ll make up a complimentary gift bag for you.* Just be aware that you may find yourself joining the ranks of those across the country who are hooked on these products!
Artisana Functional Art
Artisana Functional Art is our next stop. Their philosophy is evident soon after entering the store: to support artists that bring one-of-a-kind beauty and creativity to the act of everyday living.
Every item is crafted to be a kind of heirloom piece, something you’d be happy to give and honored to receive. Some of the artists’ pieces are local, such as richly hand-tooled leather journals by Oberon from Santa Rosa, Mark Ehermann’s glittering hammered gold and silver jewelry, and Deborah Padrick’s dyed silk scarves.
Of course, you can also go global with eco-friendly and totally fun “pop top’ purses created by Escama Studio in Brazil. You’ll find that each artist has personally signed the tag on the purses they created. In addition to fashion statements, they showcase a large array of elegant and eclectic home furnishings crafted out of reclaimed wood, metal and stone; or baskets made out of local woods and vines; as well as pottery, glassware and forged iron. In short, you’ll find something that you may not want to live without here. After all this store (and the one in San Francisco) is curated by an artist herself: check out the paintings by Tej Greenhill.
Finally, leave time to peruse Cultivate Home, locally owned since 2009. Their claim that they are “… channeling West Sonoma County's down-to-earth gourmet style, featuring the tried-and-true best tools for home cooks and professionals…” is just part of the story. You’ll also find wonderfully creative home decor that will inspire dreams of entertaining this summer and feeling wistful for the cozy comforts of nesting this fall.
This store is also one of those places that you might find yourself thinking “I’ve been looking for something like that!” as you walk down aisles loaded with colorful and handsomely designed kitchen gadgets. For example, check out the CapaBunga Cheese Vaults — beautifully designed storage that allows cheeses to stay fresh longer, as they do in a cheese cave.
Looking for something specific to the North Bay? Cultivate carries fun Sebastopol themed dishtowels and an exclusive line of marble coasters printed with images of vintage Sebastopol apple crate art. Want something local that packs and ships easily? Consider some of the multi-gold medal award winning blends made by Sonoma Spice Company using no sugar, preservatives, salt, or wheat. Or simply drop a line back home using one of the greeting cards created by local artists. It would be hard to go wrong with a gift, for yourself or someone you love, from this store.
And because your lunch should be as inspiring as your shopping, I suggest: Michelin Bib Gourmands Award winning Ramin Gaijin or the French inspired K&L Bistro. But leave room for what I can only call artisan ice cream at Screamin’ Mimi’s.
*Gift bag offer valid through 2017 at the Sebastopol Sumbody store.
Written by Sonoma Insider Vicky Ness