Toronto Hemp Company

Vaughan’s Holiday Gift Guide / 2004

The most sacred day on the retail calendar
It’s time to make the Christmas list and start shopping


If you’re a Vaughan resident who’s spent the last year or so in outer space, you may have missed the news about a commercial development that’s just opened for business at Highway 400 and Rutherford Rd. It’s a large facility — over 1.2 million square feet, housing over 200 businesses — and construction took nearly a year and a half to complete.

With its mini theme parks, NASCAR Speed Track and rock climbing facitilities (amongst others), Vaughan Mills Mall is billed as more than a mall — it’s a city unto itself, an entertainment complex that promises fun for the whole family. So it’s a new kind of mall, but the timing of its opening in early November betrays an old fashioned bias: Vaughan Mills Mall is open for business just in time for Christmas.

No doubt the mall will experience the traditional consumer frenzy that takes place at its older counterparts. Wherever you go in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the line-ups get longer as the day draws nearer. The only way to beat the crowds and ensure you get everything you intend to buy is to shop early. For readers looking for a variety of gift items (and a variety of price options), here are a few options available in stores for Christmas 2005.

No segment of society looks forward to Christmas more than children, though retailers of children’s gifts run a close second. The problem parents and family face is not a lack of options but an overwhelming number of them. This is particularly so for the unitiated. It’s best when choosing a gift to rely on your own experience — what you liked as a child, and why. In some cases there are products that still exist in one form or another from when we were children — Fisher Price, Lego and Play-Doh, for example, have been around for decades, and their longevity indicates the value of their products. They are often good value in another sense as well: Play-Doh Fuzzy Friends Farm normally goes for less than $15 retail.

Another classic children’s character back on the scene is the indelible Mr. Potato Head. Hasbro’s Mr. Potato Head’s Silly Suitcase comes with 28 removable pieces that a l l o w youngsters to change Mr. Potato Head’s eyes, ears, nose, mouth, teeth and mustache in order to transform him into many different characters. He also comes with an assortment of job-related hats — fireman, construction worker and more. Another selling feature is the price: under $20.

A more recent classic for the very young is the Disney DVD VHS series, Baby Einstein, which has been a bestseller in recent years. Baby Neptune Discovering Water is amongst the more popular titles. Set to soothing classical music, it teaches children about the world of water around them — lakes, rivers and seas. The package includes a CD-ROM and sells for $25-35.

As for feature films, Shrek 2 is out on DVD this Christmas, available in both widescreen and full screen formats. It’s bound to top wish lists for kids of all ages — not to mention their parents, aunts and uncles. A special treat for parents who want to bond with their children by sharing some of their own childhood is the latest Looney Tunes complilation (Vol. 2), a special 4-disc set available in stores right now. Other titles of note this year included Disney’s release of Aladdin on DVD and the latest installment of the Harry Potter series, (Prisoner of Azkaban), and of course, Spiderman 2.

While she’s sometime the subject of controversary — or in part because of it — Barbie remains one of the most loved toys for pre-adolescent girls. One of Mattel’s top sellers these days is the Barbie Primp and Polish Styling Head, which lets girls practice full spa-style makeovers on their favourite glamour girl. The set includes jewellery, lip, nail and hair care products, and costs around $50.

The imitation cosmetic products are safe and easily removable, so kids can makeover their favourite diva as often as they like. If you’re shopping for adolescents, or adults who still enjoy adolescent activities in their spare time, then music and video are the most likely categories to pursue. Sony’s everpopular PlayStation is back this year with a new, sleek design. The PlayStation 2 (SCPH-50000) is less than one half the thickness and about a quarter the weight of its predecessor, which makes it much easier to carry around. The new model is also equipped with both modem and Ethernet ports. As for PlayStation games, some of this Christmas’ more popular titles include: Fight Club (Vivendi Universal Games); Backyard Wrestling 2: There goes the Neighbourhood (Eidos); and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (Konami).

The single most important factor in the record sales that Macintosh has posted in the past year is the iPod. The bestselling portable player sold a wopping 2 million units last year and promises to be at the top of many Christmas gift lists this time around. Just in time for Christmas, Mac has teamed up with Irish rock group U2 to launch a special edition of the player. The iPod U2 Special Edition has a unique look: black, with red command wheel, and signed by U2 members on the back. It stores up to 5,000 songs and currently costs $499 CAD. U2 is releasing The Complete U2, which features the band’s entire catalogue, plus rare outtakes, in conjuction with the new player.

Speaking of digital music, Mac will find itself in competition with an unexpected source this Christmas. Sunglasses manufacturer Oakley has announced the released of the world’s first digital music eyewear. The Oakley Thump is available in two versions, 125MB ($395 USD) or 250MB ($495 USD) and features a high speed USB connection that allows for quick music transfers. It can store up to four hours of music at a time.

When it comes to movies and music, there are as many toys for adults as for kids this Christmas. Step into an HMV store and you’re almost certain to walk out with at least one present for yourself.

Canadian icons Bryan Adams (Room Service) and Leonard Cohen (Dear Heather) both have new releases out, while Shania Twain has recently released a greatest hits collection. For fans of Christmas music, fellow Canucks Barenaked Ladies have a holiday song collection this year. On the international front, Tuscany’s Andrea Boccelli has a new record out this November, entitled simply Andrea, including songs in both English and Italian.

If you’re buying for a book lover, you will likely be stopping at Indigo/Chapters this season. A good place to look in these stores is the “Globe and Mail Bestsellers” s e c t i o n , where hardcovers go for 30 percent off the listed price.

The savings are even better for ireward clients — take and extra 10 percent off the price. If a loved one doesn’t own it yet, check out Dan Brown’s excellent Da Vinci Code, which still ranks amongst hardcover bestsellers. In the non-fiction category, American political satirist Jon Stewart is sure to please and enlighten us this Christmas with his new release, America the Book: A Guide to Democracy Inaction. Both books are on sale at Indigo/Chapters right now. If you’re searching for something a little more out of the ordinary, we recommend stopping at one of Book City’s three Toronto locations, where you’ll find the most helpful and informative staff in the city. Lastly, there’s always the clothing option. Can your dad ever have enough ties? If not, check out Moore’s, the Bay or Harry Rosen for solutions. Sweaters are another safe bet during a cold Canadian winter: the Gap always has a good selection, but if you’re counting your pennies try Old Navy, where you can stretch your buck a little further. Both stores have willing “upsellers” working the floor, anxious to find a matching pair of jeans or socks for the sweater.

At the aforementioned Vaughan Mills Mall you will have several new clothing stores to choose from: US retailer H&M, which boasts 800 stores south of the border, are opening their first Canadian store; The Tommy Hilfiger Outlet will be the largest of its kind anywhere in the world; and the Bay is trying something new called The Hudson’s Bay Company Designer Depot, which promises top name clothing at a fraction of its original price.

For a worthy alternative to cotton and synthetic clothing, check out one of the hemp clothing stores cropping up around the GTA. One such outlet is the Toronto Hemp Company, located at 637 Yonge St. (Yonge and Isabella).

A word of caution when buying presents: always keep your receipt and always ask what the store’s exchange and return policy is (including the deadline for returns). No matter how confident you are in your choice of gift, unforseen circumstance (like duplicate gifts) can always arise.

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