Guys are difficult — to shop for that is. And — well, we won’t get into that. If you feel like you’ve gifted one too many power tools, electronic gadgets and other man pleasers over the years and you want to find something special that won’t end up relegated to the top shelf of the closet, here are some suggestions from local shop owners for items that men actually purchase for themselves.
Women: keep in mind — all these stores carry stuff for men and women so when you’re shopping for him go straight to these suggestions – do not pass shoes/dishes/potpourri/jewelry/etc or you’ll end up with no budget for anything but a wrench for your guy!
Clothes they’ll wear
The Green Room floor manager Garrett Burt says that men generally gravitate toward outdoor gear. The Main Street, Vineyard Haven store carries Patagonia, North Face and other brands in down or mid-weight jackets and vests as well as bags, boots and shoes. Sunglasses from Maui Jim, Costa and Smith are always popular with guys, says Mr. Burt. The upstairs store also sells a lot of Darn Tough Socks which are not your average throwaways, but are very warm and durable, great for hunting or outdoor activities. Downstairs you’ll find great gifts – all the popular brands of surf and skate clothing, shoes and bags – for the younger guys in your life. Mr. Burt’s choice for a Christmas gift would be a Patagonia jacket while Richard Medeiros in the downstairs store would be happy to find a Brixton hat or anything Adidas under the Christmas tree.
The Boneyard in Edgartown also carries a large selection of winter outdoor gear including lots of styles from Patagonia. Becca Hamilton notes that Vans shoes and sunglasses from Von Zipper and Spy are always popular with guys and, if your guy is heading south anytime this winter, she says, “board shorts are what they always flock to.”
Courtney Atkins, manager of Basics on Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs says, “For the Island man — he’s buying Carhartts.” Basics, as the name implies carries just about everything the working guy needs including pants, work shirts, vests and heavy duty sweatshirts that “are just enough for outerwear when the weather’s not terrible.” Flannel lined pants are another great choice for keeping your guy warm all winter, according to Ms. Atkins, as is thermal base wear. Wallets and work gloves are much appreciated gifts and Ms. Atkins notes that one of the more interesting Carhartt items is a pair of gloves that offers not only warmth and dexterity but also a nose wipe area. “All men like Carhartts,” says Ms. Atkins, “not just guys who work outdoors.” The store also carries Woolrich plaid shirts in both flannel work styles and cotton casual wear (women buy the latter for men but guys do like them) and slippers, which, according to Ms. Atkins, men actually buy for themselves — who knew?
You may know that Sundog on Main Street, Edgartown carries everything in menswear –— including luggage — but you may not know that everything includes kangaroo hide hats and buffalo skin jackets and vests. Great gifts for the man who has it all. Manager Frank Folts also suggests checking out their new line of Amish made leather belts and says that guys not only love Buck Knives (brand name) but, “you don’t need to know what size.” (ed note: when it comes to knives and guys, big is probably best.)
Accessorize your guys
Tamara Weiss, owner of Midnight Farm in Vineyard Haven, has recently started catering more to men. “Since my move,” she says, “I’ve really focused on expanding my menswear section and offering more gifts for men.” Along with multiple lines of men’s clothing —from Hush Puppies shoes to casual wear from new designers like Alex Mills and Grayers (former Ralph Lauren designers), Midnight Farm also carries fun stuff like soaps in the male appealing scents of spruce and cedar, zip up travel pouches with cool designs and great man friendly jewelry in leather and silver.
Third World Trading Company is the place to shop if you’re looking for something for the globally hip guy on your list. They’ve got some very attractive (and warm) wool gloves, scarves and hats of all shapes and styles as well as leather wallets and colorful belts woven belts from Guatemala that can snazz up any basic menswear outfit. Adriana Burrows says that men buy a lot of their 100% preshrunk cotton long sleeve shirts from Drawstrings as well the staple of many men’s wardrobes -— Bob Marley tee-shirts of all types.
Watches are by far our most popular item for men,” says Sarah York, manager of CB Stark Jewelers. The store carries four different lines at different price points – Citizens light powered watches, Swiss Army, Skagen (“A very affordable line from Denmark”) and CB Stark’s own line — featuring the map of Martha’s Vineyard. You can also find cuff links, money clips and key rings many in Stark’s signature Island themes. The classic CB Stark Island tie bracelet also makes a great gift for a man or woman.
The top sellers for men at Le Roux at Home are knives and cast iron pots, according to floor manager Therese Geigler. Le Roux sells professional grade cooking knives with the most popular brands being Henckels and Wusthof. Great gifts that give back — if the man in your life is into cooking you may just reap many rewards. Also bar accessories — shakers and glasses are generally much appreciated by the amateur mixologist. At the gourmet store across the street, Ms. Geigler notes that men tend to enjoy trying their aged balsamics and infused olive oils as well as — of course — barbecue sauces and chocolates with unusual ingredients like bacon and potato chips make the perfect dessert for the meat and potatoes guy.
Trisha Ing of Educomp confirms that electronics are what men go for most in the store but she says that calculators and pens are also popular with men. Fischer space pens that are pressurized and write upside down or in extreme cold weather appeal to men especially. It’s a gadgets and guys things.
Jake Gifford, who along with his wife Sarah, owns the Lazy Frog on Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs says, “We’re the big man cave/yard games store.” In the latter category, Mr. Gifford mentions some popular options like Spike Ball, Washers Toss and Pole-ish horseshoes (in daytime or light up at night varieties) but if you don’t want the family rushing outside to throw stuff around in the snow, try gifting one of the new fantasy games that are hot right now including the board game Settlers of Catan and card game Munchkin (from the Munchkin website: Start by slaughtering the Potted Plant and the Drooling Slime, and work your way up to the Plutonium Dragon …Sounds like great Christmas family fare.)
Flowers for men? Why not, says Mariko Kawaguchi of Donaroma’s. Try a grow-it-yourself amaryllis or paperwhite. “Men appreciate the miracle of flower coming from a dried up bulb.” She adds, ” Bonsais are very popular with men. There’s a kind of fascination with exotics. The novelty of growing something a little unusual.” Guys also like fruits like citrus plants and miniature pineapples, according to Ms. Kawaguchi. If your guy doesn’t necessarily have a green thumb, she notes that succulents and orchids have man appeal and are relatively easy to maintain.
One might think that in books, men prefer non-fiction but not so, according to Karen Harris of the Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven. “Men here really read everything across the board— except for romances,” she says. “We have a decent size maritime section that men really go for but they’re buying just about everything, even cookbooks.” We asked for a few selections that cover that range and Ms. Harris came up with the following list of new releases.
“Tatiana” (fiction) by Martin Cruz Smith (author of “Gorky Park”)
“One Summer: America, 1927” (nonfiction) by Bill Bryson
“The Conquest of the Ocean: An Illustrated History of Seafaring” (nonfiction) by Brian Lavery
“Male rock and roll groups are what men go for,” says photographer Peter Simon about the favorites among the selection of photos at his Main Street, Vineyard Haven Gallery. Mr. Simon spent many years shooting rock and roll legends for Rolling Stone and other publications. Among his amazing candid shots are some of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley and more. Check out his collection if there’s a rock fan on your Christmas list.
Whatever you choose, remember that you can always exchange his gift for that something you spied (despite the blinders) while shopping. Then you can trade up for a growler gift pack from the Offshore Ale Company. Nothing says I love you like a bunch of beer!