Roanoke Times
                 Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: FRIDAY, November 19, 1993                   TAG: 9311190106
DATELINE:                                 LENGTH: Medium


So you're tired of mall shopping? Can't take the crowds or the driving round and round and round looking for a parking place?

Try something different. It's not just a shopping trip; it's a holiday experience complete with sights, sounds, smells and even family togetherness if you like. It's holiday shopping on the Roanoke City Market.

The Market will be decked out in its traditional greenery, wreaths and ribbons after Nov. 23, with the rest of the downtown area following suit on Thanksgiving. That night the city's Christmas tree will be lit, as well as about 20 downtown buildings.

And the Market will put on its annual "Dickens of a Christmas" Dec. 10-12, with costumed carolers, horse and carriage rides, hot cider and roasted chestnuts, and Christmas performances in the Market square. Just off the Market, you'll find Fantasyland, featuring Santa, at Heironimus from Nov. 26-Dec. 23.

Many downtown merchants will have extended hours during the holiday shopping season: some will extend their daily hours until 9 p.m., especially during the "Dickens" weekend, and many will open on Sundays from Nov. 21 through Christmas, from noon to 5 p.m.

Easier parking is a plus to shopping downtown, but you do usually have to pay for it (the Center in the Square parking garage offers two hours' free parking on Saturdays).

You'd be hard pressed not to find a gift for just about everyone on your list in the Market shops. There are books and music and calendars in Books, Strings and Things; gardening tools, seeds, bulbs, birdhouses, spatterware, and other outdoor goodies in Agnew's Feed and Seed; pottery and unusual wrappings in Emerson Creek Pottery; and all kinds of gifts, cards and wrappings in Lock, Stock & Barrel, If It's Paper, Blue Ribbon Boutique, and the like.

There's everything sports-minded in Greenfields; beautiful wrought iron furniture and decorative items in Twists & Turns; and exotic jewelry and unusual clothing in Gone CoCo. For the clotheshorse, there's also G.G.McGann's, Patina's and a half-dozen more wonderful little shops. And there's Sam's, that great stop for jeans, painter's pants and thick woolen socks.

If the folks on your gift list love food, try putting together a basket of homemade jams and jellies and other goodies from Wertz' Country store - you can even get a country ham. Or if your Santa-watchers have big sweet tooths, Good Things on the Market, Brothers' Bakery or On the Rise Bakery can probably fill the bill. For the sophisticates or just those folks who are impossible to buy for, who could resist gourmet coffees or teas from Mill Mountain Coffee?

For nature lovers, try For the Birds, Phoenix - The Earth Store, or the gift shop at the Science Museum in Center in the Square. And while you're in the Center, the Museum of Fine Arts has its own shop for browsing and buying, and you can also check in at Mill Mountain Theatre for a pair of (or season's) theatre tickets for someone special.

You'll also find antiques and curios on the Market, and art at all price levels. Unicorns and Butterflies offers paintings, prints, photographs, jewelry, weaving, and pottery, and often you'll have a chance to talk with the artist as well. Gallery 3 offers local, national and international artists as well as framing services. House Unique also offers art and unusual gift items.

You can probably buy a number of gifts just by strolling up and down the Market streets. Farmers and nursery owners line the main fares with locally grown flowers, produce, plants, and greenery, and local crafts people have gotten into the act as well. You can find pottery, dried flowers, and even a grapevine dinosaur, baskets and chairs.

When you're exhausted from shopping and strolling, there are many restaurants to choose from on the Market.

 by CNB