Christmas Shopping? No Bah-Humbug in Mason City!

It is not a surprise that I love to shop.  I don’t have to always make a purchase but I do love to see what local stores are offering and this past Friday the North Iowa Bloggers spent a bit of time together enjoying a few of my favorite shops in our town.

First stop was Soyphisticated Candles.  I love all of the products that Camille Lee offers and have never been disappointed with anything that I have gotten from her.  I have blogged about her before several times (check out my first mention of her in 2010 here) so you know that I really do love all the wonderful things that she creates. I have included her candles in giveaways several times here on It’s Just Life so you know I love them.

Soyphisticated Candles located at 932 E State Street, Mason City, IA

Soyphisticated Candles located at 932 E State Street, Mason City, IA

Next stop —Market 124.  The beauty of Market 124 is that it that their inventory is always changing.  I always find new and different things by different vendors each and every time I visit which makes it so appealing.  I have painted pottery in their pottery area, sampled cupcakes from Grandma Sugar’s Cupcakery, purchased wine and yes–even purchased my share of gifts and items for myself.  I did an entire blog post on this wonderful place not too long ago.  You can view that post by clicking here.

Market 124 is located at 124 N Delaware Ave, Mason City, IA

Market 124 is located at 124 N Delaware Ave, Mason City, IA

We decided to grab some sustenance at Papa’s American Cafe before we ventured out too much longer and my Jamaican Chicken Sandwich was tasty and filling.

Jamaican ChickenNext stop was the Orange Possum which has two locations—one in Mason City and one in Hampton.  I love this store. Some of the clothing is a little too young for me but it does not prevent me from seeing what they have that might be suitable.  Plus I have gotten gift certificates here before so it is nice that they offer those as well.

Orange Possum is located at 1911 4th St, SW in Mason City, IA.

Orange Possum is located at 1911 4th St, SW in Mason City, IA.

The final stop of the day for this group of bloggers was to visit the Willowbrook Mall to see what what going on there.  The indoor farmer’s market was going on which was an added bonus and I have to remember that those vendors are there on Fridays during the off months.  There are always treasures to be found.

One store that I always have to check out in that mall is Unique Repeats because they offer some pretty wonderful consignment items that you won’t find anywhere else.  The inventory is constantly changing and you never know what might be available.  Teapots?  Yes.  Often. Although this trip I refrained from buying any.  I did find some great candle holders with letters on them that I am going to be using all year long as all 4 sides feature different letters. The difficult part is coming up with the right combo for the words I want!  This is one attempt for the season.

xmas funWhen it comes to shopping I love to shop local.  There are small businesses that really rely on local customers to keep them afloat and some of the best shops are those little ones that are perhaps a little out of the way or not as easy to get to. I always find that it is worth the extra effort to explore them, make a connection with the owner and basically help support a local small business that deserves some recognition.

When I give gifts I like to think of the person I am gifting and find the perfect gift.  This Christmas I have a few more personal suggestions of local gifts that can be given.

1. Kush Salon offers a wide range of great services.  From hair cuts and color to nails and massages the professionals there can turn your day around with a makeover and a day of pampering.  If you need a cut and color you definitely need to ask for Paula–she can make even me look good.  Gift certificates from Kush are an easy and welcome gift.

Kush Salon is located at 211 N Federal in Mason City, IA

Kush Salon is located at 211 N Federal in Mason City, IA

2. Today’s Your Day is a fabulous shop in Willowbrook Mall that features all kinds of interesting balloon creations and themes. The ideas are limitless and I suspect if you give owner Lisa Lofing an idea she will be able to come up with the perfect creation.  The great thing is that birthday parties can be hosted through Today’s Your Day and Lisa is offering a $25 discount for any party in 2015 if you book it before the end of the year.

Today's Your Day is located in the Willowbook Mall in Mason City, IA.

Today’s Your Day is located in the Willowbook Mall in Mason City, IA.

My favorite thing had to be the dinosaur that you can actually rent for an event and sit on –if you are the right size, that is. (I apologize for not holding the camera correctly but you get the idea—he is CUTE!)

Dino from Beth Ann Chiles on Vimeo.

3. If you have a gardener on your Christmas list or an outside project planned you might want to check out Natural Plus Nursery. They have gift certificates available and there is no limit to what these folks can do for you.  It is not always something that you think of when it is snowy and cold outside but what a great idea to give a gift of something living or some landscaping once the weather clears.  Mary and Dave Hopper are fabulous folks who have such a great business. They recently were the ones responsible for the fabulous landscaping around the Cannonball Garden in East Park in Mason City.

There are so many unique and different options when it comes to gift giving and locally in Mason City there are quite a few great places to get some special gifts for that special someone.  I always support small businesses and hope that you will as well.

Do you have a favorite small business that you like to patronize?   Leave me a comment and a shout out to your favorite one so we can all share the love of small businesses.  Thanks to all the shop owners who go above and beyond to provide great shopping experiences for their customers.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for 2 books–one written just for the kids and one written for the grown ups by “Cotton” Ketchie. Click here to go to the post where all you have to do is leave a comment to enter the giveaway.  Couldn’t be easier!


  1. what a fun day! I wish I lived closer 🙂

    • I do, too, Hilary!!! One of these days I am going to make it back to NYC and I AM GOING TO SEE YOU! I promise!!!! It has just been a very odd year for us . 🙂

  2. I love love small businesses! They are always my favorite places, no matter what town I am in! Market 124 is definitely one of my favorites in Mason City. Worldly Goods in Ames also immediately comes to mind!

    • Thanks, Joy. I have spent a lot of money at these local places, that is for sure! 🙂 But I am always looking for that perfect gift so when you find a shop that you consistently like it makes it easier.

  3. Wow – you have such great shops in your area! We live in a fairly small town, and at one time, our Main Street was almost empty of businesses. But, back in the 1980’s, the town had the great idea of forming a revitalization committee, and now all the old buildings house successful businesses: antique shops, gift shops, a bakery, a consignment shop, a Christmas store (open year round), and my favorite: the flag shop that my son and his dad own and operate!
    It’s great that you feature your local shops!

    • We have some great ones and of course I thought of some more once we were done shopping but we will save those for the next time. A flag shop?? What kind of flags? Decorative kinds??? I am intrigued.

  4. Jenny Doughty says:

    Our North Iowa Community has so many wonderful Ma & Pa Shops! If you want personalized service and someone you can rely on to serve your needs; shop local! These folks care ’cause it’s their livelihood and your’e their neighbor!

    • Jenny–you are so right about that. I would much rather patronize places that I can form a relationship with the owner/manager than a big box place. Those have their place, yes, but I do love to be able to have that personal experience. Any that you would add to the list????

  5. How wonderful of your group to visit these homegrown businesses and showcase them here. As you know, Faribault has some pretty sweet Mom & Pop type shops also like The Crafty Maven and The Nook and Cranny.

    I also love The Cheese Cave, where I can buy my favorite locally-made and cave-aged St. Pete’s Select or Amablu blue cheeses. And I love the third-generation family shoe store, Burkhartzmeyer Shoes. You are guaranteed a great fit there.

    Our family is not exchanging Christmas gifts this year, so no shopping for me. And I’m OK with that as, unlike you, I really do not like shopping all that much. Depends on the shop. Mostly I don’t like looking for clothes.

    • I am not doing that much shopping at all either –just basically for the boys and Chris but I still love to look. Your shops in Faribault are nice ones as well. You have found the ones that would be the ones I would frequent often, I am sure. Thanks for sharing.

  6. What wonderful one of a kind choices you have to choose from.
    We returned to Market Day in our small town on Saturday. Husband couldn’t resist the baked goods. Usually it only occupies the square, but this December it spilled onto the outlying streets, too. I hope everyone had a profitable day as many use it to supplement their income throughout the year.

  7. He couldn’t resist the home made fruit cake as he remembered his mother who always prepared his very own loaf that no one in the family dared touch. And, he picked up castle shaped cookies (there’s a castle nearby), a BAG of Christmas shape cookies – home baked and substantial in size – with red and green sprinkles for grandson’s lunches this week….and, and, more… (smile). So glad Market Day rescued me on the holiday baking front for this week, as I have an extremely busy week…thus, no post yesterday.

  8. Lots of lovely little shops you have.

  9. Wow you have a lot of great shops in your area!

  10. My favorite place to visit when I was more mobile was “Wee Book Inn.” They feature gently used books at great prices. You can bring in books & receive credit for books you want to purchase. Unfortunately for me, the books I love the most are up a winding staircase so I don’t go there anymore. I use Kobo & buy e-books now.

    • Oh that sounds like an amazing little place and one I could totally see you loving. I am sorry that you can’t use the winding staircase—that is certainly not convenient anymore.

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