Shopping on the hill: From vampire Barbies to the latest Elmo, local retailers have you covered |

Shopping on the hill: From vampire Barbies to the latest Elmo, local retailers have you covered

Roseann Keegan

Annie Flanzraich / Tahoe Daily TribuneMichelle Feeney browses the toy selection at Toy Maniacs for a birthday present, but keeps the upcoming holidays in mind as well.

South Lake Tahoe retailers say there’s no reason to head off the hill to do that holiday shopping. In fact, shoppers from other cities are driving here to cross items of their list.

“We get people coming up from Sacramento, Reno and Carson,” said Dennis Michal, co-owner of Toy Maniacs. The store’s hot ticket items include Losi rock crawlers, which look a bit like remote-control monster trucks and scale rocks so deftly that people create clubs in order compete.

At Tahoe Sports LTD, there’s a proud buzz about the ContourHD Helmet Cam, a wearable, high-definition camcorder perfect for any budding Warren Miller filmmaker.

“It’s super modern and an incredible gift,” said sales associate Tara O’Hara. “They’re pretty dreamy.”

This season’s most popular gifts for kids – vampire Barbies and the Elmo doll du jour – are also available just off Lake Tahoe Boulevard. At Toy Maniacs, Michal is expecting his shipment of Barbie Twilight Edward and Bella dolls from “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” movie, as well as the Elmo Live! dolls, which were popular last December, too.

For kids age 5 and up, popular buys include action figures from the “Transformers” movie series as well as the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” movie and cartoon. The “good guys” and the “bad guys” are both hot sellers, Michal said.

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“The kids know these better than I do,” Michal said, adding that adults collect the items, too.

For younger children, Michal said parents reach for the Melissa & Doug product line, which includes classic wooden blocks and puzzles, oversized puppets and plush stuffed animals.

“Musical puzzles are very popular this year,” he said. “They also have a line of train sets that are just like Thomas the Tank (Engine) and work with them.”

For grown-ups, especially on a budget, a little wardrobe updating can go a long way, said Gary Angelica buyer Ric Roach.

“I think this is bad coming from a clothing store, but everyone’s on a very small budget, so a lot of people are taking what they have and updating it,” Roach said.

Roach recommends a new beanie, scarf, necklace or pair of gloves.

“We have great small gifts under $50 that won’t cost a lot and they will get use out of,” Roach said.

For gifts with a bit of good karma, Gary Angelica offers TOMS Shoes, which donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased.

At Sidestreet Boutique, gift ideas intertwine comfort with style. General manager Stacey Barreras recommends Qingdao Nicewear bathrobes for women in pink, white, mint green and lavender.

“They’re real warm, fuzzy and soft,” Barreras said.

Warm boots that combine fashion and coziness are available from UGG and Ed Hardy, including a knee-length black boot with Hardy’s trademark tattoo-inspired art work weaving up the sides.

For the outdoor enthusiast, O’Hara at Tahoe Sports LTD said a Black Diamond headlamp makes a great stocking stuffer. For that big-ticket item, Hotronic’s boot and glove dryers and warmers prep skiers and boarders for another day on the slopes.

“They’re a real favorite holiday item,” O’Hara said.

When all else fails, socks can do the trick, too.

“Classic ski and snowboard socks are always nice to refresh this time of year,” she said.

For the youngest ones on your list:


Elmo Live! ($59.99), Toy Maniacs, 2180 Lake Tahoe Blvd. # 3,

(530) 544-2696


Melissa & Doug sound puzzles ($12.99), Toy Maniacs

For ‘tweens and teens:


Barbie Twilight Bella and Edward dolls (24.99 each), Toy Maniacs


Losi Rock Crawler (ranging from $339.99 to $500), Toy Maniacs

For kids at heart:


Demeter Fragrance Library ($21 each), Gary Angelica, 1001 Heavenly

Village Way #9, (530) 543-3400

Ed Hardy Geisha Snowblazer boot ($174), Sidestreet Boutique, 4000 Lake

Tahoe Blvd. #19, (530) 544-3315


Contour HD Helmet Cam ($279.95), Tahoe Sports LTD, 4000 Lake Tahoe

Blvd. # 7, (530) 542-4000

Tommy Bahama Very Cool men’s fragrance ($65), Sidestreet Boutique