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Shop Local: Homeless Garden Shelter's Holiday Store Opens in New Location

Tucked away just off Pacific Avenue, the HGP store is more beautiful than ever this year. Open 7 days a week 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. with a Holiday Celebration on First Friday.

If you're wondering what happened to the Homeless Garden Project's Holiday Store, do not fret: it's a tradition they've kept up since 1990 and they're not going to break it any time soon.

It's just a little harder to find.

This year, the store unfolded in the Cooper Street Breezway where Shoe Fetish used to be, about 150 feet from its past location on the main drag of Pacific Avenue—now the brightly-lit candy store, IT'SUGAR, which celebrated its grand opening Friday. (Stay tuned for my review of IT'SUGAR!) 

The Holiday Store is filled to the brim with handcrafted goods made by trainees of the organization, and local artisans. 

The spacious store was put together in two days by volunteers of the HGP and friends. They painted the walls, and transformed the empty space into a page out of Restoration Hardware or Anthropologie—only better.

"We had a lot of support from people donating things," said Tricia Keenan, 26, manager of the HGP farm's Organic Flower Enterprise.

The lights were donated by a man whose company, Pass it on Please, goes to conventions and re-purposes leftover lighting, curtains and other excess materials destined for the trash, and finds a use for them. Another woman donated area rugs for the displays. 

Being off the beaten track has its minuses though. 

"We haven't had as much foot traffic but we've been sending people out on the street and giving lavender sprigs to people walking by, and letting them know we're here," said Keenan.

But even though you can't see the store from Pacific Avenue, you can definitely smell it. Walking in is like diving into a bowl of potpourri.

"We had a really good crop of flowers this year, better than usual. We've made more wreaths than we did at this time last year," said Keenan of the wreaths which are a signature item at the HGP, and one of the main sources of that luxurious aroma.

Intricately woven by the hands of trainees, the wreaths range from $30 - $60 and make great gifts for the homemaker in the family.

"People come back every year to buy them," said Keenan.

There are also culinary herb and salt mixes, using sea salt and herbs grown on the farm, beeswax candles, succulents, dried tea from the farm, dryer bags stuffed with lavender and organic baking mixes for lavender brownies and short breads.

"I'm just blown away by the talent in the workshop this year," said Joan Coleman, 28, who is a second year trainee.

Chris Omer, 34, farm supervisor at the HGP expressed similar sentiments: 

"Having worked in the workshop I feel really proud seeing the accomplished product, peoples' effort is really represented in the products and you get that feedback from the customers, said Chris Omer, 34, farm supervisor at the HGP.

Local artists fill in any gaps, with photography to jewelry, and there is even organic Granola for sale, made by the kids of Food What?!, an organization that works closely with the Homeless Garden Project.

Don't take my word for it—check it out! 

Purchases help support the local artisans and the HGP.

The Store is at 100 G in the Cooper Street Breezeway, just down from O'Neill, and behind Vino Cruz. Open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., with a Holiday Celebration on First Friday— Dec. 7.

Chris Jordan December 01, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Is Santa Cruz getting its famous liquor store back? Odd timing with that clean-up practically next door to Lighthouse Liquors from days gone by.

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