Because there's no international Christmas shipping deadline when you shop local.

It's the age-old dilemma: the season of gift giving arrives, accompanied by seemingly constant sales and deals, but every store seems to be selling the same thing. Thankfully, hidden amongst Brisbane's big shopping establishments are a selection of retailers that stand out.

Whether it's for their range, for their specific focus or for their eclectic assortment of the expected and not so, these are the stores that offer more than just the usual gift suspects. If they do stock socks, you know they’re not just socks.

So where should you flock to amid the pre-Christmas hustle and bustle to find the perfect unique present? Here’s ten shops with wares a little less ordinary.

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    Phase 4

    When was the last time you went shopping without knowing exactly what you where looking for? The rise of online browsing means that our visits to bricks and mortar stores are more about purchasing than perusing — however, there’s two areas where that doesn’t really fit. If you’re buying used vinyl or anything that could be classed as vintage, then scouring the racks and shelves for the item you didn’t know your friend or loved one just had to have is all part of the fun. You’ll do plenty of that at Phase 4, thanks to its ever-changing array of unusual and esoteric records, pop culture collectables, bric-a-brac and other wares — or, you can grab a gift voucher and give someone their own secondhand searching experience.

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    Black Pearl Epicure

    Give the gift of deliciousness this Christmas — if you can choose from the feast of treats for the taking at Brisbane’s best premium food institute, that is. Yes, cheese, meat, confectionary, chocolate and other delicacies are perfectly acceptable presents when they’re this fancy. With the store sourcing seasonal stock, the range changes all year around, but the tastiness of the food never changes. If picking from 300 different types of cheese is too tough or tempting a task, why not send your nearest and dearest in the direction of their famed cooking school, and potentially reap the benefits of your thoughtfulness all year around.

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    Presents of Mind

    For kids big and small, games — whether board, card, party, strategy, word or fantasy — are the gift that keeps on giving. Who doesn’t want to play something fun, battle against your friends, cultivate some serious rivalry, and (for older participants, obviously) even turn the merriment into a drinking game? This stalwart of Given Terrace provides the tools to get any bout of game-playing started, from the usual contenders such as Uno, Monopoly and Scrabble to more unusual finds — we’re talking about you, Firefly: The Game — as well as puzzles, books and other mind-bending gift ideas. With all this at your fingertips, there’s no need to create your own Cones of Dunshire as a present — unless you want to, that is.

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    Biome Eco Store

    This may be the only place to go for those looking for a gift that doesn’t cost the earth, literally. Stocking its shelves according to a stated set of eco-friendly criteria, Biome boasts all natural, hand-made and environmentally conscious items for stuffing your stockings for a green Christmas. That includes all the trappings and trimmings associated with the occasion, as well as everything you might want to put under the tree as well. From beer-made soap to fair trade chocolate, hemp linen to pretty picnic sets, battery-free toys to sustainable fashion, there’s no excuse for not putting the state of the planet first in your gift purchasing.

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    QAGOMA Store

    The QAGOMA Store is an obvious choice for those who like their gifts with a splash of creativity. However, there’s nothing obvious about the selection on display at Brisbane’s major art gallery. Items linked with their previous and current exhibitions are just the start. Books — of both the picturesque coffee table and the quirky in prose and presentation variety — are probably the store’s strongest drawcard, with something on the shelves to suit all tastes. There’s more, of course, so expect silly stationery items, artistic umbrellas, the cutest children’s toys and even hard-to-find DVDs.

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    Scrumptious Reads

    From the most seasoned chef to someone who has trouble boiling eggs, everyone loves a cookbook. There’s something about perusing pages filled with tantalising recipes that gets mouths watering and inspires even the most kitchen-averse among us to want to cook up a storm — or rather, a cake, lamb shank or fresh pappardelle, as the case may be. Finding a garden-variety cookbook isn’t hard, but finding a collection of culinary volumes beyond Jamie’s latest time-saving tricks and Pete Evans’ extreme health tomes is more challenging. That’s where Scrumptious Reads comes in, with its expansive meeting of gastronomy and literature. The space is also home to Australia’s first Monocle Shop.

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    The Botanist

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to give someone a living gift. Puppies and kittens might be the cutest things ever, but they’re the kind of responsibility you shouldn’t sign someone else up for. Opting for something flowery or leafy is the much safer option — which makes The Botanist a must-visit destination. At the Bakery Lane florist, you’ll find succulents and cacti galore, aka plants even someone lacking a green thumb can look after. Beautiful blooms and designer homewares also line the store’s shelves for those who’d prefer a bright but fleeting burst of colour, or something to put them in.

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    Reverse Emporium

    Turning trash into treasure is the aim of the game here, and there’s certainly ample bounty to reward the curious. The gift shop located within Woolloongabba’s Reverse Garbage Queensland headquarters stocks items made from salvaged odds and ends, everything transformed from their original state into beautifully crafted objects of all shapes and sizes. Lego rings, watch part earrings, and other types of trinkets line the store, celebrating timber, scrap metal, textiles and more taking on new forms and meanings, and illustrating the possibilities for the reuse of otherwise wasted and discarded materials. Embrace the unwanted this festive season – someone else’s garbage could be your perfect gift.

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    New Farm Confectionery

    Who doesn’t love edible Christmas presents? The silly season isn’t just a time for giving, after all, but for indulging in tasty bites to eat. Whether white chocolate rocky road, rose and pistachio nougat or chocolate honeycomb is your best pal’s sweet treat of choice, you won’t leave New Farm Confectionery empty-handed — and yes, picking up something for yourself while you’re there is completely acceptable. The salted caramel gift pack is a surefire winner for anyone (i.e. everyone) who can’t get enough of the trendy flavour combination. And gluten free, dairy free and vegan options mean that there’s a homemade wonder for all dietary requirements.

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    Junky Comics

    What do you get the comic-obsessed friend who has everything? Or the family member with tastes that aren’t catered for by shopping centre bookstores? We can’t answer those questions, but we can tell you where to seek inspiration: at West End’s newest indie comic book shop, Junky Comics. That’s where you’ll find alternative and independent comics and graphic novels that range far beyond the usual superhero fare, as well as funky art books and local zines. And if you need to take your time perusing and choosing, that’s okay — hanging around and flicking through their stock isn’t just allowed, it’s encouraged.

Published on December 15, 2015 by Sarah Ward

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