Local shops offer Los Alamos-inspired gifts

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By Wren Propp

If you’re interested in putting heart into the holidays, shop for a gift from the area’s wide range of museum gift shops.
In most cases, part of the price of your a horno-shaped incense burner, carved wood tree decoration, locally sourced book or a squishy Einstein goes back to a good cause.


Let’s begin the tour.

The bookstore at the visitor’s center at Bandelier National Park has a nice selection of shady hats, ball caps and puzzles. Books are a big part of the store, but there’s a soft side, stuffed toys to remind you of brown and black bears, and mountain lions.

What’s the best gift, though?

Cecy Burciaga of the store says toys that capture the look of native birds, as well as their song. The cost ranges from $9 to $10.

The store is part of the Western National Park Association network of stores at national parks and proceeds go to the association. Hours of the shop are the same as the visitor’s center, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed at 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Bookworms and those who love them will have a field day at the newly remodeled Los Alamos History Museum Store. The remodeled store offers a feast for the eyes with well-lit nooks featuring historically significant items – not for sale, just for perspective.

For example, you’ll be able to get a good look at the typewriter of “The House of Otowi Bridge” author Edith Warner, plus get another copy of the book. Treat yourself.

Store manager Todd Nickols said the store has the most complete collection of books on local subjects like the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos and Pajarito Mesa. Jewelry, toys, playing cards and refrigerator magnets are part of the selection, all reasonably priced.

The store also features a wide collection, for sale, of incense burners featuring a variety of New Mexico icons, such as the horno, tipi and pueblo-style adobe.

“It’s a nice little item,” Nickols says.

Freshen your supply of incense there, too. Cost for the incense burners is about $13.

There’s also a website, so you can shop from your screen at losalamoshistory.org/store.

This year’s theme at the gift store at Pajarito Environmental Education Center, according to shop manager Katie Barrere is one of her favorite things: bare tree branches and all that alight there.

There’s quite a range of artistic and handmade items featuring wood and fiber, so don’t rush it. Take a long time to consider whether an infinity scarf from Ukraine or locally fashioned pen would be best for the person on your list.
This season’s selection features a wide variety of nature, including a pack of wooden decorative snowflakes, a pack for $24.

Customers will have even more reasons to celebrate, the store will add free note cards with every purchase of $25 or more.

She’s been working with local artists, as well as those she’s found on Etsy and other venues, for a curated selection of goodies at the nature center. Profits go to the PEEC. Please check the center’s webpage for hours, peecnature.org. The shop is located inside the center at 2600 Canyon Road in Los Alamos.

One of the newest kids on the museum gift shop block is the kiosk at the Bradbury Science Museum. Kiosk manager Shari Foley says the kiosk is open during museum hours if there’s a volunteer or intern available. Current intern is Savannah Montoya.

The kiosk opened about a year ago and its already ground zero for the Squishy Einstein, a $5 rubber man who is delightfully squishy. Get two.

There’s also pint glasses for the beverage lover in your life. Books, polo shirts with the lab logo, patches, pens and mugs are also available.

Gifts with a “sciency” flavor are available at almost all of the venues listed here.
Profits from the kiosk go to support the STEM education programs directed by Bradbury Science Museum Association. Check the museum’s website at lanl.gov/musum.

The kiosk isn’t always open during the museum’s hours since it is staffed by volunteers. Consider volunteering.

If you find yourself really far afield, check into the bookstore operated by Los Amigos de Valles Caldera at the entrance station at the Valles Caldera National Preserve on NM 4.

The amigos offer books focused on the caldera, as well as history, and handmade items. Hopeful snow bunnies can find snowshoes for rent during the winter months.