Fruitville, University, Bee Ridge may all feel like endless dioramas of American chain sameness, but the Sarasotas at the western end of these long slogs are worth it. Notice I used the plural; there are many walk-and-shop Sarasotas, but ya gotta drive to get to them all. So in this mini-roundup of holiday shopping ideas, we’ve got a few in St. Armands Circle, one in Burns Court that used to be in St. Armands, another near Main Street and arts destinations that are worth driving to from any distance.
Sarasota Opera House
61 N. Pineapple Ave., sarasotaopera.org.
Talk about a Christmas box! On any given day, the Sarasota Opera House in the heart of downtown is alive with music, dance and more. Sarasota Opera opens its 2020 Winter Opera Festival with La Bohème on Feb. 8. The nationally acclaimed Sarasota Ballet (above) leaps into its 29th season with Symphonic Tales, a program of Balanchine and MacMillan on Nov. 22-23 and John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker on Dec. 20-21. The Perlman Music Program hosts the Juilliard Quartet on Dec. 2, and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe opens its run of A Motown Christmas on Dec. 4. The Sarasota Opera online Events Calendar is a good place to find info about these and other productions. Only tickets to the opera are sold on the site, however; follow hyperlinks to the other arts organizations mentioned.
Asolo Rep & The Ringling
5555 N. Tamiami Trail, asolorep.org; 5401 Bayshore Rd., ringling.org.
The largest professional not-for-profit theater company in the U.S. south of Atlanta, Asolo Repertory Theatre stages up to 15 productions a season starring both seasoned pros and students from the nationally known FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. The 2019-20 season is a well-rounded mix of old favorites (The Sound of Music through Dec. 28 and Murder on the Orient Express opening in January); highly topical comedy (The Lifespan of a Fact, opening Jan. 22, which played Broadway last year with Daniel Radcliffe in the role of a magazine fact-checker pitted against a famous writer); a world premiere musical (Knoxville, opening in April, from the team behind the award-winning Once on This Island); and lots more. A gift subscription would be a dandy surprise for any family of theater buffs. And a note on the walkability front: Whenever you see an Asolo Rep or FSU show in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, you’re within walking distance of The Ringling and its triumvirate of attractions: the Circus Museum, the Ca’ d’Zan mansion and the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Stuff a family pass into that gift pack with the Asolo subscription and your giftees will get the chance to see, among many other wonders, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac LEGO through 2/2/20. Asolo Repertory Theatre subscription prices vary, see asolorep.org/season-tickets/subscriptions for info. Ringling Family Membership, $135, ringling.org/general-membership.
Tilden Ross Jewelers
410 St. Armands Circle, tildenross.com
Last year, when I wrote about this long-established family business for a St. Armands holiday shopping story, I learned about the staff’s deep well of expertise and the exclusive lines and rare finds in their collection. Now I’m learning about another rarity: the shop is the only Sarasota vendor of the unusual and beautiful 18kt gold jewelry created by Marco Bicego, an award-winning designer who is himself the scion of a family business that’s been making jewelry in the Veneto region of Northern Italy since 1958. Three 18kt gold necklaces from Marco Bicego’s “Africa” series. Center piece with diamond, $3,130. Bead necklaces each $3,680.
Dream Weaver Collection
364 St. Armands Circle, dreamweavercollection.com
When I first discovered the “art couture” favored by Dream Weaver owner Joan Morgan, I immediately thought of all the confident, unconventionally glamorous women I know who would love her collection. Turns out the designers whose lines she carries are unconventional and glamorous, too, like Debe Dohrer — a self-described “misfit” with a fabulous mane of silver hair who says her jewelry is “not for the meek” — and the California mother-daughter team behind S. Carter Designs, who claim “a shared aesthetic informed by the wild and exotic.” Above right: S. Carter necklace made with horn and five embedded rose-cut diamond studs, $995. Above left: Debe Dohrer necklace made with antique brass links and seven drilled African coins that have oxidized with age, $345. It can be worn alone as a choker or, as shown, with a one-of-a-kind talisman on brass fringe chain and a turquoise pendant.
Greiner’s Fine Men’s Clothing
45 S. Palm Ave., greinersclothing.com
Sarasota gentlemen who wish to dress up for the aforementioned events have a new place to shop for stylish duds: Greiner’s. An institution in Downtown Tampa, where it’s been outfitting dapper Tampanians since 1981, and in Beverly Hills, CA, the store recently opened a store minutes away from Sarasota’s Main Street. With a well-chosen collection of top brands including Peter Millar (pictured), David Donahue and Masons, as well as a Made-to-Measure service, it seems destined to be a must-stop shop for menswear shopping this holiday season.
Todd Alan Gallery
506 S. Pineapple Ave., handwovenbands.com
Todd Alan may be famous for his braided gold and silver rings, but by the time you read this he will have revealed a creation that may surpass them in renown: his gold, platinum and diamond “Mermaid Crown,” which he’s been working on for six years and was set to unveil on Nov. 9 at the grand opening of his new location in Burns Court. Pics were not available at press time, but in its stead we over you “Seascape,” his solid gold necklace crafted from yellow, white, green and rose gold and hand-cast coral, shells and seahorses on a hand-woven chain. Seascape necklace, 14kt gold, $16,600.