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Shopping local, at the last minute

Every year more than a few procrastinators put off holiday shopping until the last possible moment. Fortunately for them, Fairfield has several retail businesses specializing in gifts for children and adults.

Lib Denure, owner of Hazel Daze, describes her new Black Rock business as “funky home boutique,” featuring a mix of well-known designers, such as Jonathan Adler, and home-grown artisans.

Additionally, there are several items that support charities and fair trade.

“I’ve always believed in giving back,” Denure said.

She features jewelry created by Susan Cannarella of Rocky Hill, owner of Beads4Dreams. As part of Cannarella’s nonprofit organization, all proceeds from the paper bead necklaces are donated to Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda for people with AIDS. Women in Uganda make the paper beads using supplies sent by Cannarella. When she receives the beads, the Rocky Hill artist then designs necklaces.

“It’s amazing because there is 100% giveback,” Denure said. “Everything that she makes is given to the hospital.”

Along with supporting worthy causes, Denure also encourages local artists. Another popular gift is unique handmade handbags decorated by Fairfield artist Lisa Leto using semiprecious stones.

Fran Cefalu, also of Fairfield, designs one-of-a-kind belt buckles.

Sarah Dzilinski has several styles of handmade earrings on display at Hazel Daze.

“I try to make every pair a little different,” Dzilinski said. “I have sterling silver earrings and fun holiday earrings. I also try to have different kinds of earrings that would appeal to your grandmother, and others that would be perfect for the teens on your list.”

A resident of Fairfield, Dzilinski said she was introduced to Denure at a local gym.

“When Lib told me she was opening up this store and using local artists, I said, ‘Count me in,’” Dzilinski said. “Hazel Daze is great because there are gifts galore here. If you have been looking for that perfect gift, this is the place to come to.”

There are lots of decorative throw pillows to choose from at Hazel Daze, too.

“We have lots of jewelry, candles, cosmetic bags, and purses,” Denure said.

Eclectic glassware includes an oversized “Redneck Margarita” glass crafted by Elizabeth Pisano of Seymour from sturdy mason jars. She also designed personalized wine glasses and holiday wine bottles that light up.

Hazel Daze is located at 86 Post Road, in Black Rock.

In downtown Fairfield, La Moda Fashions offers contemporary clothes and accessories for a special female on one’s gift list. For 27 years, owner Mary Scasiano has filled the store with high-quality, stylish attire. Additionally, she and her staff are available for consultations about new looks to enhance one’s appearance.

“Shopping for clothes shouldn’t stress you out,” said Scasiano. “We try to cater to our customers by offering personalized service. You want the clothes to mesh with your life. You should open up your closet and be excited. And I also always tell people that clothes are meant to go out. It’s important to find things that enhance your personality.”

One of La Moda’s best-selling items is a simple camisole.

“It’s the world’s best camisole because it doesn’t ride up,” Scasiano said. “It fits everyone and it can be worn under things, to bed at night, to yoga.”

For holiday gifts, Scasiano also recommends Big Buddha faux leather handbags and wallets. Colorful scarves that instantly brighten a wardrobe are also available.

La Moda is at 1434 Post Road in Fairfield. A second store is located in Hamden.

Mark Crofutt, owner of Blinn’s, a toy store celebrating its 80th year in business, said customers continue to purchase “classic toys” for children.

Toys include board games, dolls, trucks, and tricycles. There are special sections at Blinn’s devoted to trains, dollhouses and accessories, model horses and stable layouts, books, and walls and walls of puzzles.

Crofutt said no electronic gadgets are sold at Blinn’s.

“We do have electric trains, though,” he said with a smile.

Hazel Daze (center), owner of Lib Denure, is shown here with her daughter, Amelia Aspinwall, and her son, Peter Aspinwall, at her store on the Post Road in Black Rock.

Hazel Daze (center), owner of Lib Denure, is shown here with her daughter, Amelia Aspinwall, and her son, Peter Aspinwall, at her store on the Post Road in Black Rock.

Store manager Sean O’Brien said traditional toys have always been a big seller at the 6,000-square-foot toy store. He said the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy has affected recent purchases.

“We’ve seen a big increase in sales of board games lately because with the power outages, people started playing board games as a family,” O’Brien said.

As with many local residents, the Fairfield home he grew up in was flooded during the storm.

“We feel everyone’s pain,” O’Brien said. “I see a difference in what people are buying for Christmas and Hanukah this season. I think people are taking to heart their families and making sure their kids are going to have a nice holiday, despite what they’ve been going through because of the storm.”

The toy store was founded by the Blinn family in 1933. Its original site was in Bridgeport. In 1960, Blinn’s moved to Fairfield, on the property that now houses Centro Restaurant. It moved to the current location at 50 Unquowa Road in 1980.

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