Emerald Forest is my Cheers of gift shops. I first found it when I moved back to the San Fernando Valley in 1990. Whether I visit weekly or after a few months, there's always a warm welcome—and when I leave, it's always with a beautifully wrapped gift in hand— unless the purchase is for me and a bag will suffice, of course. No matter what my budget, I can always find what I'm looking for.
The Coldwater Curve, across from in Studio City, has been Emerald Forest's home since 1987 when owner Michelle Gagnon planted herself among a string of diverse businesses.
"I wanted to create a neighborhood store where personal service stands out," said Gagnon, who over the past 23 years, has grown up at the store herself, getting married and having twin girls, who are now teens.
As for her customers, she's seen them grow from babies to young adults who now come in to buy gifts of their own.
Those who've moved away often come back. On the day I was there, a long time customer who now lives in Malibu, stopped by to scoop up so many gifts, it took three people with boxes to carry them all out. A short while later, a man came by and said that it's become his family's "Old West general store."
Entering the quaint shop is like walking into a treasure chest in the form of a small cottage. Every inch of the store from floor to ceiling is filled with merchandise, however, it is meticulously organized into areas—seasonal, beauty and body, kitchen and cooking, sleepwear, home, mens, jewelry, kids and baby, and general gifts.
Although Gagnon features a heavily female inventory, Emerald Forest does carry select items for men which is tough to find. Some of the standouts currently in stock are signs made of recycled license plates, such as Golfer, Rock n' Roll, Music, Yankee5; vintage putter bottle openers ($66-$82); MLB Authenticated items by Tokens & Icons, such as baseball leather money clip and a bottle opener made from a Dodger bat ($84); giclee photos of record collection spines from the 60s, 70s, jazz and rock are unique ($95); fun items include Dad's Root Beer drinking glasses and record albums molded into bowls. Also, for men — skin and body products from Archipelegao.For women and home, the selection is choice. Glass cases are filled with an eclectic collection of necklaces, bracelets and earrings by jewelry artisans using variations of gold, silver, metal and gemstones.
Fine jewelry sits in it own case with diamonds and precious gems. There is a varying price point on jewelry. Prices start at about $30 and go from there. There's nice selection of sleepwear, handbags and cozy outerwear for women.
If you are into aroma and skincare products, there is a good selection including Nest and Verde's 80 acres, which both are herbal scents. A really unique candle called Chateau Agnes smells like fine wine and is packed in a wood box.
There's a selection of handbags in varying styles from casual to dressy. Bougainvilla and Moya bags are gorgeous evening bags for a night on the town, while there's great clutches by Hobo and functional Metro Bags by Bagagalini.
For those with kitchen interests, there's a wonderful selection of cookbooks, select dishes, utensils and glasses. There are adorable cookie jars for $54 and spoons with clever, homey sayings for $13.
Travelers or those on-the-go will love The Pak, a 4x4 black patent kit that's filled with Tide to Go, an emery board, nail clippers, floss, fashion tape, refillable bottles of hand sanitizer, hair spray, breath spray, lotion and more ($42) or the make-up container by Unii where you can pull apart your make collection and make your own for travel.
Fun gifts include blown glass balls with feather inside that can be used for an ornament or home décor ($11). Glass wind chimes specially imported from North Carolina are standards and a great hostess gift ($44).
Need to give your walls a lift? Check out a wonderful collection of whimsical signs and wall art—or create your own special message.
Gagnon is always shopping to add to her collection, so just come in and peruse. The inventory changes frequently. Don't know what you are looking for? Just ask. I promise you'll walk out with a perfect, beautifully wrapped gift and the feeling that you made a new friend in the neighborhood.
Open Mon.-Sat. 10 am—6 pm. Find Emerald Forest on Facebook.