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Home Shopping Trip Leads to Unique Selection of Gifts

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

When an artist friend recommended a visit to the “studio” of Grayce Baldwin for “an astonishing collection of gifts,” my intent was to research--not buy.

But that was before I entered the cluttered living-room-turned-shop in her home behind the Hollywood Bowl. One hour later I had spent $278--$60 on a marcasite and jade ring for myself and the rest for my own gift collection.

The combination of the intimate atmosphere, the unusual merchandise and the low prices were all factors. But comparison shopping was all but impossible--it always is with an inventory as unique as this.

Just consider: Approximately 70% of the merchandise is marked at about $20, and there are many charming gifts for $10 and $12. Switch plates with varying motifs cost $12, whimsical mouse pads are $10, Maxfield Parish Lithophane night lights are $22. Gourmet foods include “Bread in a Bottle,” which sells for $12, and French herbs in a pepper mill for $5.

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Other food items include sauces for barbecue and marinating as well as pates, lavender wine mustard and decadent chocolate sauces. Baldwin’s previous career catering private parties explains the gourmet category.

She also worked as a department store buyer, so she specializes in gifts that please a wide variety of tastes. Executives make use of her operation, which is called “Just Leave Everything to Us,” for corporate gift-giving.

When a building-management firm wanted gifts for its 300 tenants, all she had to go on, she said, were gender and price. Each gift was beautifully wrapped and delivered. An attorney, who doesn’t want to spend time shopping, calls every couple of months to order gifts for those who send referrals to him, according to Baldwin.

Items at her shop are grouped by gender or category. There is a men’s section and one for children. Then there are stationery, candles, boxes, books, frames and groups of items for gardeners and animal lovers. Several candles shaped like fruit include clusters of grapes for $15; and for the chess players on your list, wax chess pieces are $8.

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Paintings by local artist Sylvia Moss decorate the walls, and some wonderful hats ($48-$120) by Ann Aber add to the ambience. Shopping here is by appointment only. Just Leave Everything to Us: (213) 850-0762.

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Weekend Super Sales: An overstock of room air conditioners from Airtemps makes for a super deal at H&M; Appliances. All models come with a five-year warranty for parts and labor--in home. They are selling at cost: a 5,000 BTU on sale at a major discounter for $399 is $329 here. Other models are also sold at cost. 18510 Sherman Way, Reseda. (818) 705-2240.

Alandale’s Menswear celebrates a new concept and a new location with $800 suits for $399, dress shirts retailing for $125 are tagged at $64, and $85 ties are $29. All are first quality. 9715 Washington Blvd., Culver City. (310) 838-5700.

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