Business Beat: On the hunt for Merced-area gifts

There is a popular e-card making the rounds of social media these days. It reads, in effect, “I think as you grow older, your Christmas list gets smaller and the things you really want for the holidays can’t be bought.”

I think that’s absolutely true.

As Thanksgiving approaches this week, I find what I look forward to most about the holidays is time spent with my family and my friends, eating, drinking and possibly wearing terribly unattractive sweaters.

That said, I am also going to be Christmas shopping. While the physical presents aren’t nearly as important as the true meaning of the holidays (though don’t tell that to my 6-year-old), it is lovely to give and to get gifts for one another.

And if we are going to be buying gifts, why not help the local economy?

For the last few years, I’ve done a seasonal feature in The Modesto Bee depicting gifts that can be purchased from area merchants. It’s been a really fun thing to do, and we’ve gotten good response from both readers and businesses.

I am pleased to tell you we will be running a similar feature in the Sun-Star this year.

So here is where I am asking for your help. If you have a good Christmas gift idea, please pass it along to me. There are only a couple of rules: The gift must cost $20 or less, and it must be available through a Merced County-area retailer.

While chain stores certainly have a vital place in our economy, and online giants like Amazon can be awfully handy for lots of items, we like to highlight small businesses in this feature.

In the past, we have highlighted ideas ranging from a microwave pasta cooker to locally produced cheeses to a gun-cleaning kit.

I am sure there are plenty of great reasonably priced gifts available around here, be it a bit of fashion from Christina’s Fine Clothing, a charm from Keri’s Gold and Silver or a loaf of pumpkin bread from Jantz Cafe & Bakery.

If you have a good idea, or a suggestion, please send it along to me at We will highlight gift ideas in occasional features in the Sun-Star in December.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

The city of Merced and the Institute for Local Government are hosting a workshop on “Partnering for Prosperity” Dec. 4 in Merced.

According to a flier on the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce website, participants will learn how they can work with one another and local government to “help build a more prosperous future for Merced.”

For more information, call the chamber, (209) 384-7092.

Have an item for Business Beat? Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter @PattyGuerra.