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Kids, Shopping and Sports
What’s not to love?

With all sorts of my relatives busy reseeding the family tree and introducing scads of new babies into the mix, I’ve been doing a lot of shopping for kids lately between showers and birthday parties. In the face of the glut of stuff out there (some charming, some crap), and the fact that often these tots already have overflowing toy boxes, the question is how can I shop responsibly for presents children like? My first rule of thumb: Stay clear of the glittery pink Disney princess route. I’ll leave reinforcing those stereotypes for others. My second: Always buy locally to support independent stores like Juxt, Goo Goo Gaa Gaa, Sydney B., Fischberger’s and Tadpoles (I still miss freckle face and Sprout). I also actively seek out organic and fair trade gifts at places like Olive, Future Green, Authentic Journeys, Fair Trade for All, Four Corners of the World, Lillies and Plowshare. But perhaps most important of all, no matter whether it’s something cool to wear, interesting to do or fun and educational to read, encouraging self expression in kids is so important, so I always try to hunt down things that are a wee bit out of the norm.

Brickstix is sponsoring a contest at The Learning Shop in Mequon.
Speaking of cool stuff for kids, did you know The Learning Shop in Mequon is holding a Grand Opening Event May 13, 14 & 15, jam packed with terrific activities? Here’s a hint of what they’ve got up their sleeve to excite and delight – plenty of arts and crafts, tons of game and product demonstrations (think Puppy Pursuit, Stacking Sandwich, Stone Soup, Fish Stix, Hoot Owl Hoot, Count your Chickens, Spell it, Yamslam, Spot it, among others), face painting, book signings, giveaways, prizes and visits from Curious George and Clifford. Kids 8 to 14 years old are also invited to bring their transportable, custom-made Lego creations (or a clear photograph of them) to the store now through May 20 and be entered into the Lego®Build Contest sponsored by Brickstix. On Saturday (10 a.m.-1 p.m.), stop in to meet 11-year-old Greyson MacLean, the local boy who came up with the idea for reusable cling decal sets for Lego and other brick toys, who will be on hand to share cool ways to use them and hand out free sets (while supplies last). For hours and more details, contact the store. 11043 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon, 262-478-0227, learningshop.com.

Dale Hofmann's 365: The Best Wisconsin Sports Stories Day by Day.
Even though I’ve never watched a Packers game in my life (well… OK, there was that recent rather-tipsy Super Bowl party), only pretended to care enough about the Bucks to impress a rabid fan I dated in college and don’t give a whit about tailgating or the Brewers, this one I’m tossing out for the guys. On May 17 (7 p.m.) Boswell Book Company is sure to score a win/win with an appearance and reading by Dale Hofmann, co-author of 365: The Best Wisconsin Sports Stories Day by Day. Unlike me, this fellow’s got his finger on the pulse of every major sport, having covered them all including the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Olympics as an award-winning columnist for the Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Better yet, he’s ready to share some of the inside scoops of infamous high school team rivalries, Lambeau Field skirmishes, winning Wisconsin gold medals that he and co-author Cliff Christl have culled from their daily newspaper coverage, related archives and, of course, personal memories. The book, which offers a day-to-day account of a year’s worth of No. 1 stories highlighting the rich history of state sports since 1889, is such a good read that word has it even I’d like it. 2559 N. Downer Ave., 414-332-1181, boswell.indiebound.com.

Fair Trade Crawl
Travel around the city for the fourth-annual Fair Trade Crawl (May 14) and see what 25 socially responsible shops have to offer in the way of discounts, tastings, educational events, store specials and discounts. While you’re at it, participate in the event’s Educational Treasure Hunt. Simply find specific products located within the shops, learn a bit about how and where they’re made and fill in its location on your Crawl brochure before handing it in at any Outpost Natural Foods location between 3-5 p.m. where you can pick up a prize for playing. Stop and have a cup of fair trade coffee along the route and be part of the Milwaukee team joining other city teams across the country in pulling off the World’s Largest Fair Trade Coffee Break. For more information and a full list of participating shops, businesses and restaurants, visit milwaukeefairtradecoalition.org.

And finally, farewell to one of Farwell Avenue’s staple stores as owner James Purvis shuts down Starship, a clothing and lifestyle boutique that in its evolution over the last 20 years has helped define the expressive vibe of the Brady Street neighborhood. The store is expected to relocate, but there’s no word on where just yet. Meanwhile, from now through June 30, shoppers will save big as all new spring and summer inventory of body jewelry, Hello Kitty® merchandise and women’s and men’s fashions and accessories (including a large selection of men’s hats) is on sale starting at 35 percent off. 1661 N. Farwell, 414-277-0646.

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