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Offbeat Academy

River Heights street has lineup of funky shops

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Have yourself a kooky little Christmas -- and skip fighting the lineups in big-box stores.

A waltz down trendy Academy Road will take you past a long line of little shops decked out for Christmas -- some with free baking for customers -- and gifts you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Michael Rodent

662 Academy, 204-489-9282

Mickey Mouse -- get it? The R-rated Ted -- those teddy bears that talk in the voice of Seth MacFarlane -- stands out here. One bear is R-rated ($89.95) and the other is a smaller and not as foul-mouthed for about half the price.

The movie comes out on DVD Tuesday.

Owner Larry Jensen also stocks collectibles, such as Marilyn Monroe pillows, popular Big Bang Theory stuff, including a Leonard voodoo doll, and a singing Soft Kitty ($32) with Penny's voice. Jensen's floor-to-ceiling shop stocks Betty Boop, Elvis Presley, Bruce Lee, Beatles and other collectibles.

"I've even got a Christmas Story leg lamp coming. You know, the 1983 movie with Darren McGavin where the husband wins the leg lamp with the fishnet stocking as a mail-order prize and he puts it in the front window, and it's mysteriously broken."

Joan's Accessories and More

485 Academy, 204-415-7508

This tiny, black shop is perched under the eaves atop Eyelet Dove lingerie. It's a wild place -- starting with the shiny black leather floors. You can't miss the silver clutch bag with spiked clasp that doubles as knuckles to discourage anyone from mugging its owner in a nightclub. "You put your four fingers in here, see? Just a nice little poke and they'll get the message," says Joan Druxman-Jones. In the shock-and-awe department, she also has gold two-strand bracelets ($140 that look like upper and lower teeth from an Mayan ruin -- the perfect conversation-starter at an End of the World party this New Year's.

Other nifty gifts include itsy-bitsy speakers by Ycross ($49) that look like dice. The spots are where you plug in accessories such as iPods.

For the relationship-challenged, she stocks a shelf of funky books with titles such as Do you Know Your Lover? or The Ex Factor: Baggage and How to Deal With it. Plus there's peacock fans, feather extensions for your hair and men's socks with a gun and holster design on the ankle. The place is full of unusual clothing and accessories. It's not cheap, but it's always original.

Island Imports

416 Academy, 204-487-7723

Among all the truly sensual gifts from Bali in Island Imports sits a big wooden rooster with a cocky attitude perched up on a shelf up with his legs dangling. Just the gift for the unconventional chef on your list. Owner Pat Lewyc bought him and a few of his brothers from a single mom in Ubud, Bali. He's totally hand-painted and hand-carved. "The artist's name was Made and she makes these and other novelty carvings." says Lewyc. That's $50 well spent for all the comments it will draw in the kitchen or out at the cabin.

Cornelia Bean

417 Academy, 204-489-5460

On a budget? Check out Cornelia Bean's naughty chocolate bars. For $5.99 you can buy chocolate bars called Nakid, Lunatic and Hottie, Flirt. And then there's Nutbar for the guy who sits next to you at work talking to his plants. And you can be a sensitive world citizen at the same time.

"They're zazu bean organic chocolate from the Dominican Republic and Ecuador," says Cory Krul, store owner.

As Time Goes By

442 Academy, 204-414-9205

Across the street at this old-fashioned-style store, two snowman aprons stand out -- one for a child and one for an adult such as Mom or Grandma.

"This is a country-primitive store where everything is Christmas stuff right now but will change with each season. It's kind of like the old-fashioned shops you see on the East Coast that smell so good!"

The Garden Room

444 Academy, 204-487-1151

This shop has been transformed into a Christmas-lover's delight. Near the front of the store is a display of Santa's reindeer done up in fanciful, large ornaments by children's author Patience Brewster. There are candles on all points of the reindeer antlers. You will find Santa's regular team plus a highly feminine reindeer in hot pink and frou-frou who may be Rudolph's love interest ($98). Tree ornaments in the same designs are only $25.

Moulé

443 Academy, 204-488-1891

Want to go all out for your a child in your life? At Moulé, look way, way up. There you will find the Classic 55, an old-fashioned metal pedal car, sitting on the top shelf, with a price tag of $495.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 9, 2012 A1

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