While Placerville News Co. does have newspapers for sale and an entire wall dedicated to magazines, the store itself deals mostly in selling gift items.
Jeff Meader, son of owner Mary Meader, went through the inventory, highlighting the more popular items for the holiday season. He started off with new puzzles by famous artists, such as Edward Gorey and a puzzle of the Addams Family characters.
Next, he showed off new board games from Blue Orange Games.
“They made up new games and sold them,” Meader said. “Games like YamSlam and Spot It,” he said, pointing to the games.
Spot it, he said, is a game that comes in a tin with round cards filled with pictures of items. “There are a variety of games you can play” with the cards.
Another Blue Orange game he showed off was Gobblet, “tic tac toe on steroids,” Meader said. Played with nested wooden pieces a la Russian dolls, the game is a “tricky strategy game,” Meader said, trying to get four of your color’s pieces in a row while covering the other player’s pieces.
Also new to the store are wooden games. He pulled out a wooden Sudoku set. The board comes with tiles in black and red to differentiate between tiles to play with and tiles that make up the puzzle. There are also smaller tiles to crowd into a space “for thinking” while figuring out the puzzle, Meader said, taking the place of a pencil and eraser.
Meader had a collection of clocks of various designs for sale, including one that looked like a midsection of a plane. The body of the plane was the clock, with two engines attached to the wings. The engines had a barometer and temperature gauge on their faces. “That one’s my favorite,” Meader said.
The tour around the store stopped at a bookshelf next.
“We’ve got local history books, field guides and hiking guides,” Meader said.
Moving on, the store sells plastic models, such as the classic car model, alongside models such as an X-Wing from Star Wars. Similar to the plastic models are 3-D puzzles that become a model, some reminiscent of Transformers.
Toys from the Melissa and Doug company adorn one row of shelves, what Meader called “really well-made toys.” One was a box of wooden musical instruments, another a box of wooden food items that had been cut to look like a chef was in the middle of preparing a meal.
In a more decorative category, the store sells statues of “dragons, fairies, Indians, horses, cows, chickens” and more, Meader said. Also sold in nearby cases are jewelry, including some made by Meader himself from glass and incorporating marbles.
A collection of Fenton glass works is also for sale.
“Fenton went out of business,” Meader said. “Our collection spans six or seven decades, but it’s dwindling down quickly. They were one of the last companies making giftware in the U.S. They couldn’t compete with China.” The glass ranges in shades from purple and blue to green and pink.
Meader proudly showed off shirts the store has locally made by White Hawk Designs, the designs on the shirts themselves showing downtown Placerville and labeled “Hangtown.”
As for the holiday season itself, Meader said the store becomes “chaoic, fun and busy. There’s a lot of people looking.” He noted the parade and stagecoach rides draw people downtown, drawing in business.
The final days before Christmas see an uptick in people shopping.
“Always. The last day or two. Guys come in to buy things, they don’t care what it costs,” Meader said. “We offer free gift wrapping,” he said with a snap of his fingers, indicating a sale about to be closed. “‘Cool. I can put it under the tree, it looks like it’s ready,”‘ he said, mimicking what would go through a shopper’s head.
He said that, “especially during Christmas time, people get goofy. Goofier. There’s lines to get in (to the store),” he said.
Meader also noted that the store was once the only toy store in Placerville.
“We used to have a sign with Santa and reindeer on it,” with a toy brand name on it, he said. “It’s in the rafters somewhere at the warehouse. I’ve threatened to bring it back out during the holidays,” he joked.
Placerville News Co. is across from the Belltower at 409 Main St. in Placerville. Call 530-622-4510 for information about gift ideas.