Shopping

Souvenir Sunday: Holiday shopping at airports

Getting ready to do some holiday shopping? Don’t forget airport shops, which often offer “street pricing.”  That means products purchased at airport shops cost no more than they do in town.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has once again put together a handy online Holiday Catalog to help travelers plan their airport shopping. Lots of Arizona-themed and locally-made items are listed in the catalog.  And, yes, cactus plants are regularly packed for travel.

In the Northwest, Oregon’s Portland International Airport (PDX) is a popular shopping destination for travelers and locals alike.

I head there from Seattle each year not only because Oregon have no sales tax, but PDX has a pre-security shopping area featuring branches of many popular local stores.

Here’s a selection of items that recently showed up in a PDX gift box I received. Included: shortbread cookies from Flying Elephants Delicatessen, a tote bag from Powell’s Books, a CD compilation of music by Portland-based artists, a whiskey sampling from House Spirits Distillery and a scarf, mug and socks from the Pendleton Woolen Mills. (Thank-you, PDX!)

 

During the holidays, not only do many airport shops have their most popular gifts wrapped and ready to go, many airports offer free gift wrapping for unwrapped items you may have tucked in your carry-on.

Heading to an airport during this holiday season? If you see something cool, unusual and locally-themed that you think would make a great gift, please snap a photo and send it along. If your item is featured on StuckatTheAirport.com, we’ll send you a travel-themed gift.

Back to school shopping – at the airport

Hammer Made at MSP Airport

Back-to-school sales are starting and now might be a good time to send out the reminder that airports can be great places to take advantage of tax-free shopping.

Minnesota and Pennsylvania don’t charge sales tax on clothing or shoes – so look for shops in the mall-like shopping areas of both Minneapolis-St. Paul International and Pittsburgh International Airports.

Ecco shoes at PIT Airport

And don’t forget the super-charming pre-security shopping street at Portland International Airport.  There no sales tax on anything in Oregon and while at the airport for a meeting last week I rushed through the shops just looking and somehow came away with a whole new wardrobe.

 

 

Exchange leftover currency for Bitcoin at Schiphol Airport

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport says it is the first European airport to install Bitcoin ATMS that allow passengers to exchange leftover euros for Bitcoin or Ethereum.

The kiosks – located in Arrival Hall 2 and in the corridor to Departure Halls 1 and 2 – are on site for a six month trial and are part of the airport’s efforts to always be looking for ways to innovate and provide “optium” service to passengers, Tanja Dik, Schiphol’s director of Consumer Products & Services said in a statement, “With the Bitcoin ATM, we hope to provide a useful service to passengers by allowing them to easily exchange ‘local’ euros for the ‘global’ cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum. That can be beneficial if, for instance, it’s not possible to spend euros in their home country.”

 

Would you use this machine to get rid of euros or use them instead to buy something fun in Schiphol shops selling cheese, tulip bulbs and other fun souvenirs of your visit?

Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l will upgrade Terminal 3

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is going give its Terminal 3 a makeover, with lots of local dining options and fresh new shops. All should be open by 2010.

In addition to a branch of Shake Shack, locally-themed dining venues coming from both airport dining operators Host International and SSP American in the mix will include:

  • The Parlor– Wood oven pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, salads and more;
  • Mustache Pretzel – Gourmet pretzels, dips and drinks.
  • Postino – bruschetta boards, salads, sandwiches, beer, wine and more.
  • Joyride Taco House –  Tacos, burritos, craft cocktails and more.
  • Tru Burger Co. –Specialty burgers from a local favorite.
  • Original ChopShop – Salads, protein bowls, sandwiches, fresh juices and more.
  • Uberrito Fresh Mex –Burritos, tacos, and more are available at this fresh-Mexican eatery.
  • Phoenix Ale Brewery Central Kitchen – Locally-brewed beer makes,, pub fare, salads, craft beer and more.
  • Leoni’s Focaccia – Sandwiches made with cured Italian meats, focaccia bread, and a variety of cheeses.
  • Ajo Al’s Mexican Café – An Arizona original.
  • Crave Grounds – Fresh donuts with locally-roasted coffees and specialty teas.
  • The Tavern – From Phoenix Chef Mark Tarbell. Salads, sandwiches, burgers, and a variety of entrees.
  • Christopher’s Crush – From James Beard award winner Chef Gross, a local restaurant with a variety of pizzas, salads, entrees, meats and cheeses and more.

Some of the locally-themed retail concepts on the way include:

  • Discover Arizona– Arizona-themed gifts, souvenirs, books and more.
  • Indigenous/Mosaic – Combines two popular Sky Harbor stores. Ceramics, jewelry, artwork, collectibles.
  • Lolli and Pops – Candies, edible items and more.
  •  Travel Outfitters – Luggage and travel accessories from a local store that also has locations in Chandler and Scottsdale.

Some of these new outlets will open in late 2018/early 2019 as part of the Terminal’s new South Concourse. The rest should open when in 2020 when the north concourse renovation is finished. More details here.

 

A rare and much-loved amenity at Raleigh=Durham International Airport is closing this week after serving passengers for almost 34 years.

2nd ed. Booksellers – a used bookstore located post-security at RDU – is closing it doors on December 31 after 33 and half years at the airport.

“It is quite sad to see it go, but it is time to retire as I have arthritis issues that strongly recommend that I stop lifting and toting boxes of books,” owner Walter High, who operates the store with his wife Karen, wrote on the store’s Facebook page. “We will miss our faithful customers and RDU will lose one of its most unique aspects. A used bookstore behind security at the airport doesn’t happen anywhere else in the US that we know of.Thank you all for your support over the years!”

RDU’s used bookshop was a favorite with travelers and a rarity at an airport. Two other airports have bookstores (that I know of) that also sell used books: Renaissance Book Shop at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport and a branch of Powell’s Books (selling new and used books) at Portland International Airport.” But these are pre-security.