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Touring Compass Rose

A selection of items that will make you smile

The South Sound boutique, with two locations, has both serious and whimsical items for sale. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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On a recent Friday morning in the Proctor district, a girlfriend and I headed into Compass Rose on 26th Ave. Next to an art gallery and Italian restaurant, the window displays caught my eye - a giant ice cream sandwich floatie, and a selection of cool back-to-school gear.

As I imagined how awesome it would be to show up at the lake with an inflatable ice cream sandwich, I entered the store and began my browse, which started with a lean to the right, towards women's bags, jackets and clothing. I mentally began my Christmas wish list.

Around the perimeter, and weaved throughout the shop, are a variety of knick-knacks, gifts and fun things. Literally everywhere I looked, I found something I loved, and something every person I know would love. A bacon and potato chip candy bar for my hubs, tooth fairy pillows for the kids, a whimsical card for my bestie, and a wonderful-smelling candle for my aunt. My consensus: Compass Rose is a natural place to find presents, for all ages and tastes, plus they offer free wrapping.

In the middle of the shop, (which is 3,600 square feet and offers parking both in front and back), I peruse jewelry and hair clips, lunch boxes and notebooks. As I make my way to the back, I notice my friend is wrapped up in the cooking section - she was in her element, checking out a pineapple-patterned apron before moving to the Le Creuset cookware, and finally, the cookbooks.

"I love their selection," she says. "Especially the cookbooks - they have books on canning, pickling, everything."

Liz Van Dyke, Compass Rose's buyer for six years (while the Proctor location just turned two, Compass Rose in Olympia has been around for 17 years), comments on their selection.

"We focus on items that are both fun and functional. A lot of items you will find in the store have an actual use, (making someone laugh counts as a purposeful use, right?) The items we sell will hopefully make you smile, as will the shopping experience here at Compass Rose," she says.

"That's our goal. Plain and simple. Having fun shopping for fun things," she continues. "We love the idea that someone can leave the store with a gift, be it ridiculous or timeless, and know that the end receiver will actually use it! We are not major fans of getting a gift for someone just because you feel like you have to get a gift for someone. ... We want to help pair our customers with gifts that resonate with them, and that in the end will also resonate with the person they are shopping for. Oh, and we love things that are local!"

My friend and I round up our trip with a few gifts for others and ourselves (she nabbed cute socks and a wine opener, I got that bacon and tater chocolate bar and a much-needed planner) and were super pleased with our shopping experience. We're already planning a trip back for some cute T-town tote bags.

COMPASS ROSE, Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sun., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 3815 N. 26th St., Tacoma, 253.759.0077; 416 Capitol Way S., Olympia, 360.236.0788,

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