Best Places For Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts In The South Bay

January 5, 2013 5:00 AM

Valentine’s Day (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/Getty Images)

Candy is dandy and flowers have powers, but you’re no ordinary humdrum Valentine. So why not try something more original this year? Here are a few places to look in the South Bay for a less obvious Valentine’s Day gift.

Thanh 39
3027 Senter Road
San Jose, CA 95111
(408) 629-0353

Thanh 39 began its life in South Vietnam many years ago, then emigrated to San Jose with its owner who passed the business down to a second generation. In Vietnamese, Thanh means simple and elegant and 39 is a lucky number. Thanh 39 might be translated as “elegant gifts that bring good luck and happiness.” Thanh 39 specializes in beautiful caligraphic engravings on a huge range of objects from plaques to picture frames to key chains or coffee mugs. The prices are reasonable and the objects will last for generations. And who doesn’t appreciate good luck?

Petroglyph Ceramic Lounge
125 Walnut Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 458-4278

At Petroglyph Ceramic Lounge, the store provides unpainted pottery and you provide the personalized decoration and artistic talent. After you purchase a piece of unfinished pottery, Petroglyph will supply all the paints and supplies you need to create your masterpiece. The staff will coach you on various techniques and explain all the various tools. When ready, your piece will be fired professionally in the onsite kiln for a polished result. Just remember, it takes two days to complete the process once you’ve made your piece, so you’ll have to plan ahead. Or you can make it a Valentine’s day date and create a piece together. In addition to its flagship Santa Cruz store, Petroglyph has other South Bay satellite stores in Los Gatos and Willow Glen.

Related: Best Places For Facials In South Bay

Pierre Silber
2735 Scott Blvd.
Santa Clara, CA 95050
(408) 844-9380

If you want to go a bit naughty, Pierre Silber has the goods. This factory outlet-type showroom specializes in sexy costumes, from silky lingerie to thigh-high leather boots and everything you can imagine in between. It also provides sexy character costumes for both guys and gals. Get jolly as a sexy pirate or be a seductive Rapunzel in the tower. The many possibilities will certainly spark your imagination. To check out the wares, you select from a catalog, specify a size and the clerk will bring you the outfit to examine (or try on). Have fun!

Kogura Company
231 Jackson St.
San Jose, CA 95112
(498) 294-3184

Kogura Company is a mainstay of San Jose’s Japantown. It is famous for its huge variety of products at very reasonable prices. You can find everything from clothing to housewares to all sorts of decorations. There are many possibilities for unusual Valentine’s Day gifts. How about a beautifully crafted traditional geisha comb or a classically stylish Japanese fan? This elegant, old fashioned import emporium is one of the last (and reputedly best) of its kind.

Related: Best Places To Make Your Own Perfume In South Bay

Nature Gallery
296 State St.
Los Altos, CA 94022
(650) 327-8700

Where else are you going to find four-foot amethyst eggs or perhaps a jade chess set? Rocks are forever, and at Nature Gallery, rocks and gems are incorporated into almost any kind of decoration you can think of. If you are looking for unusual jewelry, this is the place. Owner Carol Garsten designs her own original line, as well as offers lines by a large selection of well-known designers. Items at this unusual store range from inexpensive but beautiful and unusual fossils (less than $5) to high-end, one-of-a-kind museum-quality gemstones and jewelry.

Charles Kruger is well known in the Bay area as “The Storming Bohemian” ever since he entered the Bay Area cultural scene in the summer of 2009, attending 90 cultural events in 90 days and blogging about it. This project was successful enough to warrant a mention in The New York Times. His coverage of Bay ara theatre can be found at

Watch & Listen LIVE