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Holidays at the Aquarium

Shopping With the Fishes

Claire A.'s avatar


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Claire in gift store wearing penguin santa hat - popup

I’m one of those people. You know, the ones that can’t wait for radio DJs to start playing Christmas music. The one who jumps up and down when Santa goes by during the Christmas parade. I love all the holidays during the year, but the wintertime ones are among my favorites. Chanukah-themed latke party? I’m there. Christmas caroling? All about it. Winter solstice fest? LOVE IT. I also love picking out gifts for all my loved ones, but sometimes coming up with good ideas can be difficult.

This year, I’m trying to “go green” with my holiday shopping list and look for items that can help my loved ones reduce their carbon footprint or that make good use of recycled materials. Now, I don’t want to end up with a bunch of boring stuff just to fit my green theme—these gifts have got to be great! That’s where the Aquarium’s gift store, Pacific Collections, comes in.

Did you know that the Aquarium’s mission to instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems extends to our gift shop? Of course it does. Our Retail Director Jeff Spofford goes to great lengths to select products that reflect that mission. From educational books and toys to products made of recycled materials, the gifts at Pacific Collections are a goldmine for the holiday shopper.

One of my favorite things in the store right now is a line of toys made out of recycled milk jugs. These toys, which include a fire truck, recycling truck, dump truck, and a flat bed truck that carries a race car, are manufactured in California (talk about going local), and every pound of recycled plastic used in the process saves enough energy to power a TV set for three weeks. To date, the company has recycled more than 8 million milk jugs!

Another fun gift selection that doubles as a piece of Aquarium history is our new line of bags and wallets made of Aquarium banners from past marketing campaigns. These cool accessories are made in Long Beach out of materials that would otherwise be discarded, including canvas scraps from a local boat cover manufacturing company. The story here is one of serendipity. Membership Manager Jonathan Clough was saving up the banners (like the ones you see hanging on street light poles around Long Beach) because he hated to see them get thrown out. One day he got a call from a local alteration shop where the owner had the same idea for the banners and happened to have someone on staff with the skill to design and make the bags and wallets. The products in our store right now are made out of the banners we used to promote the sea otter opening in 2010. Stop by and check them out!

While you’re at it, you can pick up some ocean-themed holiday decorations. Many people are inspired by our sea life Christmas tree that stands in the Great Hall at this time of year. To do the same with your “fish-mas” tree at home, check out the ornaments in the gift shop. In years past, I’ve seen some adorable otter and clownfish decorations. Hanging sea stars all over your tree is an appropriate theme, too! You can also find holiday-themed greeting cards, stuffed animals, and apparel in Pacific Collections. I certainly had fun checking out the goods for you all.

To really immerse yourself in the Aquarium’s holiday atmosphere, be sure to visit us on December 3 and 4, when we celebrate the season with our Holiday Treats for the Animals festival. You’ll even get a sneak peek at our newest residents, the penguins! Hope to see you there.