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Gambling on Gift Cards 

You can be creative, and not too skittish, in giving paper or plastic

click to enlarge You can pick up one of these with your Slurpee. And then commit to shopping earlier next year.
  • You can pick up one of these with your Slurpee. And then commit to shopping earlier next year.
In November, when Circuit City announced it was closing 150-plus stores, including one on North Academy Boulevard, the news faded into the cacophony of economic catastrophe. With banks and carmakers turning up broke, few tears and fears get directed toward World of Warcraft sellers.

But the news did highlight the uncertainty gripping the retail marketplace, which makes one stand-by the gift certificate a bit of a holiday gamble. Listen to Charles Irwin, owner of The Attic "curiosity shop" in Old Colorado City someone who's actually optimistic that he and other nearby merchants will have a strong year.

"We need to be careful," he says. "Even the big chains are closing up. I think it would be pertinent to worry about that anywhere."

That said, for many of us, gift cards will be gambles worth taking. The flexibility that you give along with a piece of paper or plastic, and the ability to pick it up at the last minute, make for a winning tandem.

Here are a few relatively safe but still inspired options.

Local little-knowns

If you want to warm your recipient from the inside out, give a gift certificate to The Wine Store (523 S. Cascade Ave., 477-6907) or another spirits outlet. Or, if your giftee prefers his or her liquor in a more social setting, try "FAC Bucks" offered at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (30 W. Dale St., csfineartscenter.org). Offered in $10 increments, they're good at Caf 36, as well as the SaGaJi Theatre and the gallery itself.

If your giftee is more into art on his or her own body, swing by your favorite tattoo parlor and pick up a gift certificate good for ink or piercings.

For a treat that could bring a recipient anything from Etta James to James and the Giant Peach, hit up the Pikes Peak Center (190 S. Cascade Ave., pikespeakcenter.org).

One-stop shops

Giftcertificates.com sells certificates to big-box retailers such as AMC Theatres, Borders, Dillard's and Dave and Buster's. It also offers an encompass-all SuperCertificate, redeemable for a gift certificate of the recipient's choosing. Fees range from $1 to $4, and e-mailed gift cards are available.

Overstock.com has gained considerable popularity in the last few years, specializing in liquidated items. The Web site's an online shopping mall, with iPods, jewelry, tools, furniture and virtually anything else you can think of. Overstock gift cards are sent to the recipient via snail mail.

And household names like amazon.com and eBay.com sell gift certificates that can be printed or emailed to the lucky recipient immediately.

Very last-minute

E-mailed gift cards can be purchased and sent on the same day. But if you're looking for something more tangible, your best (and last) bet may be hitting up a grocery or convenience store.

Local Walgreens stores will be open on the 25th, and most King Soopers locations will be open (call for individual store hours). Both stores carry some of the more popular gift certificates, to stores like Starbucks, Best Buy, Borders and other big-name retailers.

Blockbuster outlets nationwide are open on Christmas Day, and they too sell gift certificates. Better yet, local theaters including Kimball's Twin Peak (115 E. Pikes Peak Ave., kimballstwinpeak.com) will sell gift certificates and show movies on Christmas.

Last, and definitely least, there's always your neighborhood 7-Eleven or convenience store. Because nothing says "Happy Holidays!" like a surprise Slurpee.

scene@csindy.com

  • For many of us, gift cards will be gambles worth taking.

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