'TIS THE SEASON... for specialty shops of an eerie or whimsical or fictional nature to pop up hither and yon. October is all about high fantasy and dressing up and storybook characters, and few characters have as much play on Oct. 31, or, truly, throughout the year, as Alice. Venture to any comic book-focused convention and you're bound to see a certain damsel rocking a blue frock and a black-bow headband, possibly carrying bottles that read "eat me" and "drink me" or a stuffed Chesire Cat. Lewis Carroll's timeless character, who has been celebrated and reinterpreted countless times, from the Walt Disney Company's 1951 film to the American McGee series, is a figure who has cachet all year long, and not just come Halloween. But if October has you in a wonderland-ish frame of mind, and a toodle through a town rife with ye olde cottages -- and a birthday on Oct. 31, no less -- tempts you, then, dear Alice aficionados, there is a place for you. It's The White Rabbit, an all-Alice in Wonderland store that's open throughout the year in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
TEA TOWELS, T-SHIRTS, TOYS: While finding a shop -- or shoppe, if you want to be a true Anglophile about it -- that sells a couple of products themed to the 19th-century children's classic is not too difficult, finding a shop -- er, shoppe -- that's fully about this fantastical gem would challenge even the biggest Caterpillar buff. But Querida King's upper nook of an Alice-y nest, located on the Court of the Golden Bough, only carries Alice-centered chess sets and dolls and jewelry and ornaments and such. Are there clocks? Yes. Are there cups? For sure. Are there cards? All sorts. It only makes one wish that shops existed for all fictional properties that have captured our book-loving imaginations through the ages.
WELL, WAIT, there's more. Whimsic Alley in Los Angeles, while not fully devoted to the "Harry Potter" books, is as Potter-esque as all get-out, complete with a huge selection of wands and robes. "Doctor Who" and "Downton Abbey" share store space with the wizard, though, so it isn't wholly Harry. But a little upstairs garret on the Court of the Golden Bough in Carmel-by-the-Sea is just about a single sweet character, her odd and awesome friends, and Wonderland. Need Halloween inspiration, or oomph for your next convention costume, or simply time in one of the Wonderlandiest places in the Golden State, save the Mad Hatter's Tea Party at Disneyland? Hop for The White Rabbit.