Think that if you’ve seen one souvenir shop, you’ve seen them all? Wrong, wrong, wrong. There is no other gift shop like the Bonanza Gift Shop, which declares itself the “World’s Largest Gift Shop. I am pretty sure that claim is not quite accurate, but at 40,000+ square feet, it is definitely in the running. At any rate, this store, located at the corner of Sahara and Las Vegas Boulevard, is the biggest purveyor of Las Vegas items I’ve seen in a town chock full of such kitsch.
And when it comes to Vegas souvenirs, apparently bigger is better. I couldn’t stop grinning the whole time I wondered through the place. Why? If you love Vegas, and I do, you can’t but feel happy surrounded by all of its symbols.
My favorite Vegas icon, the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, is always a popular item in gift shops. But I saw more versions here that I could possibly imagine. As in every other gift store in town, you can get the light- up replica here, along with coffee mugs, T-shirts, magnets, or key chains plastered with the diamond-shaped image. But at Bonanza, you can also get that sign on beach towels, doormats (I couldn’t resist that one), jewelry, ash trays, clocks, shot glasses, trays, mouse pads, golf balls, golf towels, poker chops, plates, potholders, dish towels, Christmas ornaments, jigsaw puzzles, lunch boxes and even baseballs. And if the original’s bright red, blue and yellow are not quite your colors, then try the sophisticated black and white versions.
Don’t like the Welcome sign? Try any of the above with poker chips, instead. Other Vegas icons available: dice, slot machines, CSI, strippers, and of course, Elvis. Just keep your hands off the Elvis mannequin available for photos.
Not sure you want to remind the folks back home that you’ve were having a rip roaring good time here? Well, Bonanza has you covered, too. Walk right past the stripper and gambling themed postcards and key chains, and go for some traditional “Old West” souvenirs. Jackalope and rattlesnake items cover a few tables, while turquoise jewelry occupies several large glass cases. Live cacti, arrowheads, gecko wall art, geodes, and a collection semi-previous gemstones round out the Southwestern kitsch.
For those seeking even more generic souvenirs, there are even those great contributions to travel kitsch of the Native Americans – moccasins. (Is there any part of this country in which gift shops do not offer Minnetonka footwear?) Bonanza goes one step farther than most shops, though. Not content with the usual selection of a half dozen moccasins, Bonanza offers a room full of them, plus is surprisingly large assortment of Minnetonka sandals, as well.
Toys and gag gifts also have a lot of floor and shelf space. The insulting parrot was pretty good, but nothing could hold a candle to the bacon-themed items. Bacon mint, anyone?
This being Vegas, Bonanza caters to those with naughtier minds, as well. Two entire rooms (with an entrance separate from the both the main souvenir shop and the liquor and snack food areas) are devoted to what, aside from a few vibrators and dildos, is mostly a rather mild selection of risqué items. Nothing here is likely to make the Museum of Erotic Heritage sit up and take notice, but there are things to bring a smile to the most jaded lips. Many are clearly intended for bachelor and bachelorette parties, such as barware that allow guests to do penis or breast shooters, or the penis adorned wedding veil. But the possibly urgent needs of lustful travelers are also fulfilled, as there is a large selection of condoms, lubricants, flirty lingerie, and assorted over-the-counter “pleasure enhancers.” There is even an over-the-door cuff set for the bondage aficionado on the go.
Bonanza has been selling souvenirs on the Strip since 1980. The quality of the items is in keeping with that purpose. After all, this merchandise isn’t meant to become family heirlooms. But it will bring smiles to recipients who know they were remembered even in the midst of their loved one’s partying, or to the visitor for whom it evokes memories of that fabulous trip to Sin City.
Not to mention, to locals like me, who love to see this city celebrated.