Lakpahana is traditional gift shop across from the Colombo Racecourse. It's a bit cheaper than some of the alternatives if you dig and it still has that charming slightly crumbly and over-staffed feel.
If you're a tourist or a visiting expat, you usually make a pilgrimage to three places for gifts - Barefoot, Paradise Road and one of the Laks (Lakpahana, Lakmedura, Laksala, etc). Is used to be that all the Laks were pretty similar, but Laksala has gone way upscale with fancy branches everywhere. Lakpahana, despite a refurbishment, is one that's stayed much the same.
Painted elephants, Rs. 150 to 2,640
There's a few gifts which are classics. The painted elephants in various sizes, demon masks and secret boxes.
Masks, general range is Rs. 2,750 to 37,400 and up
If you get a foreign friend (or yourself) a demon mask, sarong and some elephants everyone is generally quite happy. The secret boxes are another favorite of mine.
Secret box, price forgotten. Above Rs. 1,000
These wooden boxes are shaped like books and, if you slide the spine up and back, open to reveal hidden compartments. None are an adequate size to hold Sri Lankan rupee notes unfolded, but they are fun for hiding stuff on a bookshelf.
Lakpahana also has a good range of sarongs (Rs. 1,500 up), mumus (1,925 up) and other batiky items. Sarees start at Rs. 4,500 and they also have pillow-cases for Rs. 900 and up. They also have some cheap items if you dig.
Oh, and they have a room with a decent collection of traditional silver jewelry. Pendants for around Rs. 2,000, necklaces for around 7,000 upwards, etc.
Lakpahana is right in the middle of Colombo and yet easy to miss. It's across from the newly refurbished Colombo Racecourse and has a good amount of parking and a lot of space. It's still a bit hidden and it was closed sometime ago, so it's easy to miss. But it's there.
The space itself is very big, bright and easy to browse.
If you go into the courtyard of sorts (just ask where the food is) there's a selection of traditional sweetmeats, cashew nuts, lamprais, etc. They're a good place for Avurudu orders.
The people working here are very sweet, and there's a lot of them. The only quirk is that when you buy something you get a receipt which has to pass through like four hands before you actually get your goods, but that's the old-school style.
Lakpahana is still a classic for traditional gifts (sarongs, demon masks, painted elephants). It's a central location and not too over-priced, especially if you dig.