Find Unique Holiday Gifts and Support the Austin Economy By Shopping Local
It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday shopping season. Commercials and ads are thrown in our faces from Halloween to Christmas, showing us things we don’t need at rock bottom prices. The TV tells us what the hottest gifts are, putting hardly any thought into the tradition of giving a thoughtful gift to a loved one.
This year, think about shopping local as you go down your gift list. When you shop local, your money is supporting not only the business owners and entrepreneurs in your city, it’s helping keep your city’s identity intact.
In a city like Austin, where locally owned shops abound, it can be easy and fun to forego the box stores at The Domain or out in the ‘burbs, instead finding one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list. Although some of these stores might not be able to offer the same deals that the big names do, a unique gift is a more special gift, bringing the idea of giving back to quality not quantity.
Gifts for the Home
Austin overflows with great gifts for the home sold by the many second-hand stores scattered around town. Finding just the right gift in a vintage store might take a bit of hunting, but that’s part of the fun.
One of my personal favorites for furniture and décor include Hog Wild Texas Vintage on North Loop, which stocks predominately home items from the 50s and 60s, as well as vinyl, vintage games, and clothes. Although the living room furniture is a bit pricey (although for the price, you often get full, matching sets that have been professionally cleaned), there is a host of gift options in the form of entertaining dishes, wall hangings, clocks, globes, and much more.
Another personal favorite is Get Back Vintage at Burnet and 49th Street. In addition to a great selection of living room décor and furniture (I once snagged a 1960s wood and leather sofa for $80!), you can also score a vintage Pendleton for the special fella at a reasonable price.
When it comes to local options for ladies clothing, Austin really shines. There are several boutiques on South Congress I occasionally hit up for both clothes and accessories. Parts & Labour is one of my favorites not only for their selection of T-shirts but also their selection of dresses and jewelry, as well as upcycled clothing. Just south of P&L is Creatures Boutique, where you can great tees, dresses and shoes that feature fun prints as well as playful and locally made jewelry.
For beauty products including soaps, gift baskets and massage oils, check out Austin Natural Soap. This company sells into other stores, like Whole Foods and Wheatsville and also operates a store called Casita Jabon on W. Annie Street.
Like I mentioned earlier, purchasing a vintage item for anyone on your list is sure to show that you’re unique and appreciate things that hold up. Men are particularly easy to shop vintage for because a well-made shirt never goes out of style. In addition to the previously mentioned Pendletons at Get Back Vintage, another option is combing the racks at Cream on North Loop. Although the store is packed pretty tight, you can find great stuff at cheap prices here.
If you’re looking for something a bit more modern for the fella in your life, check out Stag on South Congress. This store carries everything from bowties to aftershave, from watches to socks, and although it’s on the pricey side, these are high-quality items that are sure to last.
For Your Active Friend
Although it’s not solely an Austin establishment, Whole Earth Provisions Co. is a store that was founded in Austin and is still specific to Texas. From wool pajamas to tents, Whole Earth provides Austinites with everything they need to cope with – and enjoy – the elements. They also feature a selection of nature-inspired jewelry, shoes, active clothing and children’s toys.
RunTex, Austin’s running and jogging authority, is another great local option for the active person on your list. In this case, I’d recommend a gift card. Although it seems less personal, it’s actually a really unique present at RunTex, where the pros will test the way a customer walks, runs and stands to find the best athletic shoe for that person. With that kind of personal attention, a gift certificate is a great present.
For the Entertainment Junkie
It’s so easy now, when looking for books, movies or video games to simply head online to a certain website named after a rainforest and click away. Not only does this take away the pleasure and thoughtfulness a person should get and use, respectively, when choosing a gift, it also takes all of your money out of your community. The local impact of a purchase made online is a big fat zero.
On the other hand, taking a trip down to BookPeople, where you can peruse aisle upon aisle of new books, not only gets you out into your community, it also keeps your buck in local circulation. With two floors of books and a great discount area, there’s something for people with any interest. And for a less personal gift, maybe for a boss or coworker, they also have a great stationary section.
For the serious board game lover, check out Great Hall Games on North Lamar. This store features a variety of games, ranging from Settlers of Catan to Othello. For an especially nice gift, they also sell handmade chess sets as well as some beautiful backgammon sets that I’ve been eyeing for a year (hint..hint…).
Gamerz Videogame Exchange is a locally owned store that not only sells consoles and games but also purchases your used ones, which could be a good option if you’re low on cash for holiday shopping! The stores also rent out gaming rooms for parties – a great option for getting your friends together to blow off family stress this time of the year.
Waterloo Records is an obvious choice for a music lover in Austin. The store sells music in a variety of formats, as well as DVDs and Blu-Rays. In addition, they make it easy to find local music by highlighting Austin artists. You really can’t beat that – supporting a local band at a local store.
For the Kids
Ahh, the kids. It’s what the holidays are really about, right? I’m going to focus this section in on what kids really want … and you know it’s not a sweater or new shoes. Kids want toys and Austin has two of the best options for toy stores that I’ve ever seen.
Terra Toys on Anderson Lane is a paradise for kids of all ages. I’ve never entered this store and not seen something I wanted for myself. One of my favorite areas of this store is their children’s crafting section. They have ever kind of craft kit I ever wanted when I was a little girl. Terra Toys offers a great selection of unique toys and ones that will take you back a few years.
There’s also, of course, Toy Joy on Guadalupe. Although much smaller than Terra Toys, Toy Joy is packed to the gills with games, stuffed animals, and a ton of Rody toys, those weird inflatable horses you can ride. Toy Joy has enough weird kitsch that it’s also a great place to find novelty gifts and stocking stuffers. Stick-on mustaches, anyone?
Although this list isn’t meant to be all-encompassing, it hopefully shows that there are a ton of options for gift-buying right here in Austin. Austin isn’t “kept weird” by Gap or Neiman Marcus or Crate & Barrel. Austin is kept weird by the independent-minded folks who live, work, play, and own businesses here. Support Austin year-round by supporting local business.