Christmas is right around the corner, and that means it’s prime shopping season. We rounded up a mix of local shopping standbys and off-the-beaten-path boutiques carrying unique gifts that are sure to please.
As a child, Nina Gordon wanted to own a shop where she could sell her favorite things. And now she does just that with Take Heart, selling eco-friendly gifts including everything from ceramic mugs and teacups made in Japan to plush toys handmade with recycled fabric and organic wool stuffing. “I want items to be special that people are going to keep for a while,” Gordon says. A best-selling item is Greenair’s aromatherapy diffuser, a compact apparatus that fills rooms with a light mist. We also love local artisan Kathryn Davis’ whimsical felt mushroom ornaments. Pick one up before they’re all gone!
By George is a must for anyone looking to splurge on a sumptuous leather purse, well-made shoes and sunglasses that will hold up for a decade. The flagship location carries high-end design houses — think The Row and Lanvin — but it also sells quality clothing and accessories from lines that won’t break the bank, such as Isabel Marant. When it comes to the holidays, we love Rebecca Lankford’s jewelry. Her gold pave diamond “XO” charm necklaces would be the perfect gift for a sister, daughter, girlfriend or BFF. Pro tip: Employees will wrap your gifts with elegant paper and trimmings.
The secret’s out about JM Drygoods now that The New York Times featured its ceramic mezcal sippers on its Holiday Gift List. This colorful shop could double as an anthropological study of Mexican products, ranging from copal incense sticks to custom-made Acapulco chairs. Make sure to add the embroidered pillows from Chiapas and soft wool throws from Oaxaca to your holiday list.
Hurry, Purse & Clutch is closing its pop-up shop downtown on December 23. Jen Lewis supports women artisans around he world by curating the most fashionable bags she finds from countries in Central America, Africa and Asia and selling them Fair Trade. The purses — especially the Ikat ones — are lovely, but don’t overlook the lightweight, hand-loomed scarves from Cambodian and the block print Christmas stockings from Rajpur, India.
With its healthy rotation of seasonal toys and bric-a-brac, this just might be Central Texas’ best toy store. Walking in the store can be overwhelming. Luckily, Terra Toys published a guide of its Top Ten Toys for 2013, which includes the Giant Floor Piano we've been fantasizing about ever since watching Tom Hanks play “Chopsticks” in Big. It must be said, however, that we saw children more delighted about playing with the rainmakers (which didn’t make the official list) than any other toy in the shop.
When it comes to gifts for that special man in your life, Stag has you covered. This South Congress staple carries a balance of high- and low-end contemporary and classic clothing and accessories, as well as antiques, gifts and apothecary goods. Don’t be fooled by the name: they carry sundry items that appeal to both sexes. Ashlie Adams, a Stag employee, recommends these gift items this season: a scented soy candle by Patch NYC, adorned with a handsome illustration of a stag; a three-pack of Richer Poorer Inc. socks; and a copy of The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz.
One could easily lose track of time in Atown, a deceptively expansive shop reveling in all that is Austin culture and focusing on local designers. It’s a great place to pick up affordable lowbrow art, T-shirts, jewelry, cards and souvenirs celebrating this weird city. 'Tis the season for beautiful, one-of-a-kind glass ornaments made by Glass Blowing Austin, which would add a dash of sophistication to any Christmas tree. Also, we think the quirky, screenprinted ties by Victrola Design would make great stocking stuffers.