The solution to shipping delays? Shopping in person.
The notion of pandemic-induced shipping delays is unfortunately still commonplace in the narrative around holiday shopping this year. And while in theory, we will all be purchasing our gifts way in advance, reality's version of ourselves is not often so punctual. One method to circumvent said challenges is to physically walk into a brick-and-mortar store. This trade comes with more-than-the-obvious benefit—the skill set of many local shops is rooted in a curated store edit. In other words, these owners and buyers have combed through the market to find the best items so that you don't have to. And when it comes to gift-giving, what could be better?
So, we contacted a few of our favorite creatives peppered throughout the U.S. to share their favorite local haunts. Not only do they know where to go, many actually have relationships with the proprietors as they engage with the offerings on a regular basis. Dishing all the intel, they'll tell you who to ask for, what to look for, and in one case, where to grab cocktails beforehand. Continue scrolling to discover where to find the most unique gift options across all the major cities.
Stop 1: Cabana Canary
"This is my hidden gem—the destination when I'm shopping for myself in particular. Owner Merry Voss shares my love of emerging designers and has an impeccable eye. Her buy is equal parts classic and artful quirk, which makes it very, very dangerous. Consider yourself fully warned. On my last stop, I picked up this gorgeously hued Huishan Zhang vest. It's perfect for the holiday season because it's festive-feeling but not too obvious, and I'll be able to style it with so many other looks in my wardrobe. When you come, tell them Taylor sent you! Everyone on Voss's team is knowledgeable, but ask for Molly if you can. She is as delightful as the perfectly sweetened (but not too sweet) tea you'll sip while shopping."
Stop 2: Commerce Goods & Supply
"When visiting Dallas, people want a little of that local spirit but not in a way that feels costume-y. I love this shop downtown because it has a cool West Texas vibe with lots of artisanal pieces. It's my one-stop shop for all things gifting. Tabletop trinkets, great ideas for the hard-to-gift guys in your life, unique baby gifts—they've thought of everything."
Stop 3: Frame
"Here's my secret to shopping for the man in your life. Shop for yourself, buy it in his size, and borrow it later. It's a win-win. The oversize boyfriend look is big right now, but I've always been a fan of the trend. Oh, and before you head to the store, let's get one thing straight: The main reason I shop in this store is Logan. She is the most badass sales gal in town, with tricks up her sleeve and hidden gems in the back. Pro tip: Don't down a Mambo Taxi at Mi Cocina across the way before you go shopping—or do?!"
Stop 1: Stripe
"I've been going to Stripe for years to find well-priced ceramics and other hidden treasures in this vintage, mid-century modern gallery."
Stop 2: Mrs. Mandolin
"My dear friend Anastasia has curated this shop so perfectly to find gifts in all price ranges from cute necklaces to the chicest tunics if you're headed to the beach for the holidays. Also, I can't forget the best sweets in the bakery!"
Stop 3: Le Labo at Bal Harbour Shops
"Bal Harbour Shops is so festive during the holidays. Obviously, there is a shop for everyone, but I love getting the Le Labo candles with personalized messages printed on them for my friends and family."
Washington D.C., According to Chela Mitchell
Contemporary Art Adviser
Stop 1: Debbie Asrate of Nina Debrework
"Deb Asrate is the D.C.-based jewelry designer behind Nina Debrework. The line is named after her mother and grandmother who fostered her love for jewelry when she was young. You have to know someone who knows someone to get to Deb! She makes these gorgeous, bespoke pieces that have a subtle edge to them. She also works with clients to transform old, broken, or outdated jewelry into something new and special. Shoot Deb a DM on her Instagram page to view available pieces to order or to schedule a remake consultation."
Stop 2: Bitter Grace
"I stumbled upon Bitter Grace on an ice cream run in my neighborhood with my daughter last summer. It was this beautiful, inviting space. We walked in and were greeted with so much enthusiasm. The owner, Anne Marie Johnson, is such a kind spirit, but don't get it twisted—she's a boss. Her commitment to her business is truly an inspiration to me. Bitter Grace prides itself on sourcing brands with sustainability in mind. They have exquisite cashmere pieces, crystals, accessories, books, and art. My favorite thing to gift friends is the fragrant candles made on-site at the store."
Stop 3: Somewhere
"I'm in love with menswear. I always have been, so it was natural to feel drawn to all the carefully curated pieces at Somewhere. My husband, daughter, and I pop in from time to time to see what has arrived. Before I get started, I have to grab an iced matcha latte with lavender syrup inside the cafe. I get them year-round, but they hit different on a hot summer day! They carry brands I love like Rhude, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, and a true D.C. staple: New Balance. I think the faux-fur Suicoke slides are the perfect gift for the dopest person on your shopping list. A gift card could also work for any coffee- or tea-lovers in your crew."
Los Angeles, According to Tara Swennen
Celebrity Wardrobe Stylist
Stop 1: Donut Friend
"These are hands-down the best donuts I have ever had in my entire life. To boot, they are all vegan! They have multiple locations and are worth the trek from anywhere in Los Angeles. The X-ray speculoos and compassion fruit are my top recommendations!"
Stop 2: Decades
"For amazing upscale vintage, Cameron has always known how to curate the best picks in town! He has everything from unique Chanel and Saint Laurent to one-of-a-kind accessories and jewelry."
Stop 3: Rose Bowl Flea Market
"Hundreds of vendors bring some of the most unique knickknacks and furniture from around the California area. It's also a wonderfully fun morning experience. Make sure to get there as early as possible as professionals tend to pick over the best stuff by 9 AM!"
Chicago, According to Crystal Zapata
Graphic Designer & Artist
Stop 1: Tusk
"Undoubtedly my favorite store, Tusk offers an intentional and uniquely curated selection of clothing, objects, and accessories. Mary Eleanor, the owner (and my good friend), has exquisite taste and is extremely invested in providing a space for artists to share their work. Tusk has a lot of integrity and is truly a community hub, often hosting art shows, readings, and musical performances in addition to offering special treasures. There are countless special objects that would make wonderful gifts. Otherwise, a visit to Tusk is just always a pleasure. I stop by almost every weekend!"
Stop 2: Rainbow Wines
"Rainbow Wines, another project with heart, has a beautifully curated selection of natural wines and specialty food items. They also have a thoughtful blog offering recipes, pairings, and information on some of the wine producers they carry in their shop."
Stop 3: Buddy
"Buddy carries work by Chicago-based artists and small manufacturers–ceramics, jewelry, clothing, artist objects, prints—they have it all. They also carry vinyl from labels like Numero Group and International Anthem. It's the perfect place to find a gift for an art- and music-lover. It's located in the Chicago Cultural Center, which is a great destination to look at art and enjoy the building and mosaic work."
Stop 4: Field and Florist
"A flower shop and boutique with two locations: Wicker Park, which offers a beautiful selection of candles, homewares, and, of course, flowers. The other is in the Monadnock Building that carries unique fragrances. My favorite candle is from F+F—it smells like sweet earth after a rainfall."
Stop 5: Ramona's
"Ramona's sells a curated selection of vintage furniture and homewares. Their pieces exude warmth! They offer smaller items like candle holders, glassware, and vessels that are perfect for gifting."
Stop 1: Oroboro
"For the most eclectic curation of home and fashion, this is the go-to spot for chic and elegant gifts."
Stop 2: Kith Kids
"Cool and fun for the family—I love this spot for sneakers, casual clothes for the kids, and gifts for all the mamas."
Stop 3: Foundrae
"For a beautiful shopping experience in Tribeca, I delight in trinkets and medallions and long for the most coveted personalized heart charm. Founder Beth Bugdaycay is one of the most beautiful brand builders, inside and out."
Philadelphia, According to Shannon Maldonado
Founder & Creative Director, Yowie
Stop 1: Omoi Zakka Shop
"Sitting in the heart of Old City, one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city sits Omoi Zakka, a colorful shop featuring some of the best stationery, accessories, and home products. I always lust over their selection of small accessories and hard-to-find-in-Philly magazines like Popeye from Japan!"
Stop 2: Totem Brand
"Totem stretches across two storefronts with one speaking to my crunchier side (think thick socks and Patagonia swim trunks) and the other featuring high-fashion pieces from some of the coolest international brands like Beams, Kapital, Engineered Garments, and more! I've been lusting over many of the new knitwear pieces and Kapital accessories."
Stop 3: Rennes
"Rennes is a beautiful, sun-drenched shop that is so inspiring in its vision. Founder Julia has such a distinct eye for lush fabric, sweeping silhouettes, and the little details that make every piece at Rennes so covetable."
Photo: Courtesy of Instagram/@mrsmandolin
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