The biggest shopping season of the year is upon us. And with social distancing still important, it’s easier than ever to default to big-box online shopping.
While we don’t begrudge Amazon its success, we don’t want to forget about all the wonderful independent stores in our own backyard! This Christmas, we’re trying to spread the love to some of our favorite Austin boutiques and shop local.
In this Austin shopping guide, we’re sharing 10 totally Austin places to get gifts for all the people in your life.
Since 1977, Allen’s Boots has been delighting visitors to Austin’s South Congress neighborhood. This cowboy boot emporium has practical footwear for grizzled cow hands and adorable booties for babies, and everyone in between. Plus, they have an extensive collection of hats, belts, and clothing.
Shop online or in-store for the boot lover in your life.
Room Service Vintage
What do you get for the person who has everything? How about something they’ll never find anywhere else? Room Service Vintage on North Loop curates an eclectic collection of antique and heritage home furnishings, clothes, jewelry, toys, and more in their diverse store.
Room Service doesn’t do any online shopping, so you’ll have to pay them a visit to see what’s new. Follow their account on Instagram to get updated on new finds. If you see something you love, call them to place a two-hour hold. Then head to the store to lay claim to your prize!
Blue Genie Art Bazaar
No Austin gift guide can be complete without the Blue Genie Art Bazaar. Open every year from mid-November to Christmas Eve, the bazaar welcomes makers from all over Central Texas to peddle their goodies. Look for handmade jewelry, scented soaps, art, greeting cards, ceramics, blown glass, and many more gifts, all made by local artisans.
The bazaar is limiting capacity for safety and taking 2-hour reservations to prevent overcrowding. There’s an online shop component as well, so you can browse the virtual stalls from the comfort of your couch. Order online for in-store pickup or USPS delivery.
Callahan’s General Store
This may just be the farmers in us, but we love Callahan’s General Store in East Austin. Where else can you find fruit trees for your orchard, live chickens for the coop, cowboy boots for your feet, and a great selection of western-style decor, all in one place?
Check out their extensive collection of cast iron cookware, gardening books, enamelware, and more. Beware — if you venture into the barn area to the side of the store, you may go home with a baby chick or piglet that you never intended to buy.
East Austin Succulents
A plant always brightens up the home, but we weren’t all blessed with a green thumb. Succulents come in a huge variety of sizes and colors, and they’re pretty easy to care for. They’re lovely and low-maintenance gifts for the plant-challenged.
East Austin Succulents has an excellent selection of plants, but it’s also a joy to visit. It’s an organized jumble, with row after row of tiny cacti and larger arrangements to provide inspiration. They also have pots, planters, and crystals to sweeten the deal.
Hearth & Soul
With so many of us spending more time at home than ever before, there’s been a real push to beautify the space around us. This makes 2020 the year of the home decor gift.
If you’re looking for lovely things, look no further than Hearth & Soul in northwest Austin. A gorgeous selection of candleholders, vases, serving dishes, and throw pillows will brighten up the same old view from the couch.
They also have tasty kitchen goods like raw honey, gourmet olives, and some very fancy cocktail cherries. Make yourself a cocktail and enjoy.
Parts & Labour
If you’re looking for gifts made by Texas-based artists year ‘round, head over to Parts & Labour on South Congress. This consignment store sells apparel, art, jewelry, accessories, and pet goodies, all made by Texas creators. You can even bring your pup into the store.
Many of their goods have an Austin-slant, like grackle t-shirts and unique art of the city skyline. These unusual pieces let you share your love of the city in unexpected ways.
As of December 2020, the coronavirus has made the store’s hours a bit inconsistent, so call before you visit. You can also order online for in-store pickup.
Vinyl is back, hallelujah!
Well, in many circles, it never really left. But it’s regained popularity, which is great news for audiophiles everywhere!
North Loop’s Breakaway Records is offering both in-store and online shopping of their new and used vinyl. Classical, jazz, rock, funk — it’s all here. Plus speakers, turntables, and even tape decks, if that’s your thing.
The independent bookstore is still alive and well in Austin. BookPeople, on the corner of West 6th and Lamar, has been serving local readers since 1970. Browse the stacks to find something you’ve never heard of, or order online for delivery or curbside pickup.
This independent has an excellent selection, covering all the bases. Find something for the true crime addict in your life, an educational adventure for the kids, and all the newest best-sellers.
A holiday shopping guide can’t forget the kids! We have several great independent toy stores here in Austin, but the local favorite is probably Toy Joy. After poor sales in 2013, the owners were afraid they’d have to shut the long-term institution down for good. But new buyers snapped it up and turned it around.
Today, Toy Joy is located in the busy 2nd Street District where it’s stuffed full of games, dolls, plushies, puzzles, art supplies, and anything else a kid could want.
Why Shop Local?
Why should you bother with BookPeople when Amazon has nearly every book ever written? It’s a good question!
From an economic standpoint, shopping local keeps more of your purchase dollars in your community. Thriving small businesses are also better at creating well-paying jobs for your neighbors than major retail corporations.
A strong small business scene also strengthens the fabric of your community. Independent businesses are often charming and quirky. Unlike the big box stores that have to be all things to all people, the independents bring their own character and personality to the neighborhood.
Where would you rather visit — a town with one big box stores, or one with a town square full of mom and pop shops?
Independent stores need our support if they’re going to thrive. So this holiday, get a few of your gifts from small Austin businesses. Shop local, ya’ll!