The Gift Shops That Keep On Giving
A visit to these indie gift shops, which feature impeccably curated stock from makers around the world, is a gift in itself.
One of the hazards of traveling around the state for a living is that my reporting often turns into shopping. I’m always on the lookout for well-curated shops to include in our Texas trip guides, so when I stumble upon a purveyor with a clear eye for distinctive goods and a passion for quality products—particularly those made in Texas and/or crafted by hand—my professional browsing inevitably gives way to personal spending.
With the holidays on the horizon, not to mention Small Business Saturday coming up on November 26, I’ve been making plans to revisit a few of my favorites, both in person and online. Here’s my short list of the independently owned, beautifully arranged shops across Texas that are worth patronizing.
AUSTIN // Take Heart
Most of the items and objects selected for this East Austin gift shop incorporate elements of the natural world (think woods, gemstones, textiles), a sense of humor, and fastidious craftsmanship.
Who’s behind it: Nina Gordon, a former social worker and longtime East Austin resident with an eye for Japanese design.
What you’re buying: Handwoven indigo scarves, Japanese incense houses, LBK Studio Sargasso bud vases.
My last purchase: A bundle of palo santo sticks, a whimsical wooden duck call, and a 2017 moon calendar.
DALLAS // We Are 1976
Located in Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts neighborhood, this gift shop doubles as a graphic design and letterpress studio, which means cool paper goods abound and DIY workshops (letterpress stationery, modern calligraphy) are always on the calendar.
Who’s behind it: Design geeks and tastemakers Vynsie Law, Derek Law, and Jully Law (two were born in, yes, 1976).
What you’re buying: Hand-carved wooden animal figurines from Japan, Hechizo ceramic and leather jewelry, and a $20 “We Are Dallas” letterpress print (a full 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Assist the Officer Foundation)
On my wish list: Bespoke personalized stationery.
DENTON // The Dime Store
Spawned from an Etsy store, this brick and mortar retail space is stocked with the creations of local makers, who also run the store.
Who’s behind it: Co-founders Shelley Christner and Rachel Aughtry and the collective of forty-plus artists and artisans who make up the Denton Independent Maker Exchange.
What you’re buying: Anything and everything handmade, from LM Organics Restless Leg Relief magnesium oil spray and Owynn duffel bags to Shawna Smyth Studio pins and Freckled Pottery vases.
On my wish list: Savvie Studio wooden cactus earrings.
HEMPHILL // Lonesome Pine Mercantile
This East Texas showroom is regularly stocked with vintage finds from the owner’s picking sprees as well as new merch from makers around the state.
Who’s behind it: Hemphill native Samuel Melton, who returned to his hometown after stints in Dallas and Brooklyn to open his first shop and help kickstart a downtown renaissance.
What you’re buying: Vintage Turkish rugs, lovingly restored antique furniture, Hemlock & Heather Texas-shaped wall hangings, and Newton Supply Co. canvas pouches.
My last purchase: A Thro Studio mug made in Erica Williams’s workshop next door.
HOUSTON // Space Montrose
More than 170 artists and crafters—half of whom are from Texas—are represented in this Montrose gem, which is sandwiched between Common Bond and Agora.
Who’s behind it: Husband-wife duo Carlos and Leila Peraza, both former hospice workers who launched the shop to nurture their creative sides.
What you’re buying: A hand-knit Linkster Love Star Wars beanie, a cheeky greeting card, a handmade Billy Bib trimmed in cotton pom-pom lace, and a portrait of Frida Kahlo (or of a dog in a suit) by Adriana Whitney.
On my wish list: A Dolly Parton screenprint T-shirt by Fine Southern Gentlemen.
JOHNSON CITY // Stidham Outfitters
There aren’t too many places you can browse for home goods, gifts, and apparel while watching a leather craftsman tooling away in his workshop, but Stidham Outfitters delivers such a space.
Who’s behind it: Seth Stidham and Jasmin Arpin, who moved to town in 2011 and have shop-owning in their blood (Seth’s a fourth-generation shop owner and maker).
What you’re buying: Richard Schmidt turquoise jewelry, linen cocktail napkins embroidered with cacti, True Grit fuzzy sweaters, and, of course, Seth’s custom tooled belts, gun holsters, wallets, and more.
On my wish list: A handmade sterling silver bandana slide.
PARIS // Green Boutique
This Northeast Texas mini emporium resembles a global bazaar with its whimsical, practical, and fair-trade wares.
Who’s behind it: Kari Daniel, who has a heart for eco-friendly products and an eye for eye-catching gifts (she also just opened the neighboring Paris Yoga Project).
What you’re buying: Matr Boomie Stacking Critters blocks from India, bohemian Elephant Pants (portions of sales go to the International Elephant Foundation), Schmidt’s natural deodorant, and mango wood bowls.
My last purchase: An armful of colorful bangles and a “galimoto” (a funny little wire push-toy with a bicycling man), all handmade in Africa.
ROUND TOP // Lark
“Spirited giving” is the fitting mantra behind this small but mighty gift shop, which stocks irresistible finds both old and new.
Who’s behind it: Barbara Samuelson and Russell Smith, artists in their own right who are known for their handcrafted delicate modern heirlooms through Scattered Light jewelry.
What you’re buying: Tatine candles, artisanal chocolates, oilskin journals, natural water buffalo combs, recycled newsprint pencils, and an eclectic library of books and specialty magazines.
On my wish list: Whatever new set of vintage cocktail glasses they happen to have in stock.
SAN ANTONIO // The Tiny Finch
Tucked into the popular Pearl complex is this self-described “lifestyle store,” which prides itself on bringing the best of what the world’s makers have to offer back to the Alamo City.
Who’s behind it: Courtney Beauchamp, who has a sophisticated knack for finding things that will elevate your mood and your home.
What you’re buying: Hand-stamped German silver jewelry boxes, Le Labo candles, bone bowls from South Africa, and little girl’s dresses by Frankie & Fern.
On my wish list: A Dawson+Hellman caftan.
These are but a few of the great gift shops Texas has to offer. Let me know what your favorites are in the comments!