I read The Consumerist – daily. I know that Christmas Creep (the commercial phenomenon of merchants and retailers exploiting the commercialized status of Christmas by moving up the start of the holiday season) is bad. And it’s beginning earlier and earlier every year. And I also know that, with this blog entry, I am now part of the problem.
I’m just going to have to live with that shame, I guess, because I love the holiday season. And I totally love some of the products that downtown Austin retailers are offering right now that make great gifts. So….this week, I’m doing a 2nd Street District edition of a little segment I’m calling “These are a Few of My Favorite Things.” I hope this segment of blogs may assist those looking for little what-nots and stocking stuffers/gifts for their loved-ones, and who want to continue to support downtown Austin retailers. And whether you are a baller this year, or…not so much, there are things in the 2nd Street District that WILL fit the/your bill.
(Please keep in mind that these are boutiques, and many of the products featured in this blog are designer and limited-edition type merchandise. So don’t get me wrong, these featured products are going to be more expensive than the stuff at Old Navy – BUT…a) they’re meant to be higher-end, and b) there are some things that I still thought were reasonably-priced, or at least appropriate for an occasional treat for yourself or someone you know….)
Disclaimer: I only went to a few places and visited a small section of the 2nd Street District, so I know there’s much more, but I didn’t want to inundate you all quite yet…..feel free to add your own faves in the comments section.
The first place I visited was Mercury Design Studio. This place is definitely a great place to look for gifts – I found a ton of little stocking-stuffers, as well as more pricey fare. Here are some of the things I love:
My second stop was Beyond Tradition. This is basically a jewelry/art store (their tagline is “Wearable Art”) that puts a heavy emphasis on local artists and jewelry designers. Although, my favorite piece in the store was actually made by a New York Designer. See 1st picture below:
Catherine Nicole is an award-winning local artist/jewelry designer. If you are looking for something to do this Thursday, November 12th, among the other events going on in the 2nd street district, Beyond Tradition is hosting a preview party (Catherin Nicole just launched her men’s line). This preview party will benefit AIDS Services of Austin, and sponsors include Paula’s Texas Spirits and Connoli Joe’s.
I headed next door to Shiki, where I was warmly greeted by Jane Vanisko McCan (the owner) and one of the friendly sales associates, Jamie. My favorite thing in the store was this killer scarf/shawl/accessory (shown here as modeled by Jamie):
The Home Retreat was only a couple of doors down, so I headed in. Carrie Devones – an associate there, was soooo helpful. She showed me a couple of very neat things that I just have to include:
Click here for the product page of the little jellyfish – this page has better pictures.
Click here for the product page for these purse hangers – this page has better pictures.
I must say, one of my very favorite 2nd street district “dress shops” is Peyton’s Place. But I like more than just their dresses – I also think they have cool accessories and other fun stuff. I spoke with Emily Wheeler (a buyer for the boutique) about what was new and what was hot, and here is the item I most liked:
These headbands are hand-made by local artist Valerie Allen. They come in a variety of natural stones (even freshwater pearls) and cool, colorful glass beads and such. Peyton’s Place is the exclusive DOWNTOWN seller of these headbands, which I’m told do NOT stretch out. Emily said that some people who purchase these as headbands also end up wearing them as necklaces from time to time. Emily also told me that Valerie Allen donates 10% of her profits to local children’s charities, so this is a gift that also gives.
This next item is definitely a luxury – but I felt very spoiled when I received these for my birthday this year:
My last retail stop was IF+D. I absolutely adore the quirky owner there, Kristen Bolling. And I think the stuff in the store reflects her cool and offbeat personality. Here are my faves:
So…I guess I’ll end this blog pretty much the way I end most activities. By eating a sandwich and drinking a beer.