♬These are a few of my favorite things♬ – 2nd Street District Edition

♬These are a few of my favorite things♬ – 2nd Street District Edition

One of my fave Christmas Creep related pics….

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:

Laptop Luddite Sleeve – $58.00 at Mercury Design Studio
The Artomat - A Machine That Gives You Snack Size Art - Each Piece of Art is $5
The Art-O-Mat. A vending-style machine that gives you snack size art – Each piece of art is only $5. The machine itself isn’t for sale, but it’s a great way to market these cool and funky little art pieces.
Skull & Bones Stationary
Skull & Bones Stationary. $22.50 at Mercury Design Studio.

Stop 2

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:

Echo of the Dreamer Flower Collar – $340 at Beyond Tradition. This is more of a “baller” gift.
Catherine Nicole Cufflinks. $125 at Beyond Tradition.

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.

Stop 3

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):

Jamie Models the Denim/Peppercorn Scarf - $216 at Shiki.
Jamie models the Denim/Peppercorn Scarf – $216 at Shiki.  This is one of the MANY ways this piece can be worn.

A Better View

Stop 4

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:

Glow-in-the-dark Jellyfish - $35 at The Home Retreat
Weird and creepy, but cool. Glow-in-the-dark Jellyfish Sculpture. $35 at The Home Retreat,

Click here for the product page of the little jellyfish – this page has better pictures.

Pillbox Purse Hanger - $22.00 at The Home Retreat.
Pillbox Purse Hanger – $22 at The Home Retreat. “A sturdy, stylish, foldable purse hanger that is perfect for keeping your purse off the floor or your lap when you’re at a restaurant, having cocktails, or anywhere else you might need it! In seven different styles. All open up to reveal two-sided pill storage and a compact mirror.”

Click here for the product page for these purse hangers – this page has better pictures.

—Stop 5

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:

Valerie Allen's Jewelry Inspired Headbands (as modeled by Emily).  From $28 at Peyton's Place.
Valerie Allen’s Jewelry Inspired Headbands (as modeled by Emily). From $25 at Peyton’s Place.

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:

Sarah Happ Lip Products
Sara Happ Lip Products – Call Peyton’s Place for pricing details, but I believe each product is in the $30 range…..

Stop 6

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:

These “Little Josephs” totally creep me out, but I can’t stop looking at them. $100 at IF+D.
Topo Chico Glasses. $8 at IF+D.
Topo Chico Glasses. $8 at IF+D.

Stop 7—….mmmmm

So…I guess I’ll end this blog pretty much the way I end most activities.  By eating a sandwich and drinking a beer.

Royal Blue Veggie Sandwich - $5.50, Delish Bag of Cookies - $3.50
Royal Blue Veggie Sandwich – $5.50, Delish Bag of Cookies – $3.50

Royal Blue Grocery, Delish Cupcakes

About amber gugino

Amber Gugino loves living downtown and has been an active board member of the The Shore Condo Owners Association, Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association and member of the Junior League of Austin. She adores her dog, Blog, and she learns something new about downtown Austin every day.


  1. are those my glasses shes hocking?

  2. diggin on those topo chico glasses.

  3. Your finds at Home Retreat are pretty cool

  4. I love it!! Thanks for doing such great research for all us holiday slackers.

  5. Yes, Kristen @ IF+D, is awesome. Once, we went in there just to browse and she gave us a gift! A small polar bear eraser – but it was super cool of her. And, she is big supporter of DANA and other local stakeholders. Go IF+D!

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