Still haven’t gotten those last few Christmas gifts? Get out of the traffic and shop local!

I am the very, very WORST at buying Christmas presents on time, but I always want to get my friends and family members something unique and cool. This year, after making a “quick trip” (read: 3 hour trip) to the Galleria to buy myself some necessary winter gear (Lululemon and boots), I decided that I would never again try to go anywhere near a mall during the Christmas season. Thus, I challenged myself to only shop local for my gifts. Check out some of the cool places I found:

  1. Merchant and Market

Merchant and Market is owned by Gino Vian, a well-known name in the field of custom furniture. Gino has branched out to a storefront on Westheimer, where he sells what I like to call “millennial antiques.” I got the pleasure of going to the store opening, and the partygoers were just as diverse at the merchandise Gino carries. Among the gold-plated cobras and colonial busts were oddly-purposed Topo Chico bottles, full-length coffee tables, and what I thought was the most interesting, Gino’s line of paint. Very few artists can say they have the market cornered in such a way that they don’t have to outsource for raw materials, but Gino Vian’s clay-based “Custom Paint” comes in a ton of different colors, and is really what makes Merchant and Market so cool…every piece in the store has Gino’s personal touch on it. If you’re looking to get something no one else has, Merchant and Market might be the spot for you.

  1. Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages is less of a “local” shop (they have several locations across North America), but it’s one of the coolest shops in Rice Village, and you won’t get carsick driving in circles in a parking garage to get there. The coolest part about Ten Thousand Villages, though, is that you’re giving back while you shop. Ten Thousand Villages is one of the world’s largest fair trade organizations, and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). It creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn vital, fair income by marketing their handmade art, jewelry, and various other items in North America. Ten Thousand Villages buys products only from 38 countries and more than 130 artisan groups. As a member of the Hive Society, philanthropy is definitely my thing, and if I can find some one-of-a-kind items and give back where need is greatest, I’m all about it.

  1. Space Montrose


Space Montrose is the place to go if you just want some stuff. I could spend hours in there picking up trinkets and pretending I have enough money to furnish my home with all the coasters, random signs and artwork, and little plushy deals that really serve no purpose but cuteness. Not to mention all the unique apparel. Everything is handmade in Texas, so for those of us hometown kids, it’s a double pleasure to get Christmas shopping done and support the great Lone Star State. As an added bonus, Common Bond coffee shop is right next door so if you’re into great coffee and delicious food, you can make a stop after you pick up your gifts, which reminds me…

  1. Greenway Coffee and Tea


Digging the coffee and tea at places like Blacksmith, Inversion, Tout Suite, and Tiny Boxwood’s? Well, it all comes from one source: Greenway Coffee and Tea. I got hip to GWCT because their main location is walking distance from my office. I wasn’t super into coffee, but I tried theirs and “addiction” isn’t even the word for my current predicament. The difference in Greenway Coffee can be tasted: they have a real relationship with the source, and it’s not just some barista memorizing recipes for drinks and slapping thousands of them together on daily basis (no shade to the green mermaid). Baristas take time to be properly trained to handle Greenway beans and carefully prepare each drink. For the coffee-lover in your life, a Greenway gift card or a coffee subscription would be appropriate, and for the diehard drinkers, there is also merch available on their Web site and in stores.

Hope this helps all the rest of you yuletide procrastinators out there like myself! Merry Christmas!