Yes, Virginia, I love Christmas, even though it’s been a very strange affair with my family this past decade. (But that’s a later post.)
I know this whole Buy Local, Eat Local movement has ironically been a national one. But I truly think part of exhibiting the Christmas spirit best lies in supporting those mom and pops who bravely soldier on in this dour economy. So, I’d like to impart my recommendations on some Indianapolis business that provide great products and great service.
Big Hat Books
This year has seen a reversal in the Shop Around the Corner/Fox Books scenario depicted in the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romcom You’ve Got Mail. The bigbox Borders imploded, shuttering its stores nationwide.
What made Borders good back in the day when it had just one store, a standalone building in Castleton, was that it’s employees knew their stuff. To work there back then, you had to take a knowledge test on all sorts of topics. In the past couple of years, you could really tell that the employees didn’t have a clue what they were trying to upsell you. And, no, I don’t have nor do I want a Borders card.
You can still find that personal touch and expert knowledge at Broad Ripple’s Big Hat Books. Elizabeth Barden’s boutique bookshop is cozy and charming. If they don’t have it, they’ll order it. But it’s just the right size to explore for that special gift.
Need a gift for the hard-to-buy-for uncle or sister? Take a quick trip over to Irvington. At Homespun, Amanda Mauer Taflinger and her husband, Neal, sell homemade jewelry, soaps, food, clothing, and art from more than 130 craftspeople from around the country and into the Great White North. You can seriously fill your entire Christmas list here. While you’re there, stop by Jockamo Pizza next door, maker of a serious pie.
Head on over to Fountain Square, where you can now park in front of the Murphy Building with the just completed end spur of the Cultural Trail. At IndySwank, you’ll find the home of some vintage clothing, art, and artisan crafts. Jennifer Rice Von Deylen sets Indy’s style beyond the consignment items in this hip shop.
I love the screenprinted items by Bloomington-based Mythdemeanor!.
Woe be to those naysayers who decry the demise of vinyl and CDs to the digification of recorded music. For the best in musical media that you can hold in your hand and slap on a turntable, check out the latest and greatest from Todd Robinson’s Luna Music in Midtown.
More than just music and excellent employee recs, you’ll find cool tees, collectible toys, books, and DVDs. Great record shops like Luna soldier on boldly, and that’s why I love ’em.
I found the DVD to the documentary William S. Burroughs: A Man Within flipping through the stacks.
People for Urban Progress
Michael Bricker created a think tank in action, answering questions before they’re asked. “What should we do with that material covering the Hoosier Dome rather than just putting it in a landfill?” Answer: Use that material to produce wallets, clutches, business card cases, notebooks, messenger bags, and iPad covers, even a snowflake ornament. This effort led to the bestowing of the inaugural Indiana Innovation Award to the nonprofit for repurposing 13 of 15 acres of this material. Look for the material on shade structures around the city.
In addition to finding these items and local-themed t-shirts, posters, and postcards at their HQ on the second floor of the Murphy Building in Fountain Square, shop for PUP merch at Homespun and IndySwank or online.
Right now, they’ve started salvaging the seats from the old Bush Stadium and produced a poster depicting the layout of Indianapolis city-county government.
I love my freakin’ Dome Wallet and my “I Have an Idea” t-shirt.