The best thing we can do when the economy goes south is circulate our dollars amongst our friends. Y’know, shop local! As you’re out doing your Christmas shopping this season, pick local, unique retailers to support our business communities, and share a wonderful piece of Calgary for the season.
Inglewood, Kensington, The Mission, and communities all over the city have vibrant local shopping districts. It’s not fighting for a spot at the mall, it’s walking outside, it’s window shopping, it’s getting to know your neighbours.
Shop the Neighbourhood Day is November 28, but really you can go and visit these 15 unique place to shop local and look for Christmas gifts in Calgary any and every day of the year:
Shop Boys is a local Calgary initiative that supports local independent shop owners throughout the community. Sean Carter of Bike Bike, Gareth Lukes of Lukes Drug Mart, and Kyle Van Der Velden of North American Quality Purveyors are some of the local shop owners featured. The calendars are $25 with all profits supporting aspiring entrepreneurs in the Women’s Venture Program at Momentum.
Voted the number 1 chocolate maker in Canada, Choklat in Inglewood (1327A 9th Avenue SE) offers handmade chocolates crafted while you wait. Choklat’s artisan chocolatiers specialize in truffles – hand rolled centers, dipped in either milk or dark chocolate, and then rolled in the coating of your choice. You can place your order online and pick it up, or drop by and dream up one of the nearly one thousand combinations from the menu.
Steeling Home (1010 17 Avenue SW) was initially an artist-run co-op created in 1993 as a venue to showcase local work. When it first opened on 11th Street, the focus was on hand-forged iron and steel — hence the name. The store moved to its current 17th Ave location in 2009, and became a modern day general store with hardware, rugs, and books. But it’s their gentlemen’s selection of flasks, socks, and cufflinks (like the gorgeous Calgary map ones shown here) that we love.
These two brands (1319 9th Avenue SE) come from the same team and if you love scary sharp knives, axes, or the ritual of shaving, a visit is in order. Knifewear is where it started in 2008. The shop specializes in Japanese steel, exclusive knives and high performance blades. 2013’s addition, Kent of Inglewood, is the home of straight razors, safety blades, and elegant tools of the trade like sandalwood shaving cream and almond shaving soap.
Grant Wigmore and Sead Tokaliche, the duo behind Frontier Metropolis, are all about celebrating the uniqueness of Calgary. They have a geeky love of local history and love converting hyperlocal slogans into unique, wearable art. The designs are inspired by local history, neighbourhood personalities and the stereotypes around Calgary.
Upcycling is the new recycling and at Reworks (1217B 9 Avenue SE), you can find a huge collection of items that have been reworked from their original purpose. Jewelry made from vending machine covers, coasters made from recycled glass, or old 45s turned into bookends are just some of the unique and eco-friendly finds.
Adrian and Martinus take old wood and rework it into beautiful pieces of art, furniture, and accessories. Working primarily with rescued and reclaimed wood (often old skateboards), the brothers create unique furniture designs, interior installations, and creative objects. You can buy their pieces at Reworks, Market Collective, or in their Etsy store.
Originally a family run drugstore, Gareth Lukes has transformed the third generation of the Bridgeland business into a general store and the place in Calgary to buy vinyl. As in records. From Adele to the Chemical Brothers, those who appreciate a little snap, crackle, and pop in their music will find something to smile about at Lukes Drugmart (112 4th Sreet NE).
North American Quality Purveyors (1207 10 Avenue SE) stocks only Canadian and American made men’s apparel and accessories. That’s it. Made in Canada, or Made in USA is all you’ll find here. From ties and hats to shoes and wallets, you’re supporting continental clothing manufacturers at this Inglewood shop.
Invited over for a house party this season? Pascal’s Patisserie (5240 1A Sreet SE) is the perfect place to find a gift for your hosts. The shop is all about ‘take and bake.’ They make the fine pastries and then vacuum seal them fresh frozen. You take them home, thaw them, bake, and then sit down to authentic french pastry from a real pastry chef from France who now calls Calgary home. Freshly baked croissants, pain au chocolat, brioche, french rolls, and more will make any Christmas breakfast better.
Once you get the vinyl from Lukes, you’ll need something to play it on. That Old Retro Store (1314a 9th Avenue SE) in Inglewood has old That Old Retro Store is stocked with vintage hi-fi gear. It’s also a place for you to make some money to fund your Christmas shopping as they buy old amps, microphones, turntables, and audio tubes from the 50’s and beyond.
Despite the rise of digital, books are still thriving, so grab one from a local, independent bookshop. Owl’s Nest Books in Brittania (815A 49 Avenue SW) has been turning pages for more than 40 years and stocks bestsellers along with a great selection of kids’ books at Owlets right next door. As with the ‘big bookstores,’ Owl’s also has expanded to include accessories, but what you’ll fine here are locally made jewelry as well as kid friendly toys and games.
Got kids? Cherry Four Junior Home (1111 Kensignton Road NW) has everything from bunk beds and textiles to kitchen gear and books. It’s design and decor from a kid’s point of view. From classic Lite-Brite and beanbag chairs, to planes and monkey arms to feed your toddlers, there are many cute ideas to be found.