Wrap up the leftovers, put on some Mariah Carey, and grab your shopping list because holiday shopping is in full swing. Every year it feels like the months fly by, and it’s a mad dash to get all your gifts. Many people go into their holiday shopping with the same goals: find meaningful gifts and shop locally whenever possible. However, it’s easy to get busy and without knowing where to look, fall back on Amazon to cross names off your list fast.
This year we want to make shopping local easier than ever. We’re highlighting some of our favorite local shops in the area to check out on Small Business Saturday, or whenever you’re out doing your holiday shopping. No matter who’s on your list, you’ll be able to find something special. Plus, you may even find some local deals!
• Revival: If you’re looking for something fun and fashionable for someone on your list, Revival should be one of your target destinations. With a vast collection of women’s new, used, and vintage clothing and accessories, this shop is popular because of its focus on brands that empower women and promote ethical production and consumption practices.
• Ewers Mens Store: Do you have someone on your list who needs to step it up from Dad sweats? Introduce them to the Ewers Mens Store this holiday season. The store has four floors of menswear, so you can truly find something for everyone, even in Big and Tall sizes.
The store has been in the Noser family since 1915 and accredits its great customer service to the longevity of the store’s success. You can find Ewers downtown, just a few doors down from Panchero’s.
• Dulcinéa: Avid shoppers of Dulcinéa can’t get enough of this shop, and it’s easy to see why. They have been helping women in Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty find stylish casual wear at unbelievable prices since 1996.
Dulcinéa is locally owned and operated and nestled in downtown Iowa City on Dubuque Street.
• Catherine’s Boutique: As soon as you step into Catherine’s, there’s a good chance it will become your new favorite store. You’re sure to find a gift your sister, best friend, or work bestie will love.
Catherine’s was established in Iowa City almost 50 years ago and has been a cornerstone in the community since. They provide clothing, shoes, and accessories featuring current brands and trends and are located in Old Capitol Town Center.
• Vice Iowa City: You can never go wrong with gifting a good pair of shoes, but if you get something from Vice (or a gift card!), you’re sure to score major brownie points. Vice is Iowa City’s first and only buy/sell/trade store for sneakers, streetwear, and vintage pieces.
You can find them at 312 E Prentiss Street in Iowa City.
• CIELO: Clothing, gifts, permanent jewelry, hair tinsel—you name it, CIELO has it. This woman-owned business started during the pandemic with its moon warmers and has grown to carry a unique collection of products.
See the fun for yourself at the Iowa River Landing.
• Raygun: Do you know someone who loves sporting clever pop culture or political statements on their shirts? If you answered yes, you’ll definitely find something from Raygun that will make them crack a smile. They have two storefronts in the area: one in Iowa City and one in Cedar Rapids.
• 223 Baby Co: Even the littlest ones on your list deserve something curated and thoughtful! If you’re looking to spoil a special baby or toddler, check out 223 Baby Co in downtown Iowa City, where you can find practically everything—whether that’s something Hawkeye related, a fun toy, or an adorable bedtime book!
• Textiles: The philosophy behind Textiles is “Life is too short to be uncomfortable!” This shop is perfect for any woman on your list who is looking to find their own individual and independent style. Textiles is conveniently located in the Ped Mall.
• Herteen and Stocker Jewelers: If you want to wow someone this year with a declaration of love, you won’t go wrong with the beautiful fine jewelry pieces and watches at Herteen and Stocker Jewelers.
Herteen and Stocker has been a family-owned jewelry store since 1947 and is located in the heart of downtown Iowa City’s Ped Mall. They are known to be one of Iowa City’s most trusted jewelers.
• M.C. Ginsberg: At M.C. Ginsberg, they are committed to helping you create your own custom piece of jewelry. In fact, Owner Mark Ginsberg established the M.C. Ginsberg Fund to better serve the arts community in Iowa City through free exhibitions, public lectures, artist workshops and community art events.
You can help support these efforts by shopping local in downtown Iowa City at their shop on East Washington Street.
• Jewelry by Harold: In 2011 Harold and his family moved from the Netherlands to open a jewelry shop in North Liberty. Since then, his greatest joy has been seeing that sparkle of joy in someone’s eye when they find that perfect piece of jewelry for a loved one.
Visit Jewelry by Harold at 555 Highway 965, Unit C + D in North Liberty.
• Hands Jewelers: Hands Jewelers is a family-owned business that has been delivering high-quality custom jewelry, fine gifts, and unexpected surprises since 1853. Find that perfect gift for someone special at their beautiful shop in downtown Iowa City.
Local Specialty Stores
• Heim: For the eclectic souls on your list, Heim is the perfect place to swing by. The shop is home to ceramic art and a collection of spiritually supportive goods curated by owner and founder, Allison Fretheim. It’s located near the Old Capitol Town Center.
• RSVP: Give something personal from this fun brick-and-mortar shop in the Northside neighborhood in Downtown Iowa City. Here you’ll find a one-stop shop for greeting cards, correspondence papers, writers’ supplies, and everything else that encourages slowing down and connecting with others.
• Beadology: If you have someone on your list who enjoys creating beautiful jewelry, Beadology is the perfect shop to purchase unique handmade beads for their collection. You could also encourage craft with classes.
The shop is located on South Clinton Street, not far from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
• Record Collector: Record Collector is every music fan’s dream come true. The shop specializes in new and used vinyl, as well as used CDs and special orders for every genre.
Stop into this local establishment and say hi! It’s located in the heart of downtown Iowa City on Linn Street across from the Iowa City Public Library.
• Critical Hit Games: Who doesn’t love a good game? Find something for multiple people on your list when you shop at Critical Hit Games, a local game store that specializes in board games, card games, RPG, Pokemon, and video games.
Find them on South Linn Street.
• Geek City Games and Comics: When you walk into Geek City Games and Comics, you will be wowed by the variety of cool things they sell. Find something fun for any age in this one-stop game shop located in Beaver Kreek Center in North Liberty, right by the Dairy Queen.
• Home Ec. Workshop: If you have a crafter on your list, they will appreciate something from Home Ec. Workshop, located in the Northside neighborhood in Iowa City. No matter if they prefer fabric or yarn, there’s something they’ll love at this special boutique—Home Ec. Workshop even has workshop classes.
• Prairie Lights Books and Cafe: If you’re a local, you’re probably very familiar with Prairie Lights, known for its popular reading events—but don’t forget Prairie Lights has been Iowa City’s premier indie bookstore since 1978. Stop in to find something for all the book lovers on your list.
Prairie Lights is located not far from the University of Iowa campus on South Dubuque Street.
• The Haunted Bookshop: Want an interesting shopping experience? What’s more thrilling than browsing for gifts at the independent bookstore well-known for its collection of 45,000 books, two cats, and one ghost?
Established in 1978, The Haunted Bookshop is the oldest secondhand bookshop in Iowa City. It’s located in the Northside district in the historical Wentz House.
Local Sports/Fitness Stores
• Geoff’s Bike & Ski: Is there an adventure-seeker on your list? The staff at Geoff’s Bike & Ski can help you find the ultimate gift. They aren’t just a racer shop, just a commuter shop, or just a bike packing shop— they are passionate about it all.
Come by and see them at 816 S. Gilbert Street in Iowa City.
• X-Grain Iowa: How many Hawkeye fans do you have to buy for this holiday season? Probably quite a few, right? Give everyone on your list their new favorite game day apparel from X-Grain, the officially licensed Iowa Hawkeye gear hotspot.
Come visit them in store at 30 S. Clinton Street in Iowa City, right next to Pancheros.
• We Run LLC: One gift you can never go wrong with is good running shoes. Find the perfect pair of running or walking shoes for anyone on your list with help from the experts at We Run LLC, located in North Liberty.
Local Home Goods Stores
• Iowa Artisans Gallery: Customers of Iowa Artisans Gallery regularly comment on the beauty and creativity of the pieces within the shop. Iowa Artisans Gallery offers home decor that is unique, personal, and American-made. They make the perfect gifts even more special with their gift boxing!
Visit them at 207 E Washington Street.
• The Shop Iowa City: Offering eye-catching home pieces, fun candles, and stylish clothes, The Shop Iowa City really does offer it all. Stop in and shop local and you can cross multiple people off your list. At The Shop, you’ll find gifts that will make loved ones ask, “Where did you get this?!”
Stop into the curated shop in Downtown Iowa City.
• Prairie Kitchen Store: Foodies rejoice with the fun finds at Prairie Kitchen Store, the area’s favorite local destination for local kitchenware and gifts. Prairie Kitchen Store is located in downtown Iowa City’s historic Northside Neighborhood.
• A Chocolate Studio: When you combine art and chocolate, the outcome is deliciously beautiful. That’s why A Chocolate Studio is the perfect place to find gifts for hosts or something small for the hard-to-shop-for people on your list. Stop into their store in Liberty Plaza in North Liberty.
• Leash on Life: For all the furry friends on your list (or people who can’t get enough of their pets), Leash on Life is a locally-owned pet supply store known for healthy pet food and high-quality pet supplies. You can visit them at their shop in Iowa City or North Liberty.
• AllSpice Culinarium: For any adventurous eaters on your list, make sure you check out AllSpice, a new store that just opened in the Iowa River Landing. The shop specializes in unique culinary herb blends, spices, olive oils, and balsamic vinegars. Stop in and show this new local store some love.
Local Digital Gift Card
If you find yourself strapped for time but still want to keep your dollars local, then giving the JoCo Community Card could be your perfect answer. With the Shop JoCo card, you can visit many favorite Johnson County, Iowa retailers, restaurants, and entertainment and pay with one card. The best part is there are no activation fees thanks to a generous sponsorship from MidWestOne Bank!
Sending a Shop JoCo card is easy. All you have to do is select your amount, and then send it to your recipient via email or text. The lucky recipient will be able to use it at participating Johnson County merchants, restaurants, and attractions. You’d be surprised at the list of participating businesses—there are over 145 locations!
We hope our list of local shops and gifting options makes shopping local feel less overwhelming. Since there are so many great local businesses in our community, we were only able to touch on a few. If you would like to explore more great shops, make sure to check out our complete list of shopping hotspots.