Shopping for thoughtful gifts is no easy task, which is why I have a secret default: I seek out locally made whenever I can. Why? When something is local or handcrafted, it just sounds fancier. Think about it…which would you rather say? “I brought you this jam. It’s handcrafted and locally made with fruit sourced from a nearby orchard.” Or “I brought you this jam. It was sitting on a shelf at Safeway.” No offense to Safeway, but you see what I mean?
Of course, it doesn’t just sound fancier. That handcrafted jam also tastes better because it’s better quality. And, more often than not the same can be said for other locally crafted goods. So, elevate your gift-giving…visit these Denver shops for locally made wares the next time you’re in need of a thoughtfully exceptional gift. You might even find a little something for yourself.
The Artisan Center, (Cherry Creek) 2757 E. 3rd Avenue, Denver. One of my favorite shops to browse, this place sold local waaay before selling local was trendy. Launched in 1977, The Artisan Center was the Denver spot to find goods made by area artisans and makers for years–probably the only spot for many years. The curated selection of wares is a mix of both national and local artisans. Best place to find cards, home decor accessories and gifts, personal accessories like scarves and jewelry, and stuff for babies and young kiddos. Favorite finds: They pack so much in and it’s always changing, so it’s hard to choose a favorite, but the handcrafted jewelry is a can’t miss.
XO Gift Co., (Berkeley) 3867 Tennyson Street, Denver. Tucked into a brightly colored house-turned-boutique on Tennyson Street, XO Gift Co. sells a wide assortment of eclectic, locally made home decor, clever cards, apparel to show your local pride, and darling baby gifts. The owner is always friendly and helpful, and keeps her sweet shop dog on premises. Favorite finds: These cheeky, screen-printed tea towels and sassy greeting cards by local makers.
I Heart Denver, (Denver Pavilions) 500 16th Street, Suite 264, Denver. Begun as a pop-up shop in 2010 to support local artists and craftsmen, the I Heart Denver model proved so successful that the full bricks and mortar store was launched only a year later. The store exclusively features Denver and Colorado artisans (over 150 of them!), with 70 percent of the sales going directly to the makers. Products range from home decor and travel bags to art prints and stationery, as well as a collection of non-touristy Denver and Colorado t-shirts that even a local would wear. Favorite finds: This Accomplice by Smith weekender bag and the Cloth + Ink screen-printed bags and pouches (not listed on their site, but stocked in the store).
Il Porcellino Salumi, (Berkeley) 4324 W. 41st Avenue, Denver. Come for the unusual house-cured charcuterie, but leave with an assortment of Colorado-made specialty foods. In addition to their own food products, the newly opened salumi also features a selection of local foods, including crackers, jams, vinegars, honey and olive oils. Grab a bottle of wine and a couple of the shop’s fun cured meats and you have the makings of the perfect hostess gift. Favorite finds: The cured meats that you can’t find anywhere else, of course! Also check out the housemade whiskey bacon jam and Primo’s savory jams. (I can’t live without my blackberry serrano fix.)
Jolly Goods, (Berkeley) 4020 Tennyson Street, Denver. As a maker herself, owner Nicole has an artist’s eye for beauty, which shows in her carefully curated selection of stock. After first selling her own hand-crafted jewelry through local markets, she opened her shop featuring locally handcrafted wares on Berkeley’s Tennyson Street in 2012 just before the street exploded with new businesses somehow targeting both area families and hipsters (seriously, Tennyson Street must have more hipster barbershops per capita than anywhere in Denver). Featuring mostly local artists and designers, Jolly Goods is the best place to find irreverent cards, small-batch soaps and body lotions, deliciously scented candles, and cute baby onesies. Favorite finds: Love + Toast body care collection and Spinster Sisters handcrafted bath and body products.
MegaFauna (RiNo) 3102 Blake Street, Denver. In a colorful neighborhood known for its artistic flair and entrepreneurial spirit, MegaFauna still stands out both for its vibrant exterior and its mission to promote a conscious consumer culture through a localized marketplace that supports independent artists. The store is almost entirely dedicated to locally made apparel and accessories as well as art with a handful of vintage, second-hand items thrown in. I was thrilled with the vast selection of locally designed and created clothing, but I am definitely not cool enough to wear most of it. Best place to find a gift for your favorite hipster. Favorite finds: Slyly clever and irreverent screen-printed t-shirts with local references like this Straight Outta Denver t-shirt or this I am the Colfax Lorax t-shirt.