Wooden boxes by Stephen Rapp at By Hand Gallery. Photo by Rodney Margison

photography by RODNEY MARGISON

’Tis the season of holiday shopping—please do some of it downtown. And if you are strictly a stay-at-home shopper, check out the websites of our local retailers. There are many locally owned businesses that have the perfect gift for everyone on your list. So, if you’re able, put on your mask and come downtown, but be sure to social distance outside and inside the shops.

By Hand Gallery

By Hand Gallery, a cooperative gallery of local artisan members, has been beautifying Bloomington for more than
40 years with an ever-changing array of art and handcrafted works in virtually every medium.

A recent visit revealed Stephen Rapp’s wood boxes, which are compact museums of Earth’s wonders and embellished with minerals, fossils, and sea life, $75–$790. Nancy Grabner weaves pliable materials into three- dimensional artifacts that are both artistic and functional, $17–$55. Bert Gilbert, an artist in many mediums, has recently been fascinated by metal. Among his current work are pieces that utilize piano keys to evoke emotional reactions along with architectural strength, $85–$725. Fiber artist Janet Helber’s work comprises dolls, quilted potholders and baby jackets, and crocheted caps. Her talents also extend to scherenschnitte, the art of paper-cutting design, from which she creates cards, $10–$48. 101 W. Kirkwood, 812-334-3255, byhandgallery.com


Gather is known for its Indiana- handcrafted wares, vast selection of socially conscious goods, and assortment of tropical plants. Check out their variety of Black Lives Matter and Bloomington/Indiana love merchandise, $3-$60. Or bring some greenery indoors during the winter by adopting or gifting several tropical house plants, including calathea, pothos, Philodendron, succulents, cacti and more, $5–$50. 116 N. Walnut, 812-287-8046. gathershoppe.square.site


Mirth is popular for its curated collection of contemporary women’s apparel, accessories, jewelry, and footwear. Try on a cozy pullover in a hot block print, perfect with leggings, $89. Someone you know—or you—would love the sleek and modern Colette vegan leather backpack, perfect for carrying all essentials and available in multiple colors, $64. And because a little bling always makes the season merrier, consider the Teardrop Earrings from Calliope Jewelry, a Seattle-based jewelry designer known for mixing metal tones like oxidized silver and 14-karat gold with pearls and gemstones, $102. 101 W. Kirkwood, 812-822-1624. shopmirthmarket.com

Global Gifts

Global Gifts is Bloomington’s one-stop shop for fair-trade goods. Back this winter are whimsical animal scarves, handmade by skilled Aymara and Quechua artisans in Peru, $44. Keep someone’s feet toasty and support a worthy nonprofit organization or cause with Conscious Step socks made in India from organic cotton, $17. Intricately hand-quilled cards from Vietnam make a beautiful addition to any holiday gift while providing sustainable income for nearly 500 people in Ho Chi Minh City, $10. 122 N. Walnut, 812-336-7402. globalgiftsft.com

Global Gifts offers handmade animal scarves made by Aymara and Quechua artisans in Peru. Photo by Rodney Margison

The Book Corner

The Book Corner, a Bloomington institution since 1964, prides itself on providing personalized customer service and stocking bestsellers, notable classics, a huge selection of puzzles, children’s books, plush toys, specialty greeting cards, and unique gifts. If the book you want isn’t in stock, it’s just a special order away. For those who can’t wait to kick 2020 to the curb, there is an extensive assortment of 2021 calendars, $14.99. 100 N. Walnut, 812-339-1522. thebookcorneronline.com

The Briar & The Burley

The Briar & The Burley, an inviting specialty shop with an aroma that conjures images of an exclusive men’s club, offers a vast array of handmade pipes, including Peterson’s limited 2020 Christmas pipe, $130. Spoil the cigar afficionado on your list with a Savoy Ironwood Marquetry humidor, which holds 100 cigars and is lockable, $190. Burnish his professional image with a Chiarugi leather briefcase imported from Florence, Italy, $500. And because travel will one day be possible, there is the Briggs & Riley 22-inch, two-wheel carry-on, which boasts a lifetime warranty and fits in the overhead compartment of most U.S. domestic airlines, $589. 101 W. Kirkwood, 812-332-3300. briarburley.com

A Chiarugi leather briefcase at The Briar & The Burley. Photo by Rodney Margison

Ellie Mae’s Boutique

Ellie Mae’s Boutique stocks practical and appealing gifts for every member of the family, including fur babies. For fashion-conscious women, high-end jewelry by Pandora, Brighton, and French Kande are extremely popular, $25–$200, as well as a large variety of handbags by Vera Bradley, Katie Loxton, and Caroline Hill, $30–$285. Men’s gifts include Duke Cannon hair care and lotion, shoeshine kits, and watches, $20–$50. Pamper your pooch with a spiffy new bandana or treat bowl, $15–$50. For the college student on your list, consider BrüMate drink insulators, Ambre essence oil, or a new backpack or lanyard, $20– $100. 101 W. Kirkwood, 812-339-8084. elliemaes.boutique

Tivoli Fashions

TIVOLI FASHIONS has called the downtown Square home since 1987 and specializes in upscale career, casual, and special-occasion women’s fashions. It’s sweater season, and owner Cheryl Nichoalds—who gift wraps and makes the best bows in town—has stocked cotton, cashmere, and blends in solids and patterns, as well as cardigans and pullovers, $68–$328. From Canada, Sympli sportswear offers refined femininity and an artful twist.

It also travels like a dream, $110–228. Wavertree & London luxury soaps are French milled of organic shea butter and sustainable plant oils in a variety of delicious fragrances. Embossed Italian paper packaging makes these soaps delightful gifts, $7.98. Raincoats by UbU and Mycra Pac are reversible and functional for running errands, but stylish enough for the opera, $148–$298. 101 W. Kirkwood, 812-339-6239. facebook.com/TivoliFashions

Argentum Jewelry

Argentum Jewelry has provided the Bloomington community with an outstanding array of contemporary jewelry, in addition to custom design and repair, since 1973. Currently available are etched and engraved sterling silver pieces set with precious stones made by a Woodstock, New York, designer who lived in Tunisia as a child, $350–$450. A keepsake wooden trinket box from Rockford, Illinois-based Heartwood Creations makes a perfect affordable gift, $10. 205 N. College, 812-336-3100. argentum-jewelry.com

Ruby and sterling silver earrings at Argentum Jewelry. Photo by Rodney Margison

Spectrum Creative Group

SPECTRUM CREATIVE GROUP is a full-service photography and design firm that specializes in creating prints using either your image or theirs. An 8-by-10-inch aluminum print with easel back, $45; a 24-by-16-inch direct-to-glass print, $110–$135. For interactive fun, they offer 1,000-piece puzzles with either your image or your gift recipient’s. $45. 101 W. Kirkwood, 812-333-0536. spectrumcreativegroup.com

An easel-back aluminum photograph by Kendall Reeves at Spectrum Creative Group. Photo by Kendall Reeves

Goods for Cooks

Goods for Cooks believes that travel can be found in the kitchen. Explore ethnic cuisine through cookbooks, ceramics, and traditional cooking tools, $7–$200. Spread holiday cheer by giving the gift of sophisticated cocktails, sodas, and zero-proof concoctions. Check out a wide selection of syrups, mixers, bitters, shrubs, and tools, $7–$100. A good knife can change the experience of cooking. Goods’ knowledgeable team can assist in finding the perfect piece at any budget, $40–$300. 115 N. College, 812-339-2200. goodsforcooks.com

Gift ideas available at Goods for Cooks. Courtesy photo

O’Child Children’s Boutique

O’Child Children’s Boutique is dedicated to offering high-quality children’s clothing in durable organic cotton from designers such as Tea Collection, Hatley, and Mayoral, and fine footwear for growing tootsies by Native Shoes and Freshly Picked, among other brands. You’re bound to find an irresistible stuffed bear, yeti, or dragon for a child of any age (or the child in you!) from makers including Jellycat and Warmies. They also have a wide range of developmental books and toys, $8–$100. 101 W. Kirkwood, 812-334-9005. ochildboutique.com

A stuffed bear at O’Child Children’s Boutique. Photo by Rodney Margison

Lola + Company

LOLA + COMPANY offers trendy women’s clothing, jewelry, and home décor. Affordable apparel leans toward easy-to-layer lagenlook separates in neutral colors, $30–$130. Comfy accent pillows and throws of natural fibers are perfect for feathering the nest in chill temps, $29–$90. High-quality candles add the “ahhh” factor to any room; consider the iconic Capri Blue Volcano with its blend of citrus and sugar notes, $19–$32. 114 N. Walnut, 812-323-7010. shoplola.net

A variety of decorative throw pillows at Lola + Company. Photo by Rodney Margison

Vūe by Precision Eye Group

Vūe by Precision Eye Group recently opened on the Square introducing optical lines previously unavailable in Bloomington. Available are classic designs by Tom Davies and Masunaga, as well as the upbeat and artistic vision of Theo, popular with Hollywood celebrities, and Faceaface from Paris, $150 and up. 101 W. Kirkwood, 812-332-2020. precisioneye.com/vue

Andrew Davis Clothiers

Andrew Davis Clothiers is known for custom-made suits and formal attire, but it also offers luxurious casual wear. It’s easy to find a piece that will become his—or your—sumptuous signature garment, such as a Hagen Clothing mid-weight vest of 100% virgin wool, trimmed in blue cotton, $598, or the Italian-made Baldassari sweater jacket, a stretch wool piece dubbed the “team sweater” for its popularity, which can be worn as outerwear or around the house during colder months, $948. Looking ahead to days on the links, a golf-inspired combo by Greyson Clothiers is a good choice: The gray zip top is a poly-cotton-elastane blend for a comfortable fit, $185; its paneled vest, a blend of poly, wool, elastane, and cotton, merges style with comfort, $165. 101 W. Kirkwood, 812-323-7730. andrewdavismenswear.com

Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor weathered the COVID-19 lockdown last spring by encouraging customers to send book care packages to bibliophile friends and family members. The storied used-bookstore is now open Thursday through Sunday for masked walk-in customers to peruse its stacks. Leather-bound classics from Easton Press and Franklin Library, some of which are signed, make wonderful gifts, $25 and up. Please visit its website or call to confirm hours. 112 N. Walnut, 812-332-9995. caveatemptorbloomington.com