December 14, 2015
Proudly serving as the city’s gathering place for decades now, the Short North Arts District is Columbus’ artistic, culinary, entertainment, and shopping heart. With galleries galore and boutiques abound, it would be impossible not to find something for even the hardest person on your gift list this year. While the options are nearly endless in the District, these stops in particular are sure to catch your attention, and have been doing so for awhile.
TOYS & GAMES
Wall to wall, floor to ceiling; simply put, Big Fun is stuffed with toys. From nostalgic throwback toys and comics to new finds from up-and-coming designers, Big Fun is the end all for toy shopping. This year, why not treat your living room to a certain Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story? And when dinner’s getting started, a Whoopee Cushion is the perfect final touch for that certain special relative you don’t see that much. Have fun!
There are toys, and there are TOYS. Rivet is known for the latter. In a neighborhood that is filled to the brim with art, this gallery and designer toy boutique definitely finds itself at home in the Short North Arts District. Frequently hosting prominent local artists, Rivet is the place to go for your geek fix with a thoughtful twist. From toy designers such as Tricky Cat and Pop!, Rivet has Columbus’ monopoly on the up-and-coming toy game. Locally loved favorites include their lines of Bob’s Burgers-inspired comics and collectibles, and their rotating collections of prints and original artworks. Another favorite is their ‘Columbus’ DIY home sign (left).
ART & COLLECTIBLES
This Short North Arts District mainstay has been a part of the neighborhood for over 35 years, and with good reason. Walking into pm gallery is more a flight of fancy than a shopping trip – light coming in from the shop window is refracted off the dozens of hand blown glass bulbs (left) that dangle from the ceiling, scattering onto the great waves of color and texture that fill up the space of the store. This year, treat your friends and family to some of the best in hand-crafted, artfully-minded home goods the city has to offer, especially pm’s elegant glass ornaments.
Architectural Digest recently featured the opening of the Short North Arts District’s The Joseph Hotel, and it’s easy to understand why. With it’s huge focus on emerging and established local and international artists, the space brought a level of sophistication and thoughtfulness to High Street that is becoming more and more common. This year, bring a piece of this landmark home, courtesy of Joseph Editions, whose prints of the collections inside the hotel bring that same sense of high culture right to your living room.
Little Fish Printing & Gallery
Stop by Little Fish for a double-whammy of gift giving. Their gallery space doubles as a professional printer, tackling everything from tee-shirts to coffee mugs, covered with some of their best-loved pieces. Little Fish is a division of Columbus Human Services, helping people with developmental disabilities discover their artistic outlets. As a non-profit, every dollar you spend picking up presents goes right back into the program, giving an extra hand to those who need a little help exploring their outlets for creativity. Bold and exciting, picking up a piece from Little Fish is both a fun and conscience way to give back (and get) for the season!
What the Rock?!
Death metal throwbacks, fandom decor, Black Sabbath onesies, and leopard print galore; What the Rock?! is a store that personifies a wild weekend of everything from Edgar Allen Poe to Blondie. Leaning more towards Krampus than Santa, What the Rock?! is an even mix of gifts, apparel, knick-knacks, and music. A little unhinged but still serving some serious aesthetic for the 90s kids who never grew up, wannabe Ramones groupies, and everyone in between, a tree with a couple of these gems hiding underneath makes for a wonderfully twisted Christmas miracle!
HOME & GARDEN
Tucked under the Greystone Building, Glean is a small boutique that hides some big surprises. Stocked from wall to wall, this store is a study in curated curio. Featuring locally and handmade apparel, jewelry, soaps, accessories, and home goods, Glean definitely has something for everyone. This season, Glean is perfectly suited to add a touch to your home, closet, bathroom, kitchen, and yourself! The Buckeye State definitely gets it just desserts with great OSU reclaimed bleacher earrings and pins (left). Glean knows its O-H (I-O).
Flower Child Vintage
Simply put, Flower Child is a neighborhood gem. Like a maze with its handfuls of tiny rooms, the shop is a quick tutorial of the styles and times of the past, from pocket watches to poodle skirts, and everything in between that you can wear, read, and furnish. Flower Child is an explosion of kitsch and grins, and a great stop for a gift for anyone.
Blossoms in the Short North
With so much creative energy flowing into the district from our artists, business owners, and residents, it’s easy to forget about the natural beauty that’s hiding behind some of the District’s shop windows. For the best in floral arrangements, natural holiday decorations, and goods for the garden, the Short North Arts District has the best options in the city!
The Candle Lab
Considering that smell is the sense most connected to memory, it seems a no-brainer to make the most of your holiday party, Christmas dinner, Menorah lighting, and New Year’s Eve with a little aromatherapy! For everything related to scent, from candles and tea lights to oils and home decor, The Candle Lab is here to add the finishing touch to your evening.
The Pinnacle of Ohio Antiques
With so many specialty shops, galleries, and top tier restaurants, the Short North wears many hats. One of its finest, however, has got to be antiques. Impossible finds, expert craftsmanship, and impeccable taste personify the antique dealers and furniture refurbishers in the District. A stop at one of these stores is definitely more of a commitment than socks and underwear for Christmas, but definitely worth it. From a 1920s brooch for your wife, a reclaimed barn wood work bench for your husband, a Victorian secretary for the recent grad, or a belle epoque mink stole for grandma, a select handful of shops are filled with the best in curatorial possibility.
While the shops listed above making the old new again, Roche Bobois, famous Parisian furniture design group, is taking care of making the new, new. Founded in 1960, Roche is a staple in European design, creating sleek, comfortable, stylish takes on contemporary living. While their big pieces definitely won’t fit underneath the tree, Roche Bobois is also stocked with perfectly giftable small packages, dinnerware, and home accessories.
Happy Go Lucky Home
A lovable Short North boutique, Happy Go Lucky definitely lives up to its namesake. The store is packed with custom furniture by LEE Design, florals, accessories for the home, and apparel. HGLH is a store that specializes in just about everything for the home, and does so with a hint of charm and a cheeky wink. From upholstery to knick-knacks, this shop is perfect for shoppers looking for something special for a cozier pad.
FASHION & APPAREL
Filled from floor to ceiling with the best in handmade, responsibly sourced, and aesthetically beautiful pieces, Global Gifts does a lot more work than just being another store front. A volunteer driven nonprofit fair trade store, Global is a destination for authentic and caringly made apparel, home wares, and gifts from those parts of the world where minimum wages and worker’s rights are all but nonexistent. This year, Global is especially proud of their manos zapotecas bags. Hand-woven throughout Latin America for centuries, manos zapotecas bags are as much a cultural exercise as they are a textile product. Exuberant, durable, and wonderfully soft, it takes a special kind of shopper to fully appreciate these bags, and those who do will love them forever.
This signature Short North Arts District apparel store has grown from neighborhood hot spot to national up-and-comer. In the past year, Homage has been featured by Major League Soccer, Entrepreneur, Sports Business Daily, Small Business Revolution, and just about every Ohio news and lifestyle outlet you can think of. There’s definitely a reason; Homage blends retro designs and modern tastes for a collection of fan-wear that’s awesomely for everyone. For the sports fans in your family (especially those from Cleveland), show them a little extra love with a pit stop here.
Kit and Ace
There’s nothing nicer this time of year then sliding into your favorite sweater. Cozying up in something nice and warm is a quintessentially seasonal joy, but time makes fools of us all (sweaters included) and staying in style is a never-ending pursuit. So, if a nice update to your winter wardrobe is in order, Kit and Ace is here to help you out. With their lines of Technical Cashmere, a cashmere fabric that’s actually able to stand up to everyday use, your new cozy outfit can be durable AND good looking.
Tigertree and Cub Shrub
“Well I double-dog-dare ya!” Whether they’re licking frozen flag poles or shooting their eyes out with a BB Gun, with so much time off school your kids may make some mischief. They might as well look snappy while they’re doing it! Cub Shrub is local favorite Tigertree‘s venture into kidswear and gifts. This year, they suggest their Basil line of tights (they stretch with kids as they grow), Uncle Goose blocks, animal blankets, and kids moccasins. And don’t forget about everybody’s favorite Short North Arts District lifestyle store; Tigertree’s selection of unique and interesting wares, including janitor-cool Areaware brass keyrings, awesome Columbus-themed rocks glasses, and adorable cookie cutters (among many, many other things) will delight anyone on your gift list.
From jewels to accessories, watches to leather goods, it’s no shock that luxury costs, and more than just money. Finding and sourcing leather, gems, and precious metals is no joke, and comes with some hefty consequences. This year, switch it up and take a responsible approach to your luxury fix with a stop at Store 5a. Featuring completely recycled and refurbished jewelry and leather goods from top designers, 5a is the smart (and beautiful) choice for the season.
Understated, cool, and keeping guys fresh, Righno a lifestyle shop that offers a no-frills, laid back kind of awesomeness. Stocked with hard-to-find west coast and European menswear labels, this shop is a break from the usual. Dressing guys from head to toe, Righno supplies everything from socks and underwear to pants, shirts, outerwear, shoes, and accessories. Taking an extra step, the boutique also carries the best in men’s cosmetics, from simple soap to beard oil and conditioner.
Made & CO.
As soon as you walk into Made, you immediately get a sense of what it takes to rock the apparel inside. Made & CO. is a hip-hop inspired streetwear boutique that also is fiercely prideful of its roots. “Only Hustlers in Ohio” is emblazoned on pieces throughout the shop, with floral motifs on the state flag hanging nest. For a piece of apparel that packs a bit of a punch, it’s Made all the way.
During any given year, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve is one where formal wear has the possibility of showing up much more than usual. Formal dinners, champagne toasts, and office parties with bosses to impress, oddly enough winter manages to turn the heat up for guys’ style game. With their great collection of suits, custom tailors, and progressive pricing, Pursuit is the best option for guys looking for something slick. Since an entire suit is probably out of the question for most gift givers, especially if you’re making it a surprise, visit Pursuit with an eye at complimenting what your guys already have. Ties, pocket squares, bow-ties, leather goods; this shop has it all. Stop down and suit up for the season!
Red Giraffe Designs
It’s rare to see something beautiful actually constructed right in front of you. The ladies at Red Giraffe think so, too, which is why everything in the store is direct from them to you, right behind the checkout desk. Simple and unembellished, Red Giraffe is an accessories boutique that’s all about the craftsmanship. This year, they’re pushing their boundaries and giving guys a nod with a line of custom citrine cufflinks.
In preparation for one of the biggest nights of the year, in the busiest parts of town, getting your look right for the champagne toast is an issue. Luckily, Torso is here with racks of Andrew Christians that go on for days, Diesel denim, mesh anything, and long john’s. Have fun!
Understated simplicity and attention to detail characterize Rowe boutique to perfection. Keeping women in Columbus fashion forward and comfortably approachable has been the store’s wheelhouse since their opening. This season, the boutique is featuring their Anne Julian zipper infinity scarves, handmade in Columbus by local designers to keep you feeling toasty and looking cool.
Couture on High
Every season deserves a showstopper. Couture on High is where you should go for this winter’s. With painstaking attention to detail and an eye for aesthetics that rivals most fashion weeks’, Couture on High has the outfit you need to pack a punch for the office Christmas party. While their gowns are the obvious attention grabbers, Couture also carries numerous smaller accessories and apparel items that would be a perfect gift for any trendsetter.
FOOD & DRINK
Warm apple pie, peach, ginger, and honey; no, it’s not dessert, it’s cocktail time. Taking some of the best-loved flavors of the season and giving them a more celebratory twist, Brothers Drake Meadery has a big leg up on this year’s spirits game. Lovingly embraced by Columbus’ food and drink scene, Brothers Drake has garnered press from local favorites (614) Magazine and Columbus alive! and national journals including Vice, convincing any naysayer that mead has left the renaissance fair and graduated to something sophisticated.
With gift buying, traveling, family obligations, and defrosting your car, Christmastime is great, but sometimes trying. This year, give yourself a little break and let Laughlin’s take care of the munchies. From breakfast with the family with their potato and bacon galettes, a quick croissant before dinner, or their signature orange and raspberry layer cake for dessert, Laughlin’s has got your baking needs covered for the holidays.
While Santa’s down with milk and cookies, the rest of us may want a bit of an upgrade. For after dinner, or drinks in the living room on Christmas eve, Le Chocoholique offers the perfect little bundles of smooth heavenly goodness to give you sweet dreams. With over 30 truffle and chocolate-dipped combinations to choose from, there’s something for everyone and more than enough to go around.
Green Olive CO.
If three of the secrets to gourmet cooking is garlic, herbs, and olive oil, Green Olive CO. is in on it. From cold pressed black truffle-infused olive oil to Serrano honey white balsamic vinegar, your table is going to put all others to shame. Great for bread dipping, cooking, and looking good on your counter, check out Green Olive ASAP.
ZenCha Tea Salon
Stop by Zen Cha Tea Salon, known for their impressive collection of international teas and their simple but scrumptious kitchen, for a satchel of Coconut Chai, Jade Oolong, or Cardamom Ginger. Trust us, your friends and family will appreciate it.
The Short North Stage
Housed in the historic Garden Theater, the Short North Stage is Columbus’ answer to ‘off-Broadway.’ Daring, inspired, and performed with a meticulous level of professional attention, for theater-goers, Stage is a serious performance group. Having a range from musicals to one-man shows, comedy to drama to art-house, tickets to see this amazing group of artists is a holiday win for even the toughest of critics. Best bets are grabbing seats to ‘Die, Mommy, Die!,’ their February comedic melodrama.
Cards! Wrapping paper! Gifts for English majors! Brimming with well-calligraphed holiday finery, On Paper is a Short North Arts District staple for all things correspondence, especially during the holiday season. Well known as a destination for the best in wedding invitations, On Paper pulls out the stops for this time of year when everyone sends holiday cards. Twists of tulle, leaves of gold, and splashes of evergreen grace cards and envelopes galore, sure to bring a smile to the receiver.
The Spas and Salons of the Short North
Still trying to find room for last years’ gifts in your closet? No problem! This year, for those who’d like to live their present instead of unwrapping it, an hour or two in the chair is a great way to recuperate and get snappy for the new year. From aromatherapy, massage, and isolation treatments, to hair and nails, skin, makeup, even a classic Victorian straight shave and beard trimming, everyone deserves a day of pampering! Our stretch of High Street has over 20 salons and spas ready to wash 2015 off in style.
Ambushed | Beauty Boutique on High | Cut N’ Blow | Evan Joseph Salon | Il Moda | Jacob Neal Salon | Salon Lofts
Mallory Lane | Max the Salon | Mukha | Phia | Raw Material Salon | Reflect Float Center | Reverse Vanity
Salons at High & Hubbard | Spa Suites at The Joseph Hotel | Strand Cafe | Studio Posh | The W Nail Bar
The Waxxpot | Turner’s Barbershop & Shave Parlor
Regularly bringing in world-class instructors while maintaining a strict open-door policy to beginners, Danceville is the Short North’s best bet for a fun spin around the floor. Combining traditional dance instruction (ballroom being their particular specialty) with a pop culture twist, this dance studio is bringing the fun back for you and your dancing partner. Grab one of their many package options for instruction classes and events for a yule time surprise!
Wexner Center for the Arts
With a world-class university behind them, the Wexner Center for the Arts is arguably the most contemporary institution for the arts in the Midwest, outside of Chicago. The spaces for exhibitions are massive. The performing arts center has a wealth of resources available to it. Talent flocks here from across the country. South of campus, the Short North’s numerous galleries showcase the best in visual arts, but at the Wex, the theatrics and experimentation of performance art is king. For artists and their admirers, tickets to any of the Wexner Center’s lineup of theater, film, dance, music, performance pieces, and lectures are gifts to be treasured. Check out their upcoming shows and exhibitions here.
– Tyler Wilson