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Your Downtown Holiday Shop-O-Rama, 2016 Edition!
by Kai Parmenter
The holidays are officially here, and you know what that means: warm hearths and bright spirits, precious time spent with family, and a healthy dose of shopping. For those of you still searching for that perfect gift for someone, or are just looking to treat yourself this season, Downtown has you covered. The beating heart of the Old Pueblo is brimming with funky, one-of-a-kind local shops that offer everything from musical instruments to clothing and jewelry to pop culture and superhero artwork and collectibles.
Fear not, for we’ve explored Downtown from top to bottom to bring you the best of our neighborhood.
Regardless of your feelings towards (some might say overplayed) songs like “Jingle Bell Rock” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, it’s hard to deny the intimate connection between music and the holidays. Whether you’re looking to acquire an instrument for yourself or a loved one, the Chicago Music Store is the place to go. First opened in 1919, Chicago Music Store buys, sells, rents, trades, and repairs all manner of musical instruments, from guitars and drums to woodwinds, brass and orchestral instruments, all at affordable prices. Recipient of the Tucson Weekly – Best of Tucson’s “Best Instrumental Music Store” award for 12 consecutive years, Chicago Music Store remains the one to beat. Visit their Downtown location at 45 S. 6th Avenue.
Situated near Chicago Music Store on 6th Ave. is A Perfect Pantry, a self-described “urban lifestyle emporium” that sells a little bit of everything. Items on offer include a tasteful selection of women’s clothing and jewelry, kitchen and dining accessories, soaps, lotions, parasols, chandeliers and other decorative items. They also carry a nice assortment of greeting cards, and gift certificates are always available. Check them out!
Those searching for more eclectic amenities should stop by forsSHOP on Congress Street, between Hub Ice Cream Factory and Rival Sneakers. Sharing a space with FORSarchitecture+interiors, the SHOP carries a wide array of gifts and housewares inspired by food, fashion and design. Need some festive items for your home? forsSHOP has many ornamental pieces on hand, including little metallic reindeer and snow globes. How about jewelry, necklaces or charms? The SHOP has those too. Heck, they even carry dog-shaped pillows, posters, and woodblocks featuring a bevy of different languages. There are many things to be found at forsSHOP, all of them creative.
Speaking of creative, if you hop across the street and head west you’ll find Got All Your Marbles, at 220 E. Congress. Got All Your Marbles is unlike any other jewelry store, in that every piece they sell is interchangeable, from faux pearls and created opals to semiprecious stones and metals—all of them marbles. They have rings, bracelets, necklaces, cufflinks and earrings, all with a proprietary tension clasp that allows for customized swapping of marbles to suit your tastes and personality. The possibilities are literally endless.
Maybe jewelry isn’t your thing. Perhaps cooking is your favorite part of the holidays, in which case you’ll want to visit Tucson Olive Central, at 222 E. Congress Street (right next to the aforementioned marble-swapping jewelry store). Because as anyone who cooks well knows, there are several ingredients that are absolutely essential to any culinary endeavor, including—you guessed it—olive oil. Featuring more than 80 varieties of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, spices, pastas and other items, Tucson Olive Central has everything you need to add some real character to your dishes this season.
Keep heading west on Congress, and you’ll come across Crescent Tobacco Shop and Newsstand, which carries everything the discerning cigar chomper and armchair pipe smoker could ever want. Crescent sells a huge variety of cigars, in addition to handmade pipes, tobacco, lighters, incense, newspapers and magazines. Grab a box of cigars as a gift, or pair them with your favorite brandy as an after-dinner treat.
Of course, this wouldn’t be much of a shopping guide if it didn’t include some clothing-related options, and we’d be remiss not to mention some local options that really shine. The first is Hydra, a Downtown staple for more than twenty years now. Hydra carries a huge selection of clothing, shoes, costumes and accessories for men and women, with styles including 50’s retro, rockabilly, gothic, pinup, western AND steampunk. To say that they sell a diverse array of clothing would be a serious understatement. Check them out at the northwest corner of 6th Avenue and Congress.
Another place that recently caught our attention is Atelier Laura Tanzer, located at 410 N. Toole Avenue, in the Historic Train Depot. Laura Tanzer designs and creates modern clothing for women, with an emphasis on natural fibers, sustainable materials, digital printing and sophisticated styling. Tanzer just won the Emerging Designer Competition at Phoenix Fashion Week 2016 last month, no small feat. Better yet, everything is made right here, in her studio.
If music, clothing, jewelry, and cooking just aren’t for you, then how about superheroes? Well you’re in luck, because Constant Con just reopened on Black Friday, now with an even bigger selection of comic and pop culture-themed art and collectibles on hand. Stop by and browse their extensive collection of prints, posters, self-published comics and zines, or hire one of their artists to create something specifically for you! You can also visit the inimitable Mangold, whose manliness is matched only by fishiness (you’ll see). Keep an eye on their social media feed too, as they’re always hosting new events and classes. The Con goes on at 117 N. 6th Avenue.
Then again, if you plan on hitting all, or even some of the shops listed above, you’re going to need some gas in the tank, as it were. For all the coffee lovers out there, Cartel Coffee Lab is most certainly for you. First opened in 2012, Cartel’s Downtown location serves delicious coffee, tea, beer and espresso-based beverages, in addition to pastries and other goodies. They also sell accessories, gift certificates, apparel, and coffee beans by the bag, so you can take the delicious home and make you own. Get your fix at 210 E. Broadway Boulevard.
Perhaps you’d prefer something a bit stronger than coffee. In that case, hit up Batch Cafe & Bar at 118 E. Congress for some whiskey and doughnuts (you read that right). A recent addition to Downtown, Batch offers a HUGE selection of whiskeys, including bourbon, scotch, rye, American and more, plus beer, wine and—wait for it—fresh-baked doughnuts! As if that weren’t enough, they’ve recently expanded their menu to include “real” food, such as salads, sandwiches, grilled cheeses, desserts and boozy cereal (for ages 21 and up, naturally). And really, what more could you want?
For a complete listing of stores in and around Downtown, be sure to check out our DTP shopping page here.