The holiday shopping season is heating up and we all want to find that perfect gift.
Ditch the big box stores and embrace a more laid-back, artful shopping experience at locally owned shops and boutiques instead. You’ll find great gifts with a ton of personality — and many of them will be unique to the region.
Here are eight of my favorite spots for holiday shopping in North Dakota.
They offer one-stop shopping for almost everyone on your list, but they also provide a little something special (coffee, cupcakes, an adorable kitten) that makes the shopping experience even more enjoyable. They’re also located in vibrant shopping districts with lots of other stores, galleries and restaurants nearby, so you can make a day of it. (Just double-check the times before you head out, as holiday hours can change.)
And if you can’t visit in person, check them out online. Even if they don’t have online shopping available, the staff at these shops are great about suggesting gift ideas — sometimes even shipping them right to your door!
Inside Zandbroz Variety
Shopping at Zandbroz Variety is a pleasure. Christmas lights twinkle in the ever-changing store windows and the shelves and elegant glass cases are bursting with artfully arranged gifts, paper products, jewelry, toys, accessories and inspiring items for the kitchen and bath. This is variety store shopping at its finest.
Even though it’s a shopping haven, Zandbroz still considers itself an indie bookstore at heart. The bookcases boast hundreds of titles, including a great selection of books that illuminate regional history, food and culture.
If you need to unwind, duck into the used book section in the back, where the old soda fountain used to be. It’s a quiet place to relax during the holiday hustle and bustle.
420 North Broadway
Monday – Saturday: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday: Noon – 5 p.m.
This little shop is packed to the gills with unique gifts, art and conversation starters from artists and designers all over the region. The selection is fun, functional and quirky, so you’re practically guaranteed to find something here that’ll make you smile.
Standouts include a large selection of interesting jewelry, funny (and pun-y!) linens, cards, prints and T-shirts for guys and girls and adorable handmade gifts for little ones. The colorful stuffed monsters, sweet dolls and dreamy play tents appeal to kids of all ages — including those who are old enough to have kids and grandkids of their own.
Save room for a cupcake from Bakeology, available at the register. These gourmet and gluten-free cupcakes are the perfect reward after a busy shopping day.
Monday – Wednesday: 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Luggage Tags by In Blue Handmade
Photo provided by A Creative Outlet
A Creative Outlet
This is a showplace for local artists and makers, a gleeful mixture of fine art and handmade wares. There are gifts here for everyone on your list, from stuffed animals and organic teething rings for the littlest ones to frame-worthy prints, jewelry and home goods for adults.
Many of the gift items, like the metal bottle openers, thick leather journals and substantial luggage tags, have a rugged appeal that will charm no-nonsense guys and girls. And don’t forget to pick up a spectacular centerpiece at Crabapple Floral, located right in the back of the shop.
A Creative Outlet
303 East Main Avenue
Tuesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Inside Living Sage
Design fans and decorators will love a gift from Living Sage. From steampunk to rustic to country chic, this shop celebrates unique home decor. Browse the refurbished furniture, luxurious bedding and pretty table top displays.
The store stocks lots of little treasures to make a house feel like a home, including wall art and sculptures made by local artists, candles and paint for your home improvement projects. You’ll also find artful jewelry, clothing and accessories from local and regional designers.
416 Demers Avenue
Grand Forks, ND
Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
This shop is the latest offering from women’s fashion boutique Kittsona, which recently moved down the block and changed its name from Kittson. Kittsona Lifestyle offers a fresh selection of home decor and gift items, including some treasures from regional makers.
The journals, cards and wall decor have a decidedly feminine feel, while the books, handmade soaps and handsome wooden cutting boards and travel mugs will appeal to lots of people on your list. And don’t forget to stock on up North Dakota goodies like pretzels, honey, locally roasted coffee and lefse. They make great stocking stuffers — and a welcome snack after a long shopping day.
28 South 3rd Street
Grand Forks, ND
Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Earrings at Michele F
Ladies love unwrapping something sparkly and there are plenty of options to choose from at Michele F. The chunky cocktail rings, architectural earrings and layered necklaces are the perfect mix of edgy, pretty and raw, an absolutely stunning mix of semi-precious stones, Swarovski and druzy crystals, pearls, sterling silver and natural brass. Most of it is made locally and the Minot showroom is the only place to see it in person.
In addition to the jewelry, the fashionistas on your list will love the clothing, bags and footwear on display, including that western North Dakota staple, embroidered and embellished cowboy boots. You’ll also find home decor items, scented candles and Mr. Big, the cutest little shop kitty you’ll ever see.
22 South Main Street
Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m
This is a bookstore that dreams are made of, an expanse of new and used titles, artfully arranged by theme, with lots of little nooks to sink into when you find something you like.
Main Street Books is an interactive, tactile place that encourages you to sample, explore and stay awhile. Learn about local and regional life through the history books, cookbooks and colorful, photo-packed coffee table books on display or score a bargain or two in the used section. And you’ll find lots of games and stocking stuffers for all ages.
If you have little ones on your list, turn them loose in the large toy area. There’s a play kitchen, train and game tables for them to play with (genius!) so you can do a little shopping on the sly. Then grab a cup of complimentary coffee or cider and sink into the comfy chairs by the fireplace.
Main Street Books
8 Main Street
Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: Noon – 4 p.m.
Palette knife art by Darice Taylor
Photo provided by Celebrations N’ Crafts
Celebrations N’ Crafts
This little shop is billed as an art supply store, but it’s so much more. Part gallery, part art school and part gift shop, Celebrations N’ Crafts is the perfect place to find (and take home!) a unique piece of North Dakota art, from prairie landscapes to colorful abstract canvases. There’s something here for every budget.
Paintings, photographs and prints from both established and up-and-coming regional artists line the walls from floor to ceiling — and there are even more pieces tucked away in storage. There are lots of interesting gift ideas here too. I recommend the pretty glass ornaments, the handmade jewelry and the natural soaps and lotions, made just down the street at Jo-Jo Bean’s.
Celebrations N’ Crafts
31 1st Street West
Monday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Thank you to North Dakota Tourism's guest blogger, Alicia with Prairie Style File.