Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the nation, so when you’re looking for a gift to take home after your visit, you’re probably not going to head to the nearest Target. Our local businesses have an expertly curatorial eye that reflect the vibrancy of our artists and makers. The creative underbelly of Houston is like a string of holiday lights that, together, make all 669 square miles of our city shine brighter. Even if you don’t have a gift idea in mind, these shops did the hard part for you — all you have to do is take in the beauty while browsing.
Space Montrose is easily the heavyweight contender for locally-sourced, Houston-focused gifts and goods. A rotating variety abounds among the shelves of this small boutique on Westheimer, from jewelry to candles to clothing to art prints. Eschew the generic Hallmark cards and check out the wall of quirky, unique greeting cards for every occasion. Space’s greatest hits include their Houston pieces with tributes to our richest natural resources: Beyonce, The Astros, Lizzo, and queso.
A Heights toy store that’s basically a Roald Dahl book come to life, Big Blue Whale is a must for anyone with kiddos. There you’ll find hands-on science experiments, sensory-rich gadgets, squishy plushies, colorful candy, organic and eco-friendly clothing, and super progressive and inclusive books for families of all walks of life.
A few doors down on Historic 19th Street in the Heights is Manready Mercantile, a paradise for the pseudo-lumberjack in your life featuring clothing, shoes, accessories, home goods, and vintage pieces from across Texas. If the raw denim and vintage leather isn’t butch enough for you, you can sip a tumbler of whiskey while you browse both the upstairs and downstairs.
Kuhl Linscomb is essential for the design-minded artshound in your life, but pretty everyone can find something perfect in the store’s 80,000 square feet. This Upper Kirby staple has five separate showroom buildings, each dedicated to a theme — one for kitchen goods, one for bedding and textiles, one for home goods and furniture, and plenty of gifts, books, and design pieces.
Cactus Music is Houston’s oldest independent music store. Empire Records meets High Fidelity meets Houston’s unique musical tapestry that expertly weaves the threads of indie rock, dirty south rap, twangy country, punk, power-pop, and folk. Known for hosting intimate live performances, Cactus is also the perfect spot to snag a rare vinyl, vintage posters and memorabilia, and even cassette tapes.
Notable breakout newcomer, Kind Collective is a store that’s like a boho-chic Instagram influencer’s feed come to life. Nestled in a classic Heights bungalow, this boutique features unbelievably beautiful pieces, most of which benefit a good cause. Ethical shopping is much more than a trend, but Kind Collective walks the walk with unique goods made by artisans across the globe. Guilt-free goods made under fair labor practices for social causes is a massive bonus and their gorgeous selection is unlike any other in the city.