IN A VAST sea of consumer options, there’s nothing more satisfying than finding a small shop that offers specialty items you could never find anywhere else. One of the joys, in fact, of living in New York City is just how many boutiques and one-of-a-kind stores you can find on any given block. But of course it’s not just in cities that small shops abound. As we all gear up for this year’s gifting season, it’s worth taking some time to check out cool little places that’ll absolutely ensure that whatever present you do buy — for mom, dad, sister, brother, son, daughter, best friend, whomever — is something wonderfully unique. Plus, you can bask in the warm glow of helping a small business not just survive, but thrive. Here’s a starter list.
This tiny jewel box of a shop is tucked away in Point Reyes Station, California, a small town north of San Francisco with a population of under 300. Monk Estate is a fine purveyor of unique, mostly antique jewelry from all over the world — because gifts, especially jewelry, are great when they feel one of a kind. SHOP NOW
For cycling aficionados (or those who aspire to be), Pas Normal is an elevated line of biking essentials, as functional as it is fashionable. With laser-cut jerseys, base layers, and bibs in jewel tones, here’s your chance to swap the flimsy spandex for something a bit more sophisticated. SHOP NOW
’Tis the season of stuffing your face with festive treats. So there’s no time like now to make sure what you’re eating is elevated. Cream Co. works with over 20 sustainable, regenerative, and family-owned farms to bring you top-quality oxtails, chuck roasts, marrow bones, Spanish black turkeys, and classic bone-in rib eyes, with a subscription program that will knock your socks off. SHOP NOW
Colectivo 1050º is a Mexican cooperative made up of artisans from seven distinct communities in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Chiapas. They specialize in simple pottery made via traditional techniques, so when you buy one of their incredibly exceptional mezcal cups or fruit bowls, you’re not only finding the ideal present, you’re helping preserve the essential culture of craftsmanship. SHOP NOW
The Parisian son of an optician father and a designer mother, Thierry Lasry makes the highest quality eyewear in the chicest of styles. Though most fashion brands emblazon their brand name on the side of shades these days, Lasry’s specs (handmade in France) are discreetly brand-free on the exterior, instead keeping the focus of the flashiness within the shape itself. The Mastermindy is glamorously opaque and oversized. SHOP NOW
Finding the right olive oil is an art in and of itself, as any number of cheaply made products are marketing themselves these days as artisanal. Kosterina is the real deal cold-pressed EVOO, made from Koroneiki olives (harvested early to “maximize antioxidants”) from Southern Greece. SHOP NOW
Alex Frank Writer
Alex Frank is a contributing editor at Departures. Based in Manhattan, Frank previously worked at Vogue.com as deputy culture editor. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, New York Magazine, Fantastic Man, and the Village Voice.
Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator
Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.