A great gift shop is a place where art and consumerism meet. Until you enter its doors, you never really appreciated the beauty of taxidermy, or you never you desired -- or in fact needed -- a mannequin dressed as an Aztec warrior. Well, maybe you don't need one, but your best bro's wedding is coming up ...
As part of our annual celebration of all the best things in Dallas, we've scoured the streets to find some of the coolest, artiest and most eclectic shops in town, places that offer a unique blend of works from local and international artists, toys for you inner child and cool gifts for you besties. Here is our list of our 10 favorites.
See also: Best of Dallas 2013
We Are 1976 The winner for the best gift shop in our 2013 Best of Dallas issue, We Are 1976 has nothing to do with 1976 except for the owners' birth year. Its inventory carries original and affordable prints from local artists ($30 and up), handmade or exclusive accessories, pocketknife necklaces, Japanese candy and loads of other pick-me-ups. If you'd rather make your own art, this shop offers letterpress and art workshops, teaching the print and paint skills needed for a typeset poster, monogram, or other art design ($35 to $180). Nothing like a gift made with love (or laziness).
Dolly Python Dolly Python has won plenty of local awards and we've crowned them the winner for best vintage clothes in our 2013 Best of Dallas issue and "Best Vintage Wear" to "Best Source for Pack Rats" in past editions. It features sequined gowns, taxidermy, costumes, jewelry, home furnishings and art dating from the 1980s to the Victorian era. Cloud 8 Music in Dallas provides the vinyl records for sale. All the art-based gifts are created by locals except those freaky original vintage items. And for the first time in store history, it is offering gift cards.
ATAMA & Company If the recent Vinyl Thoughts Art Show at the Quixotic World blew your mind with its originality, check out the mini-me version in the Mockingbird Station. They feature retail and original vinyl toys and prints like Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z and Simpsons characters from local and national artists ($50 and up). It restocks weekly and hosts trading parties for certain releases. The next one is on October 10 for the Dunny Evolved series at 7 p.m.
Froggie's 5 & 10 "Toys to love your childhood or the tools to relive your childhood" is Froggie's motto, and it appropriately sums up its atmosphere and inventory. Half of its 3,700 square feet features retro toys from the DC universe or Speed Racer, books, mockup toys or retro candy. The other half features merchandise for kids age 5 to 10 ($6.95 and up). It's like a Spencer Gifts, without the adult and fraternity themes.
Grange Hall (Urban Flower) If Froggie's inventory doesn't fit your demographic, take a left on Travis Street to Grange Hall. Although the shop is known for its florist service, they also offer home accessories, art and jewelry that appear summoned from an anthropology museum. Because of the shop's unusual style (an employee described it as Tim Burton goes to Versailles), the items are provided prominently by international vendors. If you are looking for a $5,000 headless mannequin with the body of an Aztec warrior, this is your place.
Nest Nest's colorful modern lifestyle items and accessories from glassware and furniture to leather bags, furry pillows, and fragrances. Despite the store's European trend (and cost), it also has some items with a bit of levity, like rubber ducky lights, stuffed animals and coloring books of Frida Kahlo. If you are in the area during the holiday season, check out the store as buyer and manager Donald Fowler plans to decorate all 6,000 square feet with holiday magic.
The Gypsy Wagon From the outside, the Gypsy Wagon could be a flower shop, with its cheerfully planted beds and swirly designs. Inside it is something else. It's Bohemian Southern style is embedded in its apparel, cowboy boots, gift accessories, jewelery and furniture. If you don't find the right gift while you're inside, check out its "Swap and Flea." It's an elbows-out market showcasing merchandise from local (retail and personal) vendors, as well as discounted goods, housed in the parking lot outside the store at 10 a.m. October 20.
Oil and Cotton Standing in the corner of Seventh and Tyler streets, Oil and Cotton is more than just a gift shop. It carries art supplies like sketchpads, water and acrylic-based paints, calligraphy pens and canvases. But it also offers art classes for children and adults along with workshops taught by specialists of those fields. Now instead of buying gifts for your kids, you can enroll them in these classes so they can make their own zine comics or music-based art.
Bishop Street Market The Bishop Street Market is the only store remaining from the original Bishop Arts District, dating back 17 years. Owner Michael Harrity carved out the shop's niche by keeping his prices lower than the competition while maintaining the same level of quality. Beside their edgy and humorous greeting cards, they also offer fragrance, jewelery, bath and body care products, local and national artists' work, handbags, home accessories and unique items like clocks made from old computer parts.
The Gift Shop in Perot Museum of Nature and Science No, we are not being a smart ass. The gift shop in Perot Museum of Nature and Science offers amazingly fun and unique gifts if you can overlook the mandatory $6 parking fee. The pseudo-Bill Nye the science guy's laboratory sells the expected Perot-brand merchandise. But the real treat here is the astronaut ice cream: Now you can eat the same ice cream 344,000 meters below as the men cruising in space.