Holiday Shopping From Town to Town
Make your way from Florida up to Mississippi and Georgia in search of small-town holiday gifts.
Shopping for Christmas presents is often a stressful, harried experience. People push through mall crowds or Cyber Monday sales to find the perfect gift, only to learn it sold out hours ago. This year, take a break from the hustle and bustle to explore some of the most unique, historic and peaceful shopping districts the South has to offer. We promise your gift recipients will appreciate these thoughtful, one of a kind items — and be sure to pick up a little something for yourself as well.
MARTIN COUNTY, FLORIDA
Shopping opportunities are often over looked among Martin County’s sandy beaches, clear blue water and nature preserves. However, if you’re looking for holiday gifts, shopping should top your list of things to do.
One of the many quaint towns in the county, Stuart contains a historic downtown district filled with shops. Stop into Coconut Bay Gifts and Sea Shells for crafted glassware, ocean-inspired holiday wreaths and hand-crafted angel ornaments made from oyster and scallop shells. There are also several antiques stores, including Two Streets Antiques and Patti’s.
If it’s beach-inspired attire you’re looking for, Beju Boutique has lots of bright dresses, while April Daze Boutique sells more traditional clothing, jewelry and shoes.
Just north of Atlanta in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains, Alpharetta boasts five distinct shopping districts. In North Alpharetta, fashion lovers will find shops like Dress Up Boutique, which sells trendsetting clothing and accessories that won’t break the bank. If you need something for your favorite athlete, check out Windward’s Big Peach Running Company, a locally owned store with a wide range of footwear, apparel and accessories.
Couture shoppers will love the Designer Consigner, an upscale consignment boutique that makes brands like Chanel, Burberry and Dior accessible. If you’ve got a horse lover on your Christmas list, be sure to stop in Dover Saddlery for riding apparel and clothing. Alpharetta also boasts the state’s only American Girl Boutique and Bistro, a destination in itself, along with Avalon, a sustainably designed, 86-acre development with more than 500,000 square feet of retail.
BLUE RIDGE, GEORGIA
Nestled in the lazy community of Blue Ridge is a cozy store that offers handmade jewelry and leather bags. Lynn Kemp, owner of GawdyBobbles now known as Canoe, has been designing and selling jewelry for 11 years, and her line of products recently expanded to include leather bags, totes and accessories.
Though her wares can be found in 700 stores nationwide, Kemp spends most of her time in her Blue Ridge shop helping customers pair her leather bags and jewelry for a one-of-a kind look. If you’re looking to make a sophisticated statement with your gift, then stop by Canoe. And click here to get a shopping guide for Blue Ridge’s antique and thrift stores.
Just 20 minutes north of Atlanta, Roswell is perfect as a day trip destination, especially if you want hard-to-find gifts. Roswell offers culture lovers the chance to stroll through several art galleries, local eateries and boutiques. Even the Roswell Farmers Market is a cut above the rest, offering specialty biodynamic grocery delivery service.
If there’s a food-lover on your list, stop into Roswell Provisions, a market and bistro in one that offers specialty wines, cheeses, cured meats and vegetables. If you’d rather buy local, head to Ale Yeah!, a craft beer-only package store that sells local cheeses and sausages along with other artisan products.
Art lovers should cjeck out Raiford Gallery, situated in a 9,100-square-foot timber-framed building. Located in the historic district, the gallery features works of more than 400 artists, including glass, ceramics, original paintings, turned wood and jewelry.
Nearby, Ann Jackson Gallery exhibits and sells oils, acrylics, works on paper, sculpture and glass from local, national and international artists, including founder Ann Jackson. It’s also one of only 30 galleries in the world licensed to represent the Art of Dr. Seuss.
Two hours from Atlanta, off Interstate 20, is Augusta, a vibrant community of art galleries, working art studios and local bistros near the Savannah River. Finding a gift for your picky art-loving friend is a no-brainer in Augusta, especially if you check out Tire City Potters. The shop is located downtown in an old tire tank of an automotive garage. Skilled ceramic artisans offer high-quality, functional ceramics, and if you want to get in on the action, there’s the chance to make a piece yourself.
Want to wear a piece of history? Head to Vintage Ooollee. Store owner Ooollee Bricker offers shoppers vintage pieces ranging from 1970s mini-skirts to 1920s flapper dresses. For locally-inspired gifts, check out the Sacred Heart Cultural Center gift shop for regional books and artwork, home accessories and memorable collectibles.
Located off I-10 in Southwest Georgia, Albany beckons with the promise of fun, adventure and lots of shopping. Wine-lovers should plan a day trip to Still Pond Vineyard and Distillery to sample some of the vineyard’s 18 award-winning wines and enjoy a peaceful day relaxing in the rocking chairs that adorn the front porch. Before you go, wander into the gift shop, where you can buy jellies, wines and other Still Pond products.
Clothes shoppers need only head to Blush or Envy, two boutiques that will be sure to make the fashionista on your list happy. But if you’re looking for something to warm a friend’s home this holiday season, try Place on the Pointe or Quails Nest Florist and Home Decor for exclusive decor and china.
In need of a distinctly Southern gift? Check out Southern Elegance of GA. You’ll be able to pick out collegiate gifts and jewelry and may just get all of your Christmas shopping done in one store.
Boutiques are LaGrange’s specialty. If you want a one-of-a-kind gift, head to LaFayette Square for some superb shopping. You’ll find antique malls, art galleries and boutiques like Serendipity and Plum Southern with gifts for everyone on your list.
While you’re visiting LaGrange, stop by Hills and Dales Estate, the historic home of the Fuller E. Callaway Family. Tour the gorgeous home and stroll through Ferrell Gardens before visiting the gift shop for garden and architectural books, accessories, jewelry and plants grown on site.
An hour from Memphis, Oxford, was voted by Lucky magazine as a small town with big style. Check out Neilson’s, the oldest department store in the South, before heading to unique boutiques like Miss Behavin and Pink and Proper on the Square.
Of course, book lovers can browse the latest titles and collector’s items at Square Books, Off Square Books and Square Books Jr., while also supporting a local, independent bookstore.
Photo credits, from top: Featured photo of Santa at Avalon courtesy of Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau; trail sign courtesy of Martin County Office of Tourism and Marketing; lighting of Avalon courtesy of Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau; Lynn Kemp, owner of GawdyBobbles and Canoe, courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce; Raiford Gallery courtesy of Visit Roswell Georgia Convention and Visitors Bureau; Artists Row Shopping courtesy of Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau; Albany,Georgia, courtesy of Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau; Square Books Jr. by Deep South; and Hills and Dales tree courtesy of Hills and Dales Estate.