The Christmas tree in Campus Martius is lit, the first snow of the season has fallen, small Business Saturday is less than a week away, holiday markets have started, and Santa will be riding through Detroit for America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday. All these events signal to me that it is time to start baking Christmas cookies and strategize my Christmas gift-shopping plan. In a continuation of our first challenge project focused on small businesses in Detroit, I’m joining many other fellows in shopping small and shopping inside Detroit this holiday season. While I can’t say the exact gifts I’ll be buying (that would spoil the fun for friends and family reading!), I’ve put together a list of my top ten spots for finding presents just as special as my sisters!

  1. Hello Again Records:

    Some of the Jazz collection at Hello Again.

    Located in Jefferson Chalmers, this record store has quickly become my favorite. With a selection of classic blues, jazz, Motown, R & B, emerging Detroit artists and more, Hello Again is the perfect spot to search for a present for your friend owning a record player or your friend who loves music and album artwork. Each time I visit the store, owner Ray has added a new counter, bookshelf of records, or artwork on the walls, and happily shares conversation and music with you. Don’t forget to stop next door at Coffee & (_) to get your caffeine fix and tasty treats to propel you through your day of shopping. In general, Detroit is the perfect place to shop for records. Between Hello Records, Hello Again, People’s Records, Paramita Sound, and Jack White’s Third Man Records (opening November 27th), Detroit is full of records, new and old, to satisfy all music tastes.

  2. Bike Tech: With sisters living in Chicago and Brooklyn and a Dad who loves up-north, biking is big in my family. As biking continues to increase in popularity within Detroit, there are many new and old bike stores to meet a biker’s needs (and wants!). My first stop in seeking a gift for my family of bike lovers will be Bike Tech. BikeTech is located on East Warren near Grosse Point Park. I had the pleasure of learning more about the store’s 30 year history during our first challenge project. For gifts, I’ll be looking through their bike accessories and vintage odds and ends, but they also have new and used bikes for sale, bike repair services, and snowmobile repair services!
  3. Run-Detroit: Not the only runner in the family, I’ll be visiting Run Detroit to look for running apparel and accessories for exercising in the winter weather. Nike’s plan to open a store in Downtown Detroit this spring has many excited, but don’t forget you can already find Nike and more at Run Detroit. The store also offers 8 AM group runs each Saturday for runners at any level. Their staff is very knowledgeable not only about their products, but all things running in general. If your back is sore (and you’re worried about carrying your backpack full of gifts around while shopping like me), they’ll be able to offer you plenty of tips to get you back to tip top shape in no time.
  4. Nora, City Bird, and Nest: IMG_1829Though I hope to spread my dollar throughout the city, I can’t ignore these three great options for housewares, coloring books, apparel, jewelry, and more in my backyard. Each of the stores has a unique offering of items from different artists, mainly in the Detroit area. At Nora, I already treated myself to the ‘Detroit Loves Everybody’ t-shirt and many of my friends have their eye on it. I’m in love with the variety of vendors at City Bird. In particular, I plan to get someone on my list a frame made by Mutual Adoration. Mutual Adoration uses wood from Detroit house deconstruction to make homey frames, trays, and more. Bonus: Mutual Adoration is on Etsy for all of y’all living outside Michigan!
  5. Signal Return: My gift shopping could

    Michigan map print my Mom picked!

    not be complete without stopping at the shops near Eastern Market. In addition to coffee from Germack or Trinosophes and old-time candy from Rocky’s, there are two non-food shops that are must hits on my shopping spree-Signal Return being the first. The letterpress store has a workshop on one side and a variety of finished presses on the other. I’ve already used Signal Return for birthday gifts, purchasing a charming print of the state of Michigan for my mom and I’ll be returning for more gems for Christmas. Also, Signal Return offers letterpress workshops. After completing two workshops, you can rent time on their letterpress machine to do your own printing-pretty neat I think! (hint hint to Santa from Emily)

  6. Eastern Market Antiques: My second must stop location in Eastern Market is Eastern Market Antiques. The store has three floors of vintage furniture, books, clothing, housewares, jewelry, sports gear, and more. It is like entering your Grandma’s basement or a well curated garage sale. I’ll be returning to take a second look at their selection of old University of Michigan items for my wolverine friends and family.
  7. Polish Art Center:

    Store window for the Polish Art Center.

    Gift shopping in the Kempa household wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Polish Art Center in Hamtramck. My mom has shared her love of Polish pottery with my sisters and I. In addition to most Christmas dishes being served out of an eclectic mix of Polish pottery pieces, each Christmas usually involves the addition of at least one new piece of pottery. As my family’s resident Detroiter, I must stop here during my Christmas shopping.

  8. Coffee Crawl: I love coffee. My friends and family love coffee. Rather than purchasing anyone Startbuck’s Holiday blend, I’ll be visiting Detroit’s growing collection of coffee shops, such as Red Hook, Café Con Leche, Great Lakes Coffee, Anthology, and Germack, to find everyone’s favorite blends.
  9. Holiday Markets:

    Entrance to the Holiday Market at the Jam Handy.

    Several markets devoted to shopping local this holiday season are planned across Detroit. With a wide variety of locally made goods, they are the perfect spot to find one-of-a-kind items for anyone on your list. Already, pot & box hosted a holiday market at the Jam Handy. Upcoming fairs include various  specialty Tuesday and Sunday markets at the Eastern Market, small business Saturday shopping excursions and bazaar, the Detroit Urban Craft Fair December 4th – December 6th, and the Holiday Makers Market at Ponyride on December 12.

  10. Experiences: In addition to buying physical gifts, Detroit is full of experiences to gift to friends and family. For some of my friends and family living in the metro area, I’m planning to gift little Detroit excursions. Tickets to the D.I.A.’s 30 Americans Exhibition, tours with the Detroit Experience Factory, skating at Campus Martius, or tickets to a show at one of Detroit’s many options are just a few options for gifting an evening out!

There you have it-my top ten places to shop Detroit this holiday season! Okay…so the last three spots aren’t just one location each, but that’s what makes Detroit so special. There are way more than 10 options for your holiday shopping needs in Detroit! Join me in my quest to only #ShopDetroit this Christmas!

P.S.- I will be cheating and ordering my Holiday cards from my sister’s store on Etsy BUT she does have some pretty adorable cards. I guess I should say join me in shopping Detroit for gifts and my sister’s store for cards. 😉


One of the many cute cards made by my sister!