Smile Politely

Guide to shopping local 2015

Holiday shopping mayhem comes but once a year. Instead of spending your money on the same old, same old stuff at big box stores, you should keep it local.

Here are some ideas for where you can go to buy one-of-a-kind gifts for those on your shopping list.

Prairie Gardens

Prairie Gardens opens at 7 a.m. on Friday, so this would be a good place to kick off your holiday shopping. You’ll be able to browse all the good stuff of the season: ornaments, trees, lights, wreaths, and more. Prairie Gardens is running a few exclusive deals this weekend, including $50 free merchandise with the purchase of any artificial tree over $229.97 and discounted light sets. 

What to buy: tree + trimmings, picture frames, pashmina scarves, table settings, Christmas cactus

Who to shop for: kindly elderly neighbors, close friends, your house

Ten Thousand Villages 

If you’re still not in good holiday cheer, a trip to Ten Thousand Villages should set you straight. In addition to jewelry, dishes, and bags, the holiday decoration situation is on fleek over there. You’ll also get bonus charitable feelings from shopping here since sales benefit artisans in developing countries. On Friday, they will offer 70% select items and buy one, get one half all ornaments all day long. On Saturday, they are offering buy one, get one 25% off anything in the store.

What to buy: candles, earrings, wooden elephants, holiday cards, handmade journals

Who to shop for: moms, secret santas, fair trade enthusiasts, Bernie Sanders supporters

Champaign Surplus

Champaign Surplus is, and pretty much always has been, the go-to spot for winter clothing and outdoor goods in C-U. Once again, you can find plenty of deals not only throughout this week, but into the weekend and Black Friday. Check out their Black Friday deals here.

What to buy: flannels, jackets, boots

Who to shop for: Outdoorsy friends and family, those who enjoy staying warm in the winter months, kids

Furniture Lounge / Plant Mode

Conveniently located in the exact same building, both Furniture Lounge and Plant Mode have tons of good-looking decor items to make your interior spaces pop. Furniture Lounge features mid-century furniture, art, decorative items, and vintage clothing. Furniture Lounge will be offering 10% everything in the store excluding jewelry this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Plant Mode features exquisitely curated plant-life. If you bring containers, Plant Mode will pot your new plant friends for you, thereby reducing instances of unexpected plant death.

What to buy: framed artwork, vintage vests, button ferns, chairs that would make Frank Lloyd Wright jealous

Who to shop for: co-workers, spouses, college students

Exile on Main Street / Dandelion

Also located in the exact same place, Exile on Main Street and Dandelion are a good stop for knocking out a big portion of your holiday shopping list. Exile will have all used items on sale, and tons of limited edition records will be coming out in time for Black Friday (think a new Beck single, an unreleased Johnny Cash live album, and a Nine Inch Nails box set).

Dandelion will be offering 25% off its huge range of vintage clothing as well as buy one get one free sunglasses.

What to buy: vinyl, local music, holiday sweaters, polyester, boots, incense

Who to shop for: fashionistas, teens, music aficionados

Record Swap

Speaking of records, don’t forget to swing by Record Swap for limited edition LP’s as well as used vinyl. In addition to exclusive finds, Record Swap will also be offering 20% off used products and 10% off new products (excluding the most recent Black Friday stock).

What to buy: the latest tunes, golden oldies

Who to shop for: hipsters, dads, blues lovers

Apricot Lane

Campustown is (relatively) barren of students, so now is a good time to sneak over and check out some of the unique fashion options in that neck of the woods. Apricot Lane features women’s clothing and accessories, and they’re running some pretty incredible deals this weekend: 40% off the entire store from 8 a.m. – noon on Friday, and 30% off after noon. Folks who spend over $200 will also get free swag bags until they run out (first come, first served).

What to buy: belts, boots, sweaters, jewelries

Who to shop for: the ladies, the ladies

Jane Addams

Jane Addams is a treasure in downtown Champaign, offering used, rare, and out-of-print books. It’s also a great place to recharge in the midst of a long shopping day. You’ll also find cards and other readerly ephemera. If you sign up for their newsletter, Jane Addams will offer 20% off your purchase.

What to buy: science fiction novels, poetry, cookbooks, children’s books, gift cards

Who to shop for: nieces & nephews, neighbors, scholars 

BodyWork Associates

Getting someone a gift card for a massage is objectively classy. BodyWork Associates offers gift cards in any dollar amount or for a particular service. And if you’re escaping this whole shopping thing IRL thing, you can order and print gift certificates online from the comfort of your own home.

What to buy: gift certificates

Who to shop for: husbands + wives, your boom sugar, yourself

C-U Adventures in Time and Space

Another kind of experience (instead of material object) you could purchase for someone on your shopping list is a room at C-U Adventures in Time and Space, a new escape room venue. Not sure what an escape room is? Check out our conversation with the owners about what to expect. You can find gift certificates online.

What to buy: gift certificates

Who to shop for: gamers, adventurers, buddies


World Harvest 

This is the place to go for holiday edibles: coffee, tea, jams and jellies, dried candies and nuts, and, especially, high-quality chocolate, which is always on sale. You should also pick up a few snacks to help you thrive through an afternoon of shopping. 

What to buy: schmancy olive oil, baklava, stocking stuffers, CHOCOLATE

Who to shop for: foodies, acquaintances, travelers, sweet-tooths

Upper Bout


Here, you can find all kinds of goodies for the musicians and folks in need of a good hobby in your life, including guitars, amps, and accessories. Saturday is the day to go because they will be offering 20% off select guitars and 15% off accessories.

What to buy: guitar strings, amps, dope axes

Who to shop for: musicians, males in their teens and twenties, singer/songwriter types


H2o offers tons of high-quality products and makeup, and non-sale items are discounted this Small Business Saturday. While you’re there, you could also pick up a gift certificate for hair, facial, or nail services. 

What to buy: hair products, nail polish, nail polish

Who to shop for: females in their teens and twenties, high maintenance types, folks who need to de-stress


Jaivika is the new-ish salon located on 5th and Green by our pals at Neutral Cycle, and they are a great option for someone who needs some pampering over the holidays. Surprise them with a product or some time at the salon.

What to buy: organic hair products, gift card/appointment

Who to shop for: fans of all-natural hair products, females with any hair texture or type


Norden at home is the newer branch of Norden Design, located at colab in Urbana. They’re having a partner, Neck + Tie co., set up over the weekend. They’ll have their “well dressed” accessories and much more.

What to buy: ties, accessories, other crafted products

Who to shop for: men in their twenties or thirties, fashion-focused types

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