Smile Politely

Last-minute local shopping guide, 2015

Frighteningly enough, there are fewer than 10 days until Christmas (if you celebrate that kind of thing). If you’re not sure where to go to shop local last-minute for the holidays, here are a bunch of ideas that should set you straight.

If you missed the Black Friday edition of our shopping local guide, check that out here. This guide is a bit lengthier than that one, so if we didn’t include it in this version — check out the options in that previous one from a few weeks ago. There’s still good stuff to be had.


Apricot Lane

The students are leaving, everyone. Well, most of them at least. Now is your time to go grab something — but go quickly because you only have a few days left before Christmas is here. Of course, the fashions that exist in this Campustown boutique are for a particular subset of human (women), it’s a solid shopping option in C-U that isn’t at the horrid place that is the Marketplace Mall.


If you’re shopping for someone who likes to keep it old school, or if you just need to unwind from holiday shopping by browsing for yourself, Dandelion has got you covered. Obviously you’re going to find retro clothing (particularly on point: dresses and boots), but you should also keep an eye out for stocking stuffers like incense, candles, and dank geometric earrings for $5.

Kessler Optical

Yes, it’s true — Kessler Optical is more of a practice than it is a place to shop for eyewear. However, their fashions are top-of-the-line, and if you’re in the market for something new, and want to do it right, this would be the place to stop.

Champaign Surplus

Champaign Surplus is a no-brainer for this time of the year, especially, but let’s not forget that people are prepping for all seasons around the holidays when looking for gift ideas. When it comes to anything outdoor-related, of course this is place to go, but there are things there that you’d be surprised that will fill a stocking (socks, slippers, hats, etc.) or work for seasons that aren’t called Winter. Buy a gift for someone traveling over the summertime, or a sleeping bag for your kid that’s going camping this spring or fall. There’s a lot to take in, and it is quality.


Norden’s holiday pop-up store is still in full swing until December 20th, so you still have time to swing by and pick up some high quality handmade gifts. This year’s pop-up features origami cards, wooden earrings, and tie wear from Neck & Tie Co. Check out our conversation with Anna and Johann of Norden to get a feel for what makes their products so special.


Flowers are by no means a cop-out holiday gift when you get them from Fleurish, which always has unique, healthy blooms in a wide range of colors. Long-stemmed red dahlias are particularly awesome this time of year, and Fleurish will of course arrange them for you to make them look fantastic.

Neutral Cycle

Aside from a gift card or just a straight up bike for the sporty soul in your life, you can also grab a holiday bundle from Neutral Cycle. The bundle includes a water bottle, jersey, and socks:

*Sassy Santa hat not included

Dallas + Co.

Dallas + Co. is a wonderland of novelties and the perfect spot to shop for creative sorts, children, and pranksters. Take special note of the wide array of wigs and faux mustaches. If you time your shopping right, you may even get to see magician Andy Dallas put on a show in the store.

Texture Home

Decorating for someone’s home is pretty difficult, though there are plenty of options to check out at Texture Home (1107 Windsor Road, Champaign) if you’re looking for someone who is interested in decorating. Sofas, lamps, candles, tables, fixtures — you name it. Perhaps a gift card is the best route to introduce the person, or a smaller decorative item as a test drive Texture’s style.


Christopher’s is your one-stop-shop for bling. Stop by if you’re thinking of popping something on someone this holiday season or if you just want bae to look fancier. They also does a great job with resizings and cleanings if you’re going with the “something old” approach.




Fira is easy to get to this time of year with most of the students cleared out of campustown. They’ve got everything lady-clothing related: from lovely shimmery little things for NYE to chunky cable knits for when January comes along and makes us remember what winter is all about.



Circles is straight up classy. You’re going to find everything from original, catwalk-type looks to owning-the-office work clothes. They’re running a sale through the end of the year that includes 10% off new merchandise and 20% off cashmere.



Columbia Street Roastery

You already know that you can find the kinds of coffee blends that make you actually want to get out of bed at Columbia Street Roastery, but don’t forget you’ll also find loose-leaf tea and lots of coffee/tea accessories for the caffeine fiends in your life. CSR is also offering pretty sweet looking “12 Days of Christmas Coffee” gift boxes if you’re feeling stumped.

Triptych Brewing

It’s hard to find tastier beers than the ones you’ll find at Triptych. Stop by during your holiday shopping to pick up a growler or crowler for your boozy buddies or just to have a pick-me-up before you continue your credit card exercise.

Common Ground Food Co-Op

The much-anticipated new opening of the Champaign location for Common Ground is coming at some point in the near future, and sure, you could try to buy some grocery items for a person, but that would be kind of weird. Instead, you could help them sign up to be a member of the co-op — which you can do for someone whether you live in Champaign or Urbana, really.

Flying Machine Coffee

Flying Machine is obviously one of the places to be in DT Urbana, so this is the perfect place to pick up a gift certificate for anyone who likes beverages of all kinds as well as being in sweet spaces to converse or do work.

Sun Singer

Sun Singer has all kinds of yummies that would make awesome gifts or stocking stuffers, and they’ve also put together some dope looking gift baskets if you’re feeling fancy. This is also a great spot to pick up a gift certificate for food-oriented friends, as well as a bottle of wine or three to make all the holiday mingling more enjoyable.

Dancing Dog

Everyone has the sweets lover in their lives. Some people have the sweets lover in their life that happens to be a little more particular than your average person, Dancing Dog has holiday boxes of individually wrapped chocolate covered coconut-milk caramels. Full pound for $25, or 1/2 pound for $13, plus tax. You can order through Facebook or call the joint.

Cheese + Crackers

Cheese + Crackers has tons of goodies that will make your holidays better: amazing meats and fishes for a fancy Christmas meal, as well as high quality chocolates that would make a perfect small gift for a friend or a stocking stuffer for someone with damn good taste.


Exile on Main Street

It’s pretty easy to get lost in Exile on Main Street’s large but well curated selection of music. You’ll of course find a wide array of vinyl and local music to choose from, so make sure to leave yourself some time to browse through their selection for gifts for music aficionados or, who knows, yourself, if you’re trying to up your music game.

Polyvinyl Records

Polyvinyl has a lot going on right now, as they’re still settling into their new location and offering a ton of music on sale for the holidays in their online store. You can also stop by to pick up music-related swag, such as posters, buttons, and stickers. Check out our conversation with Matt Lunsford to get a taste for what Polyvinyl’s all about.



See You CD + Vinyl

See You CD + Vinyl is the latest record store to pop up in Urbana, and they’ve got a wide selection of music at damn good prices. If you’re not sure what to get, check out their IG, which is updated frequently and should give you some inspiration.

Action Jackson Comics

Comic books, graphic novels, collectible supplies, movie posters, and more — all of these things exist at Action Jackson in Downtown Urbana. Have you been over to that area that exists by Crane Alley? It’s complete with See You CD + Vinyl, C-U Adventures in Time and Space, and the Farm League Skate Shop. Kill many birds with one stone, if you will. Just this weekend, $2 newer comics. $2!

G-Mart Comics

G-Mart offers an overwhelming selection of comics and popular culture gear, so take your time navigating what they have to offer. A particularly timely gift suggestion: Star Wars merch for any jedis or stormtroopers with whom you may associate.

Dr. G’s Brainworks

Games games games, and more games — that’s what you and your family will likely play over the holidays at some point. Looking for a literal one stop shop for board games of pretty much any/all variety? Check out Dr. G’s, located in Lincoln Square in Urbana. Ultimately, it’s a place to test out your brain a bit when it comes to gaming, but this is the place for your board game loving kid, puzzle obsessed spouse, and more.

Friendshop Bookstore (CPL)

The Friendshop Bookstore offers used books, children’s items, DVDs, and more at unbelievable prices (they have over 20,000 items to sort through). You’ll find Friendshop in the lower level of the Champaign Public Library. You might also consider spreading holiday cheer by donating gently used items to them.



Jane Addams Bookstore

Jane Addams has an incredible selection of stuff people actually want to read. They have lots of special editions and books signed by the author, which make especially thoughtful gifts. Check out their website for gift ideas from those in the know.


BodyWork Associates

Stop by BodyWork Associates (or their website) for the mother of all gift certificates: a gift certificate for a massage at one of the best places to relax in the area. BodyWork has a pretty fascinating approach to massage, so check out our conversation with owner Doug Nelson to see what they’re all about.

Upper Bout

At the Upper Bout you’ll find all things guitar and guitar swag, which makes it the perfect place to shop for musicians or aspiring musicians. They also offer lessons, so you might purchase a few of those for someone with a recent interest in learning guitar, voice, piano, bass, mandolin, and more.

Allerton Park

Ever wanted to partake in an event out at the beautiful Allerton Park + Retreat Center? Well, there’s plenty happening out there on the regular, but a free present that would be an awesome (and thoughtful) gift would be to plan a day out at Allerton. If the weather is even remotely good (or even if it’s cold, let’s be real) — a planned experience at Allerton is a solid move.


Jaivika has a wide selection of products if you want to grab something special for a fashionista or two, and it’s also a great place to swing by for a gift certificate for one of their services. Jaivika works with any hair texture and type, so the sky’s the limit in terms of gifting potential.

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

Things are pretty calm at Krannert right now, but there is an amazing array of performances lined up for the winter and spring, so stop by the box office to pick up tickets for someone with culture who you’d like to spend some time with. Sometimes experiences are better than things.

Urbana Boulders

Urbana Boulders offers one of the newest cool things to do in C-U: bouldering on their dozens of courses. You can pick up gift certificates for a couple of day passes at $10 a pop or a ten-punch pass for $80 for athletic types who are keen to climb on the reg.

No Regrets

Buy your friend or hell, treat yourself to one for the holiday season. You are probably planning and/or justifying getting ink at some point, why not spend the money during the holiday, support a local biz, and have a cool present for once? I know, I know — you think all of your gifts that you get for someone are cool, but most likely, it won’t be as memorable — or as permanent — as a tattoo.

Steam Industries

Do you even vape, bro? Sorry, I had to — but in all seriousness, we all have those friends that are interested in vaping and e-cigs, and they’re hosting an event through this weekend to reopen their shop. All sorts of other accessories and things of the like to check out.

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