For those who celebrate, the holidays — and the gift-giving that comes with them — can be one of the most stressful times of year. As a college student, arranging gifts for friends and family while balancing finals week, budgeting and the romanticization of overconsumption and holiday spending online can be challenging.
Luckily, Bloomington has many locally owned shops with gifts suitable for anyone you may be shopping for. There is no better opportunity to support small businesses like the holidays.
For the granola girl or anyone outdoorsy
Sitting on the west side of Bloomington’s downtown square is JL Waters Adventure Outfitters – Indiana’s oldest outdoor store. Since 1973, JL Waters has specialized in supplying Bloomington’s backpacking, paddle sports, travel, camping, fly fishing, footwear and apparel needs of those in touch with nature’s landscape.
If you are still in search of a gift for that uncle who has visited every national park or a roommate taking a ski trip over break, JL Waters might be worth a look. The adventure outfitters store carries brands such as The North Face, Patagonia, Hydro Flask, Fjallraven, HOKA and Birkenstock among many others.
Visitors can enjoy the 50-year-old establishment’s charm and maybe even find the perfect weatherproof jacket to handle the Indiana winter. JL Waters is open from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays at 109 N College Ave.
For the music lovers in your life
Bloomington is home to so much art, culture and music. Whether you are shopping for your Bruce Springstein loving dad, or your cool younger sister who collects records, there is a place in Bloomington where you can find something they would like — no matter how obscure or mainstream.
Sharing a building with Parlor Doughnuts and Soma Coffeehouse and Juice Bar, tucked downstairs is the entrance to TD’s CDs and LPs. The store buys and trades used vinyl, cassettes, CDs and DVDs. Offering a wide range of genres and artists, the store possesses an eclectic ambiance. TD’s is open 12 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday and 12 p.m.-6:30 p.m. again on Mondays in the basement of Kirkwood Manner, 322 E Kirkwood Ave. Visit the store and give yourself the gift of a fun, musical experience!
For your younger siblings, cousins, nieces or nephews
There is nothing sweeter than the excitement of a child opening new toys during the holiday season. If you are looking for quirky, educational and sustainable gifts for a young one in your family, Bloomington’s Mairzy Doats is the place to look.
The small family-owned business founded in Bloomington specializes in global toys and secondhand books for different ages and reading levels. While prices vary, there is a vast selection of affordable options. Plus, if you are unable to shop in store, the user-friendly website offers free local delivery. From slime to blocks to puppets, you will find great enjoyment in stopping by to see what they offer.
For your favorite book worm
At the crossroads of Kirkwood Avenue and North Walnut Street, in the heart of downtown Bloomington, is The Book Corner. James and Barbara Spannuth opened the store in 1964 and it has been owned by their family for generations.
The cozy corner shop has a plethora of reads to choose from for any book lover you may be shopping for. They offer a selection of classic novels, as well as more trendy or relevant choices too. Other than books, the corner shop has different knick-knacks, games, stationery and gifts.
Going into a small, locally owned bookstore is always special, even if you are not a reader yourself, because you are always bound to encounter someone so passionate about a book, they want to share with you. It may become a favorite of yours (or the person you are gifting it to).
The Book Corner is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 100 North Walnut Street.