AUSTIN — The West Side’s arts scene and business environment have grown in recent years.
And with the holidays fast approaching, there’s no better time to support the artists working to make the area a creative hub and the entrepreneurs hustling at pop-ups and neighborhood markets to drive the West Side’s economy.
Block Club has rounded up some of those shops to make it easy for Chicagoans who want to shop local and support West Side businesses this holiday season.
Here’s what you can buy:
Gone Again Travel and Tours, 5940 W. Chicago Ave. Website.
Know someone who needs an escape from the brutal Chicago winter? Consider getting them a vacation package from Gone Again Travel and Tours, Chicago’s only Black-owned brick-and-mortar travel agency.
The travel agency specializes in heritage trips across Africa that provide an opportunity for Black people to reconnect with their history and traditions.
Gone Again Travel also offers local trips and tours, including its Chi-Town Soul Trolley Tours ($45), which take participants sightseeing across the city. The holiday trolley ride, planned for Dec. 4 and Dec. 18 ($45-$60), will tour the city’s most spectacular holiday lights.
Briana Janee Arts, online. Website.
If you need a gift for an art lover, Austin-based artist Briana Janeé has prints of her watercolor paintings for sale.
Janeé’s Movement is Magic collection (prints for $75) features the bold colors and whimsical style that are a hallmark of her work. The series celebrates the beauty of Black history and the cultural values that have allowed Black folks to survive centuries of hardship. Each piece in the collection uses images of movement and dance to illustrate a different value, like resilience or compassion.
Bitoy’s Sweet Treats, 5957 W. Chicago Ave. Website.
This West Side dessert shop has all kinds of treats to delight your friends and family with a sweet tooth.
Besides its signature gelato flavors, the crowd favorites at Bitoy’s Sweet Treats are its gourmet popcorns. Its sweet cheese popcorn is a spin on the iconic Chicago-style popcorn with cheese and caramel flavors blended into each kernel. Its Chicago Fire popcorn has a touch of spiciness, and it also has a classic cheese flavor for those who can’t handle the heat.
Get all three flavors in the Cheese Collection ($70).
Bitoy’s Sweet Treats is open noon-7 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 773-417-3296. Instagram.
Jasmon Harper Art, online. Website.
The socially conscious art of Austin artist Jasmon Harper features themes of Black liberation and resilience. Her art depicts many of the struggles Black people face while recognizing the strength and power in those who fight for social equity.
Harper has original pieces for sale and also offers prints, posters, phone cases, mugs, pillow cases and tote bags emblazoned with her art.
La Collection Mouja, online. Website.
For a loved one who loves to get pampered, La Collection Mouja has a variety of shea-butter based skin care and hair care products.
Its collection features several CBD-infused products, like a shea-based body butter ($24.99) and infused massage oils ($14.99).
Gaia Designs by Q, online. Website.
Quianda James, often known as Kiki the Jeweler, launched her holistic wellness and jewelry business as part of her journey to manage her health without relying on pharmaceuticals.
Gaia Designs by Q offers crystals, jewelry, herbs and essential oils. Her tonics, featuring ingredients like elderberry, moringa and soursop, are suited for people seeking a holistic path towards wellness.
For astrologically minded folks, check out Kiki’s jewelry and raw crystals, which include jade, lapis lazuli and rose quartz.
Groovy Herbal Teas, online. Website.
With the days getting shorter and chillier, there’s nothing more nourishing to the mind, body and soul than a warm cup of tea.
Groovy Herbal Teas offers several kinds of blends of sustainably grown teas. There are teas aimed at supporting kidney health, the immune system, helping you relax and giving your digestive system a boost.
For the perfect gift for a tea connoisseur, order the sample box ($25), which comes with all 10 blends offered by Groovy Herbal Teas.
Sweet Beginnings, 1111 S. Homan Ave. Website.
These honey products are produced by Sweet Beginnings, a work readiness and job training organization that empowers people returning from incarceration to find gainful employment and contribute to their community.
The skin care products are made using honey and beeswax from local apiaries run by the North Lawndale Employment Network.
Try its Pure Necessities collection ($17), a gift box that comes with a lip balm, a lotion and a shower gel made from honey and beeswax.
Firebird Community Arts, 2651 W. Lake St. Website.
The hand-blown glass sculptures and holiday ornaments offered by Firebird Community Arts make for more than just a stunning gift. The glass pieces also help fund the nonprofit art center’s therapeutic programs, which use art processes like glassblowing and ceramics to help young people manage trauma.
The glass sculptures are created by local artists, including participants of the Project FIRE and FireWork programs, which offer trauma-informed support groups, career training in the arts and mentorships to support young people on the West Side.
Flora’s Angels, online. Website.
Flora’s Angels creates luxury skin care products at affordable prices. Its body butters are designed to nourish the skin, and the company is dedicated to educating consumers about the ingredients they use on their bodies.
The body butters come in delicious scents like peppermint, vanilla pound cake, pomegranate and cucumber pear (from $14.50). All skin care products are also organic.
Flora’s Angels offers gift sets that allow customers to choose up to six body butters and scrubs.
Caring For Our Mothers and Daughters, online. Website.
Caring For Our Mothers and Daughters, a West Side nonprofit dedicated to supporting women recovering from addiction, is offering holiday gift baskets designed by Jennie’Twin Baskets.
The baskets come with Christmas tree ornaments, necklace sets, champagne glasses and a bottle of sparkling wine. There are also children’s baskets, which come with a variety of toys.
A portion of proceeds from the gift baskets will go toward Maria Shelter, a housing organization in Englewood that shelters women and children.
The gift boxes will soon be available to order online.
Cocoa Chili, 135 N. Kedzie Ave. Website.
This West Side Afro-Caribbean-soul restaurant has a gift tailor-made for foodies and home chefs who enjoy bold yet unconventional flavors.
Its cocoa chili gift box ($65) comes with a collection of spices, seasonings and sauces, as well as a downloadable recipe book full of ways to use the spicy and sweet ingredients. The box includes a spicy jerk sauce, a spicy mango sauce, the restaurant’s signature cocoa chili seasoning, a bottle of sorrel and a bottle of “Peppa Sauce.”
Did we miss your favorite neighborhood spot? Not to worry! Add it to our Block Club reader guide, which will come out in early December.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: