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West Loop

Shop Local 2022: A West Loop And Downtown Gift Guide

Downtown shops are offering plants, books, skincare products and other treats for the people on your list.

Check out these local businesses for Christmas shopping in the West Loop and Downtown.
Melody Mercado/Block Club Chicago
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Credit: Danielle Deschaine

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DOWNTOWN — West Loop and Downtown businesses are ready for holiday shoppers.

Although Downtown is teeming with big department stores, there are also plenty of locally owned small businesses to cover your gifting needs.

Block Club Chicago rounded up a few neighborhood options to help you shop local.

Here’s what you can buy:

Downtown

Credit: The Potting Bench Plant Studio Facebook
The Potting Bench Plant Studio has a large variety of plants to choose from.

The Potting Bench Plant Studio, 108 N. State St. Website.

This locally owned plant shop is inside the Block Thirty Seven shopping complex in The Loop.

The shop specializes in education about, repotting and selling house plants. This store is for plant newbies or long-time plant lovers, with a huge selection.

Prices vary depending on what a shopper is looking for. But if you see a plant you like on their Facebook page, customers can send a direct message for pricing.

The Potting Bench Studio is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. Instagram. 773-634-0787.

Credit: Melody Mercado, Block Club Chicago
Customers line up as workers at Central Camera prep film drop off envelopes.

Central Camera, 230 S. Wabash Ave. Website.

For the creatives in your life, Central Camera has tons of options for beginners and advanced photographers.

This store has been in Chicago for 122 years, passing down through the family owners. It has film, fancy photo printing paper, resale cameras, new cameras and all the bells and whistles for the photo enthusiast in your life.

The staff is also very knowledgeable and can guide you in the right direction if you don’t know where to start.

If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer, grab a reusable camera — they’re perfect for capturing memories and can be developed at the shop and kept forever. Prices vary. Central Camera also offers photo restoration, film development and more.

Central Camera is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays. Instagram. 312-427-5580.

Credit: Downtown Pizza Walk Instagram
A Pizza Walk hosted by Pizza City USA.

Downtown Pizza Walk by Steve Dolinsky. Website.

For a nontraditional gift for foodies, try this two-and-a-half-hour Chicago pizza walking tour.

The tour includes stops at three pizzerias, each showcasing a different style of pizza. According to the tour’s website, you’ll learn about Downtown’s finest pizza shops while seeing the area’s architecture up close.

Tickets are $49. Bookings start May 26 and run through mid-October. There are also pizza walking tours for the West Loop and Wicker Park/Bucktown.

Instagram. 312-342-0084.

Credit: The Art Institute of Chicago Instagram
The outside of the Art Institute located Downtown,

The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave. Website.

Give the gift of art with an annual membership to the Art Institute of Chicago.

An annual pass starts at $115 and includes yearlong admission for yourself and a guest. It also gives special access to member-only lectures and special exhibitions that would otherwise require a separate ticket.

The Art Institute of Chicago is open to the public 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Monday, though members get extended hours. Instagram. 312-443-3600.

West Loop

Credit: Madison Street Books Instagram
The inside of Madison Street Books located in the West Loop.

Madison Street Books, 1127 W. Madison St. Website.

Madison Street Books is known for its books clubs and extensive reading lists for numerous topics, including “in support of women’s rights,” “as seen on booktok,” “LGBTQIA+ Lit we love” and more.

Books on the store’s recommended reading list include “Hood Feminism” ($16). Published in 2021, the book — by Chicago’s own Mikki Kendall — provides a critique of modern feminism from a Black feminist viewpoint.

The store also has a recommended reading list for children’s books. “Gustavo, the Shy Ghost,” ($18) written and illustrated by Mexican artist Flavia Z. Drago, follows the story of a little ghost and its journey to make friends.

Madison Street Books is open 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. Instagram. 312-929-4140.

Credit: The Pop-Up Instagram
The Pop-Up storefront located in the West Loop.

The Pop-Up, 208 N. Green St. Website.

The Pop-Up is a locally curated shop with vintage clothing, sneakers, accessories and more.

The shop is known for its one-of-a-kind items, organized by brand and clothing style. Customers can shop designer pieces and vintage graphic T-shirts featuring the Chicago Bulls and other notable sports teams and figures.

Streetwear fans can nab the unique Vintage Nike Air Jordan VI (6) All Over Print T-shirt ($120). Customers can buy from a limited selection online, but to really get a sense of what’s available, visit the store in person.

The Pop-Up is open noon-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Instagram. 708-581-6969.

Credit: VietFive Website
VietFive Coffee is a locally owned shopped in the West Loop.

VietFive Coffee, 1116 W. Madison St. Website.

VietFive, a locally owned Vietnamese coffee shop, has a great selection for coffee aficionados.

This shop imports its Robusta coffee beans from the founder’s family farm in Buon Ma Thuot in Vietnam. There are three roasts to chose from, ranging from light to dark.

To gift someone the experience of making these special beans at home, VietFive sells coffee & phin kits ($35.50) and an all-inclusive coffee kit ($50), which includes a stainless steel phin filter, glass mug and choice of roast.

The phin filter is a Vietnamese coffee brewing tool that slowly brews the coffee and creates a stronger and bolder taste than traditional brewing methods. Neighbors can order online and pick up in store.

VietFive is open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Wednesday and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Friday. Instagram. 312-929-4732.

Credit: The Fig Tree Website
The Fig Tree has several card games and puzzles available in store.

The Fig Tree, 1037 W. Madison St. Website.

The Fig Tree is a small gift boutique that has an array of accessories, ornaments, bath and body products, candles, socks and Chicago-themed gifts.

The shop also has games and puzzles that would be great stocking stuffers. Food & Drink Trivia Cards ($7.95), TV Show Trivia ($12.95) and a 1,000-piece Chicago Jigsaw Puzzle ($17.95) are among its offerings.

The Fig Tree is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. Instagram. 312-226-6303. 

Credit: Scratch Goods Instagram
Products made with locally sourced ingredients available at Scratch Goods in the West Loop.

Scratch Goods, 847 W. Randolph St. Website.

Scratch Goods is perfect for skincare lovers, with a large variety of lip balm, face masks and body scrubs.

All of the products are made of locally sourced ingredients, “sticking to basic, staple products that were necessary, sustainable and gentle,” according to Scratch Goods’ website.

People trying to grow out their beard can try the cedar + pine beard oil ($24). The beard oil is supposed to soften facial hair while fighting odor-causing bacteria and flaking.

You can also try the matcha mask ($25) for skincare lovers. The mask is caffeinated and is supposed to boost circulation and encourage cellular turnover.

Scratch Goods is open noon-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Instagram. 773-857-3551.

Credit: Connie Fairbanks LinkedIn
Chicago’s West Loop Then and Now – People, Businesses, Buildings by Connie Fairbanks is for sale online and in several local businesses.

“Chicago’s West Loop Then and Now.” Website.

Longtime West Loop resident Connie Fairbanks has published a book documenting the stories, histories and photos of the West Loop’s history and transformation.

“Chicago’s West Loop Then and Now. People, Businesses, Buildings” is 246 pages and features more than 150 photos showing the neighborhood’s transition from a meatpacking district to an area filled with luxury condos, stores and restaurants.

The book is for sale on Fairbanks’ website ($29) and is available at businesses in the West Loop.

Credit: BLVDier Instagram
BLVDier is a custom suit shop for men and women in Fulton Market.

BLVDier, 440 N. Halsted St. Website.

BLVDier is a custom suit shop in Fulton Market for men and women.

There are options for personalized, fitted clothing at this shop, including evening wear, knitwear and button-ups.

If you’re willing to splurge, you can order a custom suit jacket for women starting at $595 or $695 for men. Custom clothing comes with two fittings and can take about four weeks to complete.

BLVDR is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. Instagram. 312-632-0482

Previous guides:

2021

2020

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