Is this a wish list? Not exactly. I have on many occasions had people ask me, "Wow, where did you get that (article of clothing/pair of shoes/necklace/useful item)?" — usually, I can respond that I bought the item locally (and mostly downtown), which surprises some people. More than a wish list, it is a guide on how to shop locally for most anything you need, with special attention to small businesses and locally-made goods. It's not a complete list of places to shop in town, it's more a list of places I frequent. I will only talk about places where I have bought things, so there are definitely local stores I won't talk about that are probably well worth your hard-earned cash. For example, I've never bought jewelry from the Jewel Box, but if someone's going to put a ring on it (my left ring finger), I imagine it would be purchased there and not at one of the seasonal shops owned by outsiders, and I do know there are more than just diamond rings available at the Jewel Box — I've at least done some window shopping.
It's worth it to me to shop local. I love when I can buy something that's made locally, or at least sold by a local small business owner. When you buy local goods, your money stays right here in the community, not only with the taxes you pay, but with the money spent by local owners and employees on goods and services recirculating in the local economy. It's tempting to shop online or spend all your money while on vacation or at larger box stores — it can be cheaper, but at what expense? I encourage people to shop locally as much as possible. After all, when I needed to buy a dog jacket for Beau in the middle of summer for Juneau's rainy weather, it was Wee Fishie Shoppe that carried the seemingly unseasonal apparel, because they know and care about our community because it's their community, too.
Today I'll talk about clothing, jewelry and accessories, but I'll also cover art, entertainment, services, intangibles, supplies for the creative person and who knows what else in another post (or two or three).
Let's start with clothing and shoes.
• Shoefly is where I have bought most of my shoes, from a pair of simple flats for less than $40 up to some bigger splurges — Fidji and Fluevog and Frye, oh my! There are shoes for everyday wear, prom dates or holiday parties. I've also bought tights and socks from Shoefly, and could speak very highly of the brands they carry. It's also a good place to check for things like shoe polish or protective sprays. They carry some men's shoes and a decent selection of adorable children's shoes, as well. Owners Sydney Mitchell and Dawn Walsh do a great job of picking shoes for a wide audience. I'll admit that I'm a real shoe person, and I'll also disclose that I have worked for Shoefly in the past and have worked some shoe parties over the past year. I was not, however, paid or asked to do this post.
• The Alaska General Store offers women's clothing (and sometimes a limited amount for men as well) in a cute, quirky environment. Most of the knick knacks and antiques are for sale as well, but in a town like Juneau, a place to buy well-fitting jeans and fashionable tops and dresses is kind of a big deal. I really love the Velvet line (it's made from jersey cotton, despite the name) and think it's worth the cost for high quality clothing made in the U.S. Owner Sarah Stucky offers a range of price points, from Tramp's very affordable trend pieces, to the vintage-inspired Hazel dresses, to the timeless basics Velvet offers. Along with the basics and casual fashions, there are a number of party dresses perfect for the holidays. She also carries some items made by local designers — so far just jewelry, but clothing might be on the horizon.
• Boheme is another women's clothing boutique, offering a little of everything for just about anyone. I first discovered the shop at its old location, at the base of the Gastineau Apartments, while looking for a pair of jeans. Owner Ann House offers clothing not only in a variety of price points, but also for a variety of ages, appealing to teens through more mature shoppers. For younger shoppers, brands like Tulle and BB Dakota offer stylish pieces. Knitted Dove and Nick and Nora offer some cute, quirky pieces that work well for a wider age range. And for a more conservative dresser, there are plenty of options as well. Boheme also has some party dresses available for the holidays.
• Lisa Davidson's Boutique carries clothing mostly at the more mature end of the scale, but with plenty of character. From skirts and pants to sweaters and coats, the selection is well curated for a professional woman. She also has a rack of colorful scarves and a selection of Hobo International handbags — I may have splurged on one or two over the years. Owner Lisa Ryals also often carries locally-made jewelry and, as friendly as she is, has as many people stop in just to say hi as to shop.
• Kodiak Coats and Skookum Apparel are not only locally sold, but locally made. When it comes to Alaskan needs, who would know better than a couple Alaskans? Bridget Milligan's coats, available in women's, men's and unisex designs, can be found on warm and dry Alaskans around Juneau and beyond. She also makes skirts and dresses, some with hand-painted designs. She's collaborated with other artists and designers in the past, including Ricky Tagaban and Nash. Nash is new to the scene, but impresses with her work pants and coats. She said she plans to do all custom pieces, so if you want a pair of pants that fit well, what could be better than one made specifically for you? When you buy local gear of such high quality, it gets costly, but for many it's worth it to support locally made clothing and outerwear that will last a long, long time.
• Some local designers may not build their clothes from the sleeves up, but their designs make any t-shirt a fashion statement. Most people are probably familiar with Aurora Projekt's shirts and hoodies, which feature designs by local artists. New to the screen-printing scene is Christy Namee Eriksen with Kindred Designs, which are graphic and often made with a message. She was selling hand-pulled silk screen shirts at the public market. Alaska Robotics has shirts with cute or humorous designs, available on demand. I'll talk more about them later when it comes to non-clothing items.
• I've also seen handmade clothing for children, including some cute kuspuk style jackets made by Shyla Germain, which were available at the Public Market. Not sure if they're available otherwise, but they sure were cute. I don't have a child, so I don't keep up too much on children's clothing, except for when buying gifts for my four-year-old nephew, who is both stylish and well-read, thanks to local artists.
How about accessories and jewelry?
• If you are looking for Alaska Native jewelry, you can find it many places, but I think it's worth it to pick pieces made by local artists in Juneau — at the very least, be sure Native Alaskan pieces are made by Native Alaskan artists. I won't claim to be an expert on assessing the best Alaska Native art, choosing to pick art I like by people I know. I bought a carved silver bracelet from an acquaintance and former co-worker's husband, Brian Chilton, and I bought a tie clip for a gift from Rico Worl, who has offerings outside the traditional pieces I usually see. There are a lot of amazingly talented local artists, so take your pick!
• Glass beadwork and more can be found at Chiton, a shop owned by Sarah Chatfield, and featuring glasswork she has made, as well as the work of other artists and some collaborations. I have a few necklaces by Chatfield and have given some of her pendants and pomegranate seed jewelry to family members for gifts. And for the man (or badass woman) who has everything, consider one of the decorative (but also sharp) knives made with gorgeous glass and organic materials, a collaboration between Chatfield and another local artist whose name slips my mind.
• Annie Kaill's offers some great jewelry pieces from local artists. From inlaid ivory and mother of pearl bracelets by Johnny Ellis to statement necklaces and earrings, I've gotten many compliments on pieces from Annie Kaill's. Not all the artists are from Juneau or Southeast, but I've never bought anything made by someone outside of Alaska when shopping for jewelry there. It also carries fine art, ceramics, knick knacks and more, which can be great for gift shopping.
• The Juneau Arts & Culture Center has jewelry available in its gift shop, but also much more. Maybe we'll get into that when we talk about arts and crafts.
• Some of the clothing shops carry jewelry as well, some of it local, and I mentioned it a little above. There are also a lot of artists whose jewelry can be found occasionally at shows or markets or in various boutiques or in charity auctions. I have a pendant made by Larry Depute that was a donation to an auction for Cancer Connection. My dear co-worker Amy Fletcher makes some great jewelry, which has been available at shops, though perhaps not at the moment. I'd ask her but she's shy about talking up her craft and would probably tell me not to mention her. I also have a couple necklaces made by my friend Abby O'Brien, who had a booth at Public Market.
• Here's a guilty secret, sort of. I like buying jewelry that's made locally since it's so readily available, but sometimes you just want something glitzy and cheap, which is when I hit Juneau Drug or Just Super. They've got fun jewelry and accessories that may not have the character of something made locally, but sometimes fit a budget or an event's needs just right.
• At the Public Market I've bought Alli's Earrings at the public market, little ceramic pendants with glazes or designs on them. And this year they had tiny hats (or fascinators if you'd like) by Sarah Ritter. Ritter is shy and likely won't be out selling her wares, but very talented nonetheless.
• TP Designs is a great way to keep your head and/or neck warm. Tanna Peters and Michael Studt make cozy, chunky knit hats and cowls and scarves and ear-warmers that can work for men, women or children. There may be nothing cuter than an earwarmer with little bear eyes and a bear grin and pom pom ears. And men or women look fashionable in a chunky cowl. Peters recently expanded to offer a cowl made from a knit fabric, which apparently sold out on day one of the Public Market.
• Other knitters and crocheters and more can be found around town, I've seen hats at Aurora Projekt and I have a lot of friends who knit and crochet. I know how to knit and crochet as well, but have focused more on other crafts, and I've never been good or patient enough to do something small like mittens or gloves. Instead, I'll probably one day commission some hand warmers from one of my more nimble-fingered and patient friends.
• Hats are another favorite accessory of mine, and I have a combination of vintage and new hats, some felted wool, others straw, mostly from Nana's Attic (vintage) or from The Alaska General Store (new, some vintage). I've also found some vintage jewelry at both locations as well. Vintage can be expensive, but both shops have reasonable offerings.
• In a category all its own, I also have to mention a beautiful collar made by artist Shaadootlaa, which was impeccably crafted with seal fur and hand beaded. I tried one on at the Public Market and thought it was so sweet. She had other items like cuffs and baby booties and hats available, but it was the Peter Pan collar that caught my attention. Because of the materials and hand work, items like this are expensive, but worth saving up for.
Note: I received no payment, gifts or promotions to write about these local shops and artists. I choose to spend my money at these businesses and on these artists and craftspeople, and, with all the compliments I've received on their goods, I hope you will, too. I am friends with some of these talented people and have developed relationships with some of these business owners, but I list them on the merits of their work alone.