Shop Local: Iowa City Holiday Shopping Guide 2017

Iowa City abounds with great places to shop for everyone on your holiday gift list. Stop by some of our favorites this year on Small Business Saturday (November 25), or support these quality businesses year round. These local retailers get my dollars at holiday time by offering potential gifts for a wide range of folks, from my two-year-old niece to my 85-year-old grandfather. They are affordable and unique, with local flavor to boot!


Best places to shop local at small businesses in Iowa City

White Rabbit

112 S. Linn St., Iowa City

It’s hard for me not to blow all my rent money here. Graphic shirts (for all genders and ages) celebrating causes dear to my heart (Iowa, the outdoors, political awareness) mingle with great prints for the wall, jewelry and home decor, plus vintage clothing and shoes.

Prairie Lights

15 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City

You can probably knock out your whole gift list at this Iowa City institution, with three levels of books to browse, plus some nice stationery and quality children’s toys. Finish off with a beverage for yourself in the peaceful upstairs cafe. Bonus: free gift-wrapping year-round.

The Haunted Bookshop

219 N. Gilbert St., Iowa City

Housed in a rambling historic former residence, this store offers like-new used books along with collectible and antique volumes. There’s also a nice selection of children’s games, toys, and puppets, and you can pet the resident cats while you’re at it.


112 E. Washington St., Iowa City

Visually stunning, this beautifully-arranged shop is dedicated to plants and beautiful planters to plant them in. There are some unique gift and decor items, too, plus a schedule of evening workshops where you can create, for example, a holiday centerpiece.

Willow and Stock

207 N. Linn St., Iowa City

Recently-opened floral shop, Willow and Stock, offers a minimalist but well-curated selection of gifts along with elegant, stunning floral arrangements that would look great on your holiday table. Cut flowers can also make a good gift for someone who is perennially difficult to buy for.

Home Ec. Workshop

424 E. Jefferson St., Iowa City

If homemade gifts are what you have in mind, check out Home Ec. Workshop for a colorful array of yarn, inspiring fabrics in unique prints, and all the tools to turn them into something great. Home Ec. also offers classes in which you can create the perfect gift, or simply give the gift of one of these classes to that special someone.


30 S. Clinton St., Iowa City

This is where you’ll find Hawkeye gear a cut above the usual university-book-store fare (sorrynotsorry!).  Luxuriously soft fabrics, vintage graphics, and flattering styles come together to create great designs for all ages.


140 N. Linn St., Iowa City

A huge array of cards for all occasions–including holiday cards, thank-you cards, and holiday party invitations–can be found at this stationery store, along with luxe wrapping supplies to present your gifts in style.  Plus, each year they seem to stock a better array of gift items–vintage-style aftershave, leather bags, charming embroidered pouches, children’s pencil sets, and more.

Silver Spider

201 S. Clinton St. #154, Iowa City

There’s something for everyone here, but I love the bags and wallets most. There are also toys enough to delight my children for hours, along with a wide array of novelty gift items that are fun to peruse, from magnets to mugs to books.

Old Capitol Museum gift shop

21 N. Clinton St., Iowa City

I was surprised last year to stumble on some great Iowa-centric treasures in this unexpected locale, including a local stargazing chart, shirts, jewelry, cards, and ornaments.

Ten Thousand Villages

105 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City

This space is stocked with handmade, fair-trade items. When you shop here, you’re not only buying locally but globally as well; the artisans in the developing world are being compensated fairly for their work. You can find unique jewelry, some made of upcycled materials like used saris; home decor items like handwoven baskets, tree ornaments, and art; and textiles including scarves, table linens, and mittens.


331 E. Market St., Iowa City

For a truly unique gift, browse the crammed corners of this antique and vintage store. There’s furniture, toys, kitchenware, clothes, and various odds and ends. Things I’ve bought here over the years include a a large cocktail ring, a set of Fisher-Price Little People, a giant braided rug, a bear skull, and a mug with a map of Colorado on it. 

John’s Grocery

401 E. Market St., Iowa City

John’s is known for their wine and beer selection, but this would be wasted on me if not for their resident expert, who will usher you into the chamber housing the alcohol and confidently (but non-condescendingly) school you on the merits of the various bottles available at your price point. 

Amana shops

4423 220th Trl., Amana

If you don’t mind making a short trek from Iowa City, Amana is a good place to find consumable gifts like wine, coffee, fudge, honey, candles, lotion, and soap.  There are also stores crammed with tree ornaments celebrating every possible activity or interest, an excellent toy store, a cool gem and rock shop, two wineries, and stores full of kitchen gadgets. (Don’t miss the pickled baby beets and buttermilk cottage cheese at the German restaurants while you’re here.)

Where are your favorite places to shop local in Iowa City?



Anne is a kinda crunchy, kinda unapologetically corner-cutting mom who has lived in Iowa City since 2004. She is a graduate student in Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa and works in the Children's Services department at the Iowa City Public Library. Before going back to school, she was a stay-at-home mom to her two daughters for several years, and took her children to the library multiple times a week. Basically, she has lived at the library for about a decade. Which is fine, because her biggest passion in life is books. When not reading, Anne also enjoys hiking, low-budget road-tripping, and drinking craft beer on a patio.


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