Tis’ the season when everyone begins to stress about the gifts they plan to give and why o’ why they didn’t plan ahead. Your gift giving to family and friends doesn’t have to be generic in thought it can actually be quite thoughtful and even artful! Think outside the “big box” and start thinking about the gallery, artist studio or quaint store that you always wanted to stop in but you just kept on driving by, for now is the time to put the brakes on the boring and support the artistic beauty that surrounds us.

Ceramic Tile Work by Michael Rieger - Photo Courtesy of Lapis Gallery

Ceramic Tile Work by Michael Rieger – Photo Courtesy of Lapis Gallery

Small Business Saturday is November 28th, however, this doesn’t mean that you can’t begin to support your local stores, shops and galleries now or everyday. A common myth to shopping at a local store is that you will pay more for a hand-made work of art then you would if you purchased it at a chain store. Of course it depends on what you are shopping for. I know for a fact one can spend hundreds if not thousands on a train set and all the box cars and parts that go along with owning a train set. I am not knocking the train set cause last year I did shop locally for the perfect train set to give, as I chose not to shop the giant box store and was educated in the art of train sets. Now think of your gift giving in the context of art and anything handmade versus the mass produced ceramic plate, poster or painting. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually have the potential to meet the artist at the gallery, shop or store you walk into? Supporting your local artisans stamps a permanent memory into your consciousness and how cool it is to relay the story to others.

Think Big Shop Small - Image Courtesy of Small Business Initiative

Think Big Shop Small – Image Courtesy of Small Business Initiative

“Small Business Saturday began as an American Express initiative to encourage consumers to shop small and local during the holiday season, but it is now a key piece of the major holiday shopping day trifecta. Since 2010 eighty-eight million people have chosen to support small business and shop locally.”*

Where do you begin? Drive or ask around.  Everyone has at least one friend, co-worker or family member who walks to the beat of a different drummer and this person might just have some good gift giving ideas for you. My gift giving plans are always art related, however, when out shopping for others, I often find an artful gift for myself.  You know the saying “one for you and one for me”, the holidays can end of up being an expensive one for me if I stick with that saying. Please also read my previous article on Denver Arts Week to receive more information about Denver’s Arts Districts and Galleries for your artful gift giving ideas.

Kristos Epicuriean Market - Photo Courtesy of Old Arvada

Kristos Epicuriean Market – Photo Courtesy of Old Arvada

Here are a few of my suggestions for where you can find awesome and reasonably priced works of art or just cool gifts. Please note that how much you spend is all on you because a true gift comes from the heart and no price tag can limit the beauty or joy seen in the eyes of the receiver of such a gift; which art is all that.

Old Town Arvada hosts some delightful shops as well as yummy gifts for your tummy. Kristos Epicurean Market‘s “goal is to provide a unique tasting experience with Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Aged Balsamic Vinegars from countries throughout the world. Kristos’s gourmet products will tantalize your palate and compliment any dish.” A perfect gift idea for the foodie friend or family member we all know.

Arvada Bead Connection - Photo Courtesy of ABC

Arvada Bead Connection – Photo Courtesy of ABC

Or how about making your own gift of jewelry? Arvada Bead Connection has been my go-to bead store for years. Whether making your own or finding already made gems this is the store to get your creative heart pumping.

You will want to be sure on your artistic shopping adventure in Old Town Arvada that you be sure to stop off at The Rheinlander Bakery an authentic German Bakery that has been offering scrumptious baked goods to Colorado for 51 years. And don’t you think that after shopping all day you deserve a special treat or a special treat to take to your hosts? Gluten Free options available, yum. Visit www.OldTownArvada.org for a full listing of exciting artistic locations.

Lapis Gallery - Artwork by Tadd Moskal

Lapis Gallery – Artwork by Tadd Moskal




Tennyson Street Cultural District still has some of the best artisans showcased and unique gift shops that can be found. New to the block is Real Baby, for 13 years they were located on 32nd Avenue but recently moved to Tennyson Street to breath in what this fresh artistic neighborhood has to offer. Real Baby has special gifts for the young ones. For those looking for gifts priced from $52.80 to $3500 then Lapis Gallery should be on your list. They offer ceramics, photography, metal etchings, paintings and almost anything your artistic mind can imagine. Or think larger, as in a new kitchen/bath or restaurant or bar – Lapis Design and Build have been transforming the mundain into the fantastic for many local residents and restaurant owners for 20 years.

Metro Frame Works - Photo Courtesy of MFW

Metro Frame Works – Photo Courtesy of MFW


How about that unframed work of art? Protect it with a archival glass and a frame by strolling up to Metro Frame Works where they transform your artwork into a beautiful framed work of art. And of course, don’t forget to take a break from your busy shopping experience and eat…some of my favorite spots are Swing Thai, El Chingo and Axios – the pengilum couldn’t swing any farther for your culturally experienced taste buds.

Please keep in mind this is simply a short list of a few of my favorite locations to find fantastic artful gift giving. I walk with an open mind and am excited to explore beyond my favorites this season and I hope that you are as well. An excellent source to find all the beauty and uniqueness that each diverse neighborhood or arts district has to offer, you can find on www.Denver.org or simply go to www.google.com and type in the desired business or neighborhood you wish to explore. You may also want to use google to track down an artist you are interested in to contact them directly if they are not currently showing at a gallery.  Support small business & your local artists, it is just that easy.

The time is now to think outside the box as well as the “big box”. Surprise your family, friends and special someone with a work of art; a gift that will last a lifetime. Enjoy your artistic adventures, I know I will.

Quote gathered from: 10 Ways to Prepare for Small Business Saturday, Connie Certusi, Contributor, Executive Vice President at Sage Business Solution.