Best Of Indy 2021: Shopping And Style

A man holds a skateboard
Solace Skateshop owner Ryan Graves

Photo by Tony Valainis

New Retail District

When Bottleworks District debuted last winter, the hotel and food hall seemed to get all the attention. But the area’s boutiques shouldn’t be overlooked—especially with gift-giving season upon us.


Inside The Garage, Pumkinfish (906 Carrollton Ave., 317-974-9167) is fully stocked with items to make your recipients blush. Or at least laugh, at picks like the memory game Do You Look Like Your Dog?; pencils that ask “Where’s Your Frickin’ Father?” for merely “Okay Moms”; and a cheeky “You Tried” trophy to applaud efforts that fell short. Pair those with a bag of sweet snacks from South Bend Chocolate Co., a Real Housewives of Indianapolis wine tumbler, Snoop Dogg’s cookbook, or cocktail accessories and mixology kits. That RHOI cup won’t fill itself.

Good Neighbor

J. Crew meets Coachella at this new boutique (850 Massachusetts Ave., 317-220-8750), a Detroit transplant with a focus on do-good brands for men and women. Most of the looks lean casual via matching sets, loungewear, and classic Levi’s denim jackets. If you want to dress things up a little more, shop the cozy plaid and corduroy shackets, sporty Gola sneakers and heeled ankle boots, chunky knit cardigans, and sweet midi-length floral dresses.

Becker Supply Co.

If Good Neighbor is for your trend-conscious sister, Becker Supply Co. (906 Carrollton Ave., 317-719-2044) is for your hiking boot–wearing, trail mix–snacking sibling. Soft tees in earthy tones tout the Hoosier National Forest, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and state parks, while teakwood shampoo and conditioner, juniper and oud–scented bar soaps, and candles that evoke a log cabin make the wait for more ideal camping weather a little more bearable.

Brick & Mortar Barbershop

In addition to being one of the city’s trendiest places to get a haircut, Brick & Mortar (906 Carrollton Ave., 317-929-1179) carries some excellent, fragrant merch. Boy Smells candles come in robust, complex scents, while the plant-based hair care lines—including O’Doud’s CBD-infused products and Firsthand Supply’s pomades—have a more natural aroma.

Art on walls

Hidden Art Stash

If you know the significance of a plastic clock shaped like a funny blue whale and why it would cost $150, you’ll want to beat a path to Sheafer + King Modern (1103 E. 52nd St., 317-983-3575), located just off an unassuming intersection of the Monon Trail in SoBro. Part of the Solomon Paris Antiques building, the new gallery contains about 500 to 600 works from the 1950s to 1980s (including the Vitra “Zoo Timers” clock by George Nelson), with a focus on paintings, numbered lithographs, and ceramics. Signed Robert Indiana posters from the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s 1970 opening are currently on offer ($1,200), along with a newly acquired collection of Walter Sorge oils and prints.

New Magazine Shop

Liz Foster put all the things she loves into Dear Mom (2121 E. 10th St.), her eastside destination that’s part grocery, part record store, and the best magazine shop this town has had since SoBro’s dearly departed Northside News. The walls are lined with magazines you won’t see in a supermarket, including Lunch Lady, a food publication from Australia, and Apartamento, a Spanish interior design title. Foster once ran the front-of-house at Milktooth, and spent years working at Luna Music, which explains the excellent selection of snacks and LPs at Dear Mom.

Style For All Sizes

Not long after Lisa Bennett opened Black Sheep Gifts in Irvington in 2010, her sister Tracey asked if she’d be interested in a partner. At the time, Lisa demurred. But the two have joined forces recently on a new venture in the same neighborhood: Josephine’s in Irvington (5620 E. Washington St., 317-775-0157). The shop opened in April, and from the beginning, its focus has been on stylish women’s clothing available in a wide variety of sizes. Modern blouses with ruching and side knots add texture and flatter curves. Flowy cardigans and jackets help to elongate and hide problem areas. The sisters know shopping can be a dreaded task for some, and they hope to make it more fun. If you really want to know, though, they will tell you if your butt looks big in those jeans.

Milk-Dyed Textiles

Neutral colors; natural textiles like cotton, silk, and linen; and a bohemian vibe are what Mama Ochre is all about. Owner Gretchen Foster started making the milk-dyed T-shirts and sheets in early 2020. And while her online shop has expanded to include jewelry, hairclips, home decor, and air fresheners, those fabrics remain her most popular items. Currently, her soft pink “strawberry milk” shower curtain is the best-seller. Her two-piece bedding sets are also steadily in demand. The textiles may require a little more care when washing, but the organic process of making them has almost no carbon footprint.

Sustainable Fashion

Sustainability is a focus of the fashion industry right now, and local designer Paris Colby is tapping into it with her streetwear label Broken Needles. Colby upcycles old Carhartt pants, jean jackets, and utility vests with a unique sewing technique. Her years of practicing Sashiko—a process of needlework resulting in rice-like stitches—is getting noticed. When Pattern magazine enlisted two prominent streetwear designers to give away $1,000 at their annual Indiana Fashion Week design competition this year, the judges noted the sustainability of Colby’s collection and awarded her the check.

plant shop plants

Plant Paradise

When the owners of Square Cat Vinyl decided to grow their business earlier this year, they did so literally, laying down roots next door with Fountain Square’s only full–service garden center. Snakeroot Botanicals (1052 Virginia Ave., 317-604-7562) is a breath of fresh air in the concrete jungle just outside of downtown, and welcomes green thumbs and novice plant owners alike into a narrow yet cozy conservatory. Whether you’re into succulents or Sansevierias, ficus or philodendron, the knowledgeable staff is happy to help with selection, education, and advice.

Holiday Cookie Boxes

Carrie Abbott of Newfangled Confections (The Fashion Mall, 317-721-5525) bought The Best Chocolate in Town during the pandemic, and she was surprised to realize that one of the biggest sellers for the business was old-school treats like Oreos, Nutter Butters, and marshmallows dipped in chocolate. Abbott decided to elevate the treats by offering holiday-themed boxes, with cookies that are hand-decorated by her team of chocolatiers downtown. It has become the most popular gift item on her website and at her retail location at The Fashion Mall. “It’s a way to give a gift that is familiar to people,” Abbott says, “but it visually surprises them and puts them in a seasonal mood when they open the box.”

New Bookstore

When the Indianapolis Public Library branch in Fountain Square closed last year, there was understandable concern about what effect it might have on the neighborhood. Fortuitously, rising rent on the north end of Mass Ave had Indy Reads looking for a second chapter in a new location. The popular indie literature destination has found the perfect home in the old library branch (1066 Virginia Ave., 317-384-1496), which opened last month. In addition to the focus on local authors and the support for an adult literacy program, the new Indy Reads outpost feels like a welcoming community center. It’s almost like the library never left.

High-End Streetwear

Although it’s the second location of a store based in Cincinnati, Corporate (245 S. McCrea St., 317-426-3813) feels about as local as it gets. The streetwear and sneaker shop hosts a huge mural of Reggie Miller taunting Spike Lee with “the choke.” What’s more, owner Matt Tomamichel is a regular at Gainbridge Fieldhouse and is working with the Pacers on a collection commemorating the NBA’s 75th anniversary. Corporate may have a locker room vibe, but it sells perhaps the best collection of exclusive kicks and high-end streetwear labels, such as Pharrell’s Billionaire Boys Club, in the city.

Handbag Line

A name like “Donna Dee Bird” shouldn’t go to waste, so Carmel’s Bird used it for the label of her and her daughter Amanda’s new tote-bag line, DD Bird. There’s only one design—available in two sizes, a few neutral colors, and either nylon, leather, or velvet—but when it’s this perfect, you don’t need many options. The DD Bird is made from cruelty-free material, and thoughtful features include front zippered pockets for sunglasses and a coffee tumbler, a strap long enough that you won’t fight with it, and a luggage sleeve on the back, to slip the bag onto the handle of a roller suitcase for the airport.

A toy fox

Personalized Toy

Amanda Seibert’s maternal instinct triggered a business instinct when she noticed that the lullabies she sang to her toddlers soothed them in a way little else could. The Meridian-Kessler resident invented Mama Sing My Song, a service that creates a personalized lullaby and loads it into a stuffed animal for your child. Parents choose a tune from a music library, then one of her songwriters—some with major-record-label credentials—comes up with lyrics, works in the child’s name, and makes a recording of the melody that parents can then croon on top of. The options start at $45 and go up to $1,500 for a completely original song, elements of which will never be used for another customer.

Cocktail Glasses

Since opening her shop in 2018, Nine + Roxy (Carmel City Center, 317-459-7604) owner Tracy Main has assembled a gorgeous collection of home decor items. But perhaps no product line is as striking as her vintage glassware. The brands include Libbey tumblers ($40), Carlo Moretti Murano coupe glasses ($800), and Richard Gerard compote dishes ($250 each). The finds—sourced at estate sales, antique shops, and yard sales—have been popular additions to at-home cocktail bars during the pandemic. At the beginning of next year, the shop will move to SoBro, adding to the growing hub of decor boutiques in the area.

New Gift Shop

With as many pop-up shops and local festivals as her T-shirts, jewelry, and funky gift items had appeared in, it almost seemed as if local retailer Martha Latta already had a brick-and-mortar. But that didn’t happen until developers Tom and Ed Battista finished renovating the darling late-1800s Windsor Park house where Latta opened Stomping Ground (1625 Nowland Ave., 317-220-8344) last winter. And while her Sunday Afternoon Housewife brand has always focused on screenprinted apparel and pins with empowering messages, what makes the new shop special is how Latta has gradually curated her inventory to meet the needs of the neighborhood, from books, games, and children’s items to a surprisingly comprehensive selection of houseplants.

Quirky Home Decor

Adam Hampton refers to his idiosyncratic new Hampton Designs Studio and Shop (5515 E. Washington St., 317-372-2372) as the “living room of Irvington.” Everyone has a standing invitation to check out his nook in the close-knit community’s historic Masonic Lodge. Feel free to hang around awhile—this eclectic treasure trove contains candles, crystals, jewelry, vintage wares, sassy kitchen accessories, and funky furniture in addition to output from several dozen Indiana makers. The free-to-attend monthly drag shows with live DJs offer an added incentive to stop by and take in the scene.

Bolo Ties  

In Indiana, it’s hard to find a handcrafted “Texas tie” to wear with your Western wear. That’s why we were so excited to discover Tribe 79, the passion project of local maker Lisa Swieczkowski. Despite her Polish surname, Swieczkowski is a tribal member of the Potawatomi, and she leans into her Native American roots as she incorporates bones and hide in her bolo ties. But there’s plenty of silver and turquoise to dress them up. The eastside artisan sells her work online, and at Midland and 1979 Co.

Wooden ArtNew Artisan Market

Ross Tuggle’s spectacular geometric wood murals alone make a trip to Tuggle’s Gifts & Goods (1016 Virginia Ave.) worthwhile. But the Fountain Square shop, which opened late last year, stocks work by dozens of other local makers. Co-owner Brooke Tuggle sells her polymer-clay earrings there, and you can find leather-bound journals, textiles, and stationery from Indy artists. And if you have your heart set on one of those giant wood murals, you can buy hangers at the hardware place right next door.

New Vintage Market

When Beck Holladay moved to Indy from the West Coast, she brought an expertise in American vintage clothing as an exporter to countries where ’90s fashion is in high demand. There are plenty of Levi’s 501s and ski jackets to go around, though, so Holladay started a street market tapping into her network of premium dealers and local favorites like Rebel Vintage. This Must Be It attracted 125 stalls downtown this summer, and was an instant hit. It moves to an as-yet-unannounced indoor location this winter. If you regret tossing your Pearl Jam concert tee, about every ’90s arena tour is on the racks, some with a copyright date so you know it’s the real deal.

New Skate Shop

If skateboarding were a religion, Solace Skateshop (1633 Nowland Ave, 317-418-5856) would be its temple. At least that’s how owner Ryan Emerson Graves refers to his place, which opened in April. Solace occupies one of three cute, renovated Windsor Park cottages near Kan-Kan Cinema. Inside, the walls are painted by graffiti artists and covered with skateboard decks, shoes, clothes, and art. A vintage workbench sits in the shop, where you can watch Graves putting together boards. Hours vary, so be sure to check the Facebook page for “The temple is open” alerts.

Artisanal Candles

As the decorative trend catches fire, we rounded up the best local wax whizzes.

Abboo Candle Co.

What started as a creative outlet for Fortville stay-at-home mom Michelle Schreiber has evolved into a child of its own. Abboo Candle Co., which takes its name from her grandfather’s sobriquet for her, offers unique scent profiles such as a rich tobacco and caramel blend. And the minimal design allows Abboo’s candles to fit in almost anywhere. 

MOCO Candles

Graphic designer Morgan Conner leans into her artsy side to label her candles in thick, fluid typography. MOCO Candles are known for their intoxicating scents such as Home Grown, with hemp, rosemary, and shea butter notes. Her best-seller is a candle based on the popular matcha milk drinks, with hints of sweet green tea and vanilla.

Melange Du Jour

Carla Veras isn’t making the candles her mom made in college. Veras’s business, Melange Du Jour, uses molds to create anatomically correct physiques available in two sizes and eight colors and scents. Other forms include cubed candles, wavy candlesticks, and half-circles to add shape and texture to any tablescape.

Bossy Pants Candles

At Bossy Pants, Irvington business owner Lauren Ebel crafts sassy candles with labels to match. The Fruit Loops–scented one with “You’re the Tits” on the outside, for example, surely elicits a few laughs. Bawdy sense of humor aside, the two wicks on her candles ensure an even burn—a smart design.