Best Of Indianapolis: Shopping

Check out Indy’s freshman class of independent bookstores. Lose yourself at an urban garden center. And get a whiff of the most captivating scented candles.


Photo by Tony Valainis

After learning his trade fixing up his century-old home, John Kirchner began building furniture for friends and family and eventually for paying customers. Kirchner sits down with each client and discusses their tastes and aesthetic, as well as the intended function of the piece, before any wood is cut. While his personal tastes skew toward craftsman-era design, he accepts commissions for all types and styles of furniture. One of his favorite projects was a dining room table made from wood from the client’s family farm. And just like the farm, that piece of furniture will likely be handed down to future generations of the family.


After working at some of the city’s best bicycle retailers for the last two decades, Jonathan Juillerat opened the truly bespoke (no pun attended) Bluegrass Bicycle Company with his wife, Tania. The shop is tucked into the back of their Brownsburg home. As such, hours are appointment-only, which also means the Juillerats can focus entirely on the customer, personalizing the experience right down to the music being played. They use that same approach to fitting and repairing bicycles, making them almost a seamless extension of their owners. 10929 E. County Rd. 750 N, Brownsburg, 317-513-3017


Rebecca Zink creates jewelry you won’t find at your local mall. Referring to her style as “modern industrial glam,” she pairs precious metals like gold with more common ones like steel in interesting yet still gorgeous ways. Instead of creating highly polished pieces, Zink prefers a chunkier, almost raw look created by overheating the metal.


Photo by Tony Valainis

Indianapolis has no shortage of lovely, locally made scented candles. But the ones by iDesign Home Decor shine brighter than the rest by checking every conceivable box—and creating a couple of new ones. They’re vegan, hand-poured, petroleum-free (leaving very little soot), and cruelty-free, and they come with a naturally toxin-free wooden wick in a handmade, industrial-chic cement vessel that can be easily repurposed. The buttery, soy wax is infused with the flora-inspired scents that will make candle lovers forsake all others—think Pineapple Sage, Cypress Bayberry, Frazier, and Fir. As one devotee put it, “I want my whole body to smell like this.”


The distinct shape of the sign in front of Irvington’s Dulceria LA 40 is a dead giveaway that the tiny shop was once the site of a Roselyn Bakery. Following its most recent iteration as a Boost Mobile store, it has now been restored to kid-friendly glory. The new purveyor of piñatas beckons visitors with an outdoor display of lovable creatures in their finest paper fringe. And that’s before you step inside to browse the selection of authentic Latin American candies, toys, and treats to fill your favorite papier-mâché finds. Shoppers can select individually wrapped goods or grab 5-pound bags of assorted candies to achieve the perfect explosion of fiesta favors. 5231 E. Washington St.


Old Northside papyrophiliacs must thank the heavens for Alexandria Dugan every day. Her small, bright temple of paper opened in August in the Penn Arts Building. Semantics Paper Goods satisfies two seeingly disparate desires: feeling like a kid again (with items such as stickers of teeny, chipper slices of toast with emoji faces) and being more responsible (planners with weighty, textured covers encasing creamy sheets). Among the lovingly curated products are postcards announcing, “Somebody in Indiana Loves You” and to-do pads that embrace procrastination. Clever risograph-printed greetings from Smarty Pants Paper Co. and cards letter pressed using hand-carved wood blocks by Heartell Press alone are enough to reignite an erstwhile tradition: mailing birthday cards. 111 E. 16th St.


Duke’s is well known for the pink neon sign above the stage reminding patrons to kindly “Please Shut the F*ck Up,” so it’s no wonder a black T-shirt bearing that irreverent slogan has been an instant hit among patrons and performers. And while live country music and cold Lone Star Beer remain the southside honky-tonk’s top draws, Duke’s-emblazoned hats and T-shirts declaring, “Only George Jones Can Judge Me,” aren’t far behind. 2352 S. West St.


All 22 styles of the classic MacKenzie-Childs tea kettle are for sale at Addendum Gallery’s showroom dedicated to the iconic American brand of high-quality ceramics. This year, the selection includes the holiday-themed Deck the Halls motif, too. Underneath the glass finial and fanciful botanical patterns, the heavy-gauge steel under-body is a workhorse, ensuring water heats at an even temperature. Each kettle ($148 and up) is destined to find a permanent home on the stovetop. 751 Hanover Pl., 317-253-3400


There’s nothing like a live tree to fill your home with the fresh, crisp scent of pine (or fir) during the holiday season. You could drive to the nearest big-box home improvement store to pick up a decent-looking specimen to decorate, but you’d miss out on the winter wonderland experience offered by Thorntown’s Dull’s Tree Farm. You can meander through the more than 40 acres of white and Scotch pines, as well as Canaan firs, until you find just the right tree. Sustenance in the form of apple cider doughnuts, Dutch stroopwafels, and hot chocolate is available to warm shoppers’ souls. And don’t miss the farm’s dog days events on December 2 and 3, when Dull’s teams up with South Central Newfoundland Rescue to provide customers with adorable, woolly canine assistance in hauling their selections to the car. 1765 W. Blubaugh Ave., Thorntown, 765-325- 2418


Photo by Tony Valainis

Created by the landscaping and outdoor construction company Heath Outdoor, Digs Garden Center is an industrial oasis in the shadow of I-70 on the east side. Customers can maneuver their wagons through displays of annuals, perennials, shrubs, veggie starts, and fruiting trees, all artfully arranged on and around funky industrial salvage (shipping containers, a repurposed grain bin, and a transformed vintage bus). The constant whoosh of interstate traffic provides oddly soothing background noise. 1302 Columbia Ave., 317-420-4656


The bags, wallets, and accessories at 1979 Co. defy categorization. That’s by design, the one-man shop’s founder, Nate Olp, says. Sometimes the designs he creates “come out a little rustic. But other times it’s business and sleek, and other times it’s punk as hell.” The main thing is that everything must be useful. Most items are also one of a kind, made from locally sourced skins and hardware and designed, dyed, and hand-stitched in house. Olp even customizes designs “within reason” and makes swift repairs to items purchased from his shop that have begun to show wear. “I put as much love and work into something we sell for $20 as I do for something that goes for $500,” Olp says. “It’s the act of making special things that matters most to me.” 201 S. Audubon Rd.


“Preservation first, salvage second” is Madison Street Salvage’s motto. But even with that philosophy, the retail arm of the restoration-minded Franklin Heritage, Inc. remains constantly packed with goods from the last century, if not earlier. The donation-based nonprofit boasts gems such as century-old fireplace surrounds, atomic age glassware, and chandeliers fit for a classic horror film, all without the shocking markup you might see at a traditional antique store. One reason for the magic hour, cinematic vibe of the shop may be that one of its chief beneficiaries is the 101-year-old Artcraft Theatre. 350 E. Madison St., Franklin, 317-739-0601


Large, lush, and spectacularly green, the vertical gardens and moss walls that plantscape company Naturspire places in homes and businesses look like vibrant quilts sewn from the forest’s floor. “You have a piece of art on the wall, but instead of being painted, it’s natural,” owner Stephanie Carlson Miller says of the installments that require surprisingly minimal upkeep. For an up close look at Naturspire’s work (which has been around since 2016, when now-popular restaurant selfie greenery walls were but a twinkle in the eye), check out the verdant creations on public display at the Carmel Clay Public Library, 3Up, and MOTW’s Fishers location. 200 S. Rangeline Rd., 317-414-5607


Photo by Tony Valainis

Don’t get caught frantically sifting through the closet looking for the perfect bag for the farmers market, grocery store, or coffee shop. The best ones are made of sturdy canvas, roomy—and most importantly, local. No longer must you put your precious parsnips or dear diaries in anything less than a cool tote bag from one of these Indy shops, which allow you to support small businesses and good causes.

Tomorrow Bookstore

$20. 882 Massachusetts Ave., 317-551-1893

Dear Mom

$25. 2121 E. 10th St.

United State of Indiana

$15. 1051 E. 54th St., 317-426-2552

Rooftop Fruit

$40 (proceeds support trans youth mental wellness through the Irvington Counseling Collective). 1058 Virginia Ave., 312-945-8334