Best Of Indy 2019: Shopping & Style
Our reporters scoured the area for Central Indiana’s latest and greatest. Below, see the best in shopping & style from our 2019 Best of Indy December issue.
Indy tailor Jerry Lee Atwood has been hand-sewing Western suits in Indy for years, so we were excited to see him attract celebrity clients Post Malone and Lil Nas X in recent months. His bedazzled snake, dragon, and barbed-wire beauties take between 80 and 120 hours to make, boast as many as 3,000 rhinestones, and have made appearances at the 2019 Grammy Awards and in Britain’s GQ Style magazine. You can snag your own custom creation from Union Western Clothing, the company Atwood co-founded in 2016, for a few thousand dollars. It’s a steep price, but the suits are worth it. Atwood not only dresses rock stars, he is one.
Pumkinfish (429 Massachusetts Ave., 317-653-1675), a Mass Ave gift shop that stocks cat-butt and swear-word coloring books, is what would happen if a foul-mouthed, Golden Girls–loving feminist hijacked one of Silver in the City’s embroidered pillows. Inside a bright blue space that’s halfway between a mom-and-pop boutique and an adult bookstore, shoppers can browse old-school desk placards with snarky sayings, celebrity-inspired dog portraits, and sassy baby stuff like a “Best Oops Ever” onesie. Your progressive grandma would feel right at home.
Anyone can pick up a cactus from a big-box garden store. But for a more singular succulent, mother-and-daughter duo Andrea Dunlevy and Leah Flanagan’s Forest Flower (3205 W. 71st St., 317-291-1441), a northside garden boutique, is your best bet. Opened in November 2018 in the old Bash Seed Company building, the shop maintains a lot of the former business’s early–20th century charm. There, you’ll find marimo moss balls (think giant, furry bubble-tea balls) and pileas (akin to a cluster of mini satellite dishes)—both perfect choices for serial plant-killers. And no visit is complete without petting the two friendly miniature donkeys out back, Little Red and Burrito.
If you’re a person of means, it’s not hard to talk yourself into springing for the top-of-the-line $40,000 mattress from Vispring (1760 E. 86th St., 317-548-1818). The luxury English brand favored by celebrities from Paris Hilton to David Beckham arrived in Indianapolis last year, and inspired a lot of curiosity about what five-figure bedding might entail. The king-sized model in the Nora showroom boasts three rows of organic cotton, wool, horsehair, alpaca, and silk-wrapped coils for maximum stress relief and support. Each mattress is handmade with organic materials and carries an impressive 30-year guarantee, so you’ll sleep soundly until at least 2049.
New Jewelry Store
Late last year, former G. Thrapp Jewelers employee Mary Leppert joined forces with Denver-based jeweler Samantha Hurst Larkins to open what is fast becoming an anchor in the Carmel Arts & Design District: Metalmark Fine Jewelry (211 W. Main St., Carmel, 720-441-4635). The shop pairs Foundrae necklaces, worn by stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow, with local lines like Carmel’s Katherine & Josephine. Layering necklaces, stackable bracelets, and bold rings fill cases that also contain elegant estate pieces, like a diamond-and-emerald ring from the 1930s. Also in vogue: vintage Rolex and Cartier watches reimagined by Los Angeles–based La Californienne, with interchangeable striped leather straps.
Sisters Heidi Heldt and Gretchen Harter spend most of the year picking at estate sales and flea markets. So they’re always excited to bring their bounty home and sell it at the Hoosier Sister pop-up shop in Clay Terrace a few times a year. Known for their antique accents and HGTV-worthy styling skills, their collection focuses on the modern farmhouse trend. (Think rusted metal leaves handcrafted in Northern Indiana and benches made of reclaimed wood.) The two have developed such a reputation that they’re now in demand nationally, and sell their wares at nearly 20 shows a year from Georgia to Nebraska. The next Indiana pop-up shop isn’t until spring, but Heldt and Harter have an option for those who can’t wait: They’ll bring their “mobile store” to you for an in-home design consultation.
During the warmer months, Fortville’s Flying Dirt Farm (6572 W. Reformatory Rd., Fortville, 317-518-5972) sells some of the prettiest cut flowers in the area. So it’s no surprise that the green thumbs there also weave gorgeous spruce, holly, and cedar wreaths for your holiday hall-decking. The flower farm takes orders by phone, then delivers the wreaths to Garfield Park on December 8 (or you can schedule a pick-up time at the farm). Flying Dirt also hosts wreath-making parties, a DIY night of which Santa and Martha Stewart would approve.
Local Marie Kondo
It’s not easy to admit when those dusty mantel knickknacks no longer spark joy. But Maria Baer, a decluttering wizard whose penchant for color-coded closets morphed into The Baer Minimalist (317-294-8409) two years ago, is eager to help you pare your loaded living room and cluttered kitchen. She aims to create stylish spaces with only the most essential decor, not unlike those on Netflix’s Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. Home-organizing sessions start at $340 for four hours, and Baer doesn’t stop at redecorating. She can also streamline your parties for $300, which includes everything from digital invites to a menu.
New Vintage Shop
Behind the purple door of Fountain Square’s Zodiac Vintage (1060 Virginia Ave., 317-306-9600) lies a treasure trove of vintage denim, Mickey Mouse tees, snakeskin cowboy boots, and letterman jackets. The boutique is the brick-and-mortar lovechild of Jess Parrotte, who curates the local pop-up 9 Lives Vintage, and Jessica Lykens, who heads up Geraldine Lee’s Vintage. Prices range from $5 for fabric pieces to original band tour T-shirts and rare 20th-century American workwear that can run $200 or more. Regardless of your budget, check out the new finds on Instagram each week. The best stuff may be old, but it moves fast.
French Flea owner Danny Cheshire will sell you the most magnificent dead butterfly you’ve ever seen. The Day-Glo–winged taxidermied insects, ethically sourced from Peru and Indonesia, steal the show at the new home-decor boutique next to French Pharmacie Salon (823 E. Westfield Blvd., 317-251-9182) in Broad Ripple. Terrariums, porcelain peacocks, a horn magnifying glass, gold-toothed mugs, and harmonica necklaces fill the shelves. You may not know what you’re looking for when you arrive, but you’re unlikely to come away empty-handed.
International Makers’ Market
The modern mercantile is the hottest trend in shopping. Telltale signs include the word “curated” in the About Us section and small-batch macramé on the shelves. A lot of these stores fall short of their quality promise, but Nine + Roxy (751 Hanover Place, Carmel, 317-459-7604) surpasses it, both in the handmade lifestyle goods (an origami-like black flask, brass bookmarks cool enough for Italian Riviera beach reading) and in knowledge about the independent makers. Owner Tracy Main distinguishes her store with tastemakers from around the world: a U.K. metalsmith who makes exquisite candleholders, knot pillows from a Tel Aviv artist who created her own tying method. Indiana connections are hard to avoid, though. When Main found Djeko toys, a French line of sophisticated wooden sushi kits and block sets, she was surprised to find out that the company’s distribution is based in Franklin.
You might think the hardest part about making pottery is learning to throw—i.e., the technique. But to separate yourself from the art-center-class masses and become a collaborator with serious chefs, you must think hard about the function of the form. Rebecca Graves of GravesCo Pottery obsesses over every little detail. She could write a dissertation about the ideal thickness of a coffee cup. The studio owner, who crafts tableware for The New York Times best-selling cookbook author Teri Turner and top local restaurateurs, turns out enough styles of plates, mugs, and kitchenware to fill all of your cupboards. Right now, get your hands on a “Wobble” soup mug and an earthy coffee traveler with the all-important silicone heat band.
A pink door with a doorknob smack in the middle leads into Lantz Collective (800 S. Rangeline Rd., Carmel, 317-569-5972), a retail shop fronting the studio of interior-design powerhouses Barry and Amanda Lantz. Their look is modern and glamorous. But the artwork is what really stands out. It’s displayed everywhere—on the walls, leaning against tables, propped up in open drawers. Many abstracts are by Barry himself, who regularly shows in galleries. The pair’s connections to the national design scene infuse the selection. Not just any place gets to sell Tommy Mitchell Botanicals, a collection of sculptural brass flowers also sold at Bergdorf Goodman. Lantz Collective is the line’s exclusive Indiana retailer.
Specialty Home Design
When a crash left Derek Lavender paralyzed from the chest down, he and his wife, LeAnne, remodeled a ranch with accessible design and became experts in the discipline. LeAnne launched Lavender’s Longshot last year to offer design services to others in the same situation—or a less-severe circumstance, like creating a mother-in-law suite. Every job starts with a $75 consultation and goes from there.
Local Makers’ Market
Popping up from a flat landscape of farmland, Mercantile 37’s (25625 S.R. 37 N., Noblesville, 765-734-1683) large brick depot on the northern edge of Hamilton County is more polished and relevant than you might expect. The two levels are packed with all things repurposed, handcrafted, and small-batched—industrial light fixtures, hand-lettered artwork, white concrete trays, goat’s milk soap, weathered mantels fashioned from area barnwood, vintage shoe molds converted to wall hooks. More than 50 vendors are represented. Given the time it takes to peruse all the options, it’s a good thing there’s a cafe on site stocked by Bonge’s Tavern.