"Traditional design" shops in the US
March 26, 2023 11:01 AM   Subscribe

There's a...genre of store in the UK that seems to exist somewhere at the intersection of hardware stores, small local manufacturers, zero waste, luddite fetishists, and MoMA Design Store-curated shopping. Examples include Labour and Wait and Objects of Use. Are there similar businesses in the US?

I have someone in my life who is tough to shop for and would *love* a gift certificate to a place like this, but we're in the US and the practicalities and expense of overseas shipping make these specific businesses less than ideal. Also, in a lot of cases, the stuff they carry is actually cheaper locally (often because it's made in North America).

I know that it's possible to find individual items from these places domestically. That's not what I'm after. I don't know exactly what this person would want--it's more that I'm confident the general vibe of these businesses is a thing they'd be into, and I'm really looking for similarities in selection and presentation rather than any specific thing carried by the places linked above.

I'm also not looking for an importer of UK goods. The selection could be 100% made in USA, even, as long as it's drawn from quirky, regional heritage manufacturers. A close-but-not-quite example is kioskkiosk from the mid-aughts, but their selection now tends (and always was, really) to be too limited and too fleeting to qualify.
posted by pullayup to Shopping (19 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Where specifically are you? (Do you want to be able to go in person?)
posted by pinochiette at 11:09 AM on March 26

Boston General Store?
posted by praemunire at 11:12 AM on March 26

Response by poster: Where specifically are you? (Do you want to be able to go in person?)

We're in the midwest (I'm in Chicago, recipient is in southeast Michigan). Shopping in person would be nice, but isn't necessary if the business in question is in the continental US and has an online shop.

I know there are places that are sort of like this because they're still doing business essentially the same way they were 50 years ago and either aren't online at all or don't really do online shopping and shipping. Gohn Bros. in Middlebury, Indiana probably qualifies, for instance. And, honestly, I'd be interested in hearing about places like this even if they aren't in the midwest and don't offer shipping.
posted by pullayup at 11:17 AM on March 26

Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but Vermont Country Store or Lee Valley Tools?
posted by metasarah at 11:24 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]

June Home Supply
posted by Juniper Toast at 11:36 AM on March 26

They don't have as much online, but The Gardener in Berkeley has a great selection of beautifully-made things (e.g, hand-forged spoons, brooms, etc.) Heath, the ceramics company, also has a selection of things made by other craftspeople.

I used to love Kiosk and have never been anywhere quite like it.
posted by pinochiette at 11:38 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]

What about Garrett Wade? They are not really at the intersection of anything with MoMA, but they have some extremely enticing practical things. Not all are made in the USA, but they are pretty much all made by properly compensated workers, etc.

They have folding binoculars and a great variety of really beautiful scissors. I got a set of Italian graters and two odd little dish brushes as a holiday gift to myself and have my eye on some other stuff.
posted by Frowner at 11:39 AM on March 26

Maybe salter house in Brooklyn. Maybe Huckberry, which sometimes scratches a sort of similar itch for me.
posted by umwhat at 12:21 PM on March 26

Clicking on the link for Labour and Wait screamed Chicago local Hawthorne in North Center to me. Half well curated antiques, the other half beautiful artisan... stuff.
posted by paradeofblimps at 1:25 PM on March 26

Shinola, which is Detroit based. I came for the notebooks, but apparently you can stay for the knives, watches, laptop sleeves, and more.
posted by A Blue Moon at 1:31 PM on March 26 [4 favorites]

If I'm understanding you correctly, I think Schoolhouse in Portland, Oregon qualifies. Love their stuff. Best Made also used to offer similar products, but it looks like they've been acquired by Duluth Trading Company as a sub-brand, so I don't know if their stuff is still as good.

I will say this, though: From my experience, any large-sized (and many medium-sized) city has a store or two or three like this that effectively curates high-quality, hand-made products. For instance, I was in the San Francisco ferry building a couple of weeks ago, and there was a shop (The Gardener, I think) that had all sorts of cool yard/hardware stuff, much of which was Japanese or Japanese-inspired. It reminded me of Schoolhouse, but garden-oriented.

Great question, though, and I'm eager to see other answers.
posted by jdroth at 2:04 PM on March 26

How about handcrafted cooking tools made of durable hardwoods in Montana.
posted by lulu68 at 2:28 PM on March 26

I also came to say Lee Valley.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:53 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]

Black Ink. Used to be a wonderful tiny brick and mortar shop in Cambridge, MA, now they’re entirely online.

Also, these two focus on Japanese wares, I think they both embody the mix that you describe:
Tortoise General Store
posted by marlys at 6:52 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]

This vibe reminds me of Old Faithful Shop. They're technically located in Vancouver, Canada, but they ship all US-based packages from Washington State so you don't pay (or wait!) for international shipping or any import-related costs.

I'd also recommend Woodland Mod, located in Seattle.
posted by catabananza at 6:54 PM on March 26

(Oh, I didn't realize that Black Ink had been revived online! that's cheering.)
posted by praemunire at 8:04 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]

Design Warehouse in Santa Fe. Not sure about gift certificates but if you call, I bet they'd work something out.
posted by dawkins_7 at 10:26 AM on March 27

A couple of Michigan suggestions that are more on the small local crafters side of things. Found in Ann Arbor or Brick and Mortar General Store in Ypsilanti. Both great for in person browsing. Found has a online shop but Brick and Mortar does not. Post Detroit may also match the vibe you're looking more.
posted by thatquietgirl at 2:08 PM on March 27

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