We don’t want to alarm you, but as of this writing, Christmas is a mere 12 days away.
The clock is ticking for you to complete your holiday shopping, but fortunately, you don’t have to go far to get the goods you need. A number of stores here in Lowell sell all sorts of giftable items. No need to fight traffic going into Grand Rapids or wait at the mercy of the postal service, hoping your packages arrive in time.
As an added benefit of shopping in Lowell, you can collect 12 Days of Christmas Trading Cards at two dozen locations across town — from the service desk at Meijer to the Showboat during Santa visits. Once you have a complete set, take them to the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce and be entered to win $100 in Lowell Bucks. Cards needs to be turned in by Dec. 20, and you’ll find all the details on the Chamber website.
If you need some help shopping, here are a few Lowell merchants to consider.
We don’t have a dedicated toy store in town, but we do have the Treasures Thrift Shop at Flat River Outreach Ministries, which is almost as good.
Buy your kids second-hand items for Christmas? Yes! I am all-in on the idea, and my kids often received Christmas toys from secondhand shops, garage sales and online classifieds. It’s good for the environment and perhaps more importantly at this time of year, your wallet.
Younger kids — particularly the pre-preschool set — aren’t likely to care that their truck or doll didn’t come in the manufacturer packaging. Even for older kids, you can sometimes score stocking stuffers and other small items that can free up cash for the bigger presents on their wish list.
Be aware that Treasures –located at 11535 Fulton Street E — will be closing at 3pm on Friday, Dec. 15 and will be closed on Saturday, Dec. 16, for FROM’s annual Christmas distribution.
If you have someone on your list who loves eating — or cooking — good food, head to the Red Barn Market. Located north of town at 3550 Alden Nash Ave NE near Murray Lake Elementary School, the market actually has also sorts of fantastic gifts for both children and adults.
However, we love Red Barn Market for the delicious jams, honey and salsa that you will find on the shelves. They also have prep bowls, aprons, kitchen towels, market bags and even a cookbook or two.
While you’re there, grab some donuts for breakfast the next day or go ahead and indulge in some ice cream — it’s never too cold for ice cream, right?
For Your Old-School Friend
Know someone living in the ’80s? How about the ’70s or ’90s?
Ah, yes, those were all golden years that today’s Zoomers will never fully understand…but they can get a taste of them at Retro Electric Arcade. Not only is Lowell’s arcade a great place to pass an hour or two, but they also have all sorts of goodies that would make a perfect gift for your old-school friend.
Think Star Wars, ThunderCats, trading cards and oodles of VHS tapes. Plus, there are new items — such as earrings — that have a retro vibe. You’ll find Retro Electric Arcade at 2163 W. Main Street in the strip mall by the Ada Lowell 5 theater.
For Teachers and Bus Drivers
When it comes to teacher and bus driver gifts, Starbucks and Biggby gift cards are popular choices. But did you know that we have something comparable — dare I say, better? — right here in Lowell?
Yes, Sweet Seasons at 307 E. Main Street in the historic downtown has gift cards that can be used to provide the caffeine fix our hard-working school employees need. If they don’t like coffee (perish the thought!), they can buy themselves breakfast, lunch or dessert instead.
But maybe they don’t live in town or the cafe’s hours aren’t convenient for them. One nice thing about a gift card like this is that it can be easily regifted since almost everyone knows someone who could use a good cup of coffee or a delicious dessert.
For Your Distant Friend
You can easily send your out-of-town friends a little bit of Lowell this Christmas by shipping them a gift set of two hand towels from Ability Weavers. The store will ship them out for $55 flat — no need to worry about packaging them up or paying a shipping fee. That price is good for shipments anywhere in the U.S.
I’m a huge fan of the store’s hand towels. They are made beautifully and all of mine have withstood the test of time. When I am not sure what to get someone, hand towels always seems like a good choice. While practical, they also feel like a bit of an indulgence because so many people are making due with worn towels that have seen better days.
If you’d like to head to the Ability Weavers store and see what else they have to offer, they are located at 215 W. Main Street in the historic downtown. Right now, all wool rugs are 20% off through Dec. 23, 2023.
Lowell’s bookshop, Bettie’s Pages, has adult and children’s books but also so much more. There are puzzles, stickers, socks and t-shirts, among other things. Plenty of giftable items along with a large selection of novels that include LGBTQIA+ representation and nonfiction covering diverse social justice issues.
The store recently moved from its downtown location to 11635 Fulton. That’s the strip mall just west of Meijer, and you’ll find the store next to Jet’s Pizza. Don’t be confused by the sign above the entrance. It’s for the former business and just hasn’t been updated yet.
Bettie’s Pages isn’t your mild-manned mother’s bookstore, though. Heads up on the colorful language you are bound to see on book titles and other items throughout the shop.
For History Lovers
For those who dig history, you’ll want to stop by the Lowell Area Historical Museum. Not only does the museum have some excellent exhibits, but it also has a small gift shop. There, you can get items such as calendars and printed copies of the first two volumes of the always-popular ABCs of Lowell History.
A membership to the museum is also a great gift for those people who don’t need any more stuff in their lives. It costs just $15 for an individual or $25 for a family. For that bargain price, your recipient will receive free admission for a year plus gift shop discounts, invites to special events and more.
If you can’t make it to the museum (325 W. Main Street) during their open hours, the ABCs of Lowell History and other books about Lowell history can be purchased from the Lowell Area Historical Museum website. Click the store link at the top of the page.
We mean nerd in the very best of ways here. If you have a (board) gamer, comic book fan or card collector in your life, Rookie’s Sportscards Plus is where you want to go holiday shopping. For more than 30 years, Rookie’s has been the place to go for items that you simply can’t find elsewhere in town.
And while you can buy many of these items online now, doing so means you’ll miss out on the expertise of owner Jack Reedy. If you aren’t sure what to buy, Jack is sure to have a few suggestions. I know, personally, he’s never steered me wrong. You’ll find Rookies on the bridge above the Flat River at 106 W. Main Street.
For the Adventurer
Those who feel a bit of wanderlust in their souls may find The Restless Viking to be a kindred spirit. Chuck and Martha Hayden are the Lowell couple behind the popular Restless Viking website and YouTube channel. In fact, you’ve probably seen their weekly column here on Lowell’s First Look.
But did you know they also have merch? You can find their store online, and while all their items would make good gifts, we particularly like Poppin’s Never-Ending Backpack. It’s a Champion-brand bag that is water resistant and has plenty of space for everything someone might need on their next adventure.
For the Fashionista
You know your fashion-forward friend with a style all their own? They may want a gift card to WearForward, Lowell’s zero-waste clothing consignment store that is located in the historic downtown at 207 E. Main Street. From Cottagecore to grunge to ’90s, they have vintage and modern clothing for all of today’s popular aesthetics. In addition to clothing, you’ll find purses, boots and shoes too.
Right now, if you buy $50 in WearForward gift cards, you’ll get $10 free. Plus, you can shop their items online and have them shipped for free when you spend at least $50.
Prefer new to pre-owned clothes? While WearForward has a number of items that are new with tags, you can also find the latest fashions at Lavender & Lace Boutique. This boutique is located at 204 W. Main Street in the historic downtown and offers a number of home decor and gift items in addition to clothing. You’ll find women’s clothing, accessories, candles, vases and adorable outfits for infants, among other things, at Lavender & Lace.
For the Person Who Has Everything
Oh, my. What to get the person on your list who doesn’t need or want anything?
For those folks, I head to the Artist Market at LowellArts. The non-profit has wares from more than 50 artisans on display in its gallery at 223 W. Main Street in the historic downtown. It always amazes me the variety of items available and at all price points and sizes. Handmade kitchen utensils? Check. Stocking stuffer soap? Check. One-of-a-kind pottery? Check.
I can almost always find something for that hard-to-buy-for-person on my list — usually, it’s something that never even occurred to me until I saw it at the Artist Market. The market is also a good place to pick up unique teacher and co-worker gifts.
For an Heirloom
Ok, so this isn’t something you can wrap up and place under the Christmas tree, but if you want to buy your loved one something really special, look to GlessBoards for heirloom-quality furniture. Handcrafted here in Lowell, GlessBoards furniture includes tables, chairs, cabinets and more. They can make you one of their existing pieces, or you can commission a new design.
Either way, you can let your gift recipient know something special will be coming for them in 2024. This won’t be the cheapest gift you give, but it will be one to last a lifetime.
So, there you have it. Some of our top choices for shopping Lowell this holiday season. Still need to head to Amazon for something you can’t find locally? You can use our affiliate link to find the hottest deals, many of which can be delivered in one or two days.
Note: This is NOT a sponsored post. No business paid for placement here and, in fact, none of these businesses were told they were being included in our gift guide. Instead, this list was compiled based on the recommendations of Lowell’s First Look writers and the editor.