This place is an absolute treasure trove of exceptionally well-curated items that all work together to tell a story, with a deep inventory of items like exotic taxidermy and furniture made out of steer horns and cowhide; replica Rococo gilt bronze clocks and 16th century burgonets; mid-century modern furniture and vintage cigars; signed sports memorabilia and vintage gaming tables; 1980s Vegas casino bomber jackets and classic neon beer signs; old-school boomboxes and autographed records; generations of American militaria; Stetson cowboy hats; and vintage porn. There’s even a full-scale “Golden Knight” (as in, the Vegas Golden Knights) suit of armor and a giant Slimer statue from Ghostbusters. This place is wild and always has killer window displays.
There are many galleries in the Downtown Las Vegas Arts District, as you might expect, but the Arts Factory is something all its own: a decades-old commercial warehouse building that is now home to over 30 artist studios and galleries, boutiques, creative businesses, and a bar and restaurant with a lively patio. The Arts Factory, with its iconic “Love Las Vegas” mural spanning the entire Charleston-facing front of the building, is the de facto epicenter of the 18b Arts District. There are so many different unique spaces to explore, some of which are only open to the public during First Friday, but many of the galleries and stores are open for shoppers regularly throughout the rest of the month. The artist roster is ever-changing but there is always a good mix of painters, multimedia artists, photographers, crafters, and more. For a gift that’s truly one-of-a-kind, you can’t go wrong here. And if you’re short on time and/or cash, there are some great grab-and-go gifts available in the Gallery to Go art vending machine on the first floor, which is stuffed full of locally made original artworks, jewelry, and other gift items. There is an even larger Gallery to Go machine located in Art Square, the building immediately behind the Arts Factory.
Horror film fans (and friends and family of horror film fans who have no idea what to buy them), look no further: you have found your brick-and-mortar mecca. Nightmare Toys is stuffed to the gills with every imaginable kind of horror film collectible—cutesy plush toys of Alien embryos and evil Gremlins, horror movie Christmas ornaments, life-sized Chucky dolls, B- (and C- and D-) movie board games and puzzles, ghoulish rock action figures (Papa Emeritus I, II, and III from Ghost, Rancid’s Skeletim), Purge and Pooka masks, and every other kind of cult horror mask imaginable, an esoteric collection of horror VHS tapes and DVDs, t-shirts and Trick ‘r Treat purses, and Jason backpacks, plus literally every horror Funko Pop ever made (including mini and oversized). This place has a cult following of collectors, and they even bring in iconic horror film stars for signings (Linda Blair from The Exorcist recently visited). Also, keep an eye out for the Nightmare Café opening next door in 2022.
Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to make a day out of it: no matter how big you think Antique Alley looks on the outside, it’s even bigger inside. Once you step through the front door, get ready for room after room after room after room of more vintage and antique items than your imagination could ever fathom, sprawling out across 12,000-square-feet of retail space and with over 65 vendors featured inside. While this place easily overwhelms, its best to take your time exploring it to really take in everything it has to offer. It would be impossible to accurately describe everything there is to find here, so here’s just a few things: a life-sized bronze ballerina sculpture; a full window-sized stained-glass panel of Ariel and Flounder from The Little Mermaid; a Beatles Yellow Submarine art guitar; a vintage Flintstones Dino the Dinosaur children’s ride (like the kind you used to see outside of grocery stores and Kmart as a kid in the ‘80s and ‘90s). And innumerable different kinds of sterling silver, gold, precious gemstone, and costume jewelry; porcelain figurines; records; Pokémon plush toys; tiki mugs; vintage ties; concert posters; 1950s dresses…If you can’t find a suitable gift here, just give cash.
If the person(s) you have to shop for is just so incredibly difficult and/or you just don’t know them that well and/or you’re short on time and/or the mental energy required for shopping and/or you are observing proper holiday party etiquette and bringing a host gift, the answer is wine. Pay a visit to the fine folks at Garagiste, a wine bar and retailer that specializes in the kind of juice you can’t just go grab at Target or Smith’s. (Or even Lee’s Liquor or Total Wine, tbh.) Their inventory is stuffed with interesting wines from lesser-known, smaller producers from all over the world, and they roll deep with low-intervention labels. But you don’t have to be super into wine to find something fun. The staff here is incredibly approachable and accommodating; let them help you find something special for a gift or for yourself (maybe have a glass or two with some cheese and charcuterie while you’re there). The best part: every bottle on their list is for sale to-go at half off the list price.
Most of this list leans towards vintage/antique stores and art galleries, simply because of the abundance of such stores in the DTLV Arts District. But new stores are opening damn near daily, and there’s a whole crop of recently opened boutiques that feature a mix of lifestyle and home goods along with new, and maybe a small smattering of vintage clothing. The Good Wolf is one those stores, albeit two years old now (pandemic time counts differently). Inside, the store is full of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories—mostly new, some vintage, some stuff for babies. There is unique furniture and clever throw pillows, high-end soaps and shaving kits, cocktail kits, cozy candles, statement sunglasses, vintage Stetsons, and all manner of unique home goods and gift items for sale. The design of the space is also impeccable: every clothing rack, tabletop, cabinet, and corner is carefully and thoughtfully laid out, with each display offering its own Instagrammable moment.