Where to Shop Small in Vegas’ Downtown Arts District
Peruse thrifted and vintage items, antique collectibles, wine retailers, and other one-of-a-kind gifts in Sin City’s Downtown Arts District.
Planning to shop small this holiday season? Head to the 18b Arts District, the official name for the 18-block neighborhood in Downtown Las Vegas that acts as the city’s hub of arts and culture. One of Las Vegas’ best-kept secrets is that it’s an incredible place for antiquing, thrifting, and any other words you want to use to describe vintage shopping. There are a ton of vintage stores—as well as art galleries, boutiques, home goods stores, and more—packed into this district, with more opening every week as word spreads that the DTLV Arts District is the place to be in LV. For your gift-giving needs, and maybe even a little treat yo’self, spend some time exploring the Arts District to support local small business owners and artists. Here you’ll find the most unique, original, and one-of-a-kind gifts, and there is truly something for everyone.
This charming boutique is chock full of goodies, like fun and funky women’s and men’s clothing items and accessories for starters, but only just for starters. They also have all kinds of fun gift items, like prayer candles for Saints Eddie Munson, Ted Lasso, and Mariah Carey; Vegas, Reno, and Sparks trucker caps; cheery, original (and affordable) artwork from local artists (exhibits rotate monthly); clever greeting cards; and an assortment of accessories including sunglasses, satchels, and funky purses. For the holidays they also have kitschy glass ornaments, an assortment of Santa mugs, and a variety of gift items (like a skull candle that smells like marshmallows). There’s also a small section of vintage items in the back of the store.
An ending is always just a new beginning, and for the Red Kat Vintage, the end of Las Vegas vintage stores Retro Vegas (soon to be the new Esther’s Kitchen space) and Modern Mantiques has meant a brand-new beginning for the vintage clothing purveyor once located in a back section of Retro Vegas, now in the sprawling space previously occupied by Modern Mantiques. At the front of the store is a selection of vinyl records, and the rest is all vintage clothing and accessories categorized by style and color. You’ll find racks and racks of 1980s sequin dresses with serious statement shoulder pads, men’s flannel shirts, tweed jackets, shearling coats, jeans, scarves, cowboy boots, ugly Christmas sweaters, and so much more.
Whether you’re a seasoned derby girl or just getting into roller skating, Fresa’s Skate Shop has everything you need. From beginner skates to super-stylish skates in a rainbow of bright colors and cheerful designs, plus the wheels, hardware, straps, helmets, and pads, they carry literally everything here. And because they celebrate skating as a whole lifestyle (not just a hobby), they also have a whole lifestyle’s worth of apparel and accessories—graphic t-shirts, flared pants, fun graphic socks, bucket hats, neon-colored shades, cutesy backpacks, and more. You can test out the merch on the in-store skate ramp, and they also have roller skate rentals available by the hour or by the day. If your giftee is a skater grrl or sk8er boi, you need only stop at this shop.
After all that shopping you probably need a drink. Head to ReBAR, a popular Downtown locals’ bar that also doubles as a vintage store where damn near everything you see is for sale—the neon beer signs, the German cuckoo clocks, the taxidermy, the instruments, the framed mass-produced painting reproductions that your grandma once had, the life-sized cardboard cutout of Fabio—all of it! They’ve also got dirt-cheap drinks, which are getting harder and harder to come by as the Arts District gets trendier and trendier.
The name of this adorable store opened is not a misnomer: this place is truly a local oasis for gift-giving and self-pampering, with Las Vegas flair. They have unique jewelry, fun graphic t-shirts and socks, journals, self-care items, terrariums (including a build-your-own terrarium bar), incense and essential oils, fun mugs and glassware, cute greeting cards for all occasions, embroidery kits, candies, card games for parties (appropriate for all ages and company), a children’s section, and an absolutely charming assortment of ornaments and seasonal items for the holidays (including Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s and Father’s Days). There is an emphasis on Vegas- and Nevada-themed items like necklaces, pins, totes, ornaments, candles, postcards, dog toys, and even hot sauce, as well as a nice selection of gift items, souvenirs, postcards, jewelry, and more by local Las Vegas artists, including the shop owner herself, Abbie Renzema.
Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to make a day out of it: no matter how big you think the Antique Alley Mall looks on the outside, it’s even bigger inside. Once you step through the front door, get ready for 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, it’s 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 reclining mermaid plaster bench; a life-sized and life-like pirate dangling from a rope from the ceiling; seemingly every Funko POP! ever made; an assortment of vintage Vegas casino memorabilia; and a mounted moose’s head. And innumerable different kinds of sterling silver, gold, precious gemstones, and costume jewelry; porcelain figurines; records; tiki mugs; vintage ties; concert posters; collectible comic books; Waterford crystal decanters; 1950s dresses…If you can’t find a suitable gift here, just give cash.
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 18bin, 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.
While people may know the DTLV Arts District more for its vintage/antique stores and art galleries, there has been an absolute explosion of stylish new boutiques that have opened over the last several years, featuring a mix of lifestyle and home goods along with new (and maybe a small smattering of vintage) clothing. The Good Wolf is one of such stores, now three-years-old and located in a new home just a few storefronts down from its original location. 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, cozy candles, cocktail books, coffee table books, 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—a product of the owners’ background in interior design (a service they still offer).
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-size 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, 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 (cult film actress Ginger Lynn will be in store signing autographs and taking photos 1-4 pm on November 26). And while you’re here, pop by the brand-new Nightmare Café now open next door for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a horror-themed restaurant with some “killer” murals!
While the Honeypot is definitely vibrating on a New Age wavelength, you (and your intended giftee) do not need to believe in the healing power of crystals to fall in love with all of the gems in this store. When you first walk inside, your field of vision is filled with large glittering geodes worth thousands of dollars, and tables and shelves filled with all manner of crystals, quartz, raw gemstones, and other kinds of stones and minerals like shiny black shungite and black rainbow-hued fluorite. Many pieces are cut into beautiful display pieces (even the palm-sized hunks of quartz would make a great display item), and then there are small bowl-shaped vessels that can hold small items like earrings. There are also soapstone animals and lapis lazuli skulls, agate dragon’s heads, quartz globes, troilite crescent moons, hefty salt lamps, driftwood pieces with glass vases hand-blown to perfectly fit on top, mosaic keepsake boxes, sterling silver and steel rings, gorgeous hand-made leather journals and purses, intricately beaded Huichol (indigenous Mexican) art pieces, and so much more, including everyday items like sage sticks and candles for the holistic healers in your life. Take your time perusing here because it’s easy to miss a lot at first glance.
The tagline of Vintage Vegas is “Dead people’s junk and cool crap,” and there has probably never been a more honest and accurate description of what a vintage/antique shop really is than that. Vintage Vegas is the heavily tattooed rockabilly cousin to Palm Springs’s mid-century modern antiquing. This store has all the same kind of dead people’s junk and cool crap you’ll find in a lot of other vintage and antique stores, but with a little more of an edge. Think 1980s arcade games, a wide assortment of vintage Star Wars memorabilia, MCM furniture and glassware, vintage board games from ‘60s & ‘70s TV shows, vintage electronics from the ‘50s through the ‘80s (they’re kind of known for this), tiki mugs and other tiki paraphernalia, vintage Vegas casino items, and so much more. They’ve also got the best window displays on Main St., especially during Halloween season and the holidays.
We’ve already established that there are a lot of artists’ studios and art galleries in the Downtown Las Vegas Arts District, but Recycled Propaganda is certainly a highlight. The socio-political artist known as Recycled Propaganda (Izaac Zevalking) has been especially prolific during the pandemic, with temporary and permanent murals popping up all over DTLV. His Savage Journey (better known as “Fear of COVID in Las Vegas”) mural is especially prominent, and if you haven’t seen the real thing on the corner of S Main and W Imperial, you’ve definitely seen the prints, T-shirts, facemasks, pins, stickers, and/or shares on social media. He’s got a sizable storefront on Main St. where you can buy his original paintings and mixed media works (which are still super affordable by original artwork standards), as well as a wide variety of prints, apparel, and other merchandise emblazoned with images of his work. He also uses his space to exhibit the works of other Las Vegas artists in quarterly exhibitions, so you can also shop for originals by other local artists, too.
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 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. 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 (plus they’re offering an additional 5% off for Small Business Saturday).