Northern Kentucky has an eclectic collection of one-of-a-kind places to find unique Christmas gifts. Many of them are offering specials during the holiday season, when it’s a great time to shop local and shop small.
They are too numerous to name, so, with the help of the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau, we’re focusing on a few that are little off of the beaten path, where you might discover finds that would be hard to get elsewhere.
Grainwell, on Pike Street in Covington, is owned and operated by three sisters, who sell a variety of wood-centric products. Their wooden "floating skylines" are popular items. Shoppers can also custom order one of their woodshop creations.
Across the street from Grainwell Market is Shop Local Kentucky, which offers Kentucky-themed goods. There are two other Shop Local Kentucky stores in the state: one in Bowling Green, and one in Lexington.
Hail Dark Aesthetics on Main Street in Covington's Mainstrasse Village, calls itself a "record store gone weird," and it has a selection of LPs, custom t-shirts, goth jewelry, and unique art finds. The original Hail Dark Aesthetics store is in Nashville, Tenn., and the owners chose Covington and its vibe for an expansion.
Down Main Street from Hail Dark Aesthetics is Ten Thousand Villages, which sells fair-trade goods from around the world, hand-crafted items sold to help create better lives for the makers in developing countries.
Village Gifts KY is across the street from Ten Thousand Villages. It specializes in Kentucky-made gifts from magnets to coasters to t-shirts, homemade candies, bourbon-themed goods, and more. Its motto is "Everything Kentucky and Proud of It."
Tuscarora Moon in Newport is a few blocks from the Newport Aquarium at 724 Monmouth St. It specializes in Native American crafts, "All Things Metaphysical" and paranormal equipment.
Seventh Street Gifts is a block away from Tuscarora Moon at 114 E. 7th St. in Newport. It offers a full apothecary, a range of essential oils, teas, herbs, and more. Its staff says it will craft soaps and candles of your choosing onsite. They also offer kits to make your own.
Braxton Brewing is holding a mix-and-match to-go beer sale, and their popular Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip Milk Stout is back and available to order online or in select retail locations. Buy some of that and toss up a toast to Cincinnati on New Year’s Eve.
Carabello's Coffee is offering a unique holiday monthly gift that includes specially-roasted coffee that is exclusive and not available to the public.
Newport and Bellevue are neighbors in Northern Kentucky and boast some of the most walkable business districts in the region. Holiday decorations add to the charm this time of the year, so don’t be afraid to get out of your car and walk around for a bit to take it all in.
Start your shopping trip at Carabello Coffee, where you’ll find coffee-themed goodies like mugs, brewing supplies, and Carabello themed merchandise. For the coffee lover in your life, purchase a membership to their Coffee of the Month club. On the first Wednesday of every month, members receive a specially-roasted coffee that is exclusive and not available to the public. These coffees are rare and harder to come by, and a membership costs $21.95 a month. Make sure to grab an artisanal seasonal drink on your way out the door.
Both neighborhoods have a variety of specialty shops along their business districts. Along Monmouth Street in Newport, you’ll find shops like Knit On!, Urban Chick Boutique, and Reser Bicycle Outfitters. On West 10th Street, you’ll find The Galaxie Skateshop, a full-service skateboard shop complete with a coffee and kombucha cafe and a half-pipe on-site.
To find a gift for the person who as everything, stop in to one of Newport or Bellevue’s antique or thrift stores. And then grab a load of stocking stuffers and treats from Sweet Tooth Chocolates in Newport or Schneider’s Sweet Shop in Bellevue.
Give a gift of an experience by purchasing a membership to the Newport Aquarium (currently open by reservation only). New members get two months free!
Newport on the Levee recently welcomed the Exchange Market, a revolving, 11,000-square-foot artisan market curated with holiday gift-giving in mind. Here you can find specialty culinary spices from Colonel De Gourmet Herbs & Spices, handcrafted soap and home goods from AndSundries, mission-driven clothing from ANEW Clothing, fair-trade global goods from Ten Thousand Villages, and much more.
Plan your trip to the Levee right and you’ll catch a special holiday event like Holly Jolly on the Levee (every Saturday night) or Menorah Lights on the Levee (this Thursday at 6pm). Bridgeview Box Park is a great place to hang with friends amidst COVID restrictions and there is a Storytime With Santa planned for December 14. (Visit their Facebook page for more information about the Exchange Market and special events.)
Make sure to support local restaurants by purchasing gift cards and meals to go. Locally-beloved institutions in Newport include the Newport Pizza Co., York Street Cafe, La Mexicana, and Pompilio’s. In Bellevue, try Siam Orchid, Bellevue Bistro, or The Elusive Cow. These restaurants (and more) need your help and — let’s be honest — everyone likes an easy night of take-out after a day of Christmas shopping.