Toy Store
Founded in 1981, Gepetto's Workshop in Stevens Point, is just one of a number of independent toy stores in Wisconsin whose shelves are still stocked with unique gifts. (Photo Courtesy of Gepetto's Workshop)

Instead of stressing out at the big-box stores, make some time to visit one or two of these unique local shops.

Have you been wandering the aisles of your local big box stores, fretting over just how you’ll manage to finish your Christmas shopping by Dec. 24?

Instead of pulling your hair out under harsh fluorescent lighting, or giving yourself a headache as you worry over the accuracy of Amazon reviews, why not visit a few of the many Wisconsin small businesses offering an array of unique gifts and locally made products?

Here at UpNorthNews, we love shopping local, and we love anything made here in the great Dairy State—so to help you play the Santa you were born to be, we’ve compiled a little guide listing a few of the independently-owned gift shops and Wisconsin-made products sure to please anyone on your list. 

Got little ones in your life? Why not visit Gepetto’s Workshop in Stevens Point or The Smiley Barn in Delafield to find the perfect toy that will spark their imagination. Know a book lover? Bypass the Barnes and Noble and visit Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee instead. Looking for the person who’s hard to shop for? Perhaps Drift Mercantile in La Crosse or The Waxwing artisan market in Milwaukee will have something perfectly Wisconsin-made that fits the bill. 

If you don’t have time to—or don’t want to—venture out to the store,  we also have a list of Wisconsin-made products available for shipping, from Colectivo Coffee to Allen Edmonds shoes.

While this certainly isn’t exhaustive, we hope it sparks a little gift-giving or creativity, and reminds you that some of the best gifts aren’t found online, but rather, right on Main Street. 

Toy Stores

Christmas is about children in lots of households. Feel like a kid again and find the right gift at these independently owned toy stores. 

  • Just Imagine Toys LLC, 120 4th Ave., Baraboo, (608) 356-5507
  • Toy Haus, 1017 16th Ave., Monroe, (608) 325-1277
  • Gepetto’s Workshop, 1121 Main St., Stevens Point, (715) 341-8640
  • Janke Book Store, 505 N, 3rd St., Wausau, (715) 845-9648
  • The Smiley Barn, 2420 Milwaukee St., Delafield, (262) 303-9037
  • Martha Merrell’s Books & Toys, 231 W. Main St. Waukesha, (262) 547-1060
  • Ruckus & Glee LLC, 805 N. 68th St, Wauwatosa, (414) 395-3201
  • Winkie’s, 629 E, Silver Spring Drive, Whitefish Bay, (414) 964-2130
  • Board Game Barrister, 1007 Milwaukee Ave., South Milwaukee, WI, (414) 856-9000
  • Alison Wonderland, 472 N. Pine St., Burlington or 720 W. Main St. in Lake Geneva, (262) 763-9718
  • Learning Express Toys & Gifts, Brookfield Square Mall, 95 N. Moorland Road, Brookfield, (262) 785-0425
  • Imaginuity, 225 W. Front St. in Minocqua or 21 S. Brown St. in Rhinelander, (715) 356-7778
  • Grandma’s Toy Box LLC, 223 E. Wall St, Eagle River, (715) 477-2227
  • Gnome Games Green Bay West, 2160 S. Ridge Road, Green Bay, (920) 499-4263
  • School House, 770 Willard Drive, Green Bay, (920) 499-7999
  • The Read Apple LLC, 1623 Washington St., Two Rivers, WI 54241, (920) 657-2555

Sheepish
The storefront window of Sheepish, 326 Main St. in Racine, is all lit up for the holidays. The longtime local business offers an array of crystals, incense, essential oils, and lots of other goodies for the meditator or searcher in your life. (Photo Courtesy of Sheepish)

Books and Gifts 

If you live in Milwaukee or Madison, you already know about the numerous business districts brimming with independently owned retail establishments—Bay View or the Third Ward in Milwaukee and State and Williamson streets in Madison are just a couple neighborhoods that come to mind. 

Since there’s a good chance you don’t live in those areas we created a very short list of locally owned gift and book shops in various parts of the state. 

  • Spring Green General Store, 137 S. Albany St.,Spring Green, (608) 588-7070
  • Panacea, 248 E. Jefferson St., Spring Green, (608) 588-2280
  • The Planted Tree Gallery & Gifts, 109 W. Blackhawk Ave., Prairie du Chien, (608) 326-8733
  • Sweets On 3rd, 615 N. 3rd St, Wausau, (715) 842-7171
  • Boswell Book Company, 2559 N. Downer Ave, Milwaukee, (414) 332-1181
  • The Waxwing, 1223 S. 23rd St., Milwaukee, 
  • Sheepish, 326 Main St, Racine, (262) 635-3244
  • Pearl Street Books, 323 Pearl St., La Crosse, (608) 782-3424
  • Volume One Local Store, 205 N. Dewey Street, Eau Claire, (715) 552-0457
  • Drift Mercantile, 211 Pearl Street, La Crosse, (608) 790-9322 
  • Fair Isle Books and Gifts, 1885 Detroit Harbor Road, Washington Island, (920) 847-2565

Wisconsin Made

BEER, BOOZE and HARD CIDER: Brix Cider, New Glarus Brewing Company, Capital Brewery, Good City Brewing, Three Sheeps Brewing Co., Pearl Street Brewery, Company Brewing, Lost Valley Cider Company, Ciderboys Cider, The Cider Farm, Island Orchard Cider, Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery, Great Lakes Distillery, Dancing Goat Distillery, Hinterland Brewing, Twisted Path Distillery, etc. (We realize this list is, in fact, MUCH longer than we could possibly show!)

Not sure you want to leave the house—or even your couch? Many of these Wisconsin foodmakers and manufacturers offer delivery, or at least can tell what retail establishments sell their products. 

COFFEE: Wonderstate Coffee, Colectivo Coffee, Ruby Coffee, and Valentine Coffee 

FOOD: Landmark Creamery, The Pink Bakery, B&Es Trees Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup, Tapped Maple Syrup, Wisconsin Cheese Mart, Uplands Cheese, Usinger’s Meats, Cultivate Taste Tea, and Elegant Farmer (We also realize that this list is much longer!)

SHOES, APPAREL, MISC: Allen Edmonds (shoes), Blue Moon Emporium (gifts), American Provenance (deodorant and self-care products), Nuk (baby products), Regal Ware (dishes and cookware), and Wigwam socks