During the holiday season, shoppers all over the world brave the cold to buy gifts for their loved ones. But this holiday season, students at Gonzaga University should look no further than downtown Spokane for everything they could need for the holidays.

Between local bookstores, art cooperatives and gift shops, stocking stuffers aren’t hard to come by — all while supporting our Inland Northwest economy.

“Local business keeps the money in the community, gives jobs to your friends and family and also shows that you considered the wants, feelings and desires of the recipient,” said Kurt Olsen, employee at Auntie’s Bookstore. “In an area like Spokane, you reap the rewards as a city.”

While it may be tempting to flock to online retailers or big box stores to do your Christmas shopping, the importance of supporting small, local businesses — especially on the tail end of a now years-long pandemic — can’t be understated. Luckily for Gonzaga students, downtown Spokane is home to a number of locally owned and operated stores where gifts can be found in abundance.

Many of these retail locations can be found within a block of one another, and some of them even share the same buildings, making holiday shopping a breeze for those in a hurry. But for those with a little more time to browse, it is recommended to visit each store and see what they have to offer.

When searching for gifts, every Spokane local knows to look no further than Atticus Coffee and Gifts, located at 222 N. Howard St. Andy and Kris Dinnison own the well-visited coffee and gift shop. Central to downtown, Atticus has built its reputation on being a great way to get a feel for Spokane, said Andy.

“I’d imagine for Gonzaga kids that are heading home for the holidays, this is a great way to get a feel for what we're about here in Spokane,” Andy said.

A charming, chic selection welcomes anyone who finds their way into Atticus.

The music is good, and the coffee and pastries are even better. The shelves are lined with every sort of 'giftable' delicacy, from locally made home goods including candles and prints, to cookbooks and postcards.

“You’re supporting local, but not having to drop in the quality of the product,” Andy said. “We have tons of Christmas stuff this year… along the lines of how to make your house feel cozy for the holidays… so whether it's candles, or nice teas, or cozy hats and scarves, that's the angle we take.”

Right next door to Atticus is Boo Radley’s, located at 232 N. Howard St. Kris said it is a one stop shop for all the things you didn’t know you needed and is the cutting edge of novelty shops

“You can find something for everybody here,” said Clara Patten, an employee at Boo Radley’s. "The shop is full of curiosities, from posters featuring the sights of Spokane to novelty Christmas ornaments. The store even has its own Christmas section, complete with Spokane themed ornaments, perfect for taking home to the family come winter break."

Just down the street from Atticus and Boo Radley’s are Auntie's Bookstore and Uncle’s Games. 

“We’re about promoting literacy, creating community and finding a spot where people of both like minds and unlike minds can come together and understand that books are for everyone," Olson said.

You’d be hard pressed to find a space that feels more welcoming. Nestled in a historic brick building downtown, Auntie’s shelves are lined with everything the bookworms among us could want and more; cookbooks and classics, mysteries and memoirs, science fiction and self-help. There really is something for everybody. Auntie's Bookstore is located at 402 W. Main Ave.

But of all the titles, Olsen said he recommends cookbooks, as well as a gift guide the store has curated. Nestled among the stacks is an angel tree, where buyers can purchase a book for a child in need.

Just next door to Auntie’s is Uncle’s Games, located at 404 W. Main Ave. 

“Our major focus is providing a fun and challenging and safe environment for people to explore the world through play," said Castillo, Uncle's Games store manager.

Every box on every shelf screams fun. There are decks of cards, classic board games and tabletop role playing games.

“I think that we give the absolute best customer service,” Callisto said.

That can be said for all of Spokane’s local businesses; everyone is as friendly and as knowledgeable as can be. Some of them even sell their own wares in the stores, like Steve Whitford of Whit’s End Woodwork.

Whitford sells his handmade wooden bowls, pens and other home furnishings at Pottery Place Plus, a local artist co-op adjacent to Aunties. It is located at 

“Everything in [Whit's End Woodwork] is made by local artists,” Whitford said. “What you find here is all unique, high quality, reasonably priced gifts and art. The best thing is that if you buy somebody a gift from here you're unlikely to get a duplicate. And you’re supporting the local economy.”

That’s what makes the local business of Spokane so special. The gifts you’ll find here are unique and personal, and show that you’ve given thought to the purchase. All while supporting the local Spokane economy. And that’s what the holidays are really all about, taking the time to show you care.

Sam Fedor is a contributor.