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Shopping Tips | Top Shops | Texas-Centric Shopping Guide | Museum Shopping Tips

What's in Store

Tips on where to shop in Houston

The fourth largest city in the nation, Houston is arguably the style capital of the South. It's home to a Project Runway winner and more than a dozen distinct shopping areas, with retail that runs the gamut from vintage to high-end designer. Check out our exclusive shopping tour while you're planning your trip.

The Galleria:  Multi-taskers and shopaholics rejoice in the glory of the Galleria and its 375-plus stores and grand ice rink, flanked by Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Macy's. Akin to New York's Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills--with shops like Louis Vuitton, Montblanc, Chanel, Gucci and Versace--the sprawling mall also has hip designer boutiques like Tory Burch and Henri Bendel, plus J. Crew, Lululemon and Aveda. 

Highland Village: Drive into the palm tree-lined shopping center and take advantage of complimentary valet service for a totally different shopping experience, just a short drive from The Galleria. You'll find BHLDNAnthropologie, Kiehl's, West Elm, Crate & Barrel and Restoration Hardware's The Gallery at Highland Village.

Uptown Park: Snag a space in front of your favorite hot spot and walk anywhere you want to go in this convenient arrangement of boutiques, restaurants, spas and wine and sports bars. More than 50 shops dot the chic shopping destination, including Longoria Collection, The University of Texas Co-Op, M PennerCrave Cupcakes, Berripop, The Tasting Room and Baker Furniture. 

River Oaks Shopping Center: Built in 1927 and made over in 2007, River Oaks was the first "shopping center" in Houston and one of the first in the country to cater to cars. With Art Deco-style and the glam Landmark River Oaks Theatre marquee to welcome shoppers, prepare for 322,000 square feet of retail therapy in a posh neighborhood. There are 14 restaurants and 76 stores like Brasserie 19AmericasEventsMia Bridal Couture, Design Within Reach, Sur La Table and Luke's Locker (for custom-fit sneakers).

West Ave: Set at the crossroads of Upper Kirby and River Oaks, Houston's West Ave development brings together luxury residences, retail and fine dining options. The pedestrian-friendly urban village has drawn some of the city's most talented, along with highly-regarded regional and national brands to create a hub of fashion, dining and nightlife. The art-deco-inspired development--which offers 195,000 square feet of retail space--is home to luxury retailers including Q Custom ClothierRye 51 and Ivory Bridal AtelierTootsies, a Houston-based luxury retailer of women's clothing, serves as West Ave's anchor store, occupying an entire city block.

Rice Village: In this quaint cluster of shops and restaurants, which is tucked away a few blocks from the Rice University campus, expect to find the latest from local fashionistas like Alexandra Knight and Elaine Turner, a chic accessories designer, and Project Runway winner Chloe Dao's world-renowned Dao Chloe Dao boutique. Other tenants include Half-Price Books and staples like Victoria's Secret, Chico's and Banana Republic. 

Downtown: The Shops at Houston Center house a variety of retailers--from Jos. A Banks Clothiers to Dress Barn--and at nearby GreenStreet, find stores like Forever 21.

Westheimer Curve: Lower Westheimer, also known as the Westheimer Curve, is a winding road of offbeat and sometimes amazing shopping. You never know what surprise piece you'll find at Buffalo Exchange, a thrift shop that mixes street clothes with last season's designer duds.

Historic Heights: Surround yourself with the charm of Victorian houses and quaint streets (19th St., Yale and Studewood) while shopping the eclectic fashion, furniture, art and gifts in one of the most historic 'hoods in Houston. Score vintage fashion at Retropolis and Buffalo Exchange, kitchen accoutrements at Penzey's Spices, as well as furniture finds at Antiques on 19th and Historic Heights Antiques.

CityCentre: Set in the former Town & Country Mall location in West Houston, the 37-acre, contemporary community blends retail, restaurant, office space, luxury living and nightlife in an open-air environment. Hip restaurants were some of the first on the stellar culinary scene, while Anthropologie, Elaine Turner and J. Crew add to the retail side.

Harwin: A treasure trove of designer look-a-likes, this no-frills shopping area in the southwest part of town is the place to find an ever-changing inventory of bags, shades, perfumes, electronics and more - for less. There are bargains galore, and you'll even find vendors willing to wheel and deal on prices, but you won't find restrooms or dressing rooms. Check out the new Harwin Central Mart. 

Houston Premium Outlets: One of the newest additions to the city's retail spectrum is a designer discount haven in the Cypress suburb, just off Highway 290. Minutes outside of Houston, 120 big-name outlet stores await. Highlights include Burberry, Brooks Brothers, Harry & David, Michael Kors, Johnston & Murphy, Waterford and Puma. 

Katy Mills Mall: A mammoth mall 25 miles west of downtown, Katy Mills is a whopping 1.3 million square feet of retail and fun under one roof. Shop more than 200 stores, including Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Off Fifth, Banana Republic, Polo Ralph Lauren and Nike Factory Stores. Be sure to taste in-Texas-only Blue Bell ice cream. 

By: Natalie Bogan Morgan  

 

Houston Top Shops

Chic Boutiques, Funky Antiques and Thrift Stores Finds

Searching for something in particular? Chances are if you can dream it, it's available in Houston--from fresh-off-the-runway designer duds to one-of-a-kind, locally-produced artisan wares. Check out some of our favorite locally-owned boutiques and shops for covet-worthy finds and gift ideas. Make sure you don't miss a think with our exclusive shopping tour.

Abejas is first on the must-shop list for local "It" girls in the know. If a Hollywood starlet is wearing the hottest jean or the biggest bag, then you can bet Abejas will have it on its shelves. James Perse, Cake, Johnny Was and Velvet are among the labels at Abejas, but the friendly staff can easily navigate the names and fits for shoppers. The much-anticipated sidewalk sale held twice a year is the closest Houston shoppers get to sample sales and women descend on the boutique in droves to try on and buy, buy, buy.

Asher Gallery, located within the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, serves as a retail showcase for the work of internationally acclaimed and emerging craft artists, giving visitors an opportunity to touch, handle and own objects created by artists featured in HCCC's exhibitions. Expect an exceptional variety of gifts, including unique jewelry, pottery, baskets, home décor, handbags and clothing.

Cactus Music: For more than 30 years audiophiles have united to peruse the latest tunes at Houston's premier independent music store. In the newest location, a stage hosts far-flung and local bands most weekends for free shows and St. Arnold's brew provided gratis. Don't miss the Record Ranch in back, where guest DJs spin sets for patrons picking through plastic-wrapped and bargain-binned vinyl. Other booty includes books, box sets, T-shirts, posters, DVDs, sundry souvenirs and rarities for the rabid collector. Behind the counter, sorting enormous piles of wares, the expert staff is ready to advise, assist and proliferate indie spirit. Whether you're into Pink Floyd or Neon Indian, Dinosaur Jr. or John Mayer, Cactus has you covered. 

Cactus Music

Dao Chloe Dao, Chloe Dao's boutique in Rice Village, is fast becoming a stop on many a tourist's list, thanks to Dao's winning of the second season of Bravo's Project Runway. Of course, local fans of her smart and sexy clothes already knew she and her boutique were champs. Besides her own line, shoppers will delight in designs by Single, Dress, Abaco and Li Li Rose, plus plenty of accessories and shoes. Success hasn't gone to her head either. Lucky shoppers can often find her still in the store hard at work.
 

Elaine Turner: It’s been nearly a decade since H-Town-based accessory designer Elaine Turner launched her namesake line of clutches, totes and, more recently, shoes. Today, the former apparel designer and merchandiser is well-known nationally for her timeless, travel-inspired collections, which she sells at her boutiques, Nordstrom stores and 200 specialty shops throughout the U.S. At Turner’s cheery Rice Village-set store, customers can snag shimmery croc totes, embossed snake bowler bags and punchy patent envelope clutches. The shop also stocks the designer’s shoe collection, which features preppy, printed flats, chunky heels and croc boots.

The Guild Shop: Since the 1960s, this Episcopal church-run resale shop has donated all profits to the retired residents of Baytown's St. James House. This 11,000-square-foot shop is popular for more upscale consignment items including furniture, up-to-date and designer clothing, household items and jewelry. The shop also carries clean resale items such as clothes, books, original art, kitchen wares, ornamental objects, toys, collectibles and vintage items. Prices are reduced the longer items remain on the floor. 

Hamilton Shirts: Still owned by the family that started the business in 1883, Hamilton specializes in bespoke and made-to-measure shirts of the highest quality. Hand cut from double-ply Italian and Swiss fabrics, the shirts are made at the Richmond Avenue store by trained specialists who have been with the company for years. You can watch them work through a picture window in the store and marvel at their artistry. Shirts made with such care and detail are investments, but you're worth it. (An added bonus: 10 percent of profits are donated to charity.)

Kuhl-Linscomb: One of Houston's best and most diverse shopping spots is Kuhl-Linscomb, a must-see five building complex that holds whimsical and luxurious surprises around every corner. Owners Dan Linscomb and Pam Kuhl-Linscomb have culled the world and brought back treasures for every kind of person and personality. Jewelry junkies will appreciate the array of pieces in various metals, stones and price ranges. Chefs and cocktail connoisseurs will revel in the accessories and gorgeous books just for them. Pet lovers can lavish their four-legged friends with unique collars and special shampoos. Kuhl-Linscomb's apothecary is a well-stocked spot with hard to find bath and beauty products for both sexes. Venture through the other buildings and discover modern and transitional furniture, lighting, rugs, linens and home accessories. Searching for something? Just ask. Customer service is top notch.

Kuhl-Linscomb

Pinto Ranch: Modern western wear has come a long way from rhinestones and Rocky Mountains. Pinto Ranch exemplifies the changes with its array of clothing, boots, jewelry and, yes, even saddles, at its Post Oak store. Throughout the year, serious cowboys and cowgirls shop at Pinto Ranch for the store's high quality and exclusive boot lines. Socialites abound stocking up on the latest cowgirl gear before each annual Cattle Baron's Ball, and when the Big Show gallops into Houston each spring, rodeo-goers have plenty of options there, too. The jewelry cases are not to be missed no matter what season because of the amazing hand-crafted turquoise, coral, ruby and citrine pieces. 

Retropolis: Dig the 1950s? Stoked by the 1980s? Whatever your decade of preference, Retropolis will have something to suit you--even if that means mixing many styles from several past decades. With 25 vendors, the co-op covers vintage attire and accessories from the 1980s and beyond. Additionally, one vendor sews dresses and blouses from vintage stock fabrics and tablecloths, and another designs Endi Collins-inspired cigar box handbags.

Sloan/Hall: Even an everyday Joe can shop here for greeting cards. Beyond the amazing selection of cards, there are gifts like a set of red leather boxes, so soft, supple and striking. Also in store: the rubber-soled Prada footwear collection, toiletries and decorative housewares. Discover custom jewelry, engraving, anniversary rings and gold. Perfume brands include Agraria, Alora Ambience, Mariage Freres, Molton Brown, Ulrich Lang New York and other designers.   

Sloan Hall

Bering’s Hardware: This interior and gifts store may have one of the most deceptive store names in Houston, as it is so much than a hardware store. When walking into Bering’s you’re often greeted by the smell of  gourmet coffee or decadent chocolate at the dessert counter. Moving past the indulgences, you’re bound to find gifts for every person and occasion. Everything from luggage to stationery, crystal, table settings, gardening tools, kitchen appliances, flatware, bath products and candles, baby clothing, grills and coolers and of course, hardware, there’s seemingly no end to the store’s extensive and curated inventory. Brands like Beatriz Ball, Herend, Big Green Egg, Yeti, Jon Hart, All-Clad and Lamp Berger appeal to both men and women, making it a great spot for a shopping trip.

Spec's: Owned and operated by the same Houston family since 1962, Spec's is a true destination shopping experience. Stores located all over Houston offer the best selections of wines, spirits, beers, liqueurs, cigars and fine gourmet foods. The Warehouse Store is the crown jewel of the 28-store operation. With more than 40,000 labels of wines, spirits, liqueurs, beers, and finer foods, Spec's indeed fills all 80,000 square feet of selling space. The walk-in cigar humidor offers more than 900 cigars--more than many tobacconist stores. The deli also offers the finest in deli meats, pates, domestic and imported cheeses, fresh caviar, and a complete assortment of domestic and imported smoked fish and salmon.

Spec's

Brazos Bookstore: Welcome to Brazos Bookstore, a locally owned institution in the city. When the original owner of the bookstore, Karl Kilian, decided to retire in 2006, a group of 27 Houstonians decided to purchase the store to continue Kilian’s legacy of encouraging the growth of Houston’s literary scene with a clear focus on personalized service, community engagement and passionate curation. As one of Houston’s go-to spots for authors and intellectuals, the store hosts reading series with both local, national and international writers. The reading selection at Brazos Bookstore varies from classic literature to non-fiction, art and architecture and children’s books, making it a prime destination for reads of all ages. Their seasoned staff is also available to help patrons make selections and track down specific books that might be of interest.

AntiquiariumThe Antiquiarium is one of Houston’s go-to dealers for antique prints, maps, documents, photographs, globes, and other objects of historical, scientific and aesthetic interest. With loads of beautiful artwork to peruse, patrons can find themselves lost in history. The staff is extremely knowledgeable about the inventory and the categories throughout the store are easy to navigate. Any history buff or seasoned traveler will enjoy maps from the 1700s, artwork and prints from the 1880s and other interesting artifacts.  More so, the store’s inventory is incredibly vast, including Texas, birds, historical figures, manuscripts, military, medicine and satire to list just a few. The store itself feels like a gallery with walls of framed prints and exquisite pieces. The Antiquiarium also offers beautiful custom and decorative framing concepts for customers, along with alternative framing solutions like shadowboxes, double glass, or other unique and interesting creations. Step back in time by visiting The Antiquiarium.

Tootsies: After 25 years, Tootsies has moved from its Highland Village space into shiny, new West Ave digs. The 35,000-square-foot space is open and airy-bathed in natural light--with glossy, eye-catching accents sprinkled throughout. Shoppers will find new designers, an expanded accessories department and a private party room with space for your 30 nearest and dearest--complete with an adjoining catering kitchen.

By Natalie Bogan Morgan

 

Texas-Centric Shopping Guide

Diehard locals know that Texas is more than just a state, it's a lifestyle, too. From cowboy approved fashion and accessories to rustic furniture and Lone Star-sourced edibles, Texas is the kind of place that leaves a lasting impression. Celebrate your time in H-Town with finds from these area retailers. 

FASHION

Think of Cavender's Boot City as your one-stop-shop for the western look. From a huge selection of men's and women's boots, to cowboy hats and bejeweled belt buckles, Cavender’s is the place to find it all. Plus, the store has several locations around town to check out, including one near Reliant Park that is perfectly situated for pre-Rodeo excursions.

At Pinto Ranch guests will find authentic furnishings and Indian rugs, handcrafted tack, chaps and saddles, as well as beautifully designed boots, belts, buckles and apparel. Don’t miss Pinto Ranch’s jewelry cases, too, as they showcase an eye-catching array of handcrafted turquoise, coral, ruby and citrine pieces.

Looking for the perfect pair of broken-in boots? How about some interesting pieces of Texas history? You'll discover a lot of fun items along resale row on Lower Westheimer. The stretch of Westheimer from Woodhead Street to Windsor is home to a number of high-quality resale shops likely to have just what you're looking for (and a little of what you never knew you needed).

GIFTS

Remember your time in H-Town with an eclectic array of gifts from The Gift Store. Owner Bob Siegrist stocks his shop, which is tucked in a Westchase-area strip center, with everything from snow globes and homemade jams to Texas-themed wind chimes and Lone Star oven mitts. As a bonus, Siegrist owns the UPS store next door, which makes it easy to mail off finds to out-of-town friends.

The Houston Visitors Center is a great place to find Texas souvenirs and a wide variety of clothing and accessories, from cowboy hats and belt buckles to rodeo jewelry and shirts. Customers can also pick up their favorite made-in-Texas BBQ sauces, collectibles and much more.

Immerse yourself in all things Lone Star at Texas Treasures. The shop, with three area locations and an online store, is chock full of locally-sourced souvenirs and gifts. Expect to find plenty of unusual items like Armadillo bottle holders and Texas towels, along with standard post cards, mugs and keyrings. 

Not sure where to snag a Lone Star waffle maker or bluebonnet-covered blanket? Check out Y’alls Texas Store—the quintessential Texan retailer. Since 1985, the business has offered proud Texans and visitors a wide range of authentic Texas memorabilia and souvenirs. Shop online or visit one of Y’alls three Houston area locations.

CUSTOM FINDS

Gary and Liz Cohen founded The Hat Store in 1981, but the family tradition dates back to 1915 when Cohen’s grandfather, Sam Silver, opened the American Hat Company in H-Town. The business continues to thrive, customizing hats for a diverse range of clients that include everyone from President George H. Bush to Shaquille O’Neal. Find well-known brands there including American Hat Company, Bailey, Stetson, Milano and Resistol hats in most shapes and materials. 

Customers at Max Lang Belts and Buckles find a variety of handcrafted, elegantly-simple accessories that are built-to-last. Peruse the company’s collection in the online store or visit the brick-and-mortar shop, located near The Galleria. Max Lang’s buckle collection ranges from contemporary classics to authentic old west reproductions. Clients can also design their own, one-of-a-kind buckles.

A pair of custom boots from Jose Gonzales and his team at Tejas Custom Boots are always a work of art. The Houston institution has outfitted businessmen, oilmen, professional athletes, world dignitaries and a few of our own presidents and governors, as seen in photos on the store walls. If you're looking to invest in the kind of boots you'll want to hang on to forever, this is the place.

Inside, Republic Boot Co. is a shrine to Texas history complete with the custom boot shop in back, a permanent live music stage, and leather workers hand-tooling products in the retail space. Beyond boots, the store boasts a huge selection of handmade products that are shipped all over the world. In addition to boots, you'll also find a variety of Texas-inspired goodies like clothing, home decor and even wine and whiskey barrels so you can brew up your very own Texas spirits.

More than 50 years after its launch, Wheeler Boot Company continues to enjoy a cult following from shoe aficionados. Dave Wheeler and his wife Janis run the operation alongside lifelong boot maker, Jorge Amaro, and have been known to turn out custom styles that fetch more than $20,000. When it comes to cowboy footwear, if the customer can dream it, Wheeler can make it.

HOME GOODS

Impart distinctive Texas style in your house with handcrafted finds from The Arrangement. The Galleria-area showroom spotlights rustic and Western pieces, perfect for ranch or cosmopolitan living. Find a mix of furniture, art and accessories including custom paintings that depict everything from ten-gallon cowboy hats to the Texas state seal.

Though Cierra Interiors got its start in Austin, the rustic furniture store has since expanded its retail footprint to the Houston market. Located in the Montrose area, the store carries a wide range of rustic furniture and accessories, including pieces made by local artisans. Customers can outfit their abodes in everything from cowhide covered chairs to beautifully framed Texas flags.
 

By Natalie Bogan Morgan

 

What’s In Store: Museum Edition

The exhibits aren't the only draw for visitors to the Museum District, it's also a prime place to find one-of-a-kind jewelry, accessories, books and gifts. 

Peruse locally-made treasures like M. Cruz's nature-inspired necklaces, along with coffee table tomes, print reproductions and conversation-starting home goods at the Museum of Fine Arts Shop. The boutique is located on the ground level of the Audrey Jones Beck Building. 

Carve out time to explore the nooks and crannies of the Museum Shop at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. The space is full of creative gifts for fans of all ages. Education-minded toys and games line the shelves, sharing space with books, art and design objects, as well as unique jewelry and accessories. 

Round out your visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science with a stop at the 6,000-square-foot museum store. Going beyond standard scientific kits for the kids and fossil displays for the adults, the expansive gift emporium showcases designer jewelry, home decor and an always-evolving selection of merchandise tied to current HMNS exhibits. 

Stop by The Asher Gallery and have a chance to own objects created by many of the artists featured in the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft's exhibitions. The HCCC's retail showcase touts unique jewelry, pottery, baskets, home décor, handbags and clothing created by internationally acclaimed and emerging craft artists. 

Located in a bungalow, near from The Menil Collection, The Menil Bookstore stocks an assortment of art literature, special gifts and a children's section with games, puzzles and toys. Join other art enthusiasts there on nice Houston afternoons, when the Bookstore's well-shaded patio provides the perfect alfresco escape.

By Natalie Bogan Morgan

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