By this stage in the game, I’m hoping that most of you have set your sights on buying local for the holiday season. I have been making my list and checking it twice; finding local gems for all my loved ones that I know they will be thrilled about. I was flying through my list until I came to the kids on my list and everything came to a halt.
Even though I knew of a few places to buy local children’s items, there had to be more! I have consulted with various colleagues who are moms, dads, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters who have helped me to compile a fairly comprehensive list so that you can find a local gift for the little one in your life.
Clothing and Accessories
When I started going down the research rabbit hole, I realized how many local children’s clothing stores are owned and operated by moms. Moms really do know best! Let me introduce you to some of these super moms.
For starters, Pam Mcintyre carefully designs and creates the entire product line for Sweetkids Clothing Co. The results are fun and functional clothing and accessories for babies, toddlers and kids that are made for wear and tear as well as growing limbs.
Dorothy Co began in 2016 as a tribute to owner Laura’s grandmother, who gifted her a sewing machine at age seven and taught her the craft. Four years later, she continues to design baby sensory toys, clothing and their most popular item - bonnets, which come in an array of patterns and colours.
Grace is the mom behind Kai&Ben, who makes handmade teething accessories and pacifier clips. Her adorable sons Kai and Benjamin were the inspiration for the brand, which consists of accessories made using calming, colourful beads for the modern baby.
Rose and Doll designs and manufactures (right here in Winnipeg!) eco-conscious, sustainable clothing for the next generation of fashionistas. Very boho chic, the collection consists of flutter sleeve rompers, tunic dresses and chunky knit sweaters that are made to last using unique cuts and adjustable fabric.
When Knits by Che started making and gifting handmade knits for friends back in university, people would often say, “Hey, I'd pay you to make that for me!” Now you can find these cozy scarves, hats and toques on Etsy, as well as local markets.
Loka Boutique isn't just about chic ladies' fashion - although that category is covered in spades. Its Little Loka line always contains items that are #adorbs for both newborns and toddlers, with onesies, graphic sweaters and outrageously dapper jackets now available. Bump Maternity is also not just for mums, stocking some mighty fresh wares for toddlers and newborns too.
One of our favourite local designers for youngsters is Quinn and Dot. Owner Rachel Drader utilizes ultra soft bamboo in a lot of her designs, making all her clothes extra cuddly - a bonus for parents. On top of that, her looks are just so fresh: from leggings (which are totes unisex) to rompers, the coolest beanies, headbands and some comfy stuff for mamas too.
In addition to being a registered massage therapist, family photographer and busy mom, Erica Lo is the owner and designer behind Tiny Inspirations. You can find these modern accessories, including silicone bibs, tableware, pacifiers and zipper pulls at local Winnipeg stores such as Made Here, Trendy Tots and Generation Green in the Exchange.
Wendi is trying to make a difference one fish at a time, which is why $2 of every Wendi Whale pillow sold online goes towards a foundation that helps either our oceans or sea life. With adorable creatures such as the Octopus, Exo the big crab, Turtle and my personal favorite - the Narwhale, these hand-stitched, hand-sewn and hand-stuffed pillows will make a cozy addition to your sofa or office space.
Inspired by nature, pop culture, vintage fabrics, colours and the idea that laughter truly has medicinal qualities, Kami Goertz’s soft action figures take the shape of trumpet mushrooms, owls, cacti and other fascinating creatures. Kami is an international artist, having exhibited in Germany, the U.S. and across Canada, but she still creates from her studio in the Exchange District. You can find her critters at Tara Davis Studio Boutique and the WAG gift shop.
Books & Art
Librairie à la Page is a charming hidden gem neighbourhood book store in St. Boniface, located right on Provencher Boulevard. Although closed at the moment, you can order books en francais by emailing a specific request, or the store would be happy to make a recommendation if provided with the age and interest of the child (i.e. dinosaurs, space travel, unicorns, etc.).
Books are all about broadening horizons, and no one does it better in the city than Tusome Books. Tusome is Kiswahili for "let us read," which specializes in authors from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, along with local Indigenous ones too. Its children's selection is stunning and includes a role model series for kids featuring luminaries like Serena Williams and Michelle Obama, story books that take place in Africa, collections of Asia's most-popular kids stories and works for young adults by local authors like Katherena Vermette.
Speaking of local creatives who specialize in kids books, two whom immediately come to mind are Jessie Thiessen (aka Small Jane) and Leanne Thiessen (aka Paper Canoe). Jessie's two charming books - A is for Alphabet and 1,2,3 Count with Me are both available for direct order here, along with so many other lovely things - like these temporary tattoos! Leanne is the illustrator of the oh-so-whimsical Fox in a Box (by Eva Klassen), while her Paper Canoe brand has so many great things to decorate your kid's (or kids') walls with, including foresty prints that will charm you to no end.
Want to get your young ones interested in politics and public art? Former CBC Radio Manitoba producer-turned cartoonist Kaj Hasselriis has you covered with his Winnipeg-centric books The Golden Boy in the Case of the Missing Cube and Politikids, while Kamala in Canada is a fun little portrait of the new U.S. Vice President. While it won't be available for this holiday season, you should also make a note of another CBC Radio Manitoba alum, Anna Lazowski, whose T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes will be released by Penguin Random House in June.
Of course, there is a slew of incredible local book stores in Winnipeg. For a comprehensive list, check out Tourism Winnipeg’s shopping page and browse by “book stores.”
Remember PlayDough? With the ability to shape and reshape into various structures and figurines, it was the perfect medium for creativity. Missy Taylor of The Darling Dough Company has taken that concept and modernized it into a product that is sustainably coloured, scented and packaged. With yummy scents such as lavender, citrus, mint, lime and grapefruit, you will feel at ease when your little darlings are playing with darling dough.
Local Shop Run-down
As the holidays approach, delivery wait times are getting longer. You can avoid packages not arriving in time by purchasing gifts from local stores that offer delivery or curbside pickup. Here are a few fabulous local shops carrying children’s gifts that are owned and operated by Winnipeggers.
Winnipeg success story West Coast Kids has two locations in the city that literally sells everything awesome, from bath toys like little basketball nets (great for dads and moms looking to relive their glory days in front of their toddlers), to countless plush items, shoes, sunnies, clothes and so much more. The original Exchange District location has also been a location for a Hallmark movie, which is pretty cool too.
As the name suggests, Kite and Kaboodle started out selling five styles of kites and has since grown exponentially to an inventory of more than 25,000 items. With the focus on fun and education for the whole family, it has been described on various occasions as the “store with all the neat stuff.”
Cobra Collectibles is a gem for all your vintage toy and comic finds, including GI Joe, Star Wars, Cabbage Patch Kids and A LOT more. While the store is not currently open, they do offer a virtual tour option and curbside pickup.
If you are looking for board game experts, look no further than Across the Board. Not only does it have an extensive selection on its online store, but Across the Board has the reputation to go with it. Check out Tourism Winnipeg’s interview with owner Olaf Pyttlik.
What started as a home-based business selling on Ebay has since grown into three retail stores and an extensive online shop. PNP Games stocks the original Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Genesis, Atari and many more, as well as toys and collectibles, making it a gamer’s one-stop-shop.
Lovingly known as “Transcona’s favorite Aunty,” Aunt Monica’s Attic is chock full of DIY kits, puppets, novelties, crafts, games, puzzles and more. It even has a section on its website dedicated to “stocking stuffers,” where you can find the cutest ideas, such as monster finger puppets, unicorn erasers and disco ball pens.
And let's not forget about kid-centric cafe Scout Coffee+Tea. Its online store features retro 3D puzzles, stamp kits, books and all manner of toys, with same-day delivery often available. Plus, you can also order the super tasty (and tiny) housemade doughnuts with your delivery or curbside pickup order!
Plus, be sure to check out the Luckygirl Virtual Pop Up Shop (December 1-7), which literally has anything you can think of - from awesome dresses, to candles, cute kids clothes, booze and bone broth - all locally made.
To bring this blog to a close, I want to provide the option of gifting experiences for 2021 - and Winnipeg’s attractions can offer just that. Winnipeg has an abundance of amazing museums, galleries and outdoor centres offering memberships for kids and families, including Assiniboine Park Zoo, Manitoba Museum, FortWhyte Alive, Oak Hammock Marsh, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Canadian Museum for Human Rights and St. Boniface Museum.
For a full list of local stores in Winnipeg visit our shopping page.