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R+D Emporium
Photo by Brent Holmes

Forget gift cards and cash envelopes. This holiday season, give the gift of thoughtful quirk by shopping at these local niche spots

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday — November is full of major shopping days. It’s simple enough to click through your shopping list online, or grab a stack of gift cards at your nearest retail megaplex. But remember when gift-giving was a playful exercise in thoughtful regard? From foodie finds to treasures for toy-lovers, these independent shops sell cool stuff for just that. Better yet, you’ll be doing a Santa-worthy solid for local businesses.

R+D Emporium

This kitschy-chic lifestyle store has been around for nearly a decade. Located in Boca Park Fashion Village, R+D is a mix of contemporary kids’ and women’s styles, home décor, and gifts under one roof. Just like its name suggests (R for research, D for development), R+D is constantly evolving to stay relevant and on trend.

“Not an easy task by any means, buying for such a wide variety of categories and it all making sense, but it does, somehow,” owner Mariah Lewis-Briley says. “Our goal is to provide our customers with a unique shopping destination, with items that can’t be easily purchased with a click of a button, while providing each customer with a warm welcome and good conversation.” R+D carries more than 25 contemporary clothing lines for kids, and the store’s humorous gift selection ranges from witty and sophisticated to cheekily lowbrow. Notable brands for fashion, accessories and toys include Lauren Moshi, Chaser, Spiritual Gangster, Native, Kappa, Tiny Whales, Superism, Appaman, Lack of Color, and Pam & Gela.

740 S. Rampart Blvd. #11, 702-750-0550

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Valley Cheese & Wine

Valley Wine and Cheese

Photo by Christopher Smith

This specialty store is a gourmand’s paradise, featuring artisanal foods, hard-to-find wines, and cheeses and meats that are cut to order, making perfect gifts for the most discriminating palates. They also offer “wine-u-cation” classes, which include a six-wine tasting complete with charcuterie.

1570 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway #140, 702-341-8191


Alternate Reality Comics

Alternate Reality Comics

Photo by Brent Holmes

Not only is Alternate Reality one of the valley’s longest-lived comic books stores, but owner Ralph Mathieu’s personal zeal for visual storytelling makes the shop one of the most beloved. The University District store offers up a super-powered gift selection with a vast collection of classic superhero comics, alternative comics, graphic novels, manga, action figures and more. Mathieu’s picks for Vegas-made comics: Tome of Terror, Illumiknights Enchantrix, and Where We Live: A Benefit for the Survivors in Las Vegas.

4110 S. Maryland Parkway #8,


11th Street Records

11th Street Records

Photo by Scott Lien

Las Vegas’ leading authority on all things vinyl, 11th Street Records hosts a generous stock of music in just about every genre, but is particularly known for its rare and collectible vinyl. A big supporter of local music, 11th Street also boasts the largest local music section around, including LPs and EPs by such local favorites as Brett Vee, All Night Visitors, The Psyatics, Franks & Deans, and Mercy Music.

1023 Fremont Street,


Kappa Toys

Kappa Toys

Photo by Brent Holmes

When all you want for Christmas is an old-school Monchhichi, Kappa Toys is your place. It carries a wide selection of rare oddities combined with a curated selection of nostalgic classics. Kids and adults can spend hours discovering the toys of yesterday interspersed with unusual playthings from Japan and beyond.

707 Fremont St. #1170; Fashion Show,


Karma and Luck


Photo by Brent Holmes

Gift some good karma this season. Locally owned with a mission to bring spiritually significant items from different cultures together, Karma and Luck offers unique pieces that you can wear, adorn your home with, and use to support your spiritual practice, including jewelry, sound bowls, yoga mats, Turkish lamps, stones, and minerals.

Available at multiple locations, including the Fashion Show, Grand Canal Shoppes, The Forum Shops at Caesars, the Miracle Mile Shops, and


Battle Born Grooming Co Water Based PomadeBattle Born Grooming Co.

Web-based Battle Born Grooming Co. specializes in natural, ethically sourced, earth-friendly styling products for both men and women. You might say their products just say no — that is, no petroleum, no parabens, no sulfates, no animal testing. For every purchase from its line, Battle Born donates $1 to to support those battling prostate cancer.

Available at Amazon,, and Goodtimes Barbershop & Shave Parlor


BootsRoss & Snow

Ross & Snow specializes in functional luxury footwear with a love for shearling, or sheepskin leather. Co-founded by former Zappos executives Steve Hill and husband-and-wife duo Fred and Meghan Mossler, the Las Vegas-based luxury shoe brand offers men’s and women’s boots, slippers, and more, made in classic Italian style that doesn’t sacrifice ruggedness and practicality.

Available online at Zappos, Nordstrom, and


Clean CarriageClean Carriage Soap Company

The Clean Carriage Soap Company produces handmade soaps using plant-based material and pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils. You may have seen its traveling store at First Friday, built on the chassis of a 1970 reclaimed camper trailer, which functions as a micro-boutique. If you sign up for a “sud”scription, you receive premium soaps delivered to your door every month.

Available at

If you’ve enjoyed this read, wait until you get your hands on a bunch of these reads from contemporary voices mining the good stuff from Las Vegas — all laid out in a gorgeous design experience. Subscribe. It comes to your house. For real!

KNPR and NPR Thank-You Gifts including t-shirts hoodies and cap

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