Milwaukee is home to many locally owned boutiques and shops that showcase the unique spirit of the city. With summer upon us, it’s a great time to get out and visit some of Milwaukee’s best shopping haunts. If you are visiting the area, these shops feature great souvenirs for loved ones (or for yourself).
1031 N. Old World Third St. and 400 N. Water St., Milwaukee; 1244 N. Glenview Ave., Wauwatosa
Started in 1957, The Spice House boasts three Milwaukee area locations. Customers visiting the shops are treating immediately to a delightful array of aromas and scents, many of which are unique to the Milwaukee area.
“We have a number of blends that pay homage to the city of Milwaukee,” says Spice House employee Ryan Bennett. “Blends such as Fox Point and Old World Third are always good sellers.”
Spice House customers can count on freshness. “We do all of our grinding and mixing here,” explained Bennett. “We make them as fresh as we can. To accomplish this, we buy through brokers or sometimes through the farmers themselves and get them ready for sale at our stores.”
The Spice House has a wide array of spices to cater to every dining need throughout the year, including some barbeque seasonings that add flair to any summer cookout.
159 N Jackson St.
If you’ve been out and about in Milwaukee in the last few years, you’ve likely seen one of the MilwaukeeHome screen-printed shirts, featuring the name of the brand within an iconic black box. What you may not know is that the original logo (or part of it at least) was a mistake.
“The square was an accident,” says storeowner Melissa Thornton. “The screen was upside down when I was making the first design. However, I liked the square and decided to keep it.”
That first design was just a gift for a friend, but it’s since grown into a widely popular brand in the Milwaukee community and beyond. New designs continue to pop up in the store. “It’s based on customer demand,” says Thornton. “Individuals will suggest items we should put the logo on. We give it a try in the store, and it grows from there.” Popular items for the summer season include the logo t-shirts as well as the cropped tank tops.
If you come down to the store, it’s likely you will see Thornton, who also handles the company’s social media as part of her hands-on approach to management. This brand is a must-have for the summer season. Thornton encourages those interested in MilwaukeeHome’s events and announcements should follow them on Instagram at @MilwaukeeHome for all the latest information, news and photos.
If you are looking for a souvenir that blends a unique sense of Milwaukee with useful guidance, HANmade Milwaukee might have the solution for you. The company’s primary souvenir is a bright map of Milwaukee’s lakefront, created by owner Colleen McCarrier’s cousin Hannah Jablonski in 2011. Since then, McCarrier has utilized the design on a number of items from bandanas to aprons to jigsaw puzzles.
The print is not limited to local consumption either. “Our bandana was featured last October in Better Homes and Gardens magazine,” says McCarrier. “We’re continuing to add to our line-up of items we offer. This season, we’ve included postcards and fridge magnets in addition to what we are currently offering.”
700 N. Art Museum Dr.
The Milwaukee Art Museum Shop is much like a museum in its own right. Items by locally and internationally known artists and designers are chosen carefully to offer a wide selection of gifts for everyone. Jewelry, books, glass items and much more line the shelves and walls of this spectacular establishment.
A great gift item is the exclusive Milwaukee Art Museum pop-up card ($6). “This item is a beautiful trifold with a pop out of Santiago Calatrava’s Burke Brise Soleil in the middle and features a view of Milwaukee’s various buildings by the lake as well as a perfect rendering of the Museum,” says Museum store representative Katie Nelson.
The Museum store offers Walking Milwaukee Tour Cards ($20), a collection of 10 mapped, self-guided walking tours of Downtown Milwaukee plus 8 bonus tour cards that focus on the architecture of the city’s skyline. “It’s a local favorite,” explained Nelson. “It’s perfect for someone who loves Milwaukee as well as a great gift for someone looking to learn more about what our city has to offer!”