Shopping in a new city is one of travel’s greatest pleasures, but there’s no point in coming all the way to Baltimore only to go to the same chain stores you have at home. Baltimore’s bursting with creative makers and crafters who are producing design-forward items you won’t find anywhere else.
Whether you’re stocking up on souvenirs or buying gifts (and yes, they might be gifts for you), it’s possible to do all your vacation buying at locally owned businesses. Here are some of the city’s best made-in-Baltimore souvenirs.
Candles from Knits Soy & Metal
This warm and welcoming Mt. Vernon shop is stocked with handcrafted items that help make a house cozy and smell fantastic. Owner Letta Moore produces hand-poured soy candles scented with fruits and flowers and packaged in clear glass jars, as well as tea lights, diffusers and fragrance oils.
The shop also offers candle-making workshops — sign up for one if you get the chance. In addition, the shop sells its own line of hand-knitted scarves and locally crafted jewelry, making it an excellent one-stop shop for gifts.
Notepads from Write Notepads & Co.
Journals, flip books, reporter’s notebooks: Every one of the beautiful notepads here is made in a century-old Baltimore warehouse by a third-generation bookbinder. They come with brass spiral bindings, durable covers (check out the City Editions for the ones with Baltimore prints on the front), pages made from high-quality 70-pound paper stock, and hefty rubber bands to keep them closed.
These details lend the books the kind of quality rarely seen these days, though they’re chic enough for 2017. Bonus: For each book purchased, one is donated to a needy student. Get them at Atomic Books and Brightside Boutique.
Customized cutting boards from Words with Boards
The cutest wedding present ever? These personalized cutting boards are cut from sustainable American hardwoods and are finished in Baltimore, where letters are hand cut into each board.
Get your sweetheart’s name (or your own!) carved along one edge, an inside joke along the top, or spell out what the board should be used for (“cheese & crackers” is on one pre-made version; another reads “chop chop”).
You can pick up prefabricated boards at 2910 on the Square and at Trohv, a Hampden-area shop that sells other locally made products, including mixed-media paintings by artist Kacey Stafford and old-timey, block-printed cards featuring birds and wildlife from Bowerbox Press.
Statement jewelry from Rachel Mulherin
Baltimore native Rachel Mulherin’s jewelry has been featured in the pages of Nylon, Redbook, New York Magazine and many more. Her iconic pieces, loaded with geodes and semiprecious stones in bright blues, reds and golds, are eye-catching without being gauche, stylish without being trendy.
They’re particularly popular with brides and celebs (even Beyoncé has worn her stuff). You can pick up her necklaces and bracelets, each carefully made by hand, at Ruth Shaw.
Tea towels from Open Eyes Press
Designed and handprinted in the city, the eye-catching tea towels from Open Eyes Press are the kind of thing you’ll use every single day. An eco-friendly alternative to paper towels, these 100-percent cotton towels are screen printed with cheerful, cheeky images of black-and-white egg beaters, bright red bunches of carrots, and even a Maryland crab (the perfect souvenir).