Being a child of the 80’s, shopping malls have always been my jam.
In middle school, there was nothing like strolling Westland Mall, hitting up ‘5-7-9’ or ‘County Seat.’ I loved to linger outside ‘Tinder Box’ because it smelled so good, and maybe swing by the ‘Piercing Pagoda’ for a new pair of earrings.
Even now, I love a good mall day, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes you want to buy something special, maybe a little unique. As much as I love The Gap, I have shown up to many a function wearing the same thing as someone else after picking something up there.
We all know that Columbus is far from a cow town as it was once portrayed, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized we live in a fashion mecca. I’m not kidding. Behind Los Angeles and New York City, Central Ohio ranks third in the country for resident fashion designers. We have so many excellent, curated, locally owned boutiques to visit, and this list certainly doesn’t include them all. But, it’s a good head start.
Location: 1285 Grandview Ave, Grandview
Situated smack dab in the middle of Grandview Ave’s best shopping, Thread is a destination in and of itself. Women’s and men’s clothing, accessories, home decor, there’s really not much you can’t find here. I was impressed with the range of prices, many of the things I loved were affordable and under $100, but they certainly have investment pieces as well. The coolest thing about Thread is that while they carry well-known designer brands, they also serve as an incubator for up and coming brands, for those of you who like to be trendsetters in your own right.
Location: 964 N High St, Columbus
If I had an unlimited clothing budget this is where I’d go. I want two of everything. Clearly, I’m not one of those “capsule wardrobe” folks. The Israeli brand Alembika, which I’d never even heard of before, is featured prominently in the store, and for good reason. The line celebrates women’s bodies and self-confidence, with flowing lines and soft, comfortable fabric. Happy Go Lucky is a family affair, with a mother-daughter duo running the show, and they absolutely have their finger on the pulse of what consumers are looking for in fashion.
Website: Happy Go Lucky Her
Location: 689 High St, Worthington
Birch is appealing to me in the same way that ‘Puppy Surprise’ stuffies were appealing to me in the 80’s. Will I get one thing? Two? Five? With brands like Spiritual Gangster, Free People, and Show Me Your Mumu, the answer is probably closer to five if I’m being honest. Birch only carries women’s fashion, but unlike a lot of smaller boutiques, they also carry swimwear. While I prefer to shop for swimwear in the darkened recesses of the internet, while wearing sweatpants and eating cheese, for those of you who can stomach the realities of fluorescent lighting and floor to ceiling mirrors, you’ll be able to find a unique suit that no one else will be wearing at the community pool.
Location: 72 N High St, Dublin
Clothes that are beautiful, on trend, and dare I say, comfortable? Yes, please. The boho vibe is strong here, and that’s a plus in my opinion. Flowy tops and dresses, with many a tunic. If you’re into graphic tees, they have a fun selection. I think there’s a small grouping of stuff that if you saw it, you might think was geared to a much older demographic, but they’ve done a good job of catering to many ages. Anthropologie comes to mind when you’re shopping here, and they source their clothing worldwide, so many of the embroidered, on-trend pieces are hand sewn.
Website: Boho 72
Location: 15 E Waterloo St, Canal Winchester
I stumbled across this place after a meal at Harvest Moon Craft Kitchen. You’d be hard-pressed to not find something you love at this shop. A nice plus is their range of activewear, that’s perfect for actually being active or just, you know, wearing all day so that others think you’re on your way to hot yoga when in actuality you’re planning a Netflix binge. It is important to note that currently, they’re only open on the weekends. However, you can shop online anytime and support a local business while having that marathon Netflix session.
Location: 1657 W Lane Ave, Upper Arlington
Located in The Shops On Lane Avenue, this store has a large selection of designer labels and clothes for almost any occasion from dressy to casual. They carry Kut from the Kloth denim, which comes in a variety of rises and washes, and flatter a range of body types. Even my body type which is ‘hates cardio, loves ice cream.’ I’ve found the staff to be friendly and accommodating, and the inside is light and bright, which allows you to accurately see the quality of the clothes. Plus, it’s right across from La Chatelain. Two birds, people.
Location: 694 N High St, Columbus
A men’s clothing store that doesn’t smell like a heavy-handed spritz of cologne? It does exist! There’s no sense of machismo or any references to sports with balls, so I was optimistic on my very first visit. The store offers classic menswear, both casual and professional, and some trendy items as well. And any store that carries Woolrich is a place I want to shop. Travis, the owner, is very hands-on and strives to provide a selection for men of all ages and sizes. The store has a comfortable, industrial vibe, with some perfectly broken-in leather chairs if you’re there as a spectator. They carry a limited selection of barware and personal care items as well.
Website: Samson Men’s Emporium
Location: 3337 N High St, Clintonville
Formerly ‘The Sunroom,’ this shop sources ethically made apparel, in mostly natural fibers. In addition to clothing, they offer accessories and a collection of home goods. While I do find most of their clothing to be at the upper end of my personal budget, it’s all quality goods that will stand the test of time. And they do have a sale section. Plus, it’s one of the only places in Ohio to buy ‘Lotta from Stockholm’ and ‘Ace & Jig.’ The general vibe is theology professor on sabbatical, which to me is #goals. Also, nearly every item screams both ‘trendsetter’ and ‘pajamas outside’ so you know you’ll look amazing, while still maintaining optimal comfort levels.
Website: Small Talk
I just want to note, I struggled with including the ideal demographics for these stores as fashion is meant to be expressive and creative. So while some stores are listed as carrying “men’s” or “women’s” clothing specifically, please know that is not to be meant in an exclusionary fashion.