This week is the official kickoff to holiday shopping season. Chain stores on the Boul Mich? Yawn. Indie markets with booze? Yay!

Here are the ones on my list; if you have a tip for others, drop me a note.

Cool belts from Steel Toe Studios, at the Merchandise Mart’s One of a Kind Sale

1. The Merchandise Mart’s One of a Kind Show and Sale from Dec. 6 to 9. Yes, it costs money to get in ($10), and, yes, there are an abhorrent number of people selling kitten-themed potholders. But because there are literally hundreds of indie designers who attend, you’re bound to find a few whose wares jibe with your taste. I discovered one of my favorite local letterpress artists there.

2. A goodie that flies way below the radar is the itinerant DEPART-ment, which sets up shop Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at AV-aerie space (formerly known as Open End) at 2000 W. Fulton Ave. If you dropped by the DIY Trunk Show this past weekend at the Pulaski Park fieldhouse, it’s a similar crew: lots of local jewelry designers and funny-ironic T-shirt designers; funky wall art for under $65; awesome posters and quirky cards on the cheap. It’s a great place to score a present for your teenage sister or your girlfriend—not so much for gifting mom and pop. But the scene is fun, and I usually find something that makes someone in my family laugh hysterically.

Ceramics by Younghyun Chung, at the Rolling Thunder Holiday Art Sale

3. Glitter, the city’s new holiday market for indie fashion and accessories designers, takes over the Cultural Center next Tuesday, Nov. 27th. The city’s Web site is busted, so I’ll just post the details here: it’s noon to 6 p.m. on the second floor of the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. The 30-plus designer list includes Piebell and Vika Brown.

4. I’m most excited about this one: the Rolling Thunder Artisan Extravaganza on Saturday, Dec. 8th, from noon to 7 p.m. at Webster’s Wine Bar at 1480 W. Webster Ave. This market showcases fine art, photography, textiles and jewelry from 10 local artists including ceramicist Yonghyun Chung and metalsmith Eliza Knight. Prices start at $20 and go up to $300—and they’ll be serving biodynamic wine.

Did I leave anything out?


Photography: (Image 1) Courtesy of the Merchandise Mart; (Image 2) Courtesy of Rolling Thunder