San Diego

Where to Shop Small in San Diego

Support local retailers this Small Business Saturday.

Unsplash/Kara Peak
Unsplash/Kara Peak
Unsplash/Kara Peak

If the thought of doing your holiday shopping at the mall has you breaking out in a cold sweat, you’re not alone. Finding something thoughtful and unique for those last few friends on your gift list can be stressful, especially as the number of shopping days dwindles. Instead of spending hours cruising for an empty parking space or fighting the crowds to buy another mass-produced trinket, head out into your neighborhood, where you’ll find locally produced, one-of-a-kind artisanal products ranging from amazing artwork and unique apparel to handmade food items and elegant jewelry.

We visited three of San Diego’s most vibrant neighborhoods to find the season’s most gift-worthy items. So grab your reusable grocery bags, your naughty/nice list, and check out some of our favorite small retailers:

FLICKR/KELLINAHANDBASKET
FLICKR/KELLINAHANDBASKET
FLICKR/KELLINAHANDBASKET

Barrio Logan

Long known to locals as a hidden gem, Barrio Logan’s history of art and activism goes back decades. Historic Chicano Park, home to the largest collection of Chicano murals in the world, was the neighborhood’s answer to the city’s encroachment into an established local greenspace back in 1966. Now one of just fourteen California Cultural Districts, Barrio Logan has developed organically into one of the city’s fastest growing food and art destinations, with new breweries, restaurants, galleries, and shops opening almost weekly.

NATIVO owner Xochitl Villarreal, who was forced to close her shop during the COVID-19 pandemic, has reopened and is ready to help you find the perfect hand woven crafts and clothing for gift giving. At Combine and Create, Vanessa Alcaraz, a multimedia artist, creates hand-forged, metal-smithed jewelry in sterling silver and pure brass, combined with ethically mined gemstones, antique coins, and beads. Check out Simón Limón, a tiny retail and creative space that curates handmade goods from local, primarily Latinx, women-owned businesses on both sides of the border. Hola Swim founders and lifelong friends Aida Soria and Syncletica Maestas started their swimsuit shop because they could not find suits that they actually loved and enjoyed wearing. Their products, which have been featured in Vogue Paris and Cosmo Latina, are made entirely in San Diego and are designed to be multifunctional, moving seamlessly from day to night or beach to brunch. Vinyl nerds know that Beat Box Records is one of the best places to find vintage vinyl of all types, from funk to soul, rock to jazz, hip hop, and anything in between.

In addition to the brick-and-mortar shops, Barrio Logan features frequent pop-up shopping, eating and music experiences, often hosted by Mujeres Brew House. Check their Instagram and Facebook for the latest events, and be sure to stop by the neighborhood on the second Saturday of the month for the Barrio Art Crawl, for more shopping and cultural opportunities.

Little Italy

Little Italy, once home to a thriving community of Italian tuna fishers, covers 48 blocks of the city, making it the largest Little Italy in the United States, as well as home to the oldest bar in San Diego, The Waterfront, and the Little Italy Mercato, the largest farmers market in the county. Overseen by the Little Italy Association of San Diego, it’s most often thought of these days as a dining destination, and while that’s absolutely true, it’s also a great place to find one-of-a-kind boutiques, shops, and galleries.

One of the most popular stops for in-the-know shoppers is Stroll, a (mostly) women’s boutique that features trendy designer apparel, home goods, and accessories, and has some of the best ugly holiday sweaters we’ve ever seen, if you’re into that sort of thing. Vitreum has both a brick-and-mortar and online shopping for out of the ordinary home decorating and wellness items you won’t find in the mall. Head to Love & Aesthetics for loads of cheeky home decor, including anatomically correct heart vases, monkey lighting, and NSFW mugs. They also have more conventional home goods, jewelry, apothecary items, and tableware. Bluza Boutique is the place to go for fashion-forward designer apparel and accessories made especially with the over-forty woman in mind. Textiles, exquisite dream catchers, and finely crafted accessories from all over the world can be found at Rosamariposa, and everything the home cook and DIY specialist in your life could want can be found at Home Ec.

For a less traditional approach to holiday gift shopping, don’t forget about the Little Italy Mercato, where vendors like Angel Me jewelers, Style by Ilana custom clothing, and PAR KER made textiles, artwork, and ceramics have exceptional gifts that your special someone will love. As an added bonus, you can pick up host/hostess gifts, flowers, and other celebratory necessities without making an additional trip to the grocers.

Photo courtesy of Liberty Station
Photo courtesy of Liberty Station
Photo courtesy of Liberty Station

Liberty Station

One of the most walkable neighborhoods in San Diego, Liberty Station was originally dedicated in 1923 as a Naval Training Center, and today, most of the original Spanish Colonial Revival buildings have been converted into businesses, museums, galleries, restaurants, and retail shops. Shop in a park-like setting that’s filled with art and nature, where you can browse to your heart’s content, then stop for a cocktail or a meal at one of dozens of options.

At the Liberty Public Market, pick up fine olive oils, balsamic vinegars, salts and spices, and locally made goods for the foodies in your life at Baker & Olive, or grab some rare and hard to find brews for your favorite beer snob at Bottlecraft. Jewelry, both inspirational and unusual, along with vintage clothing that ranges from sequined bustiers to tweed blazers, can be found at Nobel Rags, which donates $1 from each sale to one of six local charities.

Venturing outside of the Liberty Public Market, Seahive Station houses more than 23,000 square feet of curated, handmade, and vintage goods from jewelry, clothing, and home decorating items to vintage tiki glasses and barware. You’ll find apparel, lifestyle and home goods, eyewear, and gifts in one streamlined space at Moniker General, where they also conveniently serve coffee and cocktails. We also love Pigment for its huge selection of plants, pots, and all the accoutrements to keep them green and happy, but don’t sleep on their collection of fun lifestyle items, wellness goods, and apparel. Finally, niche shops like Apricot Yarn & Supply, Point Loma Tea, Imperfects, and Mo Records will help you with the hard to buy for folks in your life.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.

San Diego

How to Celebrate Women’s History Month in San Diego

Check out female-led dance programs, pop up markets, beer dinners, and more events this March.

Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona

Women have played a huge part shaping San Diego into the city it is today. In celebration of Women’s History Month, there are a variety of events across the city that commemorate women’s contributions to our community and culture. Home to the Women’s Museum of California, which hosts events throughout the year, be sure to check out all the ways to support and honor women this month. From art exhibits to dance performances, pop-up markets and yoga, check out the best events to celebrate Women’s History Month in San Diego:

Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art

Discover works from overlooked women artists

Ongoing through November 7, 2023
Balboa Park
The San Diego Museum of Art currently has 20 modern and contemporary works of art on display from women who unjustly didn’t receive the same amount of fame as their male contemporaries. The museum’s Modern Women exhibit is your chance to see work from artists like Elaine de Kooning and Lee Krasner, who were overshadowed by artist husbands Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock but whose work has long deserved its own moment in the spotlight. The collection showcases pieces that range from acrylic paintings to photography, inviting us into an untapped artistic sphere.
Cost: $20

Practice Sun Salutations while supporting a good cause

Saturday, March 4, 10 am to 11 am
Pacific Beach
Make a difference in the lives of teen girls of colour while taking a yoga class at Kate Sessions Park. Organized by local nonprofit One Love Movement, all donations for the event go towards college scholarships for girls of the DETOUR F.A.N.C.Y. Expo & Leadership Academy, a mentorship program that promotes equity and inclusion in higher education for girls of colour. All while enjoying stunning views of Mission Bay.
Cost: Donation-based

Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona

Shop local women-owned businesses

Sunday, March 5, 1 pm to 5 pm
Middletown
What better way to celebrate the women in your community than by supporting their local businesses? The Women’s History Month Market, located in the FEMX Quarters venue, is a pop up market you don’t want to miss. The market will feature over 35 vendors from women artisans and you’ll find uniquely crafted sunglasses, jewellery, clothing, and more. The family-friendly (and pet-friendly) event will also include food and music.
Cost: Free

Drink beer crafted by female brewers on International Women’s Day

Wednesday, March 8, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm
Escondido
Women were the original brewers of ale, after all, so it only makes sense to honour our past and present beer connoisseurs with dinner and brews. Located at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Stone International Women’s Day Beer Dinner features three courses, each paired with a tasty beer specially brewed by a team of women at Stone Brewery. The event is part of a larger global celebration for International Women’s Day, where brewers all over the world brew a speciality beer that supports The Pink Boots Society, a non profit that empowers women and non-binary people in the beer industry through scholarships and education. Grab your tickets while you can! 21+
Cost: $50-$70

Attend an exhibition celebrating female and non-binary artists

Saturday, March 11, 5:00 pm
Barrio Logan
Head over to the entertainment and community venue Corazon del Barrio and show your support to female and non-binary artists, whose art and music will be featured in the Diosa Art Show. Around 40 artists are on the bill at this all-ages event.
Cost: Free

Drink some pints for the pups

Saturday, March 11, 12 pm to 4 pm
Carmel Mountain
If you need another excuse to down some brews, Second Chance Beer Company is hosting its first ever Ladies & Pups Market for Women’s History Month. The brewery, which holds various events throughout the year, donates a percentage of its sales to animal rescue organizations in California and Arizona. The dog-friendly market will include pop ups from women-owned businesses such as Bold Bouquet, Wet Nose Pottery, and No, You Sit! Treats. For the occasion, Second Chance will serve Fistful of Gummies – Berry Edition, a rendition of their fruited sour beer created in collaboration with Pink Boots Society, an organization that supports women and non-binary individuals in the beer industry.
Cost: Free

Photo courtesy of Women's Museum of California
Photo courtesy of Women’s Museum of California
Photo courtesy of Women’s Museum of California

Attend a ceremony at the Women’s Museum of California

Saturday, March 18, 11 am to 1 pm
Rolando
Perhaps San Diego’s largest Women’s History Month event, the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes local women for their achievements in the community. The annual event, which takes place at Joan B. Kroc Theatre, is a project of the Women’s Museum of California, a museum dedicated to educating the public about women’s contributions through history with exhibits, programs, and events. Over 100 women have been inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame since the program was founded in 2001, and this year’s class includes notable women like activist Norma Chávez-Peterson and Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas. The event includes a VIP brunch followed by the Induction Ceremony. Be sure to purchase tickets early to secure your spot.
Cost: $20-$150

Join a community of local women and get inspired

Monday, March 20, 5 pm to 7:30 pm
Miramar
The Women’s Speaker Series at Alesmith Brewing Company is a monthly community gathering where local women come together to support one another in achieving professional and personal goals. The event includes a social hour followed by a selected speaker. For this month, the Women’s Speaker Series features career coach and small business owner Laura Bashore, who will share her insight on how you can advance your career or business. Make sure to reserve your spot before attending!
Cost: Free

Come hear about the roles San Diego women played during World War II

Tuesday, March 21, 1 pm to 3 pm
Mission Valley
In the early 20th century, many women were not allowed or expected to be the breadwinners for their households, but things suddenly changed with the United States’ entry into World War II. Here’s your chance to learn about the real experiences of women who lived through WWll and how they navigated through it all. Presented by Oasis San Diego, head over to Mission Valley Library to attend this in-person event.
Cost: Free

Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project
Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project
Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project

Attend a ballet program choreographed entirely by women

Thursday, March 23 – Saturday, March 25 & Monday, March 27, 7:30 pm
Liberty Station
Experience not one but three world premiere ballet performances at The Rosin Box Project, a contemporary ballet company that works to redefine the concept of dance and how it’s experienced for both artists and audiences. To coincide with Women’s History Month, TRBP is kicking off its 2023 season with Empower, a female-led ballet program choreographed by TRBO Residents Lauren Flower, Bethany Green, and Carly Topazio. The program, which takes place at Light Box Theater, offers a fresh take on dance by pushing the boundaries of traditional ballet. Your ticket includes a post-show reception.
Cost: $45

Hear music by a little-known female early 20th-century composer

Friday, March 24, 6:30 pm to 7:45 pm
Balboa Park
While you may not be familiar with composer Alice Barnett Stevenson, she played an integral part in San Diego’s music scene during the early 1900s. Stevenson was an active member of various music organizations at the time, and she composed art songs for voice and piano and performed at schools all over the country. Her home became a hub for local recitals from visiting musicians, and was also where the San Diego Symphony was founded. This month, you can hear her compositions performed live for the first time in nearly 100 years at the San Diego History Center. Selected works by Stevenson will be performed by musical scholar Katina Mitchell and pianist Yewon Lee. Be sure to reserve tickets ahead of time.
Cost: $25-$40

Listen to Black San Diego women discuss important community issues

Saturday, March 25, 12 pm to 4 pm
Valencia Park
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Friends of Malcolm X Library are hosting Ain’t I a Woman, an event featuring Black women who will be speaking about their professions and discussing the challenges faced within the workplace and the community while offering suggestions on how to further enhance and embrace equality. The event includes a Q&A panel discussion, door prizes, free raffles, as well as music, poetry, and dance. Seating is limited so be sure to reserve your spot early.
Cost: Free event. Lunch purchase is $15.

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Michelle Harris is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist. Over the years her writing has also appeared in Atlas Obscura, Mental Floss, and Audubon Magazine. When she’s not busy typing, she enjoys hiking, road trips, and cooking vegan food.

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