Avoid the chaos at the mall this holiday season and choose to shop local at Sonoma County‘s best small businesses. We’ve rounded up a diverse range of shops in and around five major Sonoma hubs – the Sonoma Plaza, Sebastopol, Petaluma, Healdsburg, and Santa Rosa – so that you can locate thoughtful, one-of-a-kind gifts for every person on your list.
Stroll your way around the four corners of the historic Sonoma Plaza, where a variety of boutique shops offer unique goods and gifts. Make your home smell like Christmas year round or your favorite varietal of wine at The Candlestick, the largest specialty candle store in California. They’ve been around for 50 years and are wicked good at what they do (see what we did there?). Wax nostalgia at Tiddle E. Winks Vintage 5 & Dime, home to groovy vintage games, toys, and other delights that will take you all the way down memory lane. The only catch? Today they’ll cost you more than five or ten cents. Everyone has a crockpot or instant pot these days while the art of slow cooking in gorgeous clay pots has been lost. But Bram Cookware keeps the tradition alive with colorful pieces from all over the world that will take soups, rices, and beans to new heights.
One of the top olive oil producers in Sonoma County, Figone’s Olive Oil will also add something fun to recipes. Taste-test locally-made olive oils in unique flavors – blood orange, basil, and garlic, plus aged balsamic vinegars in strawberry, raspberry, and peach and cranberry – then take your favorites home with you. From there head to Vella Cheese Company for more samples, because what’s better than snacking while you shop local? This Sonoma factory has been in operation since 1930 and specializes in all kinds of monterey jacks, including naturally-seasoned flavors like jalapeño, habanero, and rosemary.
Finally, no trip to the Sonoma Plaza is complete without a visit to Williams-Sonoma, site of the original Williams-Sonoma location in 1956.
You could spend a whole day shopping at The Barlow, Sebastopol’s 12-acre, pedestrian district, which houses an eclectic variety of small business shops inside a former apple cannery. Scout West County is known as The Barlow’s modern day general store. Featuring both local and global makers, Scout carries everything from clothing for the whole family to home goods and unique gifts. The mother-daughter operation at Soap Cauldron uses ingredients found in nature to produce small-batch herbal bath and skin care products. Thanks to super-nourishing botanicals and essential oils, they make skin feel baby soft. Have a little one to shop for? Circle of Hands carries unique children’s toys and books crafted by artisans from Waldorf school communities. Made from natural materials, all items emphasize the nurturing of children through imaginative play.
The Barlow also has two flower shops to bring your holiday table to life: Sonoma Flower Mart and California Sister Floral. On your way out, you may as well stop in the Community Market. It’s Sonoma County’s only worker-run, not for profit, natural and organic foods grocery store, and profits are directed right back into the local community.
People love to go shopping at Petaluma’s Premium Outlets, but many of the town’s independently-owned shops pay homage to the Sonoma County town’s rich farming history as the Egg Capital of the World. Known fondly by locals as The Seed Bank, the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Store is like an Ikea for gardeners. Carrying more than 1,500 varieties of non-GMO heirloom seeds, you can also find all necessary gardening tools, books, gifts, and accessories. Stop by Green String Farm to pick up a sampling of affordable, seasonal, and sustainably-grown produce and preserves. Curating a cheese plate? Enjoy a tasting and then bring home your favorites from Petaluma Creamery, located right downtown, or venture a few miles away from the city center to Marin French Cheese for flavored bries, like truffle and jalapeño.
For something new that supports a good cause, check out Indigenous, which sells beautifully-made, organic, and fair trade clothing from Peru. Partnering with more than 750 artisans, Indigenous pays 100 percent of them above fair trade wages, helps provide clean drinking water to hundreds of families, provides training and materials to marginalized women, and more.
Petaluma is also a great place for antique and thrift shopping. The three-story Vintage Bank Antiques, aptly housed in the grand, former American Trust Company building from 1926, carries thousands of items from the collections of more than 30 dealers. This is the town’s most comprehensive antiques collection (possibly in all of Sonoma County, too), but you’ll find that shopping at The Thrifty Hippy and the Petaluma Collective will be less overwhelming.
The charming Healdsburg Square blends restaurants, bars, hotels, and wine tasting rooms with an array of local businesses offering something for everyone. Browse artisan-made pantry provisions, gorgeously-designed housewares, cookbooks, gardening tools, and more at Shed. Continue your holiday shopping and feel great about giving at One World Fair Trade. Your purchase supports hard-working, yet disadvantaged artisans in need of food, shelter, education, and healthcare from all over the world. The Healdsburg Square also has a number of women’s clothing boutiques like Looking Glass, Gathered, Zizi, and the eclectic Bella. Find a purse to match at Clutch.
While the Oakville Grocery‘s Healdsburg location is a popular pitstop for people looking for a quick, gourmet lunch between wine tastings, it’s also a great spot to procure locally-made preserves, olive oils, pickles, sweets, and more to pair with Sonoma County’s premium wines.
Santa Rosa certainly has its share of shopping plazas and malls, but we suggest you skip all of that and head to what’s known as Santa Rosa’s Old Town, the Railroad Square Historic District. In just a couple of blocks you’ll find a slew of antique and thrift shops along Antique Row – search for treasures at the aptly-named Whistlestop Antiques or the perfect Ugly Sweater at Hot Couture Vintage Fashion – plus a variety of other quirky stores specializing in furniture, skin care products, and even yarn (Cast Away Yarn Shop is a colorful knitter’s emporium).
The Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market is the place locals go for fresh and locally-grown produce, grass-fed meats, plus crafts, pottery, jewelry, and art. A California Certified market (meaning everything is grown and harvested in California), it’s held at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts parking lot on Wednesdays (8:30 AM – 12 PM) and Saturdays (8:30 AM – 1 PM).
With so many great places to shop small in Sonoma County, you’re sure to find something special this season, but for more ideas, don’t miss our WineCountry Holiday Gift Guide and Napa-inspired Holiday Gift Guide, filled to the brim with unique experiences and quality gifts for everyone on your list.