Updated: Mar 13
It’s the most wonderful time of the year to shop locally. Every year it’s harder for me to find unique, thoughtful gifts that my loved ones will actually use. Over the last few years, my solution to this problem has become small businesses. The San Diego Backcountry has a variety of mom-and-pop shops that are great places to find one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list.
Poway Countryside Barn - In my typical fashion, I’m starting out by breaking my own set of boundaries. Poway is not exactly in the backcountry, but this store fits right in. The Poway Countryside Barn is one of my favorite local home décor shops, known for its modern farmhouse mixed with industrial rustic style. I just want to buy one of everything for my dream modern farmhouse. Two things are for sure at this place. One, they know how to do Christmas. The mother-daughter team spends a month setting up all their holiday merchandise. Two, if you like it, you better buy it right then and there. Their merchandise moves fast. Right before your eyes fast.
Uptown Boutique - This cute clothing boutique is full of stylish trends at reasonable prices. In addition to women’s clothing, you can find fashion accessories, home décor, personal care products, and even food. With this large selection, you are sure to find a perfect gift. If you can’t make it to them in person, they sell online too!
Casa Rustica - This is the place to come for handmade, one-of-a-kind gifts. Casa Rustica is known for its large selection of artisan handcrafted items from Mexico. From pottery and metal home décor to hand-blown glass items, this is your one-stop-shop for thoughtful gifts.
Olive and Oak Antiques - Right next door to the Santa Ysabel General Store is the newest Julian-area antique shop, Olive and Oak. They have a wonderful variety of great old gems and new gifts.
The Santa Ysabel General Store - Nestled in the beautiful Santa Ysabel Valley, where Highways 78 and 79 meet, sits the historic 1884 Santa Ysabel General Store. This hidden gem is one of those places you don’t expect to come across, but once you do, you are sure glad you did. Today, the non-profit Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) owns the store and the barn in the back. They have restored San Diego’s only remaining false-front adobe building to its original beauty. The store is stocked with canned goods, home goods, and of course, antiques.
The Barn Vintage Marketplace - Are you in the market for an industrial, primitive, rustic, farmhouse, and/or unique piece of home décor? The Barn Vintage Marketplace is sure to have something you've been looking for. This mother-and-daughter-run business is unstoppable, and the owners are eager to help you find something you love. They are constantly looking for original pieces for the market. Stop by on your way to Julian!
Merdo Acres - Molly and Brian, dear friends of mine, are the craftsman behind the Merdo Acres wood design projects. Their cutting boards are constructed out of top-quality woods from right here in our local mountains. They do a fantastic job at keeping their work decorative and functional. Their items are handmade with the option to customize. These one-of-a-kind pieces make a great gift for both genders, all ages, and any relation. This is a creative way to give a handmade gift, something personal and unique without a bunch of hassle. Find them at the Julian Station or online.
Julian Arts Guild - For over 40 years, the Julian Arts Guild has been bringing together artists, artisans, and others interested in art. The Guild puts on workshops, demonstrations, and three annual art shows, and they host speakers at the monthly meetings. Most recently, they opened up a permanent gallery space. Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or by appointment. Here you can find a wonderful variety of local art, from photography, jewelry, paintings, to Native American art and even clothing.
California Wolf Center Nature Store - The CWC has been a prominent nonprofit organization in our community since 1977. Recently they took the opportunity to open a resource center in town, and they have run with it. In addition to the educational resources here, you can find a one-of-a-kind nature store. From wolf merchandise to locally made merchandise like Mountain Made candles, this is a wonderful place to shop and support a great cause too.
Mountain Made - Mountain Made is a small business nestled in the San Diego mountain town of Julian, CA, founded and operated by lifetime Julian local, me, Eva Hatch. It is my mission to provide a quality line of locally made merchandise that allows you to bring home a piece of the mountains and support the local community through your purchase. Sticking to our small-town roots, we proudly design, manufacture in small batches, and distribute all our merchandise by hand and with love. Utilizing a blend of candle-safe fragrance infused with natural essential oils, we are able to replicate true-to-life aromas that can be found in the San Diego Backcountry. Our candles make great gifts for anyone on your list.
The Warm Hearth - One of Julian's largest retail stores is a great go-to place to find something for everyone on your list. Their selection has a great mix of name brands and locally made items.
ANINI Designs - Backcountry local Jeanine Ertl is the crafter behind ANINI Designs. This small home-based business sells slow-crafted and consciously created textiles. On their online shop, you can find DIY kits, home decor, and eco gift wrap.
Borrego Outfitters - Have an outdoor adventurist on your list? Borrego Outfitters is equipped to fill your needs. Known for its large selection of name brands, this store will be sure to have just what your outdoorsy friend needs.
Chic Boutique - This tiny boutique is loaded full of one-of-a-kind accessories and apparel. I always find something here I like. Graphic tees, dream catchers, and noteworthy fashion pieces are just a few of the items you can find here. They also carry Mountain Made candles. For those who don’t want to make the drive, you can shop on their Instagram!
Alpine Garden and Gifts - Has a number of drought-tolerant plants and lots of gifts. On the Second Sunday of most months, they host additional vendors for a Vintage Market Festival.