Shop Local: Iowa City

iowa_aptWell kids, it’s official. I live in Iowa (new apartment above — painting, ceramics and blanket handmade by me, my mom made the pillow). If you’re like 99% of the people to whom I’ve announced my move, you’re picturing a corn field right now. However, if you’re one of the select few in the know, you’re just a little bit jealous. Iowa City is a great little city that boasts a thriving art scene (in fact, the Arts Festival is this weekend), lots of good restaurants and unique shopping to boot. Of course, you do have to drive through a lot of corn fields to get here.

To celebrate the move, I thought I’d feature some of the many talented artists and craftspeople who are now my neighbors!

The In Touch Clutch ™ by Downstairs Designs is a unique fabric carryall designed to travel with you and keep anything it holds safe and sound. (Letterpress notecards perhaps?)

Dawn Frary of Dewey Street Photo Company not only has the ability to capture the spirit of a place in a photo, she also has a very unique style that adds a sort of magic to her subjects.

4th Ave. Soap Shop offers some of the most intricate soaps I’ve ever seen. Sure to please your nose and hands as well as your eyes, she describes her work as “too pretty not to use!”

Iowa City

I’m sitting in a room at the Sheraton in the middle of downtown Iowa City, and I think I’m falling in love. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all sappy on you, I’ve just spent the last two days exploring this fantastic city!

Surrounding our hotel is block after block of adorable boutiques and restaurants.I particularly love the Capanna coffee and gelato shop which shares its location with The Wedge Pizzeria. Our first night in town, we grabbed a quick slice at The Wedge — which was nothing special — but the next morning, I got a latte from Capanna (not bad!) and some of the best eggs benedict I’ve ever had from The Wedge. In place of a heavy hollandaise, they top off a perfectly poached egg with a lovely lemon herb cream sauce — so good!

I spent the rest of the morning shopping and made sure to stop by RSVP — an amazing stationery and paper shop. The clerk was incredibly friendly and we got to talking about letterpress and all the wonderful pieces they have. I also stopped by Iowa Artisans Gallery, which sells pieces by local and national artists, including one of my favorite Madison ceramicists. On the way back, I swung by the mall which houses a nice variety of stores for being so small — University book store, a cute imports shop where I got some great handmade scarves, Express which has the cutest New Years’ dresses, and a giant Dick Blick that I spent almost an hour in!

Anyway, if you happen to be in the area, take a half a day at the very least to walk around Iowa City’s downtown and enjoy the great things it offers!