“Buy local” has become a popular retail catch phrase lately. But I have always loved buying locally made gifts, especially gifts in the realm of African arts and crafts. December seems like the best time to add this category to my Jozi Top Fives series.
These five shops are where I like to go before my annual trips to America, when I buy presents to take to my family and friends back home. But these spots are also great for local holiday shopping.
In this post I’m using a broad interpretation of the term “buy local”, as some of these places sell gifts from all over the African continent.
1) Art Africa in Parkview
Art Africa is my go-to spot for buying South African and pan-African gifts. The shop is in a convenient spot on Parkview’s Tyrone Avenue and it has all the usual South African crafts — beaded and wooden sculptures, baskets, textiles, embroidery, etc. — all particularly high-quality and carefully curated. Think the Rosebank African Craft Market but much smaller, less cacophonous, and less overwhelming.
Art Africa is at 62 Tyrone Avenue, Parkview.
2) Krag Drag (the Strong One) in 27 Boxes, Melville
I blogged about Krag Drag previously in my 27 Boxes post. It’s a difficult place to explain for those who haven’t been there, especially if you’re not South African. But take my word for it: Krag Drag is the most quintessentially South African gift shop in the country.
Krag Drag specializes in clever, humorous t-shirts playing on South African themes (you may have seen their t-shirts for sale in Big Blue), but the shop also sells lots of other locally made home furnishings and gifts. Krag Drag’s selection of baby clothes is particularly adorable and robust.
Krag Drag is in the 27 Boxes complex at 75 4th Avenue, Melville.
3) Kim Sacks Gallery in Parkwood
Kim Sacks, a well known South African ceramicist, has a stunningly beautiful adobe storefront on Jan Smuts Avenue in Parkwood (right next to Rosebank). The Kim Sacks Gallery is my favorite place in Joburg to browse around and look at beautiful things, even when I’m not planning to buy anything.
Kim sources intricate ceramics, baskets, woodwork, tapestries, jewelry, and countless other beautiful things from artists and crafters all over Africa. She also offers ceramics classes and puts on periodic art exhibitions.
The Kim Sacks Gallery is at 153 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood.
4) Madi a Thavha in Victoria Yards, Lorentzville
I blogged about Madi a Thavha, a lodge in northern Limpopo promoting the local art in that region, quite recently.
Ever since that trip I have been a regular at the Madi a Thavha satellite shop in Victoria Yards (an arts complex on the east side of Johannesburg), which sells a beautiful selection of work from Limpopo artists and a few artists from other parts of South Africa.
I’ve waxed on about the beauty of Limpopo art on more than one occasion so I won’t repeat myself. Just know that if you’re in Joburg and looking for art from Limpopo, look no further than Madi a Thavha.
Madi a Thavha is in Victoria Yards at 16 Viljoen Road, Lorentzville.
5) The Urban Markets “Love Local” Pop-Up in Bedford Center, Bedfordview
I stumbled upon this Love Local pop-up shop by accident when I was at the Bedford Centre mall — the last place I would have expected to find a great “buy local” shop. I was in a rush but decided to pop in quickly. Ten minutes later I walked out with a new handbag.
The Love Local pop-ups are put on by the Urban Markets, which organizes local markets all over the Jozi suburbs. I love that they are setting up these pop-ups in shopping malls, where people usually go to buy fast fashion from big international retailers. This seems like a great way to encourage a new demographic to buy local.
The Love Local shop has a great, eclectic mix of affordable products and I could have bought more if I’d had time. This pop-up will be open through December, and there is now a second pop-up open at the Greenstone Shopping Centre in Edenvale.
Love Local is in Bedford Centre at the corner of Smith and Kirkby Roads, Bedfordview.