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Your Guide To State College Small Business Holiday Shopping

Now, more than ever before, it’s important to shop local and support restaurants and businesses in State College this holiday season.

We’ve compiled a list of the best presents you can gift to your favorite Penn Stater or townie. Even if you’re hundreds of miles away, most stores have made it easy to shop online at your favorite local shop.


You can’t go wrong purchasing a new sweater or jacket. Avoid fast fashion and support local shops that have an eye for statement pieces, trendy outfits, and winter gear.

Three Little Birds Boutique

Three Little Birds is a shop that is constantly updating its inventory to ensure that customers have access to the latest styles. It’s the perfect place to purchase a trendy sweater or fuel someone’s Free People obsession. The store is located on East Calder Way and has two other locations in Mechanicsburg and Hershey. Currently, there is free shipping on all orders.

Appalachian Outdoors

Appalachian Outdoors is like a candy shop for adventurous, outdoorsy folks. The store offers brands like Patagonia, Hydroflask, and Timberland, and even has a fully stocked ski shop. It’s a great local alternative to Dick’s Sporting Goods and Bass Pro Shops that will keep you warm, fuzzy, and iced out in top outdoor brands.

Lions Pride

Sometimes it’s best to stick with the classics and get your favorite Penn Stater a brand new sweatshirt or hat. Lions Pride has every Penn State apparel item that you could ever want or need. Orders can be placed as late as December 23 to make sure that your favorite Penn Stater receives their gift under the tree.

Connections Clothing

Connections is Urban Outfitters geared toward a Penn Stater. They have an eye for trendy blue and white statement pieces that will make the tailgate fit look perfectly crafted. Additionally, the store offers a wide variety of formal dresses, going out tops, and simple jewelry.

Student-Run Businesses

Student-run businesses have flourished during quarantine, and, well, it’s only right to help out Penn State students who are crippled in student debt.

RugDrop Custom Rugs

Two Penn State students launched “Rug Drop” at the start of the fall semester and have been designing and producing rugs of all shapes and sizes entirely from scratch. The duo can create virtually any design in mind into a rug. They’ve created beer logos, Drake’s OVO owl, a circular Yankees logo, and personalized fraternity letters in the past.

Joe Pa’s Closet

Zac Cowell, the owner of Joe Pa’s Closet, is now a Penn State alumni, but he continues to keep Penn State students dripped out in vintage Penn State gear. This holiday season, he’s offering Penn State pre-wrapped gift boxes that include two Penn State t-shirts — one from the 80s or 90s and one modern Penn State shirt. Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to snag a vintage Rose Bowl t-shirt for your favorite Penn State student or alumni.

Elevated Surfaces Pong Tables

Nowadays, custom, hand-painted pong tables are a furniture piece almost as important as the kitchen table itself. A group of Penn Staters is customizing pong tables that are both Penn State-related and custom related to the interests of the client in mind.

Love Always Project

Two State College natives created a “thrift-flipped” clothing business where 90% of the profits are donated to organizations like Feeding America, The National Alliance to End Homelessness, and Black Lives Matter. The duo design and create sustainable clothing with the sole purpose of spreading love and positivity.


As we saw all this past week, State College winters are no joke. Student-run clothing company, JERPA (jeans + sherpa), has you covered head to toe, beanies to hoodies, and jeans to masks.

State College Experiences

Quarantine has been boring and isolating for so many State College residents, but there actually are fun and safe activities for people of all ages. Gifting someone an adventure will create memories that can’t be done with a physical item.

Tussey Mountain

Tussey Mountain is the place to ski, snowboard, and snow tube during the winter. But fun in the snow isn’t always cheap, which is why a lift ticket is a meaningful gift for someone adventurous in your life. In times where there’s not much going on in State College, a day in Tussey is a great place to hang out with friends outdoors and from a distance.

The Makery

The Makery is offering in-person and virtual classes for a variety of art sessions. Classes that The Makery offers include knitting, essential oils, floral design, cake decorating, and mindful writing. Separate classes are offered for kids and adults.

Evolve Studio

Something about a quality hair cut and styling hits different. Evolve Studios is known for quality services, and receiving a gift certificate to get a hair cut is a creative and much-appreciated gift for a State College resident.


Clothes can get boring, and gift cards can be dull, so we’ve compiled a list of local items that someone can actually unwrap.

‘Color Penn State’ Coloring Book

The creator of the coloring book is a State High and Penn State alumni. With a mixture of simple and complicated designs, it’s a book for people of all ages. The book captures the beauty of campus and iconic State College images, as every page is hand-drawn. The book can be found at many local locations or can be purchased on Amazon or directly from the owner through Facebook.

Berkey Creamery Ice Cream

The Penn State Berkey Creamery ships custom ice cream packs and classic packs to 48 states. Penn Staters can order six pints or several gallons of the best ice cream around. It’s an easy and tasty way to support the Penn State Food Science Department, the College of Agricultural Sciences, and your favorite ice cream lover this holiday season.

Rothrock Coffee Subscription

Rothrock Coffee is offering weekly, biweekly, and monthly subscription boxes. Each time, they’ll send a bag of the roaster’s choice to the lucky coffee drinker. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

L. Moyer Designs Jewelry

One Penn State alum has 33 years of fine jewelry experience and specializes in offering a personal jewelry buying experience. The Penn State collection features Penn State rings, necklaces, earrings, and more.

Ethereal Boutique

While Ethereal Boutique offers plenty of women’s clothing, the store is top-notch for knick-knacks and accessories. Unique slippers, wellness journals, clay masks, and sunglasses are great gifts for the person who already has everything they want. The store aesthetic is a mix between Anthropologie and Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS, so there’s no shot that the person you buy for already has the item.

Ikonic Ink Tattoo Or Piercing

If you really want your gift to make a lasting impression on someone, a free tattoo is the way to go. Ikonic is the go-to tattoo shop in State College, and some new ink will make someone’s entire holiday season. If your loved one isn’t quite ready to commit to a tattoo, the shop also offers professional piercings.

Freeze Thaw Bicycle

We all know at least one bike guy, and chances are it’s your #FitDad. The shop has its bike inventory listed on its website and offers recycled and new bikes. Additionally, the store offers custom wheels and gear if there’s something particular you’re looking for.

Gift Cards

Gift cards are what the kids really want. Students won’t feel as guilty spending six dollars on a coffee when grandma paid for it! E-gift cards are a perfect last-minute stocking stuffer.


Irving’s is a downtown classic that every Penn State student loves. Even if the student in your life isn’t a huge coffee drinker, they’re surely obsessed with the breakfast special or Peachy Paterno smoothie.

Bagel Crust

Bagel Crust is the fairly affordable ~morning after~ breakfast sandwich joint that off-campus students flock to. With locations on Calder Way and Beaver Ave., it’s a convenient alternative to Irving’s.

Cozy Thai

Cozy Thai is arguably the best restaurant in downtown State College. As an authentic Thai restaurant, the vegetarian curries and classic noodle dishes offer a tasty dinner alternative to Redifer dining hall.

Crust & Crumb Cafe

Crust & Crumb is not currently offering e-gift cards, but if you’re in State College, it’s worth making the drive over to the cafe. The shop offers specialized coffee, artisan-inspired baked goods, and deli sandwiches that are delicious. A gift card or bag of coffee beans will put a smile on your loved one’s face.

Allen Street Grill

The Allen Street Grill reopened with a reimagined interior, menu, and team, and even one “badass” executive chef. A gift card to this restaurant is perfect for your parents, grandparents, or significant other. A meal here would be the perfect treat for that special someone in your life who deserves a quality meal.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a junior biology major from York, Pa and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She overuses the ~tilde~ and aspires to be no other than the great Guy Fieri. You can find Colleen filling up her gas tank at Rutter’s, the ~superior~ Pennsylvania gas station. Please direct any questions or concerns to [email protected]


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