Last Minute Gift Guide: West Downtown

Metal The Store At El Vado

Clarke Conde
4 min read
Metal the Store
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Metal the Store is filled to the brim with high-quality, New Mexico stuff. Wearing a heavy winter coat, you will likely brush up against other shoppers and merchandise as you crane your neck to take in the top-to-bottom layers of colors and patterns that fill the tiny store. It is a popular spot that encourages lingering and questions. Should it seem too crowded, you can always dive into the maggot bath. Fortunately, they have one of those (full of delightful plastic maggots for reasons that are not immediately apparent).

Try to follow me here: The store (Metal the Store) is the physical manifestation of the brand of designs (Metal the Brand) that are the creations of the artist Michael O. Wieclaw (known as Metal). Simple enough, but in the short year-and-change the place has been open, it has continued to grow with additional artists adding to the inventory of original designs and New Mexican themes that cover T-shirts, hoodies, onesies, stickers, postcards, pins, patches and other sundry goods. Plus, the prices are low enough to start a new sticker toss tradition with the family on Christmas Eve.

Southwest Cactus Shop At El Vado

Southwest Cactus Eric Williams Photography
Maybe it’s pinon or possibly the green chile-scented candles, but there is a smell in this place that makes you want to stick around and inhale. Like the other shops in El Vado, Southwest Cactus Shop is compact but laid out in a way that encourages breathing and evokes the open spaces of the Southwest. Think hues of brown, rusticated wood and the air cleansing power inherent in plants.

Within the store you will find cacti and other succulents carefully potted in tasteful, small vessels that have been well cared for, ready for you to adopt and take home. There are also air plants, a curious flora that requires no dirt and lives comfortably in small dioramic glass bulbs that the owner has assembled with tiny plastic creatures and stones. If you are the type of person who likes to wear socks with pictures of cacti on them, then you have found your Number One local source in Southwest Cactus Shop. Prices are reasonable and should allow the gift giver to find something within their budget that adds a little greenery to their list with Southwest style.

Modern General Feed And Seed

For our purposes here, we are only concerned with the “Seed” part of Modern General Feed and Seed, but understand that you might be tempted to stay and have a meal. Modern General looks like a lifestyle magazine that draws you in with clean, bright photographs of simple things. It is an uncluttered space that is at the same time inviting, relaxing and inspiring.

On the shelves are a well-curated collection of books, kitchen gear and a few food stuffs. Think cast iron pans, wooden spoons and beautifully large photo books. Billed as “tools for a better life,” the collection is small but well thought-out, following their stated philosophy of “nothing you don’t need.” It is the perfect place to find something durable and elegant that would fit effortlessly into daily life in either your great-grandmother’s kitchen or your favorite first-time homesteader’s. In short, Modern General eschews the superfluous, providing gifts that stir the laconic phrases of a simplified life.
Southwest Cactus

Eric Williams Photography

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