There’s not a lot of retail in east Midtown. If Victoria is keeping a Secret in Midtown it’s still a secret to me. Couldn’t this fab ‘hood be home to some Lucky Brand? Nope, retail remains a Gap in our neighborhood’s economy.
BUT when east Midtown does retail it does it with honest, gritty, urban Omaha style. Shopping in 1919 Nebraska meant visiting the cobbler and the blacksmith. You had a tactile relationship with what you selected and a personal relationship with the craftsman who made it. That was important because whatever you were buying, you were buying it once. One hundred years later, that’s the experience you find at Artifact Bag.
Artifact is tucked into a historic iron-adorned storefront at 2709 Leavenworth. I used to drive by it and think, ‘That’s that place that has all the great press, I need to go there sometime.’ This fall I stopped for coffee at Farine + Four (another east Midtown classic) and noticed the baker wearing an Artifact apron. I complimented her on her choice, went home and found my birthday check from the in-laws in the mail. Determined not to let a gift be washed away in the cash flow I had my excuse to head down Leavenworth for my serious-adult culinary apron.
Artifact isn’t a large store, the selection isn’t massive, there’s no shiny color-saturated fashion. Still I felt so comfortable and at home among the simple waxed canvas copper-riveted wares that I studied each item to delay having to leave. The workroom is in back and I snuck a peek through the shop’s back door to see where the magic happens. The honesty of Artifact’s craftsmanship is something I’ve seen before in antique items but never in anything contemporary. No wonder LA Times, Bon Appetit, Esquire and New York Times have crowed about our east Leavenworth retail. I hesitate to mention their website, artifactbags.com, because I want you to experience the shop yourself. No website can do it justice.
My denim apron hangs as the pride of my pantry. Someday I’ll cook wearing something I love more than my apron. That will be the day I actually use it.
Originally published 1/5/19