When it comes to holiday gift shopping, residents can find a few locally owned shops in the strip malls of Ashburn and Sterling.
Jackie’s Treats & Treasures is one such store that Jackie Smedley of Ashburn opened in the Ashburn Village Shopping Center in August 2002. An ice cream and candy shop year-round, the store also features food and gift items specific to the holidays.
“We’re a little bit of everything. We’re a sweet boutique," Smedley said.
During the winter holidays, the store displays holiday candies, chocolates and cookies, seasonal pastries, tree ornaments, ceramics and “crafty, cute old-fashioned items” that can be used as single gifts or included in gift baskets, Smedley said. The old-fashioned items range from plush dolls and teddy bears to teapots, serving platters and candy dishes with some of the decor giving the shop an old-fashioned look.
“We really customize it. You tell us what your budget is, and we’ll come up with something that will work for you,” Smedley said.
FURTHER EAST in Sterling, 2U From Me, Inc. is a locally owned gift and party shop in the Countryside Shopping Center. Owner Ann Do, who opened the store two months ago, has several gift items for the holidays, including personalized and gift basket items. She sells personalized stationary, invitations, photo cards and address books that can be given as gifts or included in gift baskets or gift bags.
Do suggests buying a gift bag and shopping around to "stock it up." "I think the little things count more than the big things," she said.
As for larger items, Do recommends Buddy Lights, or soft touch animal night-lights, and Princess Soft Toys, non-allergenic stuffed animals, for children. For adults, she recommends ornaments, candles and bamboo trees that can grow with indoor light or sunlight. For both, she suggests piggy banks in the shape of pigs, dogs and cows, all wearing sunglasses, or picture frames, mugs and photo albums.
At the Sterling Plaza Shopping Center, Tropical Expressions, Inc. brought in decorated pine trees in October to display for-sale crystal, glass and flower ornaments, which can be given to children and adults as gift items, as suggested by Matthew Brandt.
Brandt and Lawrence Beal, both of Sterling, opened the florist shop in August 2001 to provide fresh flower arrangements, stuffed animals, balloons, plants and during the holidays poinsettias and amaryllis. They offer gift baskets and an assortment of gourmet foods that can be assembled into baskets, gift bags or holiday themed boxes. Each of the gourmet foods, including pastas, dips, cheeses, crackers, cookies, candy, coffees and teas, are packaged in "something with a little character and style."
The gift baskets and boxes are made on site on an individual basis. "They can pick out individual items to put in it, or they can give us a broad idea, then we'll select it," Brandt said, adding that customers also can bring in their own items. "A lot of it depends on the price and size they're looking for. We don't lock into one specific thing, so we can customize it to the individual and their needs and what they're trying to express."
SHOPPERS ALSO can find locally owned shops in downtown Leesburg, in western Loudoun towns and in the Dulles Town Center. They can try other shops in the strip malls, most of them anchored by a grocery store and with big box stores, along with framing shops, service shops and restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. Gift cards and gift certificates can be purchased at most of these eating and retail establishments.
In the heart of downtown Leesburg, there are several local shops on King, Loudoun and Market streets, including retail stores, galleries, wine shops and the Loudoun Museum Gift Shop, all of which sell items that can be given as gifts. The retail shops include Otter Creek Collections, The Carriage House and Crème de la Crème, along with My Friends & Me, a teddy bear shop in the Market Street Station near Loudoun Street.
“Come spend a day here. There’s lots of restaurants and fun shops,” recommended Jennifer Frankenfield, a Countryside resident who owns Otter Creek Collections with her husband Fred that they opened in Leesburg in 1998.
Otter Creek Collections sells several items that can be given as holiday gifts, including candles made in Loudoun County, decorative plate ware, artwork, wrought iron architectural pieces and old barn wood furniture such as tables, chairs and servers.
Down the street on Market Street is The Carriage House, a sleep ware, jewelry and accessory shop owned by Lindy Devins of Ashburn.
“I’m selling a lot of beautiful costume jewelry, very unusual, things you’re not going to find at a lot of places,” said Devins, who opened the store five years ago.
The Carriage House sells other gift items, including fragrances, soaps, candles, lotions, linens and home and garden accessories, along with Lampe Bergers that are used as home fragrances.
Crème de la Crème is a kitchen accessories shop at the corner of Market and Loudoun streets. The shop sells table linens, pottery, baking dishes, decorative serving pieces, soaps and candles that can be given as gifts, along with ornaments, Santons, a French provincial word meaning little saints for nativity scene figurines, and guineas from the south of France.
“The guineas are great because they’re so unique. You can’t find them anywhere else,” said Tara Wegdam, a Marshall resident who owns the shop with her husband Ben, along with two other shops in Middleburg and Charlottesville. The Leesburg shop opened nearly two years ago.
For additional gift ideas, consider hobbies and interests to tailor the purchases or homemade items, such as photo albums with a selection of photos or hand-crafted cards and wrapping paper to go along with the gifts. Or there is always the traditional tie for men and cologne for men and women.
“If you don’t know what to buy somebody and want to get a nice gift, I would take the suggestion of the store people,” Wegdam said.