Ever hear of unbreakable Christmas tree balls? Ones that can be used as outside ornaments, and retrieved and rehung.
Not only do they exist, but they can be found at the Hollin Hall Variety Store, 7902 Fort Hunt Road, in the Hollin Hall Shopping Center. They are only $7.95 for a box of 20 regular-sized ones, which are supplemented by large ones that can be purchased on an individual basis.
These unusual ornaments are just one of the many one-of-a-kind items tucked into the various display areas in this most comprehensive of stores. It seems like if it's not in the Variety Store, there's a very good chance it's not made.
"One of our best sellers this year are the gift boxes," said Charles “Ben” Vennell, owner. These gift boxes are ideal for anyone who sends holiday presents to distant places. They are decorated inside and out and require no wrapping paper or ribbon.
In fact, it would be self-defeating to wrap them. They come in a variety of motifs and shapes — from Santas, to houses, to angels, and many others. There are also elegant bottle containers for gift bottles of wine.
"These boxes are not just unique in their shapes and decorations, they are also extremely sturdy," Vennell said. "After the holidays they can be used to store holiday items and ornaments." Prices range from 59 cents to $7.98.
"Another item that has been very popular this year are the Kurt Adler ornaments made in Germany. We can't keep them in stock. I've already sold out of several and am trying to reorder them," Vennell said. "The most popular ornaments in this line seem to be the ones representing the southwest."
GOING TO THE ORIGINAL meaning of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, there are the Nativity scenes of Fontanini by Roman, Inc. "The grandson of Fontanini came here because we sell so many of these," Vennell said.
"These works are fantastically detailed. They are collector items. We have people who add to their sets every year," he said.
At the other end of the spectrum are the stocking stuffers, offering something for children of all ages. They range in price from 29 cents to $2.98.
Just to mention a few, there are: Spinning Tree, $1.98; Floppy Snowman, $1.49; Holiday Spinning Top, $2.49; Press and Go Fun Cars, $1.75; Kurt Adler Spinning Santa, $2.49; Maze Puzzle, 29 cents; Christmas Crayons, $1.75; Christmas Pen and Pencil Set, $1.79; and Wind Up Snowman, $1.98.
For do-it-yourself decorators, The Variety Store is the place with unlimited decorating items. And for those serious gift wrappers Vennell stocks Steven Lawrence paper.
Right next door at The Blossom Shop, 7906 Fort Hunt Road, owner Dorothy M. Trimber is stocked for the discerning eye. She offers gift items, floral arrangements, and holiday decorating services.
In the gift area there is the complete line of Vera Bradley cloth bags ranging from small change purses to a total luggage set, including a garment bag that sells for $126. "All the items are washable and come in all different styles," Nan Hall, sales, said.
Two of the more elegant gift offerings are the Waterford Georgian Kissing Ball at $45 and the Waterford Wreath at $70. Ornaments representing many items associated with the kitchen can all be found on the shop's "Kitchen Tree."
AS A COMBINATION FLORIST and gift shop, Trimber not only offers individual floral items, but also decorating services. "We do holiday decorating both inside and outside the home," Trimber said. "We have one client who comes to us every year to do the outside of their home."
Prices for the service vary depending on whether the client provides the materials or purchases everything from Trimber. "If they provide the materials, the price depends on the time and staff involved in completing the task. It starts at approximately $200," she said.
"If we supply the materials the price depends on what the clients chooses for the decorations. We do homemade boxwood wreaths and silk wreaths. Boxwood wreaths are priced at $55 for 12 inch, $65 for 14 inch, and $75 for 16 inch," Trimber said. "Silk wreaths start at $75."
In Belle View Shopping Center, Hodges Galleries, 1520 Belle View Boulevard, has a wide array of both the contemporary eclectic items and conversation piece antiques. "One of our biggest sellers this year are the retro ornaments," said Libby Bryant, manager.
The store stocks a variety of tin, three-dimensional ornaments, ranging from cats to a miniature can of "Java Jolt." Most are in the $3 and $4 price range.
On a more upscale basis, there are the hand embroidered purses made in Vietnam. "They are very elegant and different. And they hold up very well," Bryant said. They sell for between $40 and $110.
For those who like unusual gift items, there is the cat and dog step ladder/straight chair. Hand-carved and painted with either images of cats or dogs, these dual-use items convert to either category and sell for $225.
"I had one customer whose cat liked to look out the window, so she bought one for the cat to climb up and sit at the window," Bryant said.
In addition to the various gift items, Hodges Gallery has varied art selections and unusual antiques. Bryant also offers framing services.