With a little help from local retailers, WiYNN takes a peek inside Santa’s sack!
It’s beginning to look a lot like shopping… and here at What’s In Your Neighborhood, we’ve been checking in with local businesses to see what items are on the top of Santa’s list this year. In addition to some great gift-giving suggestions, we put together a few tips to make your shopping experience go a little smoother.
Many stores have been telling us that stock is limited this year due to labor and materials shortages in manufacturing and trucking. So for the best selection, shop early. Whether in-person or online, communicate with your favorite local retailer to see if they can pre-order or reserve items for you. Leave yourself enough time to track down that special item—it may not be available in the first place you shop.
Because of these supply-chain issues, even if you shop early, it may be hard to find exactly what you’re looking for. That means a retailer may get a
hot item, but not in every color or style, or they may only receive two from a supplier instead of the ten they ordered. Ask if there is a comparable item in a different style or brand, or consider purchasing gift cards to use when that special item is available again.
Lately, it seems the retail world is dominated by online shopping. But there are a lot of perks to patronizing locally-owned retailers this holiday season! Here are a few reasons to shop local:
Expertise. Local retailers are passionate about their products and often have spent years accumulating specialized knowledge that can help you choose the perfect item.
Customers come first. Small, locally-owned businesses go the extra mile to offer friendly, personalized service that you won’t find at the big box stores, whether you buy from them in person or online. Plus, they often offer extra services such as gift wrapping, delivery, and curbside service.
Mingle and jingle. Check the calendar for special holiday events where you can visit lots of retailers at once to cross items off your list. Main Street programs and Arts Councils coordinate open house nights where businesses offer special discounts, live entertainment, and snacks.
Unique and handmade items. Buying handmade items from local artisans is a great way to support creativity and give one-of-a-kind, high-quality gifts. Many local retailers offer a selection of functional items like jewelry and pottery, or hand-crafted furniture and home decor. Consider attending a studio tour, like the Valley Craft Network (valleycraftnetwork.org) where you can meet the artisans and purchase from them directly.
Shopping small makes a big impact. According to the US. Small Business Administration, when you spend $100 at a small business, $48 stays in the community. Spend the same $100 at a big-box store or national retailer and only $14 stays. Buying from a small, locally-owned business supports jobs, stabilizes the local economy, and keeps
a business owner’s dreams alive.
For the Adventurer and Nature-Lover
Step in Style
A fourth-generation owner of footwear specialty store ELM Shoes in Chambersburg, Loren Martin knows a thing or two about what it feels like to walk a mile in his customers’ shoes. With over 6,000 square feet of floor space, ELM emphasizes fit and fashion.
Due to the increased interest in outdoor activities during COVID-19, athletic and hiking shoes have been added to many people’s lists this year. Loren says that Oboz brand hiking shoes are popular with men and women because of their unique feel and specialized fit, providing a more stable walking experience and less foot fatigue. They come in a variety of models to suit different terrain and
are made from lightweight, waterproof leather and nylon materials to keep you light on your feet.
For the perfect stocking stuffer, he suggests Darn Tough Socks, made with a merino wool blend, they dry quickly, preventing blisters and hot spots. They come in a variety of weights, lots of fun colors, and carry a lifetime warranty.
Get in Gear
With the popularity of brands like Patagonia, outdoor gear has become one of the defining fashion trends for both men and women. Hunting Creek Outfitters, located in downtown Frederick carries items suitable for the hardcore outdoorsman and the trendy urban stylist. As the area’s licensed dealer, they recommend items made by Orvis—a high-quality and conservation-conscious brand of equipment and apparel that sprang from its Vermont founder’s passion for fly fishing and wing shooting.
Kevin Etzler recommends quilted and waxed jackets from Barbour (Kate Middleton is a fan!) and flannel shirts and wool blankets from Pendleton. Kevin believes the ever-popular Yeti line of products is sure to be a hot ticket yet again this Christmas, especially cups, mugs, and wine coolers, which make great stocking stuffers.
Gifts to Tweet About
Bird-watchers and nature-lovers alike will get hours of enjoyment from a gift from Wild Birds Unlimited in Frederick. The store’s new owners Paul and Jean Gates have a few seasonal favorites this year. Adorable Seed Characters—a snowman, penguin, raccoon, and squirrel—are made from a pound of birdseed and fit on top of Wild Birds’ seed cylinders.
Paul suggests an item from their line of best-selling Corinthian Bells wind chimes, which are manufactured in Manassas, Va. Their exceptional sound is produced by high-density polymer strikes and thick-walled, powder-coated tubes.
Now that Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources has deemed it safe to feed the birds again, a fresh feeder and food make for a great gift idea. Wild Birds Unlimited feeders come with lifetime warranties, and their no-waste, no-filler seed is delivered fresh to the store each week. They’re also the only store in the area to carry Bark Butter, a favorite of more than 150 different species of birds.
For the Young (and Young at Heart)
Choo-choose just the right gift
A toy train circling the Christmas tree is a beloved tradition in many homes, and at The Train Room in Hagerstown, you can add on to your train set or choose a new train from a wide variety of types and sizes. Owner Charles Mozingo welcomes train enthusiasts of all ages and willingly shares his deep knowledge and passion with his customers.
Charles suggests beloved brands like Thomas the Tank Engine, Chuggington, and Brio toy trains for young children, to top-of-the-line model trains from Lionel and MTH (Mike’s Train House), in sizes from G gauge to Z gauge. He says that extra track and power supplies are big sellers, and advises train enthusiasts to shop early this year since an electronics shortage could mean that your favorite item will sell out.
Parents searching for entertaining options that don’t involve a video screen will be delighted with the wide variety of board games and puzzles available at Neverland Game Store in Hagerstown. Owner Tony Vigil recognized a need for games that encourage interaction and allow families and friends to have a good time in a safe environment.
Since the pandemic began, the demand for jigsaw puzzles has soared. Tony says their selection includes 50 to 100 piece puzzles for younger children, intricate puzzles with 1,000, 1,500, and even 2,000 pieces, and puzzle mats and glue and accessory kits for preserving that especially challenging accomplishment.
Trading cards like Pokemon and Yo-Gi-Oh! come in sealed starter and booster packs perfect for stocking stuffers. Role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons continue to be popular with gamers of all ages who enjoy storytelling and character creations.
Tony says that board games are a solid seller every Holiday season, especially classics like Monopoly, Chess, and Catan, as well as newer offerings like Carcassone and retro games like Fireball Island.
For the Style Icon
Located in Chambersburg, Black and Blush Boutique owners and sisters Brittani Black and Cortney Hanks are all about youthful, everyday fashion that can take you from work to home. One seasonal sell-out they recommend is the versatile shacket, a slightly oversized combination shirt and jacket that can be worn as both. Shackets are made of a thicker material and generally come in flannel, cotton canvas, or denim.
For ladies who want to step out in style, they recommend shoes from Blowfish of Malibu, a company whose style was inspired by the laid-back vibe of Malibu, California, and whose mission includes social responsibility—including a partnership with OCEANA, a nonprofit which focuses on ocean conservation.
Another popular item is the Versa tote, which is made from EVA—a soft, rubber-like material that is durable, waterproof, and washable. Versa bags feature interchangeable handles, which come in coordinating colors and patterns, allowing you to change up your look without changing out your bag.
Bling in the New Year
If you’re hoping to add some serious sparkle to your holidays this year, look no further than a locally-owned jewelry store, where you’ll find knowledgeable employees and caring customer service.
A Hagerstown icon since 1902, R. Bruce Carson Jewelers has certified gemologists and a master jeweler on site. Marketing Director Nicole Hampton suggests something from Gabriel and Company, a brand whose striking bridal sets and delicate fashion jewelry are popular with both the traditionalist and the cutting-edge client. The company pledges to use only conflict-free and fairly sourced material for its designs, which are influenced by cultural influences from around the world.
Other hot-ticket items, Nicole suggests, include bar pendants, initial necklaces, and smaller necklaces which can be worn together for a layered look.
Lily Barnhart of The Jewelry Shop in Greencastle, agrees that diamond and gold pieces from Gabriel and Company will be hot this year. She also shared that this year’s “Santas in the know” are taking home diamond studs, stackable rings and Citizen watches. And, she suggests themed charms for necklaces and bracelets from Rembrandt and Company—a way to give a customized gift that the wearer can add to over time.
While it’s no secret that Christmas is the #1 day of the year to get engaged, selecting just the right engagement ring can be quite complex. Brides magazine notes that couples are opting for rings that make an individual statement—from selecting unique cuts, gemstones, and custom-designed settings. Your favorite jewelry can discuss the latest trends and help you include that personal, thoughtful touch.
Both jewelers offer custom-designed engagement rings and a selection of loose diamonds for those looking to create a truly one-of-kind item.
Voted “Best Women’s Boutique for Downtown Frederick” by Frederick magazine readers in 2021, Molly’s Meanderings has provided customers with unique, fashionable apparel and gifts for
more than 20 years.
Cozy and comfy still dominate fashion, but it’s time to add a pop of color to your life. Molly’s owner Leslie Atanasoff suggests customers snuggle up in super-soft chenille chunky knit throw blankets, lush cozy leggings by Barefoot Dreams, or chic, colorful gloves and socks.
Luxe bath and body products make great stocking stuffers and thank-you gifts for coworkers or front-line workers. Leslie recommends beautifully packaged home scents from Inis, which are made in Ireland, or soap featuring realistically crafted flowers from A’marie.
Comfort and class
The key to this year’s style is comfort, agrees Christine Smith-Cessna, owner of 2 Blondes Apparel in Funkstown, Md. Years of working with women to achieve the perfect look at her salon Blondy and Company, led Christine to start designing her own line of clothing and open her boutique, which offers the latest fashion trends for women and girls in sizes S–3X at an affordable price.
“Oversized is in this year,” she says. Customers are pairing roomy tops in super-soft fabrics with leggings, and the popular denim jogger pants—a more structured, high-waisted sweatpant in distressed denim. Shoppers are scooping up oversized flannels in pastel colors like pink, purple and blue, comfy popcorn hooded pullovers, and “Tik-Tok leggings” which have a honeycomb texture and are great for hiding imperfections.
Personalized customer service and a strong community presence are two reasons 2 Blonde’s Apparel won Best Boutique in both the Herald-Mail and Hagerstown magazine’s readers’ choice competitions this year. Christine says that boutique manager Connie Mckenzie happily styles any customer who comes in to select the perfect pieces for their wardrobe, or, customers can shop and order directly from their website.
For the Reader
Find a page-turner
Finding a new book under the Christmas tree is always a special treat for the reader in your life. Kendra Goldsborough, owner of Four Seasons Books in Shepherdstown, says they can help you find just the right book—from the latest bestseller to the special children’s book that will become a treasured friend for your littlest reader.
Kendra recommends two books in particular that are on many wish lists this Holiday season. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy has connected with readers of all ages as it offers inspiration and hope in uncertain times through the tale of a curious boy, a greedy mole, a wary fox, and a wise horse—who find themselves together in sometimes difficult terrain, sharing their greatest fears and biggest discoveries about vulnerability, kindness, hope, friendship, and love. Maybe, written by Kobi Yamada, reminds the reader that they are more amazing than they even know and that they were meant for incredible things.