Thanksgiving as a holiday is a welcome event compared to the hectic Christmas holiday that begins the day or evening of this year. It is one of a few holidays that simply celebrate America’s love of family, friends, and food. For the valley where local resourcing is a way of life, Thanksgiving is extra special. The valley is seeing a return to the farm with many farmers markets and U-pick farms available during the growth months to locals and visitors.
As I think back over the years, Thanksgiving has always been the holiday to eat and eat and eat some more all on one day! Some years it was only the family and other years we have invited in neighbors and even strangers. I am appalled that our culture is so driven by money that the BIG stores insist on starting earlier each year trying to take away or diminish the Thanksgiving holiday. In protest, I as well as many others simply boycott Black Friday by not going out to any stores.
What I will do is celebrate the small businesses in our region by supporting SHOP SMALL. Hats off to American Express on this venture. So what are your choices?
Here is GoBRT’s Top Shopping Picks for the season –
Interstate 81 Corridor
Harrisonburg is going all out with their Shop Local Campaign. Many stores are offering specials for Shop Small Saturday so check out Harrisonburg Shop Local. Downtown also features 25 restaurants, which makes shopping a real pleasure. If you have the children, don’t miss taking them to the Explore More Discovery Museum right there in the heart of the Downtown area. Another favorite of mine is Ten Thousand Villages where you can pick up gifts from various cultures around the world.
Woodstock is branded by the locals as ‘the other Woodstock’. This little town offers many shops to browse thru. Definitely a must top is All Things Virginia at The Farmhouse. A real supporter of local foods and crafts, the Farmhouse has a large selection of food products, fine art and crafts made right here in our backyard. Check out their facebook page for the latest products and happenings. Stop by Woodstock Cafe and Shoppes for lunch.
Winchester is full of surprises when it comes to shopping. Forget about going to the city for Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table, Nibblins Edibles and Gifts can stand up to either of these in the kitchenware selection available to the buyer. Family owned, Nibblins also offers cooking classes where one can see kitchenware demonstrated. They also have great coffee and ‘to die for’ fudge.
Perhaps one of the best-hidden surprises is Throx Country Store. Located on Senseny Road, you may need your GPS to find this treasure. Not only is it a fantastic deli, but Throx carries the largest collection of craft beer in the region. Expanding into speciality gifts, Throx has something for anyone on your list including good old fashion candies. Sante Wine, Beer, and Gifts is located in Kernstown Commons. A great place for gift baskets, Sante also has a selection of beautifully built wine tables for your kitchen or dining rooms. Sante also has unique cheeses for your holiday party.
Bluemont Vineyard not only offers you a truly relaxing experience with a magnificent view of Loudoun County but it also has a unique gift shop. Enjoy their wines particularly the table red.
Route 340 and Interstate 66
Front Royal is the last town on Interstate 66 before you reach I-81. Main Street offers one of the largest selections of small antique stores in the region.
The Plains is a small village directly off of Interstate 66. Small quaint shops and restaurants are on Main Street. If you are a fine arts and craft collector or have someone on your list impossible to buy for, then a visit to Live An Artful Life is a must.
West Virginia – Jefferson County.
Black Dog Coffee is again a family owned business which has grown out of a decade of research. Their best seller is Ethiopian Longberry Harrar Horse. Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, produces some of the finest coffee in the world. Complex and intensly flavorful, Harrar is an unwashed, dry processed coffee with an incredibly smooth body, powerful undercurrents of wild fruit, blueberry and chocolate followed by a crisp, clean finish. Now reaching out to over 40 retail establishments including The Ashby Inn and Throx Market Station and Country Stores.
Visitors often refer to Shepherdstown as the ‘Greenwich Village of DC’. German Street runs for three long blocks with an eclectic selection of small stores and wonderful restaurants or coffee shops. I particularly like the D’Accord Boutique offering authentic French products. One of the newest shops is Plum. Cari Aliveto Rosen, designer and owner, crafts one of kind sterling silver pieces of jewelry. Two River Treads, a shoe store promotes barefoot strategy footwear. A town that loves to celebrate holidays, Shepherdstown will offer a full month of activities each weekend in December.
Put your foot on the brake, DO NOT TURN INTO THAT MALL, but head to a town here in the valley and enjoy your holiday shopping.