Shopping the Shops – Part 2: Places you’ll find A YEAR IN THE CITY…and so much more

Yesterday I posted a “thank you” blog to shops that carry A YEAR IN THE CITY. Today, I’d like to tell you more about them. With Christmas less than a week away, I can promise you one of these places will have exactly what you are looking for! In the interest of brevity, I have not included locations, hours, or links for shops here. Please visit ayearinthecity.com/news to link to any of them.

Abigail’s Gift Boutique
South Hampton has always been a haven for small businesses, and Abigail’s fits right in. Abby Niebling offers lots of kitchen and bar ware, funny/snarky gifts (including a hysterical collection of socks) and a big beautiful children’s area.

ArtMart
For as long as I’ve been practicing art, Artmart has been there to inspire me AND to remind me of all that’s waiting to be discovered. This store caters to painters, sculptors, draftsmen, doodlers… you name it. But they also double – OK, triple – as a gift shop and frame shop. Even if you don’t think of yourself as an artist, plan a nice long visit.

Boheme
Owner Lala Franklin has created a beautiful ethereal space in this Cherokee Street boutique. You’ll find both vintage and modern furniture sitting side by side here, along with other art and décor pieces. Boheme is the exclusive St. Louis source for Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan.

Book House
Where do I start? That’s what you’ll say when you walk into Book House in Maplewood. Floor-to-ceiling shelves on the main level are accessed by sliding ladder.  A large stairway near the entrance is lined with books. Rare first editions and collectibles are displayed at the front of the store. No matter what you’re looking for, Michelle and her staff can help you find it!

Bowood Farms – SOLD OUT OF A YEAR IN THE CITY 2019
Though it’s a little off the beaten path (east and north of the West End), Bowood has become a well-known secret among St. Louisans. Per its name, its main business is plants, and they are fabulous. It is also home to Café Osage, where you can enjoy “garden-infused” menu items for breakfast or lunch.

City Museum
There is so much to see at City Museum, it’s easy to miss their gift shop. Don’t. Tucked right behind the ticket counter, the gift shop carries eclectic gifts, knick knacks, and tees, so you can take part of this rich experience back home with you. In addition to the main shop, the museum also sells shoelaces and necklaces woven on vintage machines on the second floor.

Cocoon
On the western edge of Chesterfield Valley, Cocoon is all about the home. Furniture, knick knacks, artwork, you name it. This shop sells the wares of some local artists (like yours truly), so you can always find unique gifts here.

Dogtown Gallery
Cute story about this one. My father-in-law, Frank Muhm, sold his memoir (entitled Passage to 2838) to owner Jaynelle Haynes. Unbeknownst to me, he also sold Jaynelle on my calendar when it was first printed. Thanks to both of them, I have a presence in the friendly Dogtown area. Jaynelle’s gallery is proud of its Irish roots and is located – fittingly – next to Seamus McDaniel’s.

Dot Dot Dash
Like the DeMun area itself, Dot Dot Dash has an easy-going, almost European feel. Clothing and jewelry are the main event, along with shoes by a St. Louis designer. The staff is completely engaged with customers and so fun to talk to!

Down by the Station
I had long been a customer of Down by the Station before I approached the owner in 2017, and I still consider it a great honor to have my calendar in her shop. DBTS carries beautiful jewelry, accessories, home goods, barware, and stationery items, as well as a sweet array of gifts for kids in the caboose. Part of the great walkable Kirkwood shopping experience, DBTS is a must-visit.

Dunaway Books
Like a good book, Dunaway is waiting to be discovered. Three stories of stories draw in readers of all ages for hours at a time. I am personally intrigued by the library-like lower level, where you can find stacks of sheet music for all instruments. Because Dunaway is part of the South Grand shopping district, you’ll lots of cool places to eat after you browse!

F.O.B. Cottage Florals
Part of the charm of this shop is its location along the upper brick walkway of Lamp and Lantern Village. True to its name, it’s a designer and seller of floral arrangements, but its gifts are many, varied, and artfully arranged. A beautiful shopping experience if you are looking for a gift.

Gallery Furniture and Gifts
Gallery is a synergy of businesses – a leasing manager for downtown apartments, a furnisher of the same, and a gift and card shop. This much-needed business is a short walk from downtown office buildings and a great place to shop for last-minute gifts!

The Great Frame-Up
It’s not just framing. This Webster Groves shop is a one-of-a-kind, showcasing local artisans and featuring products that cater to locals. Owner Bruce Shoults networks with other STL shops to find unique gifts, cards, and prints at moderate prices. This is a real gem of a shop. If you’re looking for local, you can’t afford to miss it.

The Initial Design
I had been looking for a Wildwood shop for some time when The Initial Design opened way out west on Manchester. This is a lovely place with truly unique monogrammed items. Housed in a charming little bungalow, this shop makes you feel like you’re home.

Korte’s Framing and Antiques
A generations-old family business, Korte’s recently moved from their big brick-and-mortar to the smaller building out back. Don’t think of it as less. This light-filled space is filled with artwork and antiques, as well as their full-service framing operation…with wonderful service.

La Gallerie
This little two-room gallery features reasonably priced artwork for your walls, which makes it a great fit for A YEAR IN THE CITY. They can also frame your artwork for you. Owner Dawn Painter carries my calendar, as well as individual prints after the calendar year is through.

Lemp Mansion
Anyone who has toured, dined, or slept at Lemp Mansion seems to have a story to tell. But it’s not all about the ghosts. You’ll also find lots of history, amazing food…and my 2019 calendar in a little gift shop at the back of the house.

Looking Glass Designs
The custom-designed wood engravings of owner Andrea Heugatter are the centerpiece of this lovely Lafayette Square shop. Visit now through the end of the year for great prices on handmade items!

Main Street Books
A hot spot of St. Charles Main Street, this indie book store caters to readers of all ages and interests. Looking for a banned book? Check here first. Main Street also has a wonderful children’s/young adult section upstairs.

Missouri History Museum
Architecturally speaking, Missouri History has one of the most inviting shops I’ve seen. If you enter the museum from the south, the shop seems to spill out into the entryway, as though pretending to be a gallery. And, in a way, it is. I have found real treasures there, including a beautiful St Louis Cardinals tie for my son-in-law and books on Missouri for my father-in-law. The shop, like the museum, will surprise you. You can’t imagine how much there is to love about this big beautiful state of ours!

Novel Neighbor
The word curious comes to mind when I step into the Novel Neighbor in Webster. This seemingly tiny shop is actually “long on story” with a back room and kids’ room that will delight all. The next-door events center and bathroom have earned this shop some well-deserved press, but it is their books and gifts that keep readers coming back.

Sign of the Arrow
I’ve always been amazed at the cross-section of people who buy A YEAR IN THE CITY. And, when I say that, I think first of Sign of the Arrow, which is a needlepoint business. But the thing that continually draws me to this shop is its charitable focus. Since the shop was founded 50 years ago, it has donated all of its proceeds to charity.

Stone Soup Galleries
Making the best of underutilized space, Stone Soup operates out of Chesterfield Mall. From its bright, beautiful space at the foot of the Chesterfield Cine elevators, you’ll find the work of local artisans, including milliners, woodworkers, glass artists, print makers, and jewelers. Check it out before or after the show.

Subterranean Books
Subterranean is a jewel of the Loop with regular events and signings that draw diners and movie-goers along this iconic stretch of Delmar. Alex, Gena, Griffin, Kelly, Sarah B, Sarah T…and Teddy the dog are super-knowledgeable about good reads and store inventory. Subterranean  was one of the first shops to carry A YEAR IN THE CITY.

Union Studio
When Union Studio started carrying A YEAR IN THE CITY, its owner and manager took time to get to know me. They do the same with their customers. They understand the people who shop their store and always look for products that will delight them. Union Studio is all local, featuring the work of painters, metalsmiths, leatherworkers, and clothing designers. You simply won’t find a more personal shopping experience anywhere.

Urban Matter
Every gift shop I visit is different from the one before. But this one may be the differentest. Not only does Owner Mary have a great eye for unique gifts, she is also a master of staging. I’m particularly fond of the free trade jewelry here and some of the pottery pieces. An absolutely beautiful shopping experience in the Dutchtown neighborhood.

Washington University Bookstore
Geared toward students of all ages – including perpetual “students of life” – Wash U’s bookstore has a wonderful vibe to it. Beside branded apparel, you’ll find trendy gifts and great new titles to please everyone on your list. Parking is a challenge, but it’s well worth the walk around and through this gorgeous campus.

World News
I first discovered World News when I was in college, and I thought then – as I do now – that I wasn’t in the Midwest anymore. This place has the feel of a New York newsstand, drawing lots of foot traffic from the nearby business and the courthouse. They’re open till 10pm, which is late for Clayton, and they offer a gazillion magazine titles, best-selling books, and a few calendars, including A YEAR IN THE CITY.

Thanks again to all of these retailers for their help in getting the word out about A YEAR IN THE CITY. And to all of you reading this, Happy Shopping to all… and to all a good night!

 

A YEAR IN THE CITY is also available online at ayearinthecity.com/shop

Shopping the Shops – Part 1: How Retail Has Helped A YEAR IN THE CITY

When I was ten years old, my mother urged me to approach the manager of a restaurant where we were having dinner. “Go show him your artwork,” she said.

What Mom wanted me to show him was a poster I’d been working on – in between bites of food – so that he could gauge the feasibility of having me sell my, um… work in his restaurant. While she was always supportive of my art, my mother wasn’t the type to hawk my wares. She was just opening a door for me, and then sitting back to watch the drama unfold.

As I recall, the restaurant manager admired my poster and encouraged me, but politely declined my offer. He also laid the groundwork for my eventual experience with retailers. Decades later, I would walk into a gift shop with A YEAR IN THE CITY calendars, no less scared than I’d been at the age of ten.

Now I have a better understanding of what I’m doing when I approach stores to sell my products. Retail just makes sense. Here’s why:

Retail Benefits My Company.

Online sales are great if you’re a household name. But if no one knows who you are, it really helps to have a presence in area stores. In this, my second “YEAR IN THE CITY,” I’ve tried to place my calendar in shops that are different from one another in terms of product offering and/or clientele. I’ve also been very intentional about creating a clear zone around each, so they’re not competing with one another.

Retail Benefits the Consumer.

Again, online sales are great, but the package that gets delivered to the customer’s door isn’t exactly the “whole package.” Even though my husband and I are guilty of summoning Amazon a dozen times during the month of December, it’s much more meaningful when we shop for gifts “in person.”

The retail experience rounds out the giving experience, because you’re more likely to channel your loved ones’ interests when you can see and feel the gifts you’re thinking of buying them. When I shop in retail stores, I read whole chapters of books before I take them to the register, just to make sure they fit the person I’m buying for. I try on clothes for the same reason. I envision the kitchens, living rooms, and patios of friends to make sure the cooking gadget/coffee table book/serving tray I’m buying is just the right thing for them.

I think this has to do with the fact that retail is a sensory experience, much like being at someone’s house is a sensory experience. Shopping in person taps many, if not all, of the senses and helps you understand the real value of a product. This is particularly important in the case of my YEAR IN THE CITY calendars, because they’re larger and weigh more than similar products. And the quality of the packaging is something that’s hard to communicate in an online listing.

But one of the most important benefits of shopping in stores is peripheral vision. How often have you made a beeline for the coffee tables at Crate and Barrel only to discover a table setting or throw pillow out of the corner of your eye? For every little thing we think we want or need, there are thousands more that have never crossed our minds. Retail brings that home for us. It’s all right there.

Retail Benefits the Community.

As a small business owner, retail exposure comes at a cost. Store owners do take a significant cut of my earnings. But, to be honest, it is completely worth it.

Retail stores are giving my brand exposure with an established target. They are also helping to build the St. Louis community. And that just happens to be the point of my calendar. In this way, I feel a sense of partnership with store owners and managers. “C’mon in,” we’re both saying. “Take a look around.” “Discover something new.” “Remember us next time you’re in the neighborhood.”

Sometimes it helps to imagine Mom back at the table of that little diner, watching me as I approach a boutique or book store with a fresh stack of calendars. I’m not sure if she’s proud of me, but I do think she’s swept up by the notion of building the community. For all I know, that’s what she was trying to do when she sent me on my very first sales call so many years ago.

Thanks, Mom.

 

A YEAR IN THE CITY calendars are available online at ayearinthecity.com/shop or in any of the stores listed below. Watch for my follow-up blog tomorrow on what makes each of these stores so special.

Abigail’s Gift Boutique (South Hampton)
Artmart (Brentwood)
Boheme (Cherokee Street)
The Book House (Maplewood)
Bowood Farms (Central West End)  SOLD OUT
City Museum (Washington Avenue)
Cocoon (Chesterfield Valley)
Dogtown Gallery (Dogtown)
Dot dot dash (DeMun area)
Down by Station (Kirkwood)
Dunaway Books (South Grand)
F.O.B. Cottage Florals (Town & Country)
Gallery Furniture & Gifts (Downtown)
The Great Frame Up (Webster Groves)
The Initial Design (Wildwood)
Korte’s Framing & Antiques (Florissant)
La Gallerie (St. Charles)
Lemp Mansion (Benton Park)
Looking Glass Designs (Lafayette Square)
Main Street Books (St. Charles)
Missouri History Museum Shop (Forest Park)
The Novel Neighbor (Webster Groves)
Sign of the Arrow (Ladue)
Stone Soup Gallery (Chesterfield Mall)
Subterranean Books (University City)
Union Studio (Botanical Heights)
Urban Matter (Dutchtown)
Washington U. bookstore (Washington University)
World News (Clayton)