Businesses relying on uniqueness, customer service this holiday season

Ann Arena, owner of Gourmet Delights Gifts and Framing on Main Street in Front Royal, stands behind one of her customizable gift baskets. She says the baskets are hot sellers come the holiday season. Nathan Budryk/Daily
Shannon Brown, owner of Brown's Pastimes Decor, Antiques and Collectibles on Main Street in Front Royal, anticipates that custom-made and hand-painted items will be hot sellers this holiday season. Nathan Budryk/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – The holiday season is upon us and local retailers are wasting no time in beefing up inventory, decorations and holiday-themed items to get ready for the impending spree of spending.

Anne Arena, owner of Gourmet Delights Gifts and Framing at 204 E. Main St., is confident that the quality of her work and the connections she forges with customers will work to help her come out ahead during the upcoming season, saying that she doesn’t view the big box stores as competitors

“As far as my competition, I really don’t feel I have any competition,” she said. “I don’t worry about any of those major stores because when somebody comes into my store, I will remember them. When you go into a big box store, they have no idea who you are. And we give personal service. We work with everyone’s budget and we’re friendly.”

She said she’s ramping up her inventory for the products that sell the best during the holiday season.

“I’m just making sure that I have enough framing supplies on hand, because I do picture framing,” she said. “(I’m making sure) I have enough product on hand for gift baskets and that sort of thing.”

Arena also said that she’s extending her hours on Fridays and Saturdays until 8 p.m. through the holiday season.

Sharon Brown, owner of Brown’s Pastimes Decor, Antiques and Collectibles at 218 E. Main St. in Front Royal, said that she relies on the quality of her product as well to draw shoppers away from the big box stores and adds personal, handmade touches as well – something she said you can’t find at the big retailers.

“We’re getting into a lot of custom work,” she said. “I have a ton of Christmas stuff to sell, but we also have a lot custom pieces that we’re doing for people and you can’t get that in a mall.”

Brown said that she anticipates the custom work she mentioned being big sellers, including decorative ladders that Brown makes, with a variety of themes.

“I’m thinking the ladders will go big,” she said. “It’s going to be hard to say exactly what we’re going to do, but I think our custom work will be in play. … Our biggest thing is the custom (work) – that and antiques. You’re not going to go in Wal-Mart and get your antiques.”

Brown said that Wal-Mart can offer things she can’t, but she said the niche items in her inventory help a lot. She said she’s not competing, per se, rather she offers products that the retail giant simply doesn’t stock.

“You can’t compete with Wal-Mart … for certain items – everybody knows that,” she said. “But they can’t compete with us for our antiques and our specific items.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com

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Nathan Budryk