Forget Amazon. Forget Tysons. Forget the outlets. All your holiday shopping can be done right here in the City of Falls Church. From remote control cars and comics to original art, custom plants and other unique gifts, these one-of-a-kind, independent Little City shops have everything you need to fill up under the tree and stuff all your stockings this season. Here’s to keeping it merry and keeping it local, right here in Falls Church!
The Family Guitar Wizard Will Flip Over a Gift From Action Music
Action Music, part of the new Music Row the News-Press featured in its Best of Falls Church issue this summer, is one of the best places in the region to get a guitar or guitar gear for the noodler in your life. It’s one of the coolest places to walk past in The Little City – there are guitars of all sorts and colors hanging on the wall and can be easily seen from the storefront. I’m sure there’s more than one person in The Little City who has wantingly walked past Action Music, whether they are an experienced guitar player, a novice or someone with just an interest in playing.
But, because the guitars are high-end, quality instruments and priced as such (the lowest priced guitar, according to the website, is $249), this might not be the best place to get a guitar for someone who only has a passing interest in “axe wielding.” Still, there are tons of gift options for the more experienced guitar player in your life. Action Music also sells mandolins, ukuleles, lap steel guitars, amplifiers, effects and accessories. So, if you perhaps took a beginner guitar player to Guitar Center for their first guitar, getting a higher quality gift, like a strap, string set or pedal, from Action Music could signal to your burgeoning guitar wizard they are ready to step up. Finally, Action Music is a repair-oriented guitar shop, so gift givers might consider taking their beloved’s axe in for a repair as a heartfelt holiday gift.
– Drew Costley
Action Music | 111 Park Avenue, Falls Church | actionguitar.com
Hours: Tuesday: noon – 8 p.m., Wednesday-Thursday: noon – 7 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Closed Monday and Tuesday
Botanologica’s Perfect Holiday Gifts & The Smells are Free
Botanologica, the unique home decor and gift business run by Holly Manon and Julie Liu in a wooden residential-style structure at 817 W. Broad, may just be the perfect destination for those seeking to buy holiday gifts for a number of family members and friends of different shapes, sizes and other factors. That’s because the space is filled with seasonal handmade wreaths and other configurations of aroma-laden fir branches but there is the impressive apothecary table, where items brought in from Baltimore, Bluemont, Virginia and Beacon, New York cover a whole array of therapeutic treats to spread on a body, including a man’s soap that functions as a combination body soap, shampoo and shaving cream and in a variety of flavors (scents). In fact, it is the mashing together or combinations of alluring smells in the establishment that is one of its most alluring features. Holly and Julie said that it’s one reason customers go out of their way to visit and buy.
City residents, they’ve run their business for just one year this month, first as a vendor in the Stifel and Capra gallery that closed this year, and since July at its own brick-and-mortar location that it shares with a jewelry maker. One of the store’s specialties is to custom make not only holiday displays, but in the spring to fashion container garden planters. “Unique, thoughtful, inspiring and soulful” is how this local business is described by one devoted fan. “We like to think we help bring out the higher natures in people,” Liu said.
– Nicholas F. Benton
Botanologica | 817 West Broad Street, Falls Church | botanologica.com
Hours: Thursday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Holiday Hours: Open Dec. 14 & 21: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
On 5th Anniversary in F.C., Bikenetic Loves New Spot & Has Many Gifts
Bikenetic, the popular Falls Church one-stop-shop for bicycle owners, turned five years old this Monday and is all settled into its new location on W. Jefferson Street. The shop is decked out with displays of a variety of accessories, plus bikes of all kinds, to offer unique and thoughtful holiday gifts.
Owners Jan Feuchtner and Helen Huley, husband and wife, are excited to discover what this season will bring this year, because the popularity of biking is still taking off, especially with the City of Falls Church just getting into the bike share business and with new, highly visible bike racks at key locations all around town. The bike share matter is serious. There is a whole network throughout the region, and into D.C. of bike share facilities that are making this form of transportation, especially as Metro flounders with endless repairs, a very viable alternative for more than just recreation.
Still only a short distance from the W&OD Bike Trail (accessed on N. Maple), Bikenetics made way for the Mason Row project at N. West Street by moving successfully to a new location adjacent the well-known Jefferson Street Artists, home to the monthly First Friday in Falls Church.
Affordable accessories range from lights to horns to seats to water bottles to classy helmets to fancy shirts to stylish fanny packs, and much more.
– Nicholas F. Benton
Bikenetic | 201 West Jefferson Street, Falls Church | bikenetic.com
Hours: Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday: 10 .m. – 6 p.m., Sunday: noon – 4 p.m.
Sleds, Wagons & More, Historic Brown’s Hardware Has It All
Many would insist that you simply can’t do better, if you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for a child, than an original Radio Flyer red wagon! These iconic gifts go back generations, and there was even a moive named after the brand. In Falls Church, you can get them at the historic Brown’s Hardware, the store that has everything, and the venerable Hugh Brown himself, shown in a photo here with a Radio Flyer, can sell it to you.
Like the wagons, Mr. Brown himself goes back generations. He’s technically retired, but is in the store most days helping out, and especially offering good advice on anything to customers. The Radio Flyers are not cheap, he notes, and in addition to wagons, the brand produces a tricycle on sale there, too.
Other popular seasonal gifts on display in this most remarkable store are snow sleds, the new lightweight Styrofoam types selling from $16 or so and up, and of course, a year around favorite, bird feeders in many sizes and configurations. But if its going to be a snowy winter, you can’t find a better selection of melt products than here, or a plunger for a stubborn drain.
– Nicholas F. Benton
Brown’s Hardware | 100 West Broad Street, Falls Church
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Closed Sunday
Hop Over to Doodlehopper For Unique Toys for The Little Ones
There are several places where you can get toys for kids in Northern Virginia. There are the big box stores like Target and Best Buy, department stores like Macy’s and Sears and, of course, Toys “R” Us is the ever present major toy retailer. But there are few independent toy stores out there and even fewer independent toy stores that are the size of Doodlehopper 4 Kids. If you’re looking for something unique, or are undecided between something out-of-the-box and something more mainstream, Doodlehopper is a great place to start.
Doodlehopper has some of the same inventory as the larger stores where you can buy toys, but also boasts lesser known options. For example, Doodlehopper has gift options from more common brands like Star Wars and Calico Critters. But it also has options like the HoverQuad, a remote control stunt car that hovers, Scheming and Skulking, a pirate-themed card game, and Nancy B’s Science Club Mighty Microbes Lab & Germ Journal, a great starter popular science kit for children ages 8 and up. That last item is just one out of a deep inventory of interactive educational toys and books that’s available at Doodlehopper.
And Doodlehopper has several options in each age cohort in the baby to tween range for those shopping for multiple children. The store also has a great staff that will help pick out just the right gift, but that’s not the best part. Doodlehopper offers free gift wrapping, which is key during the holiday season.
– Drew Costley
Doodlehopper 4 Kids | 228 West Broad Street, Falls Church | doodlehopper.com
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Friday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The Local Market Has Gifts for Foodies Or Just Those Who Enjoy Eating
What’s better than shopping local? Shopping and eating local, of course. The Local Market covers all the bases in the Little City this season with its shelves full of local- and regionally-sourced groceries.
Whether it’s gift giving or just stocking the fridge, the store from F.C. residents Patrick Fleming and Tamara Powell has plenty of holiday staples like eggnog from Trickling Springs, mincemeat pies by Arlington’s Acme Pie Co., spices for mulling and pumpkin pie from Shenandoah Spice Company and cider from McCutcheon’s. Treats from Washington, D.C.-based The Capital Candy Jar like peppermint bark and cranberry orange pistachio bark or chocolate-covered pretzel rods make for great stocking stuffers or, if you want to get fancy, liqueur-and-wine-infused jams from Lorton’s Sweet on the Bubbly and Lindera Farms’ artisan vinegars are perfect gifts for a foodie.
No stocking? No problem! Custom gift baskets filled with a selection of Local Market goods are also available; shoppers can create their own or choose from baskets pre-made by Powell and Fleming. Starting at $25, gift baskets range in price depending on contents.
– Jody Fellows
The Local Market | 246 West Broad Street, Falls Church | thelocalmarket.me
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Preparing to Close, L-say Designs Offers Great Deals for Art Lovers
L-say Designs just celebrated its second anniversary last month but the Falls Church boutique art gallery and gift shop announced last week it will be closing its doors before the end of the year.
With walls full of artist and owner Lindsay Wagner’s original canvas paintings, this is the perfect time to get high-quality, local art at bargain prices. Running the gamut from bright and playful to somber and reserved, Wagner’s abstract creations max out at $150 and are now discounted 30 percent.
If there’s no room on your walls, Wagner is also selling artisan candles in scents like mistletoe, snickerdoodle and more. Candles are two for $13 for small and two for $20 for large. In addition, local artists and products featured at L-say Designs include Jessica Speckhard and Second Daughter Jewelry, Terry Lederer, Joy and Ray Fogle, Squij Kat, Squidlicks Jewelry, Clover Hill Ceramics and Joey Wagner.
As a bonus for those procrastinating, last-minute shoppers, Wagner will be keeping her shop open on Christmas Eve.
– Jody Fellows
L-say Designs | 907 West Broad Street, Falls Church | L-saydesigns.com
Hours: Closed Monday, Tuesday-Friday: 10 – 5 p.m., Weekends by appointment
Satisfy the Caffeine Addicts On Your List at Rare Bird Coffee Roasters
Bryan Becker and Lara Berenji’s shop on the corner of W. Broad St. and N. Maple Ave. guarantees a one-of-a-kind gift not available anywhere else outside the Little City: Falls Church roasted coffee beans.
When Rare Bird Coffee Roasters opened in October, it gave the City its first-ever, very own coffee roaster and in the two months it’s been in business, the shop has been a smash hit. So much so, Becker and Berenji have already extended the store’s hours and it will soon be open seven days a week (Monday service begins on Jan. 9).
Rare Bird makes a variety of roasts typically ranging from light to medium, with the most popular of them being its boldest flavor offering called El Chucho, or “The Mutt,” from Colombia. Coffee is available in 12 oz. bags, whole bean or ground, and costs between $14 and $17. For the out-of-towner on your list, Rare Bird also offers a subscription service delivering its roasts directly to your door every two weeks.
If making decisions isn’t your thing, beginning Friday, Rare Bird gift cards will be available and good for any of the shop’s offerings, from coffee and pastries to teas and kolaches. Want a truly unique gift or just need a really big bag? Rare Bird sells the burlap sacks its coffee beans are shipped in for $4 a pop.
– Jody Fellows
Rare Bird Coffee Roasters | 230 West Broad Street, Falls Church | Rarebirdcoffee.com
Hours: Closed Monday, Tuesday-Friday: 6:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Make The Nerd In Your Life Merry At Victory Comics
If the youth social pyramid has truly flipped upside down in the past decade, with nerds reigning supreme and jocks losing cache, then a place like Victory Comics is akin to one of the coolest nightclubs in an already hip neighborhood. Victory Comics is owned by Jeff Weaver, the man who ran Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic nomination, which is cool enough. Also, the store is one of the liveliest social spots in The Little City, with area residents of all ages meeting there for board and role-playing games throughout the week. But the store’s inventory has a broad assortment of gift options for the king or queen nerd in your life.
The 3,500-square foot store is filled with preowned and new comic books and trades, as its name suggests. It’s also got tons of board games and other gear, like dice, battlemats and miniature figures, for tabletop role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. If board games or tabletop RPGs aren’t your gift recipient’s thing, there are tons of packs from trading card games like Magic the Gathering, Legends of the Five Rings and Pokemon. And Victory Comics understands that you can be a nerd AND like sports, so they have sports trading cards as well. There are also posters, action figures and statues and busts for those who may want to decorate their spaces with fandom. It may be an independent store, but Victory Comics has a space that rivals the old Wizards of the Coast stores.
– Drew Costley
Victory Comics | 586 South Washington Street, Falls Church | victorycomics.com
Hours: Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.