Discover unique gifts for your loved ones at these local Northern Virginia gems.
I am always on the lookout for unique gifts to get my friends and family over the holidays, and my favorite places to look are at local small businesses. I am constantly blown away by the high-quality items and care shown by local business owners to make each shopping experience special. As a bonus, I can often find unique items that won’t be gifted by anyone else, and I am supporting a local small business while I am at it. The way I see it, shopping local is a win-win scenario for everyone.
Northern Virginia is no stranger to small businesses, with storefronts all over the region featuring items ranging from beauty to clothing to home décor, stationary, and more.
1201 King St., Alexandria
This charming stationary store is clean, bright, and happy. The welcoming atmosphere draws you in to browse their collection of cards, stickers, wrapping paper, stationary, and gifts, as well as a number of unique queer and feminist-inspired products. Penny Post was created to help us reconnect with each other through the power of the written word. The staff takes this mission seriously and will welcome you with a smile and a helping hand whenever you are in the store.
Harambee Books and Artworks
1132 Prince St., Alexandria
Harambee Books & Artworks is an independent bookstore located right in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, and was featured on our list of 10 Independent Bookstores You Must Visit in Virginia. The store is a book lover’s haven and features a large selection of books, artwork, and a bit of clothing. Harambee takes their role as a pillar of the community seriously; it was created with a mission of literacy education as a fundamental human right, and as such, they offer a number of educational resources, reading programs, and community-based events. In fact, Harambee means “working together” in Swahili. The shop also offers a selection of literature and artwork focusing on African culture, including small press and independently published works.
110 Church St. NW, Vienna
Bards Alley is a local bookstore that was lovingly named after William Shakespeare, who is known as “the Bard” with an added nod to Diagon Alley of the Harry Potter Series. As the name suggests, the store is a haven for book lovers, with an inventory of more than 5,000 titles. The owners’ vision for Bard Alley is that it should be a place of discovery and congregation. As such, the staff works hard to make sure people feel welcome, running a number of book clubs and offering patrons tea, coffee, and stickers while they browse the selection.
Ten Thousand Villages
915 King St., Alexandria
You may have heard the name Ten Thousand Villages before. This store’s concept allows you to shop “locally” from villages around the world. The team carefully curates their stock of items such as clothing, jewelry, home décor, and specialty foods from over 45 countries, all of which are crafted using local materials by makers with whom the Ten Thousand Villages’ team have worked for years. The store acts as a vehicle for economic empowerment for the makers they work with; your purchase will directly benefit the person who made the item and their community. So, while you do your holiday shopping, you can feel good about your purchase and feel like you are connecting with a global village through a unique product sold right in your backyard.
4520 Daly Drive, Suite 100, Chantilly
River-Sea should be at the top of your list to visit if you are ever in Chantilly, or even if you’re not and you just want some delicious artisan chocolate. Krisee and Mariano D’Aguiar have been making chocolate since 2017 after a visit with family in Northern Brazil. While there, they realized that they had the ability to provide income opportunities and harvest ethically while bringing delicious chocolate to the D.C. area. Each piece of chocolate is made with love and will have your guests asking you where it’s from. While their chocolate is the perfect gift to purchase, the store also does tours and tastings, wine-pairing events, children’s tours, and more. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon.
Mom’s Apple Pie Company
220 Loudon St. SE, Leesburg
Mom’s has been serving up scrumptious pies to the Northern Virginia Area since 1981. Their dedication to making the best pies in town is evident through their overwhelming reviews and delicious pies ranging from every fruit imaginable to even Boston cream, pumpkin, key lime, and more. The Mom’s team even grows as much of their own fruit as possible to use in the pies to ensure the highest quality. Though the pies are definitely the main attraction, the team also bakes breads and cookies. Don’t be scared away by the long line when you visit—the staff is efficient and will be sure to get you through quickly.
Monkee’s of Fairfax
11899 Grand Commons Ave., Fairfax
Monkee’s was started by mother-daughter duo Amy Hollstein and Kaley Carillon, who opened the store as a way to work together and bond over their love of fashion. The pair take great pride in selecting the items that go on their hangers and are always there to lend a helping hand to shoppers. When creating the store, they wanted it to feel like your most fashionable friend’s closet, and that is exactly the vibe they have cultivated! The experience is personal and fun and is a great place to look for your next gift (or splurge on yourself).