And really all of you out there who love to support local businesses: I’m writing to express my excitement over my #ShopSmall adventure yesterday and to give a mini replay of where I went yesterday during Small Business Saturday.
Firstly, I must start by saying that there are too many small businesses to hit up in Cville all in one day, so I had to be choosy. We decided to get started early by visiting Random Row the night prior! Also, my mom and her husband, Don, are in town so I couldn’t very well spend the whole day dragging them around, although I did quite a bit of that admittedly. Sorry guys!
Also…at any point in time we had from 1-4 kids with us, so I had to choose places that would be conducive to small babes or even toddlers. Lucky for us Charlottesville is great for that. I love where I live!!
I had a list of items needed, too, so that helped with deciding what our itinerary would be.
We started the day at home with a languid breakfast/baby hang out time. We munched on the leftover Red Lobster-esque sausage biscuits that I made for Thanksgiving. Then mom, Don, Teague and I left ahead of the boy crew to go grab a coffee from newly opened Grit (thank you, Grit!) and stop by my favorite store in Charlottesville for kids: Whimsies. Not only have I always loved Whimsies, as I was telling, Betsy Lynn, the owner, but I have for the past six years or so been great friends with one of the store’s owners, Jessie, who is Betsy’s daughter. I still have fond memories of taking Katie (my stepdaughter) in there as a little 8 and 9 year-old to shop for special dresses for a wedding or a school event.
In fact, I have an incredibly clear memory of shopping there the day before I went into labor with my first little guy, Gabe. That was actually the day I met Jessie (!) although we would still have a few months to go before we would be properly introduced. Whimsies has in some ways not changed at all over the years (the #1 store to find high-quality kid’s clothing -Petit Bateau-, toys, and special gifts like swaddling blankets by Aden and Anais for new babies) and in other ways has changed a ton (new convenient location in the Shops at Stonefield, gorgeous new space -the old Langford Market-, even new brands). It was so nice, too, to chat with Jessie’s mom and meet her sister-in-law, Ashleigh, who as it turns out is our neighbor! Hey, Neighbor!!
While it still has its precious attention-to-detail boutique atmosphere, under the new ownership of my friend, Jessie, having inherited the store from her mom after 30 years of ownership, it has a new feel to it as well. Jessie has been really looking for new brands to carry that reflect both what kids and parents want, but also her own personal style. After all, she has two daughters of her own, so she gets what all of us need! And I love that she infuses necessity with her incredible good taste (hello, scratch and sniff plastic purses!).
All in all, I guess what I’m saying is that I have always loved Whimsies and now I do even more. Plain & simple.
I wanted everything in the store, but I settled on some pieces that work together and separately: a soft white top and blue bottom by Red Caribou that both have a beautiful constellation design on them–perfect for my little cosmic miracle.
Run in fast and you might still be able to catch items on sale, pointedly advertised by Jessie’s oldest daughter via her gorgeous scroll on yellow paper that is oh-so-eye catching!
After Whimsies we strolled on over to Richmond-based restaurant Burger Bach (pronounced batch) for some quintessential shopping food: burgers and fries of course! Colin and I have loved this restaurant since our first visit in Richmond a few years ago. When we heard BB was coming 10 minutes away from our house, well, you can only imagine the excitement! Now, we go there fairly regularly, or as regularly as one can go with four small children and a mortgage. Turns out, they offer much more than just burgers, although those are pretty delectable. My mom and I ordered sautéed shrimp and Colin got a salad, although poor man–his lunch was cut short by the need to race home with a sick kid in the hopes of avoiding the mid-drive vomit session, which none of us parents are too keen on. Also, even sadder was the fact that after promising to box up his lunch and bring it home to him, I got distracted by my three year-old running around in the parking lot, left the leftovers on the hood of my car, and drove off –at apparently such great vitesse that the parking lot would allow, that I knocked his lunch clean off of my car and didn’t realize it until I was informed by my mom and Don that I had left a perfectly good spinach and shrimp salad strewn across the parking lot floor. Sigh. The best laid plans…
After lunch, we ran over to Jean Theory with 3/4 boys. I was determined to get a new pair of jeans. Why you ask? Because dammit I deserve a new pair of jeans! Especially a pair that I feel comfortable in. A pair that helps this post partum momma feel good in, and dare I say, even sexy in! Here’s what I love about Jean Theory: it’s a small, woman-run business. It’s smart, and innovative, and sustainable, and designed with the idea in mind that you should really love the pair of jeans you are wearing and if you don’t, you should trade in for a pair that you do love. Jean Theory, or jt for short, sells designer jeans (both new & used) as well as other accessories that go well with jeans, which let’s be honest, is pretty much anything. They carry belts, boots, sweaters (which elicited many shrieks from the family of females who were in there trying them on while I was awkwardly and hurriedly trying on jeans–I’m not one of those women who can slip in and out of a pair like that adorable French woman in that commercial–remember??–anyway, I digress), jewelry and even, um, hand-sewn diaper covers. Yes, the cuteness is real.
The fact is, I was able to walk in there in my post burger/shrimp/three notch’d stupor and explain with confidence that my body is not exactly where it used to be, but it’s getting there and in the meantime I would prefer to NOT wear jeggings for the next 9-17 months. They completely understood. I was treated with care, understanding, sympathy and frivolity. It was a perfect combination.
I felt giddy as I decided on my purchase, so giddy in fact, that I threw in a new silver bangle for good measure. And as Laura, the store owner, reminded me: the absolute best part is that once I’m done wearing my superpower mom jeans, I can bring them back in, sell them back to the store and pick up a new pair. It was my own personal Pretty Woman moment–without the mean rich boutique ladies, Richard Gere’s cash, or the prostitute piece. Let’s just say I left with the perfect hot mom jeans.
After jean shopping I was, sigh, slightly on the tired side. My mom and Don had been able to keep the boys entertained by playing on the steps outside of the Southern–which for those of you parents who don’t know–is an awesome “secret passage” for little ones that can be an excellent distraction both from Alakazam and the slightly repetitive banjo player who sets up shop right about there.
In any case, it was home for us to rest a bit before dinner. As we trudged past the last remaining vendors of the City Market (Michael Clark, it was nice to see you!) and made our way into the car, I felt good knowing that I did my part by supporting some of my favorite small businesses.
Finally, for dinner and because it was a great in-between point for all of us, we decided on dinner at RockSalt, one of our favorite locally owned seafood restaurants in town. It’s also so easy to get in and out of, and noisy enough to be able to smuggle a baby into–just kidding, Cville restaurants are super kid-friendly, but still after all my kids I will freely admit that pulling my shirt up in the middle of a restaurant can still induce some shyness in me, so having other distractions for my fellow eaters other than my crying baby and oh look, my boob! is welcome for sure.
Colin and I started with some cocktails and a dozen raw Olde Salt oysters from Chincoteague (heyyyyy Teague!). We love the Olde Salts–both eating them and saying their name. It was nice, too, just to get to have a little date and some time to ourselves after a busy day of not seeing each other much. Shortly after my mom and Don arrived and we got down to business. Picture taking, food ordering, wine drinking–you know, the usual extended family stuff. It was cute to see that we weren’t the only table with company in town, either. I loved people watching during the holidays! I decided on the scallops over gnocchi and kale in seafood broth. It was pretty much as excellent as you can imagine! Colin got the ceviche and smoked tuna toast (to die for), Don got the crab cake, which I can attest is delicious and my mom got the steamed Gulf shrimp–paying homage to her roots. Finally, I ordered some dessert, because why not milk the whole I just had a baby thing a little more?? I even ran into an old acquaintance from college, which was lovely!
We left feeling full & accomplished. With five small business visits under our belts, I’d say it was a successful day! If only we hadn’t come home to a downed power line–but that’s a story for another day.
Thanks Charlottesville! Stay…awesome!!
Remember, too, that small business Saturday is great, but we should be shopping our city’s small businesses all.the.time. And why not? With attention to detail, friendliness and true understanding of their product and their market, why would any of us shop at Target?? Ok fine, even the business owners shop at Target from time to time, just try to make more visits to local businesses than to Target, ok?