From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Local Holiday Shopping

I just love the shop local promotions that have taken hold recently. With the slumping economy, small local businesses struggle to compete with large national chains that can sell items for cheaper than the mom and pop store can get wholesale. While there’s no denying big box stores can help you save money and time, especially for Christmas shopping, there’s something special about a one of a kind gift you discovered at a little shop, perhaps in a small town, for that special someone. So here is a sampling of local businesses in the hunt country to entice you outside the beltway to shop locally.

Men’s Custom Clothing
We know you ladies can’t resist dressing your man in clothes you like, but how about some custom tailored duds? At Highcliffe Clothiers in Middleburg, you’ll find custom tailoring to be assured of something special you both like that’s fitted especially for him. No middlemen here; customers interact directly with proprietor Mark Metzger, who has 30 years of experience in fitting and designing custom clothing and currently serves as the vice president of the Custom Taylors and Designers Association. 16 S. Madison St., Middleburg, (540)687-5633.

Women’s Clothing
Christine Fox was a buyer for Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Gucci and Saks Fifth Avenue before opening her store bearing her name in Warrenton in the early 1990s. She knows fashion, and her store quickly became tremendously popular with the locals. Located in Old Town Warrenton, when you step inside you can find traditional elegance as well as cutting edge high fashion exclusive designs by Project Runway star Wendy Pepper. 47 S. Third St., Warrenton (540)347-3868

Children’s Clothing
Dharma & Leopold’s Children’s Chic Boutique in Gainesville is a family owned business named for the family’s chocolate Labrador and Bengal cat, and features a whimsical selection of children’s clothing and accessories including girls’ jewelry, toys and shoes. You can also find baptism and holy communion outfits and chic diaper bags. Every visit is fun, as inventory is constantly changing, so you can’t go wrong if you seek a one of a kind gift for a special child. 7945 Stonewall Shops Square, Gainesville (571)222-7817

Antiques and Gifts
Baileywicke Shoppes just outside the village of Middleburg is the kind of place to go if you view shopping for antiques and/or a special gift as a treasure hunt. The brother-sister team of Lisa and Jim Vella have a 4,000 foot showroom stocked with vintage furniture, art, jewelry and unusual items they’ve found traveling far and wide scouring for collectibles. And, a portion of the store’s sales are donated to Golden Dreams Therapeutic Riding Center, a public charity using horseback riding to help children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities, so you can also feel good about the money you spend there. 21197 Saint Louis Rd., Middleburg (908) 313-1441

Special theme oriented shopping in the villages of Middleburg and Warrenton allows you to explore dozens of quaint shops and unique boutiques with or without the family. Spend some or all of the weekend of Dec. 7-8 as the Town of Middleburg celebrates Christmas. Starting at 11 a.m on Sat., Dec. 7th. the Middleburg Hunt takes to the streets creating a spectacular sight as approximately 100 horses, riders in red coats and dozens of hounds come through the town.

The Middleburg Christmas Parade begins at 2 p.m. as spectators line the sidewalks along Washington Street (Route 50) to watch as a unique assortment of floats, troops and bands march by in a mile-long parade. In keeping with the animal friendliness of the town, the parade includes over 700 horses, llamas, alpacas and dogs. Not to be missed are the antique fire trucks, children on floats, and of course, Santa brings up the rear riding on a beautiful horse drawn coach. Through the day there are hayrides, choir performances, the Garden Club’s Christmas Flower & Greens Show and the Craft Show as well as shopping and dining in the town’s shops and restaurants, creating a day-long family festival for visitors. A Wine Crawl is the final element, allowing adults to wind down and relax while sampling wines from area vineyards, and foods in local restaurants. For more information, visit

Warrenton kicks off a Christmas weekend on Friday, Dec. 6th. The evening will include the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Old Courthouse and the opening of GumDrop Square immediately following the parade. Santa Claus will glide down Main Street at the end of the parade on his sleigh drawn by majestic horses. Santa Claus will make his way to the Old Courthouse where he’ll light the town Christmas tree. Santa Claus will then head to the crown jewel of Christmas in Warrenton, the award winning GumDrop Square. Families will visit with Santa and receive one complimentary photo and the children then have the opportunity to enter Santa’s Secret Shop and purchase wrapped gifts with the help of Santa’s elves. Each gift in the shop is just two dollars. After the parade and a visit to GumDrop Square, stroll down Main Street enjoying carolers, orchestras, choirs, merchant open houses, a live nativity, food trolleys with warm treats and horse-drawn hayrides. Come and experience Christmas in true Old Town fashion.

With the combining of these events you have the ability to shop Old Town Warrenton shops on Friday evening with your family or come back the following day for ‘Small Business Saturday’. Beat the crowds and enjoy small town shopping at its best on the first Saturday in December. For more information, visit

~ Written by: Julie Reardon

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