Shop local: Options abound in Gig Harbor
Looking up from her book, Angie Young replies, “It’s not Amazon.” The Gig Harbor resident has brought her two young children to Invitation Bookshop, an independent bookstore on Olympic Drive.
Noses in books, sitting quietly side-by-side on a bench flanked by children’s books, 8-year-old Madeline and 10-year-old Oliver are worlds away in their stories.
This is not the Amazon experience. It’s the in-person, tangible, local shopping experience, and Young represents a movement of shoppers intentionally using their purchase power to benefit the local economy.
In 2021, consumers spent $367 billion dollars at Amazon. In that same year, 136,000 retail shops were displaced.
According to a new report commissioned by the American Booksellers Association, when you purchase an item from an independent bookseller, almost 30% of the revenue is recirculated back into the local economy. In comparison, just 5.8% of revenue goes back to the local economy when you buy from Amazon.
Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday, November 26th, is a nationwide day to support small businesses. Local business owners have been tap dancing through a tidal wave of uncertainty and never-ending pivots: Navigating a pandemic, competition from online and big-box stores, supply chain disruptions, rising inflation, and staffing shortages.
Invitation Bookstore is one of many local Gig Harbor businesses participating in Small Business Saturday. Owners Jason and Allyson Howard sell more than 13,000 books through their brick-and-mortar and online store. Puzzles, journals, stationery, candles, and enamel pens are some of the 7,500 unique items in store.
There are punningly-worded teas like Anise in Wonderland and Pippi Oolongstocking, and literary candles called Folklore & Fables. For the book nerds, there are socks that resemble a library card or say Read Baby Yoda. If you don’t know where to begin when choosing a book for someone else, check out the Invitation Staff Pick lists or just ask for shopping assistance.
The bookshop features local authors. This holiday season, when you order Marie Bostwick’s novel, The Restoration of Celia Fairchild, you get an enamel Books Restore Me pin, along with a signed copy, and gift wrapping.
Need a break from shopping? Connect in person with real humans at the once-a-month Invitation Bookshop Book Club. The December book is The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson. The book club meets the second Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm in the bookshop.
Classroom teachers and schools get a 20% discount on in-store and online purchases. Books can be shipped anywhere in the US. Digital bookshop gift cards are available.
For the Love of Spice
“It’s fun to go to a local business,” says Jackson Delaney of West Seattle, as he samples olive oils and balsamic vinegar at For the Love of Spice, with Olalla friend Bruce Clarke. The gourmet food and spice shop, located on Harborview Drive near Pioneer, sells more than 200 spices, high-quality teas, imported olive oils, and barrel-aged balsamic vinegar.
“I really enjoy trying to bring unique products,” you can’t find anywhere, says shop owner and Gig Harbor local Windy Payne. “When we travel ourselves, we look for different ideas,” says Payne who enjoys adventures abroad with her husband.
With the holiday shopping season ramping up, like many Gig Harbor shop owners, Payne has handpicked products to satiate her customers’ appetites for that something special for that special someone. She points to the seasonal Cranberry Orange Pear Balsamic Vinegar.
“I do a lot of research,” says Payne, who first opened doors in 2009, after years of selling spices at the local farmer’s market. A step inside her shop feels reminiscent of a cozy Italian storefront, with warm comforting aromas and a wine-drinking ambiance.
Gift ideas include sparkling wines: Prosecco from Italy, and Cava from Spain. Payne pulls a bottle J. Laurens from the shelf, a French sparkling wine from the small village of La Digne d’Aval on the vineyard of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée de Limoux.
Payne is eager to show off the small-batch chocolates. To make this hot chocolate, she says, you simply add the real chocolate right into your heated milk.
Payne’s passion for food and celebration of cooking is evident. Beyond the Smoke Fume BBQ Rub or Vindaloo Curry spices, Payne is happy to create special spice blends to accommodate those with dietary restrictions. Seasonal varieties include Yuletide Mulling Spices, and for the sweet tooth, cinnamon vanilla sugar or Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar.
For the Love of Spices is offering a free gift while supplies last for purchases of $75 and over. Gift bags and boxes are available.
Teaching Toys, Too
“We’ve always been a family business,” says Sophia Wagner of Teaching Toys, Too, an independent toy store located in Uptown Gig Harbor since 2009. The first Teaching Toys store was opened in the Proctor neighborhood of Tacoma in 1981.
Toy shopping is serious business. Wagner understands the power that play has on a child’s emotional, physical, and intellectual growth. Nothing comes into her family’s store without a careful review of safety and durability standards. Everything is hand chosen.
“We’re in the stores, we’re the people helping customers,” says Wagner. This close customer relationship informs inventory purchase.
From floor to ceiling (and hanging from the ceiling), vibrant toys cover every angle of every corner of Teaching Toys. Legos, Brio trains and track, princess costumes, hand puppets, art supplies, and STEM kits; there are toys, toys, and more toys!
Quality toys are important. Uncle Goose wooden blocks are 100% made in the USA. Off the shelf, Wagner pulls a box of blocks featuring letters of the Arabic alphabet. She then points to another set. That one has Japanese characters. Languages from around the world are represented in each set of artfully designed handcrafted blocks.
“Robotic kits are always cool. People are always after those,” says Wagner. Not far away is the slime, a consistent winner with young scientists. Plus Plus Blocks, a Danish toy, is another favorite. These small plastic puzzle-shaped pieces snap together to create whatever the imagination dreams up.
“It’s always been really important to be a bookstore,” says Wagner. With hundreds of titles, it’s hard to pick a favorite.
After pausing and staring at the book selection, she replies, “Oliver Jeffers’s books are great!” Jeffers’s New York Times best-seller, Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth was awarded Best Book of the Year by Time Magazine in 2017.
Fun colorful gift wrap is free all year long. Customers also have the option to purchase a gift for a child in need through the Gig Harbor Alliance Giving Tree program. Children’s first names and gift requests hang on a paper tree by the front door.
Across the way is another family affair, Paper Luxe, and Little Luxe Baby, owned by mother-daughter duo Jennifer Luna and her Gig Harbor mom, Laurie Hicks.
Paper Luxe is a gift and greeting card store with artfully designed cards and goods. Running the length of the entire shop is a wall covered in cards procured from artists and creators. Beautiful wrapping paper is available for purchase, along with seasonal holiday gifts including nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, and ornaments.
There are party supplies for all occasions. Home gift ideas include cookbooks, picture frames, pots, vases, and pillows. Keep it organized in 2023 with calendars, planners, notebooks, and journals. If you’re tying the knot, choose from your wedding invitations and party gifts. Keep the kids happy during the winter break with arts and crafts, games, and puzzles.
Adjoining the Paper Luxe is Little Luxe Baby, a baby boutique featuring everything from toys to gear for the baby, ages 0-3+, with some sizes up to 6 years.
Baby soft “Magnetic Me” pajamas with holiday patterns make dressing babies easy with magnetic fasteners. Top-selling baby gear for the savvy parent includes the UPPAbaby stroller and the Stokke Tripp Trapp (high)chair.
If you need a gift bundle, Little Luxe Baby associates provide gift curation, and assembly, and will make it looking pretty for presentation.
Another extension of Paper Luxe is their Kindship studio. Creators, this is your place. In December, fee-based wreath-making classes are offered. Check the online schedule for details and registration. To celebrate Small Business Saturday, The Kindship Studio will offer a free gift with purchases at their store and will give away a free tote bag to the first 50 adults in Paper Luxe. For more details go to www.kindshipcards.com.
Gift cards and shipping are available at Paper Luxe and Little Luxe Baby.
The Garden Room Store
If you need a supercharged dose of the Christmas season, a trip to the The Garden Room Store is in order. Located next to the Metropolitan Market off of Point Fosdick, The Garden Room is a magical journey surrounded by endless holiday home decor and lighting.
Owner and Gig Harbor local Christine Wickstrom opened her store in 2010, originally located at Peninsula Gardens.
Everything you need to deck the halls can be found in the Garden Room Store. Sparkly and pretty, decorations include stockings, ornaments, Santas, reindeer, wreaths, porch decor, and the list goes on. Every day, new inventory is added to an already bursting scene of holiday extravaganza.
This season in the store, there are more than 115 unique glittery snow globes available, with professionally decorated Christmas trees throughout the store to inspire. If you see a design that catches your eye, an on-staff decorator is available to help your vision come true.
Custom design services are also available with an in-house professional interior designer. Enhance your home ambiance with a selection of furniture, linens, pillows, lighting, and all things decorative and stylish.
Beyond the decor, the Garden Room sells apparel for adults and even babies. Gift ideas include jewelry, handbags, home fragrances, lotions, soaps, and more.
Gift cards, shipping, and complimentary gift wrap are available.
Home decor and style can be found at several stores in downtown Gig Harbor. You can find hand-poured candles, housewares, jewelry, local artwork, holiday decorations, and eco-friendly products at Boujie, located on Pioneer Way. Inis is a line of body care products from Ireland, made from nutrient-rich seaweed and committed to conservation and the protection of dolphins and whales.
Featured local artists include paintings by Gig Harbor’s Kelly Johnson and Anderson Island’s Jim McNally. “You can find things for all ages,” says Boujie’s Elizabeth Goodwin, a fashion consultant in special occasions and gifts.
Whether it’s looking good yourself, or in your home, Dolly Mama has you covered. From home dècor to women’s apparel, Dolly Mama offers boutique products from PNW designers and big-name labels like Free People and Hobo Intl.
There are two locations, with the main store on Pioneer Way and Dolly Mama Too on Harborview Drive, offering a more coastal-themed storefront with ocean-cool apparel, art, and accessories.
Owner and designer Michelle Kammer opened Dolly Mama in 2014, and the store has become a popular Gig Harbor destination for shopping and fun with its warm and inviting vibe, and fashion for every kind of occasion. Be comfortable in Terri Sherpa Pants or look cool in Jade flare jeans, Dolly Mama provides a wide variety of chic looks.
The store is holiday cozy with themed displays within stylish home furnishings, offering both classic and modern selections in home goods and decor. With artfully designed knives and boards crafted from Acacia wood, and hand-made terracotta lanterns, the ingredients for a beautifully styled home are here.
Style is available for the guys, too, with a selection of handsome-smelling body-care products, hip beanies, soft winter scarves, and more. Stuff the stocking with the perfect man cave accessory, a Mad Man Hand Poured Candle.
Shop local or online. Gift cards are available and can be shipped. Gift wrap is available upon request. The Dolly Mama Black Friday Sale offers customers 20% off all cozy apparel including sweaters, coats, and pajamas until Dec. 28.
Tickled Pink and Weathered Cottage
All things PNW can be found at the Tickled Pink retail location on 3025 Harborview Drive. Gift your East Coast cousins with Northwest cool t-shirts, featuring mountain and tree-lined graphics.
Maybe your hipster uncle in the Bay Area would look even hipper sporting a baseball hat with the great outdoors sunset and The Pacific Northwest scrawled across the cap. This location has all things Pacific Northwest-inspired, and it’s locally owned and operated.
Just down the road at the Weathered Cottage at 3306 Harborview Drive, Tickled Pink showcases its collections of jewelry, body care, and home decor items. With bubble gum-pink Christmas trees, repurposed furniture created by the Weathered Cottage, and fashionable apparel, this shop provides sweet surprises for you and your very best friends.
After years of dreaming about opening a business that catered to all of their client’s needs, Amy Flippo and Anna Odenchuck, Gig Harbor realtors and home stylists, and interior designers, opened Harbornest in April of 2022. Located on Harborview Drive next to Brix 25, the Harbornest storefront offers personally curated home decor and goods, along with the latest fashions for both men and women, including distinctive accessories.
“I love finding brands that are unique and nobody has them,” says Amy Flippo. She points to the denim on display. Five Jeans, she says. They’re from Paris. We are the “first to carry them in all of the U.S.,” Flippo beams.
But not everything is European at Harbornest. Cleaning products are all American-made, and a line of handcrafted hats called Lovely Bird is produced using sustainable practices out of Malibu, California.
“I buy everything that I love,” says Flippo, adding that she hopes to inspire “everyone to feel good about themselves, whether it’s in the home or themselves.”
Harbornest furnishings are from Seldens, a designer furniture company with decades of roots in the South Sound. Flippo hopes to inspire both locals and travelers. She says she works “to have different price points so that everyone that comes in here can have a treat.”
Lifestyle includes community at Harbornest. For the holidays, she is offering ticketed wreath workshops in December. Catered by Brix 25, the events will provide all that’s needed to create an eye-catching wreath sure to delight family and friends this holiday season. She also supports the Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center through donations made at the Annual Harbor Holiday Movie held at the Galaxy Movie Theater in Uptown on Dec. 6. The fundraising event is open to the public.
Bloom and Frankie
Gig Harbor’s Maria Miskoski and Mark Crowley opened Bloom, their contemporary women’s boutique, in 2004. Now located in Uptown Gig Harbor, the company features top designers and denim brands.
There is no need to travel across the bridge to find big-name designers. Bloom is well known for staying up with the trends in fashion. You don’t know what to buy your daughter for Christmas? Bloom associates will point you in the right direction.
And just across the Uptown walkway is their sister store, Frankie, featuring all the fashion trends but at a lower price point. Your high school daughter will love her new flair jeans and cozy shacket from Frankies on Christmas morning. (Fashion translation: A shacket is what you get when you add the word shirt to jacket. It’s a comfy, blazer-like oversized shirt. It’s like Grandpa’s rugged old wool shirt, but now it’s cool, and made by designers in softer fabrics and in smaller sizes.)
Gig Harbor Fly Shop
There is more to the holidays than decorations and scented candles. There’s fish! And kayaks! Since 2009, the Gig Harbor Fly Shop has been educating and supporting anglers from their store on Harborview Drive.
Owner Blake Merwin and his team provide classes, and every kind of fly fishing product that you can think of: fly lines, fly tying, fly rods, fly reels, and lots of outdoor apparel and kayaks. Gig Harbor Fly Shop is like a candy store for the fly fishing enthusiast.
Even if you know nothing about fly fishing or think the word fly refers only to travel in an airplane, you can still shop successfully at Gig Harbor Fly Shop. The staff will help you find gifts for the expert or novice.
There are puffer beverage bags for $10-30. Flys typically range from $2 to $8. “A fly box is always a great fit to protect those ties,” says manager Doug Foust. Fly boxes cost between $9.99 – $49.95. You may not find trout print belts on the fashion runway, but they are a popular item at the shop. Also, a favorite is waterproof bags, backpacks, and key fobs.
Patagonia clothing is currently on sale. There will be discounts on tying materials and tying kits for Cyber Monday. Hobie kayaks range from $1,999-8,799. The most popular kayak is the Hobie Pro Angler. Paddle boards, currently on sale, run $799-1,599.
Ship to Shore
For many of us, living in Gig Harbor is about spending time on the water. Whether it’s supplies for the boat or a new kayak, Ship to Shore offers endless gift ideas for boaters, sailors, kayakers, and paddle boarders.
There are books, maps, accessories, and even nautical gifts. If you want to entertain the grandkids this summer, consider buying a standup paddle board or an Eddyline kayak. Stocking stuffers for the water enthusiast might include a Seat to Summit lightweight dry sac for $12.95 or Canoe Poker for $39.95. Have you always wanted to try crabbing? The Complete Crab Pot Kit includes the pot and accessories for $129.39.
Route 16 Running and Walking
Maybe you prefer to keep your feet on the solid earth, not in a boat. There’s local shopping for you too at Route 16 Running and Walking on Kimball Drive. Store owner Miguel Galeana is well known in the community for his active role in area races and his expertise in all things running and shoes.
Brooks, Hoka, New Balance, all the best names in shoes can be found for all types of runners and walkers at Route 16. And the staff will spend ample time to make sure you get the proper fit.
Beyond the shoes, there are all sorts of accessories to keep your active friends and family safe while they pound the pavement and tear up the trails during these darker winter months. There are wearable flashing LED reflectors for $10, and the Versa Light Mini USB, which is rechargeable and clip-on, for $15. There are reflective vests and armbands.
Run laces are a favorite. First used by triathletes, these elastic laces are the perfect no-tie shoelace solution for those on the run. Phone storage options with an Amphipod pouch are available. Try some high-quality socks in the stockings this year with brands Balega or DeFeet.
Old Town Bicycle and Cougarwear
For the cyclists in town, head across the street to Old Town Bicycle for bikes and cycling accessories.
For the sports team enthusiast in the stands or on the couch, you can’t go wrong shopping at Cougarwear. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s not all about the Cougs inside this jam-packed 2nd-floor retail space on Pioneer Way.
There’s gear for UW Huskies, Oregon Ducks, OSU Beavers, the Zags, Boise State Broncos, and more. Professional teams include the Seahawks, Kraken, Mariners, and Sounders. After you’ve exhausted yourself trying on every hat and waving your alma maters flag, don’t forget to buy your Cougar Gold cheese, available in cans, wedges, and snack packs.
Shop owner and Gig Harbor local Tracy Dennis say that business was much busier during the pandemic and she hopes the local community remembers to come out and support local businesses like hers this holiday season.
Green Cottage Pets
The most important family member not to forget on your shopping list this holiday season is your four-legged fur baby. Tucked away behind the shops along Harborview Drive is Green Cottage Pets. For twenty-one years, owner Tom Moodie has provided dog and cat owners with pet products that are GMO-free, gluten-free, and have no chemicals or by-products.
According to the American Pets Products Association (APPA), the U.S. pet industry reached $123.6 billion in sales in 2021. Next year, it is estimated that a quarter of all sales in the pet industry will be made online.
For small local pet stores like Green Cottage Pets, this is taking a toll on business. Moodie says his prices are better than the online competitors, but many customers have still not returned to in-store shopping.
The vibe of Green Cottage Pets is a little more record store than pet store. There are no album covers on the walls, but there are photos of pets blanketing the space and above. The feel is the opposite of a big box store. The ceilings and light are low, and the atmosphere is homey.
Moodie can tell you stories about many of the animals that overlook his shop from above. He can advise you on raw diets for pets, and he offers anesthesia-free dental clinics with a certified vet and dental technician for $175.
More than half of all pet owners will purchase a gift this holiday season for their pets. Plastic toy mice, balls, and even a Seahawk costume hang on the walls at Green Cottage Pets, waiting to find their way home to a lucky pup or kitty.
More local stores
Some resources to help you find more local shopping options:
Businesses in this story
5125 Olympic Drive, Ste 104, Gig Harbor WA 98335
For the Love of Spice
3104 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Teaching Toys, Too
Uptown, Gig Harbor
4635 Point Fosdick Drive #300, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
4729 Point Fosdick Dr., #300, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Little Luxe Baby
4729 Point Fosdick Drive NW #100, Gig Harbor, Washington
The Kindship Studio
The Garden Room Store
5010-B Point Fosdick Dr NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
7807 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor, Washington 98335
Dolly Mama (Boutique, Home, & Gallery)
7700 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Dolly Mama Too (Boutique & Gift Gallery)
3133 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Tickled Pink (PNW Products)
3026 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Tickled Pink & The Weathered Cottage
3306 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor, Washington 98332
3311 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor, WA 98332
Gig Harbor Fly Shop
3115 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Phone: (253) 851-3474
Ship to Shore Marine
3403 Harborview Dr. Gig Harbor, WA 98332
Green Cottage Pets
3028 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor WA 98335
7700 Pioneer Way, Suite #202, Gig Harbor, Washington 98335
Route 16 Running and Walking
6745 Kimball Dr F, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Phone: (253) 851-2226