SEEN talked to Poesy, Tootie and Tallulah’s, Green Daffodil and Leon & Lulu to see what holiday treasures they have in store and how they’re welcoming shoppers this season.
By Mary Meldrum
The holiday season is an opportunity to keep money circulating in the community by patronizing small businesses. Your purchase in small shops makes a difference to the vendor and to the shop owner, and it fosters creativity and talent that you cannot find in mainstream stores.
All of those reasons are important, but the shopping experience is not to be discounted. Part of the fun of the holidays is the discovery of new places. Nobody has a lot of time during the holidays, so the time you spend should be enjoyable and exciting as well as productive. Independent retailers work hard to keep your shopping experience engaging and new.
SEEN talked to a few local boutiques that offer Michigan-made items and memorable gifts for your holiday shopping list.
32184 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak
Noon to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays
On many days Holly Laginess, 43, of Royal Oak rides her bike to Poesy, her gift boutique on the east side of Woodward in Royal Oak. Poesy opened six years ago this October, and like many brick-and-mortar small businesses in these modern times, Laginess has endured some difficult times.
“Even big-box stores are struggling now. It’s hard sometimes to compete with them,” Laginess shares. “It means a lot when people shop small. Small shops pay sales tax, employ local people and buy local goods.”
Holly Laginess is an artist; specifically, she is a ceramist. She has sold her pieces at art fairs and wholesale across the country. Her ceramic pieces match her energy: whimsical, happy and uplifting.
A self-described “Christmas freak,” Laginess confesses that her love for the holidays has made it difficult saying “no” to holiday merchandise. As a result, Poesy is packed to the brim with holiday merchandise. Pottery, glass, tiles, ornaments and handcrafted trees adorn every inch of the joyful shop. Items are handmade, kitschy and, most of all, fun.
Attention men and busy working moms! Poesy offers “really cute, free gift wrap,” Laginess says. “You can leave Poesy and go directly to a party with a gift that is adorably wrapped and ready for a loved one, friend or the host/hostess.”
Poesy has easy parking off northbound Woodward. Pop in, shop, wrap and bam — you can show up with a delightfully wrapped, thoughtful gift.
Poesy has extended holiday hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Be prepared to possibly be surprised with free coffee or other surprises while you shop!
Poesy donates items to charity year-round. Laginess recently donated one of her sculptures to the Michigan Symphony Orchestra. The shop also regularly schedules evening shopping events for private groups and charitable organizations where a percentage of sales are donated to a charitable cause. Organizations or private groups can raise several hundred dollars in one night.
2600 W. 12 Mile Road, Berkley
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays
Opened in October of 2010, Tootie and Tallulah’s is a carnival for the eyes. An array of unique gifts, art and furniture greets visitors. The colorful shop is a home consignment boutique that also has a fair trade collection of recycled or repurposed items. If your home décor needs restyling, this is the place to start.
Due to demand, owner Jeri Brand of Beverly Hills opened the Annex across the street from Tootie and Tallulah’s and has now moved both stores under one roof in Berkley.
Big-box shopping around the holidays can sometimes be a task. Large, established “McMerchants” offer safe, predictable, routine gift shopping. By contrast, shopping small shops is anything but routine and predictable.
Brand says shopping small is a joy because independent stores can offer unique items typically not found in a larger retailer.
“Unique gifts, fair trade items, home and art consignment, baby gifts, men’s gifts, one-of-a-kind items and even plants are what our holiday shoppers come in for,” Brand explains. “Customers can also sponsor a ‘Party with a Purpose’ where 20 percent of the proceeds are donated to a charity of choice.”
These parties have raised a lot of money for charitable organizations. Partiers can invite friends, serve wine and snacks, shop and have fun.
Tootie and Tallulah’s new larger location offers holiday shopping diversity in a fun and engaging boutique.
624 Livernois Ave., Ferndale
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; noon to 4 p.m. Sundays
The fresh, clean scent hits you as you walk into the Ferndale studio/gift shop. Tucked away from downtown Ferndale, Green Daffodil offers bath and body products that are created there in the quiet studio and gift shop on Livernois.
Starting on a shoestring budget in 2006 as a wholesale business in a basement, Green Daffodil has grown up into a secret oasis for in-the-know shoppers looking for extraordinary treasures.
Owners Anne Simonetti, 55, of Birmingham and Siouxsan Miller, 50, of Ferndale hand make vegan soy candles, cold process soap, body lotion, triple-use mist, soy lip balm and roll-on essential oils. Some of these creations are wrapped in gift sets — the perfect holiday gift. All the bath and body products are crafted in small batches to ensure the highest quality and yet remain an affordable everyday luxury.
In addition to their creations, the owners feature art selections from undiscovered artists. Visitors can find interesting vintage pieces and art sprinkled throughout the gift store.
Men, if you are looking for that home-run holiday gift for your partner, Green Daffodil is the place to go. With seasonal scents, personalized shopping help and gift wrapping service, your gift shopping as well as giving can be rewarding. You may be offered a beer while you browse! Green Daffodil also features a gift registry, so send your partner there first and get his or her preferences on file!
Green Daffodil studio and gift store offers original, fresh and clever gift items.
96 W. 14 Mile Road, Clawson
Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Leon & Lulu in Clawson is a dream world of gifts, art, furniture, home goods, clothing and cards. Initially set in historic Ambassador Roller Rink, Leon & Lulu now extends next door to the Clawson Theater, creating “The Show at Leon & Lulu.” While the roller rink setting features the original wood rink floor and vintage roller skates displayed high on the walls, The Show features a made in Michigan store, custom framing and the Three Cats Café, which serves lunch, pastries and coffee drinks daily. This venue also hosts showers, weddings, corporate events and other group gatherings.
Ample square footage and the artistic flair of Leon & Lulu lend itself to high turnover and opportunity for new items to enter the rotation of offerings.
Items chosen for display in both venues have a distinct quality. Nothing is specifically curated for wide audience appeal; every visitor enjoys the hunt and the discovery.
“You will leave our stores smiling,” says owner Mary Liz Curtin, 64, of Royal Oak. “Many people walk through just because it makes them happy. It is a joy to walk through, and we have price points from 75 cents up to holy smokes!”
Leon & Lulu hosts charitable events year round. These include a Books and Authors event twice a year that benefits the Oakland Literacy Coalition; the shop hosts a holiday event where they give a gift bag to children in foster care through the Judson Center; there is also a Salvation Army benefit lunch, pet adoptions and Karmanos Cancer Center Benefit — just a few of the more than 80 events Leon & Lulu sponsored this year.