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Michelle Lassley: She’s fond of Vivendi’s trendy American lines as well as the Brazilian clothing.
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Josh England: He has high praise for Starlight Bicycles’ friendly vibe and customer service.
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Chrissy McConnaughy feels that one of the best parts of shopping at locally owned stores is “feeling like they care about getting your business.”
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Michelle Lassley: She’s fond of Vivendi’s trendy American lines as well as the Brazilian clothing.
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Ruth Ellen Kuhnel
Ruth Ellen Kuhnel says the scarves, boots and vests at La De Da give her wardrobe “a pop.”
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Diane Porter Goff
Amanda Cockrell: Her keen eye for home decor takes her again and again to Black Dog Salvage.
Who better to ask for info on interesting and unique places to shop than those who are more than a little dedicated to the retail life? Here, five passionate purchasers talk about their favorites. And, it should be noted from the department of great shoppers thinking alike, several shops get multiple mention.
The Roanoke Valley’s always been a little bigger than its size when it comes to shopping – something about having been, for so many decades, the sort of “fort at the edge of the woods” for this part of the state. Per-household retail sales still rank in the top quarter of all 400 North American metro areas, not least because of our bounty of fine local shops.
Chrissy McConnaughy has always been a shopper.
“Awful, awful hobby,” she says.
When McConnaughy moved to Roanoke from Alabama about three years ago, it didn’t take her long to hunt down cool boutiques.
“I’m not really sure how I found my shopping groove here in Roanoke,” McConnaughy says. “I tend to go to places people have recommended or find new places by driving by and just being curious about what they have. Usually if I find something or feel comfortable browsing, I go back.”
Feeling welcomed is one reason McConnaughy often chooses to hit the boutiques downtown, rather than driving to Valley View Mall.
“One of the biggest advantages of shopping at locally owned stores is feeling like they care about getting your business,” she says. “It’s a much more enjoyable shopping experience.”
“They both have similar styles – kind of shabby chic and earthy,” McConnaughy explains. “They usually have pretty comfortable clothes that look presentable for going out just about anywhere.”
Another thing McConnaughy likes about these stores: After buying a new outfit, she’s less likely to run into another woman wearing the exact same threads since the stores only carry a few pieces of each style. “I love shopping at Target and other places too, but you’re almost guaranteed to see someone wearing the same item as you.”
McConnaughy appreciates that Urban Gypsy carries jewelry and accessories made by local artists. She’s bought a few rings, some earrings and scarves there. McConnaughy is also a big fan of the shop’s dresses and skirts. She particularly likes that Urban Gypsy carries Synergy, a line that combines environmental sustainability with modern design.
One of McConnaughy’s favorite purchases from La De Da is a lantern made out of Danish Spam containers. McConnaughy and her fiancé Ben Jones hang it ouside their Raleigh Court home in the summer for parties. “It sounds pretty weird,” McConnaughy says, “But I’ve gotten quite a few compliments on it.”
Present Thyme; Towers Shopping Center: 1016 23rd Street; 342-9706; presenthyme.com.
McConnaughy appreciates the shop’s unique home décor which she describes as “shabby chic with a little elegance.” McConnaughy also likes the personal services she receives there. Recently, McConnaughy called Present Thyme on a Sunday to see if they were open and owner Liz Barudin answered.
“Liz told me to come on up even though she was technically closed,” McConnaughy says. “That would never happen at a commercial home decor store.”
Olde Salem Mercantile; 1864 Apperson Dr. Salem; 389-2008; oldesalemonline.com.
McConnaughy loves this store, which is made up of about 50 small shops offering new, handmade and gently used pieces. McConnaughy’s favorite finds: end tables, handsewn decorative pillows, a distinctive, antique-looking bathroom trashcan and a beloved light blue office desk. All of these, McConnaughy says, were purchased for between $5 and $45. “You can catch some really good finds for not much money at all,” she says.
Black Dog Salvage and Memorial Bridge Marketplace; 902 13th St. SW; 343-6200; blackdogsalvage.com.
McConnaughy loves to visit this warehouse filled with architectural antiques and commercial salvage, along with the Marketplace, which offers another 14,000 square feet of home and garden goods from other small shops. “It’s just worth an afternoon of browsing around to see all of the salvaged items,” McConnaughy says. “If I was ever going to build a church, I’d know where to start.”
Twist and Turns; 4822-L Valley View Blvd.; 345-0884; twist-n-turn.net.
McConnaughy has purchased several gifts and home décor items here, but she has yet to spring for a piece of the distinctive handmade metal furniture. Maybe one day.
“Ben really wants this unusual metal lamp inspired by tree branches for his birthday,” she says. “We’ll see if he gets it.”
Chrissy McConnaughy is a board certified behavior analyst for Roanoke County Schools. She lives in Raleigh Court with her fiancé Ben Jones, two dogs and a cat.
Ladles and Linens Kitchen Shoppe; Downtown Roanoke: 305 Market Street; 769-8181; ladlesandlinens.com.
Josh England had visited this store to buy a soda-making machine on the very day we asked him to name his favorite Roanoke shopping haunts. “I love that place,” England says of Ladles and Linens. “There are so many cute little things you don’t see anywhere else.”
Starlight Bicycles; Downtown Roanoke: 310 2nd St. SW; 400-6684; starlightbikes.com.
England and his partner Gerry Hubert most recently bought a couple of helmets here. They both praise Starlight’s friendly vibe. The shop workers, England says, encouraged him to try lots of helmets before settling on a purchase, and when he needed to return one later to get another size, “they let me do it, no questions asked.”
Milan Tobacconists; Downtown Roanoke: 309 S. Jefferson St.; 344-5191; milantobacco.com.
England and Hubert appreciate the way the knowledgeable staff provides cigar recommendations, “We never know what we’re smoking or buying, but we get it anyway,” England says.
Another bonus for England: the shop’s amazing smell.
Shades of Color; Downtown Roanoke: 210 Market St.; 344-1732.
England goes here for accessories: scarves, sunglasses, and gloves. He likes the reasonable prices and the fact that the products “feel like they’re homemade.” And again, England appreciates the store’s customer service.
“The lady who runs it is really sweet,” England says. “I go in just to see her.”
The Binaba Shop; Downtown Roanoke: 120 E. Campbell Ave.; 345-7064; kimoyo.org.
Binaba sells African handcrafted items and puts all proceeds toward medical care and microfinance programs for women in the Upper East Region of Ghana. England likes that his shopping dollars are destined to do good, as well as the fact that the shop is a proponent of fair trade. A favorite purchase was a Djembe drum.
“I felt like it was really authentic,” he says.
Josh England lives in Old Southwest with partner Gerry Hubert. Together they own POParazzi, an art gallery at 36 Kirk Ave. in Downtown Roanoke.
Ruth Ellen Kuhnel
Urban Gypsy; 1320 Grandin Rd.; 400-8552; urban-gypsy.org.
Urban Gypsy is a new find for Ruth Ellen Kuhnel. She likes to pop in for affordable and environmentally friendly accent pieces before hitting the Grandin Theatre.
Millie & Co.; 109 E. Main Street, Salem; 389-1595.
Kuhnel has been shopping at Millie & Co. for ages. She says it’s the place to go to find a fun top to pair with jeans for the weekend.
Talbots; 4702 Starkey Road; 776-3044; talbots.com.
Kuhnel says female lawyers shouldn’t feel confined to wearing predictable, dark pant suits in the courtroom. It’s not at all unusual to see Kuhnel wearing shiny red pumps or a bright yellow top at work. Still, every fashionista needs some basic office wear like a pencil-cut skirt or a crisp white Oxford and Kuhnel says Talbots always delivers on those items.
La De Da: 102 Church Ave., SE; 345-6131; ladeda.net.
No trip downtown for Thelma’s Chicken and Waffles is complete without a peek inside La De Da. The shop sells Free People, a Bohemian brand Kuhnel loves. She goes here for pieces like scarves, boots, and vests – distinctive items that give her wardrobe “a pop.”
Kuhnel is an assistant attorney in Roanoke County. She lives in South Roanoke with her son, husband and a menagerie of pets.
Black Dog Salvage; 902 13th St. SW; 343-6200; blackdogsalvage.com.
Amanda Cockrell has a one-of-a-kind eye for home décor. Two mannequins dressed in their black-tie best greet guests in her foyer. In one room, you might spot a painting of a vampire bride. Out back, you can admire her blue bottle tree. So it’s no wonder really, that Cockrell puts Black Dog Salvage at the top of her list.
“I should not be allowed in here with my checkbook,” she says. “Gargoyles, old columns, curlicued iron fencing…”
Seeds of Light; Downtown Roanoke: 112 Market St.; 342-8037; seedsoflight.com.
This Roanoke shop moved down the street from its former home in the Market Building, but it still sells incense, beaded jewelry and broomstick skirts. “For the inner hippie in us all,” Cockrell says.
La De Da; Downtown Roanoke: 102 Church Avenue Southeast; 345-6131; ladeda.net.
Cockrell defines the La De Da style as “gorgeous bohemian chic.” She has also found the shop’s clothes to be well-made. “Everything I have ever bought from them is still in great shape,” she says.
Walter’s Greenhouse; 1356 Coopers Cove Road, Hardy; 427-3578; waltersgreenhouse.com.
Shoppers can find a wide variety of annuals, perennials and plenty of gardening advice at this family-owned business.
“They have a stand on the City Market,” says Cockrell. “But the real paradise is their nursery in Hardy.”
2nd Helpings Shop; 1502 Williamson Rd.; 2ndhelpings.org.
All proceeds from this upscale consignment store go to fund the Rescue Mission’s work with the homeless. Cockrell lists her favorite shop finds as: “a brown wicker armchair that just needed a nice spray can of sage green paint and a terracotta Day of the Dead mask.”
Amanda Cockrell, a writer who directs the children’s literature program at Hollins University, lives in Old Southwest. Her most recent book is the young adult novel “What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay.”
Vivendi; West Village Shopping Center: 3555 Electric Road #C; 772-4308; vivendiboutique.com.
Lassley adores the trendy American lines as well as the Brazilian clothing and jewelry at this upscale shop. She praises store owner Virginia Wiegand for having a keen eye for fashion. Lassley also likes that the shop’s price points are reasonable. Since Vivendi stocks only a few of each clothing pieces, Lassley also feels it’s less likely she’ll bump into someone wearing her outfit.
La De Da; 102 Church Ave.,SE; 345-6131; ladeda.net.
Here’s yet another fan of Bohemian chic. Lassley, who designs her own jewelry, appreciates the beaded necklaces and bracelets here, as well as the crocheted scarves and wraps.
310 Rosemont; Downtown: 312 Market St.; 345-5326.
This shop, one of the most upscale in Roanoke, stocks designer pieces for men and women. Lassley likes to go here for tops, particularly pieces by Michael Kors. “It’s the one place where you can get it locally without having to go online,” Lassley says.
Millie & Co.; 109 E. Main St., Salem; 389-1595.
Lassley goes here for fun tops as well as gift items. Most recently, she bought a mesh cuff bracelet, which looked like it was made from a window screen.
One Step Above Boutique; 208 E. Main St. Salem; 387-3054.
Lassley goes here for backpacks and knock-off purses. “For when you don’t want to pay $300 on a Coach bag,”
Michelle Lassley is a Roanoke County jewelry designer.
More Great Stores
The discerning shoppers presenting their favorites in these pages cannot come close to covering the full waterfront of fine venues in the Roanoke Valley. Here’s a list of additional great stores and shops, many of which are also supporters of this publication:
For The Home
Grand Home Furnishings. The venerable home store has 17 locations in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee. 540-776-7000; grandhomefurnishings.com.
Halifax Fine Furnishings. Offers fine furniture and oriental rugs from its store on Brambleton Ave. in Roanoke County. 540-774-3060; halifaxfinefurnishings.com.
Reid’s Fine Furnishings. With a recently expanded presence in the Grandin Village, Reid’s features upper-end brands of furniture and accessories. 540-342-1844; reidsfine.com.
The French Thistle, at 2914 Williamson Rd., features furniture as well as fabrics, upholstery, pillows and more. 540-563-0979; frenchthistle.com.
Because Girls Will Be Girls and Pampered & Polished Salon are the Salem stop for boutique clothing and full-service spa, at 15 East Main St. 540-387-1801; becausegirlswillbegirls.com.
Bride’s House & Formals is a one-stop shop not just for weddings, but the prom, homecoming or any occasion that calls for looking your very best. 5325 Peters Creek Rd. 540-366-8360; brideshouse.com.
F. Geoffrey Ltd., in Roanoke’s Grandin Village, has 80 years experience with diamonds and fine jewelry. 540-345-8881; fgeoffreyltd.com.
Good Looks/Bliss offers fine jewelry, a spa and clothing at one location: 4235 Electric Rd. 540-774-7478; goodlooksroanoke.com.
Jewell’s Fine Jewelry at 3741 Franklin Road, offers fine jewelry and a personal touch. 540-345-3564; jewellsfinejewelry.com.
Patina, at its new Keagy Village location at 5028 Keagy Road, is a one-stop shop for bridal, prom, special occasion and pageant events. 540-776-1636; patinaformals.com.
The Cobbler’s Wife features fine shoes for women as well as children from 5207 Bernard Drive in Roanoke County. 540-400-6589; cobblerswife.com.
Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar at 2825 B Brambleton Avenue has brought new life to Roanoke’s wine appreciation. 540-400-7771. mrbillswinecellar.com.
Toad’ly Kids is a children’s boutique carrying clothing, accessories and gifts for premies to pre-teen at 4710 Starkey Rd. 540-774-7282. facebook.com/pages/Toadly-Kids/106204382750882