Surprises at The Surprise Shop

If you are looking for both consignment and thrift fun, head down Allegheny Avenue in Towson to an old rectory house. It was originally used by the Trinity Episcopal Church which is right next door. The last rector to live there was William Roberts, said shop volunteer director Erin K. Woodward. But now it serves as the home of The Surprise Shop.

Open since 1964, The Surprise Shop gives its visitors exactly that, surprises. Each corner of each room in the house is filled with everything the mind can imagine. Each room is home to a different category from books to men and boys to designer clothes. The bottom floor holds every odd and end imaginable. Full dish sets are on sale as well as books, movies and board games. This floor also has the men and boys room as well as the kids room.

Heading upstairs is the place for the fashionista women. On the top floor, there are three different rooms of women’s clothes. The first is dresses and suits. Here there are all different kinds of suits, nice dresses, and prom dresses. The second room is the casual clothing room which has every type of clothing available. From shirts to pants, everyone can find something for a very reasonable price. The third room, the designer room, is slightly more expensive, but it is full of more upscale labels of clothing.

The store takes both donations and consignments (except large furniture), but the profits made fund the Trinity Episcopal Church’s Outreach Programs. The owners sit at a desk right inside the door and are quick to welcome every visitor and offer advice on where to look inside the shop. It is a good place for the person on a budget. The prices tend to be around $10. It is the place to shop around, get the labels you want, and still learn about the value of money (the stuff your parents didn’t teach you about). The Surprise shop is more like my grandma’s attic, then a boutique, but it is still great because it never stops offering the customer a new find.


Wear the stars’ jewelry

Girls love to emulate others. From a young age, little girls watch their moms put on their make-up and try on their heels. As girls get older, they switch from imitating their moms, to following the stars. Living in a celebrity-obsessed culture, American women look to the more famous people to find out about fashion trends and new clothing designers. It applies to both clothing and shoes, as well as jewelry.

Now the women of Towson can emulate the stars after one quick shopping trip. Last week, I told you about With Gratitude, the crafts and home goods on York Road. One of their items is the jewelry of Jarretsville’s mom Lauren Hoehn. Not only does she have local ties, but she also has started making jewelry for the stars. Chosen to give jewelry for the Golden Globes gift bags, Hoehn’s creations are now being worn by the likes of Camille Grammer and Alicia Witt.

According to the owner of With Gratitude, Pamela Somerville, Hoehn is also in the process of filling an order of her product for Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise.

Women in Towson now need to look no further than down the street to be able to mimic the looks of the stars. It has never been easier.

Consignment or Thrift?

Consignment shopping can be a great thing not only for the customer, but also for the owner of the item. To consign an item means the seller takes it to a store who then puts it on sale. Once the item sells, the original seller splits the money with the store. This means that a seller must wait until their particular item has sold before making money. Most consignment items are second-hand, meaning they are used before. However, it is easy to find brand new pieces, never-worn, that people were just trying to get rid of.

Consignment shops and thrift stores make look similar, but they are fairly different.

This is slightly different from a thrift store. A thrift store is a shop that is usually run by an charity or non-profit, such as a church. All merchandise is usually donated by community members. The profits made are then kept by the charity. Thrift stores tend to take all donations, unlike consignment shops which can be a little picky about what merchandise they agree to sell.

This difference between the two is important, especially from a price standpoint. Thrift stores tend to be cheaper because the profits made are not split. However, the selection at a consignment shop may be slightly better because they can pick and choose what they want to sell.

However, both are helpful to the budget. And both are bound to offer unique finds for the customer. Originality is where both shine. Do not discount one for the other because you may miss out!

Home Decor Heaven

The home is where the heart is. People’s homes, whether it is a house or an apartment, it is where they let their personalities reveal themselves. From the art on the wall, to the colors used, to the types of candles and other knick-knacks. Many people scour their towns, looking for the perfect decoration to put in their house. Every one wants that unique, original piece, that their visitors are sure to love.

If you are in the Towson area and are looking for something like this, drive west on York Road to With Gratitude. This locally-owned shop sells everything you need. or don’t need, for your home. Specializing in locally-made merchandise, the small shop is tucked in-between other mom-and-pop shops and shares its place with another consignment shop, The Lily Pad of Towson.

With Gratitude on York Road

Owned by Pamela Somerville and Courtney Creamer, With Gratitude opened seven years ago and was known as just Gratitude. It filled the entire shop, but two years ago, Somerville’s original business partner left, leaving Somerville to regroup. She downsized the store to just the one side and got together with Creamer to create With Gratitude.

“[With Gratitude] has far exceeded my expectations,” said Somerville. “It’s a real mix between real people and national companies.”

The store offers a few national brands integrated with locally made products. Most of the products are bought outright from the artist and resold in the store. Bigger items are sold on consignment with the store gaining 60% of the sale.

The homemade items each come with a story from Somerville . She is quick to tell her customers where each product came from and who made it. Somerville said people like to feel connected to the item they are about to buy, so that is why she learns so much about her artists. Almost everything in the store is made in the Towson area, especially from the Stoneleigh neighborhood, which is right behind the store.

With Gratitude offers made homemade items to make your home cozy.

This store is perfect for anyone looking for the original piece in the Towson area. One of the hottest items in the store are towels that read “what happens in Stoneleigh, stays in Stoneleigh.” These towels are custom made and the customer can get any neighborhood they want printed on them.

Every corner of the store is packed with pieces.

The merchandise in the store changes seasonly, so a visitor is sure to find something new every time they go in. Somerville is very happy with the success of her store but does not wish to expand anytime soon. “This is all I can handle,” she said laughing.

Many visitors to the store use it more for inspiration. Looking around, the products in With Gratitude are sure bring ideas to any crafty person. If you are looking for a do-it-yourself project sure to make your home unique, check out Addicted to Decorating. This blog offers many ideas on how to dress up your home or apartment. It is perfect for anyone looking to reuse common things most would throw away.

Your home is where you express who you are. Don’t be afraid to make it shine with unique pieces sure to make your friends jealous.

The Zone: Baltimore’s Finest in Vintage

Looking for real vintage clothing, accessories, and knick knacks can be a struggle. Many of us girls settle on new things made in the older style. For instance, you could buy a housewife style wrap dress from Banana Republic as opposed to finding one from the 1950s. Many girls look and look but can’t seem to find real vintage pieces.

However, for those searching in Baltimore, stop in and find your vintage pieces at The Zone on N. Charles St. Owned by the bubbly, friendly Donna Jenkins, The Zone has been selling true vintage pieces for 31 years. Jenkins started in the 1980s because she said “I hated the ’80s!” She was looking for the classics of the 1940s and 1950s but wasn’t having much luck. To make it easier for others, she opened her shop as a place for women to look for their vintage pieces. Over the years, the style of the shop has changed with the times. Though Jenkins hated the 1980s before, it is now the decade most represented.

Walking into the store is like walking into someone’s closet. Clothes are racked everywhere, some pieces decorated with jewelry and hats while shoes line the walls near the ceiling. Jenkins is quick to welcome all customers into the store and telling them about her deals, like half-price woolen gloves and scarves.

The Zone vintage shop

Unlike the normal consignment shops, which accept donations, Jenkins buys her merchandise through a variety of ways and then resells them. All the clothing, which ranges from day wear to night wear to costume, comes from clothing collection recycling centers. Jenkins either buys them herself or goes through other buyers.

All the accessories, such as rings, necklaces, and sunglasses, are all newer pieces. Jenkins sells these because she says vintage jewelry tends to fall apart from age, and she wants to give her customers the best buy.

Jewelry from The Zone

Hats are slowly coming back into fashion and are a major part of the store. Whether they are stacked on some old suitcases or arranged on a hook above a shirt, hats are everywhere. Jenkins herself wears them as she works and offers tips on how to wear them to her customers. For more tips on vintage hat wear, check out Vixen Vintage, which offers ideas on how to incorporate all types of vintage wear into your lifestyle.

Hats from The Zone

The Zone is a fun, funky store in Baltimore, there for any girl who is looking for that perfect item. Whether you go to play dress up or are looking for a costume for a play, it is the just the store for you.

Finding fashion steals on a budget

Welcome to the place for tips and tricks for shopping on a budget! From simple ideas on how to shop or planning your shopping budget, to reviews on real places in Baltimore and Towson that sell unique finds for cheap, this blog will show you how to create the perfect look while spending little.

Living in Towson or Baltimore can prove a challenge to this with the Towson Town Center right down the road. With it’s variety of stores, it makes it easy to find whatever you may be looking for. However, cheaper, smaller, more unique places are right under your nose, waiting to be found. Consignment shops may sound unappealing to some because the clothing is previously worn, but the quantity of shops in Towson/Baltimore and the quality of clothing and accessories inside will change your mind forever.

On a recent trip around the area, I stumbled upon a deal that was too good to pass up. Girls are always looking for the perfect bag. Most don’t have the money to buy the real thing, so they resort to fake bags from the streets of New York or the center of the mall. Not me. Stepping into Re Deux, a consignment shop in Baltimore, I knew I would find the perfect bag. I spent 10 minutes in the store, before eyeing a real Longchamp purse for only $16!! A steal like no other! It was reduced because of a small run on the back of the canvas bag, a small mark one would have to look for to see.

Still in bed but want to find the best bag for less, then look no further than the Internet. In an effort to discourage the buying of fake bags, the Council of Fashion Designers of America are auctioning off one-of-a-kind designer bags on eBay for as little as $45! This is the place to find the most original, inexpensive bag for the spring season. They go on sale March 20.