The Pursuit of Holiday Shopping in Downtown Frederick and Beyond
When Mark and Phoebe Boheim ship their Frederick Candle Company & Apothecary products to their customers, they will often stamp the outgoing boxes or a business card tucked inside with the saying, “Handmade with love.”
“Because it actually is,” Mark Boheim says. “People like that. They like the personal story. They like the personal touch—that it is not just mass-produced.”
The Frederick couple’s business began after they wanted to make holiday gifts for just friends and family members. “We got such great reception from everybody,” Phoebe Boheim says. “Everybody said, ‘Oh, you should sell this,’” adds Mark Boheim. Last year, the couple opened an online Etsy shop and started selling at Eastern Market in Washington, D.C. Stores in Frederick and the nation’s capital were already inquiring about wholesale orders in early fall.
Thinking about skipping Amazon or that annual fight through the big box store crowds in favor of some unique, locally made products to give loved ones for the holidays? The good news is there are plenty of choices, from stores in Downtown Frederick to virtual storefronts online. There you will find a wide range of gifts, including home accessories, clothing, food and drink, and, yes, candles.
One of Frederick Candle Company’s most popular scents is “Campfire”— a smoky smell mixed with a little bit of sandalwood. For the holidays, it will add some new seasonal scents such as “Evening Snow,” “Caramel Popcorn,” “Pomegranate Cider” and “Cranberry Woods.” Some holiday scents from last year will also be returning like “Balsam Cedar,” “Blue Spruce,” “Spiced Pumpkin” and “Grandma’s Kitchen,” which focuses on—you guessed it—cooking smells like fruits, spices and apple pie.
The company has been increasing its homemade product line recently to include bath bombs, soaps, bath buddy toys for kids, car fresheners, air sprays and massage bars. The strategy is to create scents that customers would not typically find in big box stores.
The candles are 100 percent soy-based, using wooden or cotton wicks placed in tins and mason jars. Every part of their product is made in the United States. Free shipping is offered to local customers.
“In talking to people, they really wish that they had the time to make things for loved ones,” says Phoebe Boheim. “People are rushing around. They don’t have time to do that. By working with us, they know what their loved one likes. We will find a scent [for them]. They can give something that is handmade and not mass-produced.”
Even in the modern era when people coordinate schedules and dates on their phone, many still want an honest-to-goodness paper calendar for their kitchen or office. To meet that demand and raise some money for charity, Edenton Retirement Community, just off Crestwood Boulevard, is selling its second annual “Family of Stars” calendar featuring its residents in various iconic movie and television show scenes.
“We didn’t just randomly pick movies and residents,” says Jennifer Holmes, Edenton’s resident services coordinator. “We really tried to pick ones that they were perfectly cast as far as matching up their personalities that they would have [to the roles in the famous scenes]. From an inside point of view, it was just really awesome to see [the scenes] all happen.”
Some of the scenes in the 2020 calendar include I Love Lucy with the famous—or infamous?—chocolate packaging line, E.T.’s majestic ride in the sky and Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker from Star Wars in fighting positions.
There is also a scene from The Bridges of Madison County featuring a couple in front of a Frederick-based covered bridge, even though the movie takes place in Iowa. The 2019 calendar had a Mary Poppins scene that subbed out the iconic London skyline for Frederick spires. “We try to make it really personal,” Holmes says.
All proceeds from the calendar will go toward the Community Foundation of Frederick County. Last year, the recipient was Advocates for the Aging of Frederick County. Copies may be purchased at Edenton’s Manor House or the Community Foundation of Frederick County.
Local artist Ellen Byrne gets inspired to create art just by walking Downtown’s streets. “I like the play of the old buildings and contemporary life,” she says. Through her personal website, Etsy and The Muse store, she offers prints of maps and scenes of Downtown Frederick. Some are created digitally while others are prints from paintings she has completed. “I wanted to break away from the old, yesteryear illustration,” she says. “I wanted something modern and new and fun.”
Many of her pieces offer bright, bold colors. “I just like fun, joyous type celebrations of everyday life,” Byrne says. While Frederick is her main inspiration, she also offers prints of Annapolis, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and a map of Maryland.
She likes to put little inside jokes in the prints including having ghosts taking the haunted tour of Downtown in her “Original Funky Frederick” poster map. “I can customize them very easily because they are digital,” she says. “Everything is editable. I could put somebody’s dog in or a cartoon of somebody.”
For those who want to make their own gifts but need some help and resources, AR Workshop on East Street has a wide range of trendy, Pinterest-worthy do-it-yourself personalized projects in various mediums, including canvas pillows, wood items and porch signs.
“It’s a stencil-based workshop so you can definitely not mess it up and we have an assistant at every table so we are hands-on with you,” says Adrienne Rupinta, AR Workshop Frederick owner. All materials are provided and staff can recommend colors and stains for projects and different techniques to get the desired look. “Nobody ever leaves with a bad project,” Rupinta says. “That is one of my goals: good customer service and beautiful projects when you walk out the door.”
Projects usually take about three hours to complete and guests leave that day with their item. They can choose from 30 different projects, with 70-plus colors—plus stains—and around 700 designs. “You do not need to be artistically inclined,” Rupinta says. “We are there to help you every step of the way.
She notes the chunky knit blankets and plank wood signs are the most popular projects. She anticipates hosting a number of holiday workshop classes, including kid-friendly ornaments, cookie decorating and holiday porch makeovers. “There is something for everybody,” she says.
Tastes of the Season
Chocolate is often a popular gift at the holidays and The Perfect Truffle has dozens of flavors to choose from that are made right inside their North Market Street shop. Featuring high-quality chocolate imported from France, Switzerland and Belgium, staff make small batches where all products are created by hand.
Head chocolatier Cody Marwine notes some of the most popular flavors from previous holiday seasons include salted dark chocolate caramel, dark chocolate cherry, gingerbread and eggnog. The shop will be releasing new flavors close to the holidays and plans on having stocking stuffer-sized hollow chocolate Santas, reindeer and snowmen available for purchase, as well.
While The Perfect Truffle typically encourages customers to come into the shop and select their custom box because everyone is different, it will have boxes ready to go for people to pick up with some of the store’s favorite flavors.
When it comes to holiday shopping, Marwine believes it is important to shop and support local businesses. “Most of the time, the owners are in the shops working every day,” he says. “They are not just taking a paycheck. Everyone that is Downtown is trying to find unique products that you are not going to see at the mall and the big box stores. A lot of the stores down here are purchasing from other local businesses and artists that need a place to sell their product.”
Want your gift to have a little kick to it? Most of the local breweries offer growlers for sale year-round, so that beer lovers can enjoy their craft brew in the comfort of their own home. “Brewtus, a coffee imperial stout, is really popular during the holidays,” says Shelby Burns, spokeswoman for Monocacy Brewing Company. “It is brewed with Dublin Roasters coffee, so it is like supporting two local businesses at once.. … A growler of beer from a local craft brewery is a great way to show your hometown pride while letting your loved ones know that you were thinking of them.”
The Little Pottery Shop on East Street’s Shab Row features items from 150 artists with about 40 being local. When the holiday season time comes, “mugs are always popular,” says Julius Patellis, owner. “Everybody loves a good mug especially during the colder months.” The shop also sells a lot of handmade ceramic ornaments including ones with local themes such as the clustered spires and typical holiday designs like handmade porcelain snowflakes.
This holiday season, the shop will be expanding its selection of ceramic jewelry, due to customer demand. “We’ve always had a small amount of jewelry but this year we really have gotten into carrying more,” he says.
Patellis notes his store is different from large retailers because of the variety offered and the quality of pieces. “We get a lot of people who are enthusiastic about ceramics,” he says. “One thing that they always say is that they have never been to a place that has such a wide selection. … We are pretty picky about what we bring into the shop. We want everything that comes in here to be unique and of high quality. Most of what we have is functional pottery. It is intended to be used. We do have some purely decorative pieces but the majority of what we carry is something people can use. If they get a bowl or a plate, they can expect it to be dishwasher safe, able to be in the microwave or oven.”
He encourages residents to shop local this holiday season because the money stays in the community economy. “By shopping local and buying gifts Downtown from small businesses, what you are really doing is you are getting great gifts and helping your neighbors,” Patellis says.
“It is going to make the quality of life for everybody in your community better. I don’t really see any downside to helping out local businesses and local artists.”