And, Ferrell points out, it doesn’t get much more personal than monogrammed toilet paper.
Gifts on the go
As the economy continues to find its footing, analysts are predicting lackluster sales growth this holiday season. The average shopper is expected to spend just $9 more than the $740 he or she spent last year, according to a survey by BigInsight.
But even as consumers hold the line, they appear ready to buy gifts for more people than they did last year, adding co-workers, friends and pets to their shopping lists, according to the National Retail Federation. Holiday parties and office gift exchanges are coming back, too — and with them, a need for hostess gifts and trinkets for colleagues.
Local shop owners are responding by offering a larger selection of small gifts this year — the type you’d tuck into stockings or give co-workers — and are making sure they’re neatly packaged.
Area Brooks Brothers stores are stocked with bow ties, while Pink Palm, a women’s store in Old Town Alexandria, has filled its shelves with $48 ornaments and $118 Lilly Pulitzer scarves.
“It’s about ‘giftables’ this year,” Pink Palm store manager Allison Luchey said. “Makeup bags, wristlets, ornaments — and of course we’ve been selling a ton of iPhone and iPad cases.”
A few doors down, spherical ice molds ($13.50) have emerged as the season’s big seller at The Hour, a shop that specializes in barware.
“Ice cubes are the big thing in the cocktail world right now,” said Victoria Vergason, the store’s owner. “Some people like them square, some people like them round.”
“[Customers] will come in and say, ‘This is a great stocking stuffer ... and maybe I’ll buy one for myself, too,” she added.
To keep up with growing demand for on-the-go hostess gifts, employees at Red Barn Mercantile have begun creating gift baskets of items such as soap and candles. Other stores are taking similar steps.
“All anyone wants to know about is, ‘Does this come in a box?’ ” said Benjamin Walker of Walker Home in Alexandria. “They want mobile gifts — scarves, ornaments, something they can pack in a carry-on and get through security.”
At the TJ Maxx in Friendship Heights, Laura Olson had filled her cart with Lenox ornaments ($16.99 each, down from a $60 list price) and a decorative snowman with a bobbing head.
“When I come in here, I buy generic gifts that are super-cute,” she said. “And then I’ll give them away to friends — or else, you know, maybe keep them for myself.”