Downtown Lakeland Has Everything for Holiday Shopping

By Melissa Rodriguez

 Around the holiday season there are three different kinds of people in the world- doers, enjoyers and shoppers, all of which like presents. Shops in the downtown area have something for everyone on customers’ holiday lists, young and old alike. Downtown Lakeland is the perfect one-stop shopping trip for gifts. Shoppers need only know where to look.

Doers would enjoy…

Doers are people who can’t sit still, even when relaxing. They enjoy any kind of activity and are generally puzzling to shop for. Good thing Lakeland’s little mecca of cool has customers covered.

Gift certificates from Satya Life Yoga are a cool alternative for traditional holiday gifts. The yoga studio offers several different yoga, tai chi and qigong classes at various hours of the day, all week long. Through the holiday season, first time participants can attend a second class free of charge. Reservations are not needed to participate and begin the journey to relaxation.

Fast Frame offers great one-size-fits-all gift ideas. Owner Ellen Hunt Simms says shadow boxes are a hot item during the holiday season. In previous years she has made various sized shadow boxes ranging from ones holding a single sorority pin, to enormous shadow boxes with countless items in them.

“I’m in the business of making memories,” Simms said. “A shadow box really makes a special gift and it’s always a hit.”

Marion Pugh, owner of the Patchwork Pig has been preparing for the holiday season since last January. The holiday fabric is purchased months ahead of time and samples of holiday quilts are constructed to entice shoppers into thinking about holiday gifts. She says getting a head start on things is the unofficial quilters philosophy.

“People are always shopping for other things,” Pugh said. “We try to get things done ahead of time.”

The Patchwork Pig has a $5 fabric section for bargain quilters. They will also be open on Black Friday and the day after Christmas. Halloween fabric is already on sale, furthermore the day after Christmas all holiday fabric will be half-priced. Along with that, the Patchwork Pig will be offering Christmas themed quilting kits throughout the holiday season for patrons to sew during offered quilting classes.

The kits are extremely helpful to quilters who don’t want to worry about matching fabric. The bags come complete with matching fabric and a pattern. Christmas fabric is available all year round at the Patchwork Pig; some patrons bring in their Christmas themed quilts and work on them throughout the years’ quilting classes.

Pugh is committed to helping quilters make the best product they can, often offering advice to novice quilters from what fabric matches with what, to tips and tricks of quilting.

Enjoyers would love…

Not all people are doers. A lot of people are, however, enjoyers. They enjoy life and the finer things in it. They are easygoing people who just like to have a great time.

Reflections of the Past specializes in Depression era glass and elegant crystal and glass. Their store is filled with colorful eye catching collections perfect for gift giving. Father-daughter duo Raleigh Peteway and Sandra Hodgens run the shop and are extremely knowledgeable about F. Scott Fitzgerald era cocktail, champagne and wine glasses.

Experiencing 15 years in Lakeland, Reflections of the Past offers gift registry and complimentary gift-wrapping of their vintage glass, which date from the early 1900’s to 1970’s. Customers can buy single pieces or entire sets of the vintage crystal and glassware at 20% off throughout the holiday season.

Enjoyers also love to pamper themselves, relishing their alone time. Rafa Natural is a one-woman operation on a mission to spread all natural bath, body and relaxation products to Lakeland. Kim Williams makes everything for Rafa Natural herself with the purest ingredients possible. The entire line of soaps, salts, bath bombs, face care, and skin care is located in the Black Swan Bazaar.

Williams also offers soy candles, which are cleaner and healthier for the environment versus regular candles. The soy candles come in a variety of scents that encapsulate the aroma of outdoor areas like the woods and the beach, feelings such as sensual and relaxation, along with seasonal favorites such as pumpkin, and pear spice.

For the holiday season Rafa Naturals has gift baskets starting as low as $10 and a special promotion throughout the month of November for three free samples with every order more than $20.  The all natural bath bombs, scented tarts and votive candles make great stocking stuffers.

Rafa Natural also does corporate gift baskets. There is no limit to how small or large gift basket orders need to be as long as orders are placed in advanced.

Shoppers would go crazy for…

Shoppers are exactly the kind of people you imagine- budget savvy people who like to shop. They shop for themselves, for others, for their homes, and typically are great at finding both practical and unique gifts.

Yvonne and Richard Aguero love their business, they love people and they love Lakeland. The Black Swan Bazaar is a consignment store with an eclectic collection, perfect for finding a “got to have it” gift. Their store contains works by several local designers. Finding a perfect gift at the Black Swan is almost a given, with new items arriving daily. Items for the holidays include Christmas cards by local designers, and lots and lots of swan items.

“We’ve got amazing local artists in here and that’s a big draw,” Yvonne Aguero said. “There are so many things people can get for under $20, jewelry, scarves, hats. Our price points are awesome.”

Starting November 15th and extending through Christmas Day, each purchase will enter customers in a drawing for a gift certificate to the Black Swan Bazaar. There will be a winner every week.

For fine men’s clothing, Lakelander’s must visit Nathan’s Men’s Store. Although they might look like a traditional men’s store, they too have things no one else in Lakeland carries. They have brought in several new lines for the holidays including Tommy Bahama and Southern Tide.

“We’re the only store that carries Southern Tide and Tommy Bahama,” storeowner Harris Estroff said. “We try to carry lot of American made lines.”

Throughout the holidays Nathan’s will be offering a variety of promotions, making sure Lakeland is finely clothed.

“We’re most importantly a clothing store- suits and sports coats- and that is still our strength,” Estroff said.

Those shopping for baby’s first Christmas or other young Lakelander’s should venture into Tougie Baby. The store carries everything a well-dressed baby would need, including accessories and blankets. For the holiday season, owner Kim McCoy has started to display children’s Christmas dresses and outfits. Customers can also special order items to be made for their little ones. Generally special orders take about a week to complete, depending on the item.

Veteran downtown gift store Brooke Pottery has several special items up their sleeves for the upcoming holiday season. Starting the Christmas season off right, Brooke Pottery intends to have several Christmas trees decorated with handmade ornaments from various artists. Something of a tradition at Brooke Pottery is their annual ornament-designing contest for children. The creators of the three best ornaments get savings bonds and the overall winner gets their ornament made and sold at Brooke Pottery. All the proceeds from the ornament will go to charity.

“We have always done a Brooke Pottery ornament, but the two previous years we’ve had children design them,” store co-owner Margaret Stephens said.

Brooke Pottery specializes in American handmade items, and has various works from a number of Floridian artists. Porcelain nativity scenes, ornaments, treasure candles and Floridian Christmas cards are just some of the treats Brooke Pottery has to come for the holiday season.

“We try very hard not to have things that are made outside of the United States,” Stephens said. “There are several items that are designed especially for Brooke Pottery and you won’t find them anywhere else.”

The General Store specializes in nostalgic candy and goods from years past, but they too have a variety of locally made merchandises coming for the holidays. The store has plenty of diverse things perfect for holiday gifting. A majority of the seasonal merchandise on display is made especially for The General store, including aprons, jewelry and gift baskets. Proprietor Terisa Glover says her main clientele are people who work in the downtown area, so she likes to keep her prices points fairly low.

“All of my products are made in the USA,” Glover said. “We’re trying to get back to locally made things.”

Artists come to The General Store to sell their things on consignment. It helps them because the store is open six days a week, but it also helps Glover fill her shelves. Items such as Florida history books, recipe books and special seasonings line the shelves in addition to Lakeland themed coloring books featuring The General Store’s CFO- that is Chief Fuzzy Officer -Sparky. This symbiotic relationship between the store and vendors helps both sides keep costs down and money flowing locally.

Glover is a big supporter of The 3/50 Project; a movement dedicated to encouraging Americans to buy from local stores. The basic principle behind the movement is people should think of three local stores they couldn’t live without, then invest $50 a month total into those stores- not $50 per store, $50 total. Typically for every $100 spent locally, $68 returns to the local community. That same amount spent in a national chain will only return $43 to the community.


Downtown Lakeland, the little mecca of cool, is the answer to all holiday stresses. By doing holiday shopping in downtown Lakeland, consumers are just further demonstrating how dedicated they are to the community- returning their hard earned dollars back to where they live and getting their holiday shopping all at the same time.

 This article appeared in the Winter 2012 edition of Lakeland Local Magazine.
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