While the holidays are all about being thankful and giving back, the shopping can be stressful. Standing in lines, clipping coupons and fighting over the last flat-screen TV is not something most people enjoy.
However, Western Queens is home to some of the finest shopping, dining, and arts in the city, and with the holidays just around the corner, there is sure to be something for everyone on your Christmas list.
While big box stores such as Target, Best Buy and department stores like Macy’s and JCPenney get all of the attention for their big deals and major savings, small mom-and-pop shops in Sunnyside, Astoria, Long Island City and more offer an experience you cannot get at a major chain.
“I’m never going to have the same thing as Target,” said Mackenzi Farquer, owner of Lockwood in Astoria. “I don’t do Black Friday or anything like that. You can come to me for a beautiful handmade scarf and I can tell you specifically why I bought this product. We go above and beyond to make shopping here a warm and inviting experience.”
Lockwood, a gift and lifestyle store, is located at 32-15 33 St. in Astoria and provides everything from housewares to stylish clothing and handbags to modern furniture, greeting cards, art pieces and books.
Farquer is a long-time Astorian and interior decorator who is truly passionate about her neighborhood and the people who live in it. She is also the co-creator of the neighborhood blog We Heart Astoria.
“I plan everything to a T,” she said. “Even down to the incense scent I’m burning. Everything is set up to give my customers the ultimate experience.”
Such attention to detail and willingness to please her customers has made Lockwood a popular spot for shoppers of all ages. Farquer has even befriended a few of her frequent patrons.
In addition to the usual merchandise, Farquer hosts the occasional trunk show where a local jewelry maker comes in to showcase his or her work. She also hosts cocktail nights when customers can mingle and browse while sipping on free drinks.
Though businesses like Lockwood experience an uptick in customers during the holiday season, small shops have to rely on one another to increase sales.
Recently, Small Business Saturday — a day dedicated to small business shopping — gave stores the opportunity for cross-promoting to ensure the word was out there.
This cross-promotion has become vital in the Western Queens small business community.
“We love people to shop small and support local businesses,” said Jillian Tangen, co-owner of LIC: living. “We love to stand by our fellow small business owners and help one another out.”
Tangen and fellow owner Rebekah Witzke curate every item they sell and rely mostly on New York City vendors to supply merchandise.
“Previously in Long Island City, there really wasn’t anywhere to shop, and we wanted to give them something beautiful where they can shop for any aspects of their life,” Tangen said.
LIC: living, located at 53-05 51 Ave., sells many items including children’s clothing, home decor and women’s clothing.
“We pride ourselves on high-quality, well-curated products,” Tangen said. “We pick the best of home and style from vendors who do great work.”
Though the store opened just over a year ago, LIC: living is having a more successful holiday season as they are more established.
They recently began selling locally made watches from a vendor who lives on the Upper East Side in Manhattan.
Nearby along Long Island City’s stopping strip at 46-36 Vernon Blvd., Matted LIC can offer you the tools to give a creative and personal gift that your loved ones can cherish for years to come.
The small yet cozy shop offers items including bags, wallets, jewlery and other accessories, but is more known for its framing work.
Along the wall there are sample slices of well-finished wood frames of all sizes and colors.
Though Matted has the usual plain black frames, it also offers intricate frames with designs and carvings that can add a touch of beauty to any painting or photograph you wish to place inside.
The shop also has vintage New York City posters.
Tiny You, a children’s merchandise store located in Sunnyside and Long Island City, has original and beautiful products for your little ones.
“We really focus on unique products and one of a kind locally made items,” owner Jill Callan said. “I find a lot of items from independent artists on Etsy.”
The store caters to infants and children all the way to 8 years of age.
This year, Tiny You will have the big man himself visit both the Sunnyside location at 46-21 Skillman Ave. and the Long Island City location at 10-50 Jackson Ave. in December.
On Dec. 14, Santa will be at the Sunnyside store where a professional photographer will be available for optional photos.
Though business has been tough, shop owners are promising that patrons will not be disappointed if they shop locally this holiday season.
“It’s all about providing a good experience for the customers and making sure they enjoy the time they spend with us,” Tangen said.
The gift wrapping, special late-night events and unique gift items are what puts Matted LIC, Tiny You, LIC: living, Lockwood and the dozens of other small businesses in Western Queens over the top.
So before you clip out some coupons for whatever Best Buy’s deals are, pop into some of your neighborhood stores because their merchandise and the experience they provide may be better than anything you’ve ever gotten at the bigger chain stores.