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Small, local stores offer delightful Christmas shopping experience

PASCAGOULA — Before you hop on I-10 and head to New Orleans or Mobile to shop for Christmas presents this weekend, you might want to check out some of the locally owned mom and pop shops in East Jackson County.

While thousands will flock to malls and big box retailers for Black Friday, there’s another big shopping day set the next day — Small Business Saturday.

Rebecca Davis with Main Street Pascagoula said she’s been busy handing out Shop Small shopping bags to businesses around town so they can have them for this weekend.

Small Business Saturday celebrates these small businesses, which Davis said these are vital for the local economy.

“They are crucial for any city, for any community,” she said.

Small-business owners are continuing to go to the Small Business Saturday website to sign up for this weekend’s events, and she’s seen businesses sharing the bags with others.

There’s a plethora of great gifts to be found right here at home — at stores owned and operated by local residents. Whether your Christmas list consists of an SEC fan, a foodie or a coffee lover, you are sure to find something that’s perfect.

Start out at The Cottages at Anchor Square where Gourmet Gurl has shelves stocked with Captain Rodney’s boucan glaze, Dr. Pete’s Praline Mustard Sauce, cookie and pancake mixes and plenty of spices for holiday cooking.

Owner Ashley Knecht went to culinary school at Southern Miss and worked in the food service industry for 13 years before opening the shop. “It was kind of a dream of mine,” she said. “And it seemed like the right time to do it.”

She makes baskets of all sizes filled with goodies from the shop, including olive oils, pasta and sauces, hot cocoa, teas and coffee. She’ll also special order items.

Party Girls just a couple of doors down has Mississippi-made products including cheesestraws, but also has Victoria Lynn jewelry out of Gulfport and Shelly Russum designed earrings of Hattiesburg.

“I try to do local as much as I can,” said owner Aimee Pavlov, pointing out SEC game bags out of Starkville and pottery by Lisa Robertson of Moss Point.

Before you get away from Anchor Square, browse Paradise Gardens, a bath, body and lingerie shop, or Arabesque Boutique. If you’re hungry, there’s D’Vine Soul Food for lunch or Is That Velvet Cupcakes for dessert.

There’s other shops in Pascagoula — stroll down Delmas and you’ll find Palace Gifts, boutiques, Chocolates and More, Arts on the Avenue and others.

Flower Patch Florist on Ladnier Road in Gautier is a “full-fledged gift shop,” said Etta Saxton, who along with Melinda Reed, owns the shop.

It’s been a florist since 1969, and now is also home to a custom bakery where everything is made to order from scratch, Saxton said.

But it also has something for everyone — gifts for the golfer, collegiate memorabilia, collectibles of all types — including Fontanini nativity sets, December Diamonds, Fenton’s, items by Thomas Kinkade and Jim Shore, thousands of Christmas ornaments, yard art and more.

“You wouldn’t believe how many lighted ornaments I have,” Saxton said.There’s also plenty of food items like sauces, dipping oils, holiday spice mixes and more. And a case full of homemade chocolates.

Everywhere you look in the store is a different section packed with items of all types, whether it’s items with nautical designs, Tervis tumblers, chimes and dishes.

And now through Christmas everything in the store between 10 and 50 percent off, Saxton said. It’s a little off the beaten path, but she’s hoping shoppers find Flower Patch this holiday season. “It really is just word of mouth that keeps me in business.”

Up Gautier/Vancleave Road (next to MGCCC) is Gautier Baywood Commons, a shopping center with several businesses, including Delo’s Heavenly House of Coffee, which in addition to serving coffee drinks, smoothies, tea and baked goods, has Vancleave honey for sale, and will be making up coffee and gift baskets for the holidays. They also have gift cards available, said manager Jessica Drongowski.Delo’s will be open Friday and Saturday until 1 p.m.

Next door is My Fruity Pots, which does fruit and candy arrangements by order, said owner Tara Hurd. They are open Monday through Friday, and on Saturday by appointment. Hurd said they can make same-day arrangements if you call 202-5147 before 10 a.m.

Looking for Vera Bradley items? Burnham Drugs on Main Street in Moss Point — in business since 1902 — has a whole section of those along with Yankee Candles, Christmas décor, toys, baby items, collegiate items and cards.

Back in Pascagoula, Crazy B’s Coffee and Confections on Market Street in Pascagoula re-opens Monday after taking a Thanksgiving holiday, and has gift items like coffees, teas and drink syrups available. They also offer gift certificates for the coffee or tea lover on your list.