`Everybody just has a good time'

Shop keeps the customers coming back with its eclectic collection

August 01, 2007|By Lisa Tom | Lisa Tom,Special to the Sun

. Nina Woehlke, 8, of Millersville gazes at shelves full of fancy dolls. She strokes the soft fur of an antique teddy bear, made from mohair. For her and her sister, Rachel, 11, a visit to the Bearing Gifts store is a treat.

"It's bribery for the children," said their mother, Nancy. "They get to pick something ... and [then] they have to be nice while we antique."

Owner Kathleen Warshauer enjoys the shop almost as much as her youngest customers. "I love selling. ... Putting together displays is fun," she said. "Everybody just has a good time - the customers and workers."

Warshauer opened Bearing Gifts, which sells toys, collectibles and seasonal decorations, 17 years ago in Savage Mill.

"We don't sell anything anyone needs," Warshauer said. "It's all fun."

Her shop includes a year-round Christmas room with stockings, trees, and Santa Clauses. One tree is decorated with red and gold ornaments, another with silver and blue, another with pink flamingos and rainbow disco balls. A life-size Santa holding teddy bears fetches $3,000.

"She does not just carry the high-end stuff. She also does little knickknacks, ornaments for $2 or $3," said sales associate Rashelle Jones, 35, who met Warshauer as a customer.

"I started coming in here because she was the only person who sold the original Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls," Jones said. "I would give them to all the little girls in my life - like nieces, friends' kids. ... This was the only place I could find them."

"She sells some really hard-to-find items," Jones added.

Treasure-hunters and collectors will find even more selection Sunday at the 21st Annual Collectible Doll, Bear, and Toy Show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the New Weave Building at Savage Mill, sponsored by Bearing Gifts.

"The show is very family-oriented, for kids of all ages," said Warshauer.

A kid at heart, Mary Cuddy of Port Jervis, N.Y., stops by whenever she visits her son in Jessup.

"A lot of stores only have a small area, [but] they have a bigger selection of Boyds Bears," she said.

While teddy bears are a staple, Warshauer describes Bearing Gifts as "eclectic." For instance, in one corner a sophisticated white faux fur hangs next to a country-chic patchwork jacket.

"We truly have tons of unique things, and you're never going to see the same thing twice," said Warshauer, who constantly changes a variety of lamps, jewelry, dishes and glassware. She also stocks books, Burt's Bee's cosmetics and a wall of Vera Bradley bags.

"There's so much to see, so much to look at," said Jones.

Customers enter the Fairy room through a trellis woven with purple silk flowers. They might hear the tinkle of wind chimes while looking at snow globes, clothing and figurines related to the fairies theme. Nearby, the sweet smell of vanilla and florals hovers around a candle display.

Bearing Gifts has a dark Halloween room with creepy ghouls and pumpkins. Its wind chime has bats to match the creatures and spiders hanging from the ceiling.

Warshauer contributes to the store's charm. "Kathy [has] a way with people. ... She can make friends with anybody, and they'll keep coming back," said sales associate Garrett Sowers, 18.

"We just act like family," said Sowers, who calls Warshauer his "second mother."

Said Nina: "They're always friendly here."

Of all the tempting toys, Nina picks a small stuffed Dalmatian, her parents' reward for her patience during the day. She and Rachel leave behind the fairies, dolls and bears, clutching their new stuffed animals.

"They come back because of the experience they have, not just for the merchandise," said Warshauer.

Information: 301 498-6871. Store hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

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