Small Business Saturday: Say Hello to These Proprietors Today!

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Today is Small Business Saturday!  Please get out and patronize your favorite local small business.  We are a local small business, too, and we understand how tough it can be to make a small business successful.  Whether it’s a love of fashion, a love of books, a love of art, or some other passion, most small business owners start their own businesses because they care deeply about their product.  We’re grateful that they take on the risk and do what they do, keeping our towns interesting and unique and providing jobs.

Here are some of the faces you’ll see today when you shop Small Business Saturday.  Be sure to say hi from us! Happy shopping.- The Eds. 

Proprietor(s): Merritt Miller and Rachel Rubin of Renaissance Fine Arts


At Renaissance Fine Arts, sisters Merritt Miller and Rachel Rubin showcase a smart and diverse collection of art, including artists that range from regional to international. The gallery, started by their mother in the 1980s, has a constantly evolving collection – pieces sell and are replaced on a regular basis.

The sisters pride themselves on their ability to find art that is exceptional, then bring it back to the Baltimore community. “We’re local and that’s what we’re about,” says Miller. “Finding art nationally and internationally and bringing it here.”

Here, Miller shares the story of the gallery and some of her favorite things about the job:

BFB: How did you get you get started at Renaissance Fine Arts?

MM: My sister, Rachel, and I are partners; our mom started the gallery thirty years ago. Now we have our three locations. Rachel and I have been doing it independently of our mom for about 5 years.

I grew up doing it – with my mom, a single mom, who started at her house. We grew up around it and always knew that’s what we wanted to do – and it’s fun! There’s such a draw.

BFB: What is your favorite item in the gallery right now?

MM: That’s like asking which child do you like better. It’s really tough – we have so many different things.

If you look at what I take home or what Rachel takes home, it’s a smattering – it could be photography, there could be an abstract painting. It could be because of the color of the blue, something as simple as that. Sometimes, the color strikes you and speaks to you.

BFB: What is your go-to recommendation for holiday gift?

MM: There’s something for everybody. Someone will be looking for a wonderful piece of blown glass or a chess set by Anthony Quinn’s son, Lorenzo Quinn. It could be a painting, a photograph, an Andy Warhol. There really no one go-to. Art is so personal.

BFB: What style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at the gallery?

MM: We have certainly had notable clients – but we can’t kiss and tell!

BFB: What’s new and exciting at Renaissance Fine Arts?

MM: There’s always something new! There’s something new here everyday, literally.

Right now we are just finishing up the tail end of our regional artists show – artwork by artists local to Baltimore, DC, Pennsylvania. It’s a variety – some abstract, some traditional. In December, we’ll have a focus on what we call the “objects of desire” – bronze and different sculptural works.

We always have different things, we feature different things each month. There’s always something new. Our walls are always changing – we sell it, so we’re putting something new up after that.

Renaissance Fine Arts is located at 88 Village Square in the Village of Cross Keys in Baltimore. For more information, visit

Proprietor: Liza Jarrett of Liza Byrd Boutique


Known for well-made, brightly-patterned clothes and distinctive ruffled blouses, Liza Byrd Boutique is a favorite among Baltimore’s preppiest residents. For nearly two decades, the boutique’s owner Liza Jarrett has honed her design skills and keen eye for color and pattern. Today, she has a loyal following in Baltimore and beyond.

Here, Jarrett dishes on the story behind the shop, what her weeks are like, and which products she loves as gifts:

BFB: How did you get started at Liza Byrd? What made you open the shop?

Liza Jarrett: My business started 18 years ago and has evolved from a small furniture and hand painted home accessory business to a ladies and girls ready to wear line with a unique twist.

I had been a buyer for Merry Go Round stores – I bought dresses for 1,200 stores. We had an in-house design team, so that’s where I got the foundation for clothing and what I do with design.

BFB: You have multiple locations and also show your products at a lot of shows. What is a typical week like for you?

LJ: My weeks are spent running from place to place. I meet with my seamstress twice a week and manage my Richmond  location, shipping new inventory twice a week. I am in and out at the shop in Stevenson Village and the weeks when I am on the road participating in trunk show events are spent loading merchandise, setting up show location and sales at the events on the road.

Additionally behind the scenes, I am continually working on our overseas production, keeping up with marketing and planning next season’s out of town shows.

BFB: Why did you choose Stevenson Village as a location?

LJ: I chose Stevenson because it is convenient to get to, lots of parking and a wonderful shopping environment without the hassles of mall locations.

MI 2014 Day 1-060BFB: What is your favorite thing in the shop right now?

 LJ: Our ruffle collar tops. They are such a statement piece and available in two silhouettes.

BFB: What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

 LJ: Our pompon cardis in three colors–a great shape and flattering on many shapes and sizes.

BFB: How do you choose what to carry in the shop?

 LJ: The clothes we carry are our designs with inspiration coming from anything and everything.

For accessories and other gift items, we select affordable and whimsical items that complement our lively patterns and whimsical fashions.

 Liza Byrd is located in Stevenson Village, at 10435 Stevenson Road in Stevenson, MD. For more information, visit

Proprietor: Angela Tandy of Sassanova

Angela Tandy of Sassanova. Photo by Shan Gordon.
Angela Tandy of Sassanova. Photo by Shan Gordon.

At Harbor East boutique Sassanova, new owner Angela Tandy carries an ever-changing collection of fun clothing, shoes and accessories, perfect for the Baltimore woman who keeps up with fashion trends but also appreciates the classic look of preppy wardrobe staples. Angela bought the store last year from former owner Sassy Jacobs, who still owns the Bethesda store.

We spoke with Angie just after she returned from a post-Fashion Week trip to New York, where she was scouting looks for next season. Here’s what she had to say about owning a shop in Baltimore, her favorite classic pieces, and the top trends in fashion this fall:

You’re a relative newcomer to Baltimore – and new owner of Sassanova. What were you doing before your move here? How did you get into the fashion business?

I spent over 15 years in Washington, DC, before moving to Baltimore three years ago.  I worked as a investor relations and marketing executive for technology companies prior to having children.  I was a frequent shopper at Sassanova’s Georgetown and Bethesda locations while living in Washington and knew one of the owners because our children went to school together. 

 Shortly after moving to Baltimore, I received a call from her asking if I was interested in getting involved with the Baltimore store.   The rest is history.  Owning Sassanova is the most fun I have ever in my life had (while working).  I love every part of being a boutique owner from the daily interaction with customers and employees to analyzing financial and performance metrics, meeting designers and of course buying for each new season.  

How would you describe “Baltimore style”? How does Sassanova fit into that description?

Baltimore rides the wave between redefined preppy and sophisticated feminine – by “redefined preppy,” I mean the sensibility of preppy combined with better silhouettes and more fashionable. Baltimore isn’t overly trendy and cutting edge but we are mindful of the forefront of fashion. We’re cognizant of trends but use them in a subtle way.

What one item in your wardrobe could you not live without?

Really, just one?  If I had to choose, I would say my knee-high, black leather Gucci boots that I bought many  seasons ago.  I can’t wait for fall to pull these bad boys out.  They are perfect paired with skinny jeans or leggings and they are absolutely timeless.  I will definitely be wearing these for several seasons to come!  

The  item I am currently obsessed with though is a  black ponte and leather jacket by Yoana Baraschi.  I’m embarrassed to say how much I wear it and I really don’t know how I survived this long without it!

 What are your favorite three trends in fashion this fall?  How can people incorporate those trends into their everyday wardrobes?

 Booties: Sleek, chic and totally on trend.  This essential item is your go-to for dressing up and stepping out.  Booties are really the new pump.  They can literally be “dressed” up or worn with leggings or your favorite pair of jeans for a more casual look.  There are so many amazing options for fall – skinny and chunky heels, flats for every occasion, wedges for comfort, perforation for an urban edge, metallics and embellishments for fun, suede to suit any mood and beautiful leather options. 

Leather accents: A trend we’ve seen before and it is back bigger than ever. Everywhere you look you see leather accents – it could be on your leggings, a leather tassel or trim on your blouse or dress and even  leather patches on your sweater or blazer.  Dresses with leather accents are perfect for work and play or you can pair a blouse with leather accents under your sweater or jacket that will easily transition from desk to date.

Chunky sweaters: in addition to being a cozy, cool-weather staple, this item is everywhere and it is hot.  You’ll see it in bright, bold colors, rich varied textures and big chunky stitches. Since chunky sweaters have a lazy, cozy feel pair them with something sassy like leather leggings or a little leather skirt.  

Sassanova is located at 805 Aliceanna Street in Harbor East.

Proprietor: Kenneth Himmelstein of Samuel Parker Clothier


Since its opening in 2002, Baltimore’s best-dressed men have relied on Samuel Parker Clothier for their sartorial needs. This fall, the shop moved to a new, larger location in the Village of Cross Keys, where owners Kenneth and Ellen Himmelstein expanded their selection of men’s clothing and accessories, adding a selection of home goods and furnishings.

Samuel Parker is named for Kenneth Himmelstein’s grandfather, a man well-known among his peers for his fantastic sense of style. Himmelstein inherited his grandfather’s taste and eye for quality. Here, he shares the story behind the shop and what he’s most excited about this season:

How did you get started at Samuel Parker Clothier?

My wife, Ellen, and I opened Samuel Parker in the fall of 2002. We had been on the wholesale side of the apparel business for many years and wherever we went – New York, London, LA – we ran into businessmen and professionals from home who were shopping for quality menswear and labels that were not available in Baltimore.

Clothing has been a passion since I was a teenager and I first took a job at Frank Leonard, the iconic University Shop of the time. Along with the best designer labels, we own the Frank Leonard trademark and use it on our most classic oxford cloth shirts.

What is your favorite item in the shop right now?

My favorite item at the moment is our four-ply cashmere cardigan from Scotland. We have these made every year and this fall we have it in a gorgeous charcoal gray. I have guys who collect these sweaters, adding a new color each season!

What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

With the opening of our new shop in Cross Keys, we’ve added select home furnishings, handsome lambswool blankets from Scotland, sofa pillows that look like sports jackets and a selection of books and periodicals for the gentleman customer.

Which style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at Samuel Parker?

I’m certain Cary Grant and Fred Astaire would be my customers!

What’s new and exciting at Samuel Parker?

Most exciting this fall is our dramatically expanded footwear department, handmade in the US and UK. We’ve always carried a selection of fine footwear but here we’re showing many more styles, including many more casual loafers and boots.

Samuel Parker Clothier

86 Village Square

Village of Cross Keys

Baltimore, MD 21210


Proprietor: Cookie Schneider of The Pied Piper


For several generations, The Pied Piper has been the go-to shop for classic, well-made clothing, accessories and gifts for Baltimore’s youngest residents. From lovely layettes to little girls’ first party dresses and boys’ first blue blazers, The Pied Piper carries the best – and the cutest – brands and styles.

Run by Cookie Schneider, the energetic daughter of the store’s founder Kathryn DeVincentis, The Pied Piper has been a Baltimore mainstay since 1965. Here, Schneider shares some of the story behind the shop, what’s popular right now and what’s new and exciting this season:

How did you get started at Pied Piper?

My mother, Kathryn DeVincentis, she became affectionately known as Mrs. D, started this shop in 1965 on Wyndhurst Avenue and we’ve been in Cross Keys since 1995.

Out of all the kids in the family, I was the one who took an interest in the business. I grew up working in the business as a kid – tagging along to New York for all the buying trips. I became full-time when my kids started school full time, around 1990.

What is your favorite item in the shop right now?

How am I going to pick one thing? I pick everything by hand and only pick the things I love and my customers will love. It’s very difficult to pick my favorite but I have a few things that are always go-tos for certain ages.

For the babies, it’s the beautiful little chenille sweater, hat and blanket sets. The boys’ have beautiful pewter teddy bear buttons and the girls’ have organza treatments. We sell them over and over because they’re so beautiful and luxurious for newborn babies.

And the chunky knit roll neck sweaters, special ordered with initials knitted into the sweaters – our letter sweaters. They are so cute. They come in great colors and we do a contrasting color for the first letter of the child’s name. That’s just adorable.

What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

The quintessential Christmas outfits – the beautiful classics that are timeless – are the plaids and embroidered dresses, pants for boys, smocked dresses for girls.

We also carry the classic older toys that grandparents and parents love to give because they’re reminiscent of when they were growing up: old fashioned block sets, scooter cars and fire trucks from a wonderful company that makes retro toys. We carry a lot of that look.

People love to give PJs for Christmas. We carry a line called “Books To Bed.” They come in prints with a matching story book – a beautifully leather-bound book. They come in Babar, Curious George, Fancy Nancy, Pinkalicious, the Twelve Days of Christmas. The print matches the book.

Which style icon or celebrity kid could you imagine shopping at Pied Piper?

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s kids, Violet, Seraphina and Samuel. They have a traditional look with contemporary flair. Especially for our younger looks – babies up through girls’ size seven. For the bigger girls, it’s about what is latest in contemporary fashion but very clean and age-appropriate.

What’s new and exciting at Pied Piper? Any trends for this fall and winter?

My mom taught me very early on never to stand still – we keep up with the times and keep current. But there’s always the desire for the clean, classic look. I look for younger designers making contemporary looks that are rooted in a classic, traditional style.

Recently, we’ve expanded our gifts and toy selection and we’re starting to bring in a little footwear. I have these adorable little cap-toe shoes, in sparkly gold and pink for the holidays. They’re so cute, like little ballet flats with the elastic trim around the top of the shoe with a bow. They even come in baby sizes.

The Pied Piper

32 Village Square

Village of Cross Keys

Baltimore, MD 21210


Proprietor: Roseann and Robert Glick of Village Square Café

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When Roseann and Robert Glick opened the Village Square Café in 2008, they had a specific vision in mind. They wanted to create a place where everyone felt welcome, from start to finish – like the patrons of the TV show bar “Cheers,” where “everybody knows your name.”

Six years later,  they’ve done just that, establishing themselves as a reliable spot for good, homemade food and friendly, attentive service.  Here, Roseann Glick shares some of the story behind the café:

How did you get started at the restaurant?

It was clear that there was a need at the Village of Cross Keys for a casual, quick service café to serve shoppers, retail workers, office workers, village residents and the many others who frequent the village. We opened six years ago with the hope of not only serving these customers but also becoming a welcoming neighborhood destination for those in the surrounding communities, including Roland Park, Evergreen, Mount Washington, Hampden and Guilford.

What is your favorite item on the menu at Village Square Café?

That’s a tough one! I can tell you a few of our most popular items. First and foremost is our turkey club, made with house-roasted sliced turkey breast. We roast two whole turkeys each day.

Our made-to-order half-pound burgers and our Reuben sandwich are probably tied for second place.

We also serve breakfast all day, seven days a week (including nights, on the three evenings we’re open for dinner).

Last, but certainly not least, we make all of our yummy soups from scratch and offer two varieties daily. They are very popular as well – especially this time of year!

What holiday meals or plans would you recommend for your diners?

Since the holiday season tends to be a busy time of year for most, with gift shopping and extra social commitments, the Village Square Café is the perfect place to stop in for a homemade meal instead of taking the time to cook at home. We are open seven days a week (7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and three evenings a week (Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 8 p.m.)

Just so we can get a sense of the vibe of the cafe, who is someone who we would know who you could see dining at your cafe?

We’re not big celebrity followers, but I Googled “laid back celebrities” to get some ideas. One article included Tom Hanks among their nicest and most laid back celebs. Since one of the things we pride ourselves on is not being fussy and pretentious, I thought, yes, I could see Tom Hanks hanging out at our café.

What’s new and exciting at Village Square Cafe?

We’re not the kind of place that is always offering something “new and exciting.” We are the kind of place that folks can count on for a good, freshly prepared, made-to-order meal, always served with a warm welcome.

And we feature live music every Saturday evening from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., showcasing a variety of talented local musicians.

Village Square Café

66 Village Square

Village of Cross Keys

Baltimore, MD 21210


Proprietor: Maureen Gold, Manager of Ruth Shaw

Maureen and Toby at Ruth Shaw

Since it opened in 1973, Ruth Shaw has carried a variety of clothing and accessories brands selected with Baltimore’s most fashionable women in mind. Owner Ray Mitchener, who first joined the shop as a buyer in 1977, is known for his discerning eye and understanding of what makes the shopping experience enjoyable and exciting.

Over the past four decades, the shop has remained a go-to for Baltimore women looking for luxury brands. Here, Ruth Shaw’s manager and buyer Maureen Gold dishes on her experiences at Ruth Shaw – first as a customer, then as a buyer – and what is exciting in the store right now.



How did you get started at Ruth Shaw?

 My story goes back many years. I used to be a customer – on the other side. I felt like this was the only place to shop in my late 20s and 30s. It was my go-to. I developed a relationship with Ray and his staff. Ray and I had a friendship for many years and he always tried to get me to come work for him.

I had a young family at that time and it didn’t work out. When my daughter went off to school, I had a conversation with him about coming in. So instead of just being a buyer on a personal level, I came aboard as his manager, to bring a fresh perspective. That was eight years ago.

I always knew this was the place I could find great clothes and great advice. I liked that and wanted to help facilitate that in the community.

What is your favorite thing in the shop right now? And the most popular?

I am the accessories buyer, so that’s truly where my first love lies. I fought hard to bring in this line by Aurelie Bidermann. She’s a 39-year-old French jewelry designer who loves nature and layering her jewelry. She wears sleeves of bangles, all mixed and they work well together. Her turquoise and golds have such a natural, easy feel. That’s my love right now – beautiful, well-designed and well-priced (even though it’s French!).

As far as popularity goes, I think people come to us because what we carry is so different. They know when they come in, they find something they won’t find anywhere else locally. We pride ourselves in finding things you just don’t find everywhere, like waffle weave fedoras for fall/winter – they just flew out of here – and fox pom-pom skull caps in great colors.

My favorite thing is that we work really hard at finding cool sweaters. It surprises me every year – they always fly out before the cool weather even hits.

 Ruth Shaw 3


What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

 I have a lot of husbands who know their wives shop here. If I can get an idea of what the woman wants ahead of time, she can be sure to find it under her tree. But if I don’t have a heads-up, I sell jewelry. Every woman loves a piece of jewelry at Christmas – finding something in a little box! Whether it’s diamonds or a sleeve of bangles, it says they put some thought into it.

Ruth Shaw 6

 What style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at Ruth Shaw?

The first person who comes to mind is Michelle Williams. She always looks appropriately chic. She never misses. She definitely has an edited style and always just hits the mark, whether it’s the length of her skirt or the height of her shoe.

You can tell somebody who has a clean vision of the way they want to be represented in their clothing. I think that’s what we do best here. We go to the showrooms and edit down, so the collection is understandable and timeless.


What’s new and exciting at Ruth Shaw? Any trends for this fall and winter?

 Something that’s surprising me is the love of the flat. Women are going more in the direction of comfort – it’s trending, which cracks me up. Every woman has a slip-on sneaker. That came out of nowhere for me and became one of my favorite surprise trends. You can put on a leather sneaker with anything in your closet and make it look cool.

Ruth Shaw is located at 68 Village Square in the Village of Cross Keys in Baltimore. For more information, visit or call 410-537-7668.

Proprietor: Betsy B. Wendell of Octavia II


Since 1965, family-owned Octavia II has been dressing the women of Baltimore in fashions that are both sophisticated and distinguished. Run by Betsy Wendell, the granddaughter-in-law of the boutique’s founder, Octavia II has earned a reputation as a go-to stop for women with impeccable taste, who appreciate top-notch service.

In addition to having a great eye, Wendell is a strong advocate for Baltimore’s local fashion retail community. “If you don’t support the local stores, you can’t expect to get the best designers or looks,” she says. “If you buy online or while on vacation and don’t support the locals, slowly, the availability will dry up. My best customers have always told me, ‘We made it in Baltimore, we are going to spend it in Baltimore.'”

Here, Wendell dishes on the story behind Octavia II and what’s hot in the store this season:

How did you get started at Octavia II?

Octavia is a family business opened by my grandmother-in-law, Octavia Dugan. Octavia was friends with Jim Rouse, who asked her if she’d like to open a store in this thing called a “mall.”

My career in fashion was far less creative in its infancy. Pageants and modeling shoots – I was wearing the clothes, not designing and selling them. Eventually, I found my niche buying the clothes from around the world, hand-picking designs and colors just for my clients – dressing some of Baltimore’s (and beyond’s) most elite fashionistas.

What is your favorite thing in the shop right now?

My favorite items in the shop right now have got to be our incredible selection of jewelry from Gay Boyer, now called Boyer New York. Our “Pebbles and Bam Bam” necklace would make even Barbara Bush proud! Magnetic closures on the necklaces make it so even with our “old eyes,” we can wear fashionable pieces.

What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

The best holiday gift is our reversible fur trim rain jacket. It reverses to rainwear and is great for travel. It’s affordable at $1,095. It’s two coats in one and light as a feather.

For something easier on the wallet, I love our Thymes Reed Diffusers in the Frasier Fir scent, which are $65 for the liquid scent bottle, decorative container and reeds. It will last more than just this year and is a favorite gift among our customers – and the proprietors!

What style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at Octavia II?

There have been many – but we would never kiss and tell at Octavia! One day, maybe I will write a book…and hopefully my fellow Cross Keys proprietors will contribute their own chapters.

Octavia originally opened her doors to “spread the word of the Lord.” Everyone is a celebrity in that scenario!

What’s new and exciting at Octavia II? Any trends for this fall and winter?

The best trend right now is color, color and more color. Ponchos are ruling the runways of our shows and skinny leggings from Lysse and Not Your Daughters Jeans have the market covered this year. Everyone is buying into it. It has taken decades for the skinny pant to return and I’m planning on it staying for a while. Get on the wagon.

Octavia II is located at 94 Village Square in the Village at Cross Keys in Baltimore.  For more information, visit the Octavia II Facebook page or call 410-323-3066.

Proprietor: Ray Mitchener of Ruth Shaw and The Girl Next Door

Ray Mitchener looks over plans for his new store.
Ray Mitchener looks over plans for his new store.

Changes are coming to the Village of Cross Keys, with the opening of a new boutique, The Girl Next Door, this weekend. The new store is the brainchild of Ray Mitchener, owner of the luxury fashion shop Ruth Shaw. The Girl Next Door aesthetic is casual and fun and, like Ruth Shaw, the shop will carry high quality, well-designed brands.

On the 5th of December, the shop will host an official grand opening open house, featuring Helmut Lang and Lema J jewelry. “It’ll be an all-day thing and some of the proceeds of sales that day will go to Karma for Cara, an organization that is special to me.”

Karma for Cara, which promotes youth volunteerism and engagement, was founded for Cara Becker, a young woman who passed away from leukemia in 2012. Cara’s mother, Jill Becker, was Mitchener’s first customer at Ruth Shaw.

We chatted with Mitchener about what shoppers should expect from The Girl Next Door, from t-shirts to bags.

What is the story behind The Girl Next Door?

It seems to be a trend around the country, with stores of my type – designer – doing a lifestyle store as well. The Girl Next Door is for that girl who is always in jeans or leggings and just wants a quick pick me up. The aesthetics are still simple – it’s about you, not the clothes – but less expensive than Ruth Shaw.

It’ll be things like going-out tops and a lot of contemporary lines. For me, it’s like Garanimals. You can buy a piece and add to it. It’s constantly evolving and you can get a weekly fix. You can buy a top, then a t-shirt, then shorts.

When I met with the store’s architect, Charlie Chiampou (of cW Design/Build), I told him I wanted an ugly space with beautiful things. Rustic and messy with beautiful furniture and great clothes. He has amazing talent. He’s making four steel tables and the desk is a “G” for “girl.” People say you have to go to New York to get a designer. You don’t! There’s amazing talent here!

What is your favorite thing you’ll be carrying in the shop?

I love IRO, a brand out of Paris. I’ve been looking at it for a long time. They do great t-shirts and did the most amazing baby blue leather moto jacket.

What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

We have amazing gifts. Maureen [Gold, of Ruth Shaw] is the accessories buyer for the store. We have bags that are like Kelly bags but made from neoprene. They’re only about $110 and come in great colors. So many people have lost the fantasy and fun of fashion. It evolves and we have to evolve with it!

What style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at The Girl Next Door?

She would be a blend of a couple celebrities. Quirky like Katy Perry, beautiful like Blake Lively, wanting to stand out like Rooney Mara and stylish like Taylor Swift. They all have a different aesthetic.

What will be new and exciting at The Girl Next Door?

It’s stripped down luxe. Beautiful cashmeres and lifestyle-oriented clothes, like fun print t-shirts with sayings on them. I think things like that are amusing. Fun shoes, bathing suits, bags. It’s a little bit of everything for everyone.

The Girl Next Door is located at 69 Village Square in the Village of Cross Keys in Baltimore. For more information, visit

Proprietor: Patti Puller of Chezelle


At Chezelle of Cross Keys, owner Patti Puller uses her great eye and sense of style to outfit plus-size women in the latest gorgeous gear, from casual clothes to evening wear. At Chezelle, Puller carries a variety of clothing in sizes 14 to 24, as well as accessories, from jewelry to handbags, and gift items.

Plus, Chezelle is a shop with a mission. “We also carry fair trade designers that help developing countries, paying them fair wages for their talent,” says Puller. Quality fashion with a humanitarian edge.

Here, Puller shares the story behind how she got started at Chezelle and what’s happening right now in the shop:

How did you get started at Chezelle?

I started in 1992 as the manager for Linda and Doug Lamm, who were the original owners of the store. I worked as their manager until 1996, when Linda asked if I wanted to buy the store. She told me if I didn’t buy it, I would be out of a job since she would close it. I think she did that so I would buy it!

So, on October 1, 1996, I signed the legal papers to buy Chezelle.

What is your favorite thing in the shop right now?

Jewelry is in such change right now. We carry metal necklaces and chains that are basic and novel. And there’s newness in the bead necklaces with coins, woven macrame in bright colors and woods in different shapes and colors to enhance your outfits.

What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

In preparation for the holiday season, I love accessories. Scarves and jewelry are the ones I have the most fun buying. I love color and texture – I think that shows when you come into the store.

What style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at Chezelle?

Our style icons would be Oprah Winfrey, Queen Latifah and Melissa McCarthy.

What’s new and exciting at Chezelle? Any trends for this fall and winter?

It’s sweater weather! Cashmere and cotton toppers are in great colors and are just enough over your shoulders to keep you toasty.

Chezelle is located in the Village of Cross Keys, at 22 Village Square in Baltimore. 

Proprietor: Dario and Rosanna Sech of Chic Chic Boutique

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Chic Chic Boutique is a relative newcomer in Cross Keys, opening just last summer. The shop’s owners, Dario and Rosanna Sech, bring years of fashion expertise and European flair to the Village. Originally from Italy, the couple gravitates toward international brands, especially those from Canada, Italy and Greece.

They pride themselves on selecting items and brands that aren’t available at other local shops, and they cater to women of all shapes and sizes. Here, Rosanna shares some of her favorites in the shop right now:

How did you get started at Chic Chic Boutique?

After many years of retailing, my husband and I decided to start our own business since we are both passionate about fashion.

What is your favorite thing in the shop right now?

My favorite item in the store is this black, Marisamonti dress.

What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

My go-to recommendation would be one of the various beautiful, Italian sweaters we have in the store!

What style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at Chic Chic Boutique?

Halle Berry would shop at Chic Chic Boutique because she was photographed wearing one of the jackets we carry in the store!

What’s new and exciting at Chic Chic Boutique? Any trends for this fall and winter?

We have this gorgeous leather, black My Tribe jacket that I think is perfect for the fall or winter! You could dress it up or wear it casually!

Chic Chic Boutique is located at  62 Village Square in the Village of Cross Keys in Baltimore.

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