Fair Trade Gift Shop opens in Berryville
My Neighbor and Me, a new Fair Trade gift shop in Berryville, opened its doors in September at 317 First Street (Boom Road) in Berryville across from the old box factory and down the street from the Opus Oaks art studio. Nestled in the enclosed porch of Christina Kraybill’s 1875 railroad house, it features products from Ten Thousand Villages, SERRV International, Global Good Partners, and Good Paper.
The idea for the shop grew out of Kraybill’s “desire to work with small fair trade groups. Small size should not mean limited opportunity,” says Kraybill. “I knew groups existed whose size was just too small to be represented by organizations such as Ten Thousand Villages.”
As often happens, says Kraybill, answers come almost before the question is asked. “Enter the Mennonite Women and their connection to Threads of Hope from Guatemala and My Sister’s Company from The Gambia.” Both groups wanted assistance in selling their handcrafted items more frequently through face to face interactions. Threads of Hope Weavers’ Co-op is twenty-five K’ekchi Mayan women who provide handcrafted tablecloths, table runners, basket liners, and bags woven on back looms. My Sister’s Company is a group of Muslim and Christian women from The Gambia who make batiks, clothing, jewelry, aprons, bags, and potholders for businesses in the United Kingdom and United States.
My Neighbor and Me features handcrafted gifts from around the world for all ages: home furnishings from Guatemala, The Gambia, and Zambia; clothing from Peru and The Gambia; jewelry from The Gambia, Kenya, and Uganda; cards from Malawi, The Gambia, Rwanda, and Philippines; whole-bean coffees from Winchester Coffee Roasters; Mennonite cookbooks; baskets from Bangladesh; soap from India and Israel; kitchen accessories from Vietnam, India, Kenya, and The Gambia; and chocolate from Ghana/Germany, plus many more unique gift items including some for pets.
My Neighbor and Me is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10am–8pm. For information, call 540-955-1711, or visit www.myneighborandme.com or see Facebook under My Neighbor and Me.
Cookie Guy ready for holidays
It’s been nearly a year since Dan Lantonio’s Cookie Guy opened on Crow Street in Berryville, where he bakes an assortment of cookies, brownies, and cakes fresh from scratch. Since then the shop has become a popular morning spot for coffee and a sweet treat. Lantonio recently added a few tables to create a café atmosphere that invites patrons to stay awhile and jawbone over their morning Joe.
Now he’s gearing up for his busiest time of year shipping holiday gift boxes that had long been popular when Lantonio’s business was based in Loudoun County. “When you order a gift box, you know you’re getting something that was baked and shipped in the same day,” he said.
Lantonio admits his cake prices are a little higher than can be found in big supermarkets. “Anyone can bake a cake a lot cheaper when, for example, their butter cream comes from a five-gallon bucket,” he said. And those butter creams include hydrogenated oils and preservatives, according to Lantonio. “I make mine from scratch on the day I bake the cake,” he said.
Lantonio is also a personal chef, preparing meals and dinner parties for customers in their own kitchens. That’s how the Cookie Guy business got started. His customers loved his desserts so much they were asking for gift boxes for the holidays. Then he started getting requests to supply treats for office parties, which led to even more gift boxes.
“I don’t use any artificial ingredients or preservatives,” said Lantonio. “In fact, I refuse to freeze my cookie dough.”
Lantonio also brews fresh Virginia-roasted Cabin Creek coffees available by the cup, and he stocks the brand in convenient half-pound packages. Cabin Creek’s espresso roast is featured in the chocolates he makes onsite. “My homemade hot chocolate has been a huge hit with kids, too,” said Lantonio.
“I love this town,” he said. “The people here are terrific.”
The Cookie Guy is open Tuesdays, 11am–6pm, Wednesday–Friday 8am–6pm, and Saturdays 9am–6pm at 23 Crow Street (571-230-6418). Order for shipment at www.thecookieguy.com, and find out which cookies and coffees he is serving up each day at facebook.com/pages/the-cookie-guy.