By Allie Hagerman
I have always loved small towns. I grew up visiting small towns like Gettysburg for vacation every summer with my family, but it wasn’t until I started working in the Gettysburg area that I truly started to appreciate the appeal of shopping in a small-town environment.
Visitors are often quick to explore the battlefield, museums and some of the tours that make up the list of things to do in Gettysburg. But so many people miss the opportunity to go downtown and to capture the small-town feeling that resonates in Gettysburg, from its merchants and from its streets.
And while Spring is a great time to get outside and explore Downtown Gettysburg, the town offers incredible shopping throughout the year – including the holiday season.
So when I felt like going out and stretching my muscles the other day, I set off to explore the downtown and some of the stores line the streets. With purse in hand, I wondered where to begin until some colorful objects caught my eye on the sidewalk, beckoning for me to come forward.
The hand-carved gourds hanging outside of Gallery 30 are almost as much a Gettysburg staple as some buildings that surround it. Dangling from all parts of the structure and tree stands outside the store, the gourds, painted every color of the rainbow, call for onlookers to come in and take a peek at the gallery. The gourds are easy to notice when driving or walking by and are a welcome sight to those coming into town, a kind of reassurance that you have arrived in Gettysburg.
I was drawn into Gallery 30 by the gourds, but it was the impressive displays of art that kept me there awhile. Pottery, paintings, jewelry, purses, books, cards … all beautifully crafted by dozens of artisans. Many of the items for sale pertained to a Gettysburg theme, which I liked, especially the paintings of the Chambersburg and York streets that lie just outside.
Before long, I had wandered next door to Artworks and was mesmerized by the number of intricate handmade quilts they had for sale in the back of the store. From the front of the store I didn’t know they sold quilts, but the back of the space was completely covered in them from floor to ceiling. It was like Gettysburg’s hidden secret where all the beautiful things were kept.
Not much later, I was walking briskly down York Street, past the David Wills House where history was made, and through Lincoln Square. Chambersburg Street was busy with cars as they passed stores like Adams County Winery and the Spirited Ladies Shoppe. I, however, was determined to make it to the Ragged Edge Coffee House for a little pick-me-up.
Ragged Edge was a welcome treat, and one steaming cup of hot chocolate later, I was back on the sidewalk, headed for Baltimore Street and Lark Gift Shop. With its eclectically beautiful items, I felt at home at Lark almost instantly – only made cozier by the comfortable chairs in the visitor seating area. It was a spot I felt like I could spend years in, much like many other places in Gettysburg.
I later found myself meandering on Steinwehr Avenue, one of Gettysburg’s busiest places, so I poked my head into the Country Curiosity Shop in the Dobbin House Tavern. I soon found myself face-to-face with every imaginable flavor of peppermint and other sticks – the kind I’d eaten as a kid. I think most people could find something there that would make them feel nostalgic in some way and that would give them that “small-town” feeling too.
There’s nothing quite like shopping in a small town I’ve discovered. The quality of items for sale, the service, the uniqueness of the shops … it’s all very appealing. And the feeling of walking down the streets of Gettysburg, maybe with an ice cream cone in hand, ducking in your favorite stores and maybe catching some music coming from a shop on the breeze, is a wonderful one. For visitors to Gettysburg, and even for those of us who live and work here, it is something no big town can duplicate. It’s small town appeal, and it’s certainly gotten the best of me.
About the author:
Born and raised in York, Pa., Allie is a brand new resident of Adams County. She enjoys driving around and listening to music in her shiny white car named Bianca. Dinner out with her parents and two younger brothers is always an adventure, the kind Allie enjoys scrapbooking about. To unwind, Allie spending time with her cat, Callie, or catching a favorite sitcom on TV. She currently resides in New Oxford, Pa.