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Plenty of Local Options When Seeking Perfect Valentine's Day Gift

by and on February 08, 2015 2:00 PM

It seems like Christmas was just here and suddenly there are red hearts and flower ads everywhere you look.

No one wants to just be standing there with a card grabbed at the grocery store when your significant other hands you an attractively wrapped package or a bouquet of roses.

So, while there is still time, check out a few unique Valentine gift ideas — many from local businesses.

Are you going to your girlfriend’s house for dinner? You might consider adding a “swizzle bouquet” from Edible Arrangements, located at 337 Benner Pike, State College.

Edible Arrangements offers a nice selection of gifts just for the Valentine's Day rush. Some of the fruit bouquets and chocolate-dipped fruit are available to order through Thursday, Feb. 12, to pick up or have delivered on Valentine's Day, while others can be ordered right up to Saturday, Feb. 14. The store is offering free delivery Thursday, Feb. 12, and Sunday, Feb. 15. Call (814) 237-2323 for information.

Harper’s, the men's clothing store that has been a fixture at 114 W. College Ave. for more than 40 years, has tried to keep pace with changing fashions. The store shows its lighter side in menswear with argyles and some colorful patterned socks. Brian Cohen, a salesman at Harpers, says, “Right now, with the after-Christmas sales and markdowns, is the perfect time to shop. You can save money while pairing a shirt with coordinating tie or choosing a sport coat.”

Another local store that is filled with Valentine’s Day goodies is Barbara’s Hallmark Shop at 1637 N. Atherton St., State College. Entering the store you will immediately see a comfortable shopping setting for men or women.

Some of the items, such as valentines, stuffed animals, collectible statues, etc., will probably be familiar, but there is also much that is new and unique.

Does your man have a Wallet Ninja? About the size of a credit card and able to be carried in a wallet, it contains several useful tools, including an eyeglass repair tool, a measuring tape, a bottle opener and more. Another idea for a man is a strong magnetic-closure “pocket” that hooks on the waistband of shorts or pants. The pocket can be used to carry a phone, iPod or water bottle.

Christine Willnecker, manager and buyer at the store, says shes pleased to showcase a new product line of jewelry called “Wind and Fire.” The American company uses 100 percent recycled material in the bracelets, charms, and pendants. “The charms have imprints dealing with faith, family, social and environmental issues," she says. "A percentage of the sales support charities dealing with children with disabilities.”

Willnecker also points out the “Squish” products that are actually housewares — cutting boards, graters, strainers and other pieces that collapse to take up less space and come in bright colors.

If food items are on the list for your valentine, Barbara’s Hallmark has a variety of beer bread and beer cake mixes, plus chocolate-covered pretzels.

Heart-shaped chocolates are a favorite Valentine’s Day gift, and what could go better with those than some wine from the Mount Nittany Vineyards? Both are available at the Boalsburg Chocolate Company, 126 E. Main St. in Boalsburg.

Bill Speakman has owned the store for seven years, but his introduction to chocolate making came back in the 1970s after graduating from Slippery Rock University, when he ran a chocolate shop in Pittsburgh. He then managed Penn State’s Public Broadcasting operation and, after retirement, he turned once more to making chocolate.

“There is a demand for the sea salt caramels, pretzels and truffles,” Speakman says. “Most of the chocolate is locally made, some of it right here.”

The best chocolate needs the best ingredients, and Speakman likes to partner with companies that have access to the best because of the large volume they create. “That way, I can purchase different kinds of coatings or snacks that I choose.”

Always in good taste, too, is a photo of you, or you and your significant other, in an attractive frame. The Frame Factory and Gallery, at 426 Westerly Parkway, frames photos, art and more.

“The Framing Factory has seen some unusual items that people have asked help with,” says Bill Ebken. “We do shadow boxes, art work, needle point and other craft works.”

One of the most unusual projects was a broken dinosaur bone brought in by a customer. No, the Framing Factory didn’t frame it, but they did help to fuse the break and return it to the owner.

Now that’s customer service.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Connie Cousins covers Centre County for the Gazette.
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