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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Readers select AnnSandra as one of Annandale's best gift shops

The 2014 Annie Awards, for the “best of Annandale/Mason,” were presented at Blogapalooza, the Annandale Blog’s fifth-anniversary celebration June 28. The award winners were selected by Annandale Blog readers in an open-ended survey. We’ll be profiling the winners over the next few weeks.

AnnSandra, the winner of a 2014 Annie Award for best gift shop, is the top place in Annandale to find the perfect gift for a wedding, shower, anniversary, birthday, or any other special occasion. [Actually, there was a tie in this category; the other winner, Collector’s World, will be profiled in the near future.]

Sandi Davis adjusts a display at AnnSandra.
“We have every major brand in the industry,” says AnnSandra owner Sandra (Sandi) Anne Davidson, “And if someone wants something we don’t have, we can get it.” The shop, at 4417 John Marr Drive, Annandale, has been able to stock many more gift items since it was expanded this spring.

In August 2013, Party Co, AnnSandra’s next-door neighbor, moved into a larger space in that shopping center that became available when Super Petz moved out. That allowed AnnSandra to spread into Party Co’s old space. Since the renovations were completed in April, both shops are now more than double their  previous size. That arrangement was eased by the fact that Party Co owner Richard Raport is Davidson’s brother.

The expansion allowed AnnSandra to order more items from the brands it had previously carried, put more items on display, and add new lines, such as Chilewish placemats and small rugs and Kate Spade giftware.

Here’s a sample of the items you’ll find at AnnSandra: fine china (Flora Danica, Waterford) casual dinnerware (Portmeirion, Rosenthal, Villeroy & Boch), serving pieces (Annieglass, Christofle, Mariposa, Calaisio), crystal (Waterford, WilliamYeoward), flatware (Vietri, Couzon), kitchen accessories (All-Clad, Calphalon), gourmet food (Stonewall Kitchen), luggage (Tumi), baby gifts (Swankie Blankie), and bath items (Thymes, Michel Design Works).

The trend in giftware leans toward a more casual lifestyle and more artistic designs, says Davidson, who notes that serving pieces by Michael Aram are popular wedding gifts. A lot of brides still want fine china, however, she adds.

The store hosts special events every so often featuring a representative of one its brands and some items marked down or a gift with purchase. This fall, customers will have a chance to meet Michael Wainwright, a designer from the Herend dinnerware company. At other events, engravers and calligraphers will be on hand to personalize customer’s  purchases.

The store’s foyer is always stocked with items on sale, usually marked down 50 percent. Current deals include a dip dish sets from Juliska and Julia Knight picture frames at 50 percent off.

Davidson opened AnnSandra in 1980 after having worked for years as a associate buyer for the flagship Garfinckel’s department store in downtown Washington, D.C., and as a manager at a Garfinckel’s in Maryland.

When she started the focus was on designer handbags and leather goods, she says, but “were were running out of space, so we switched to having more dinnerware.”

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