S'Wonderful Gifts delivers personalized service close to home
S’Wonderful Gifts at 2254 Lee Road can solve a gift emergency faster than a drive to a big box store. Bill Wort opened his shop in the Cedar Lee shopping district in November 2015, after 32 years as a buyer for museum shops in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. The store stocks a cross-section of gifts, from whimsical to wearable—silly and sassy socks are a perennial best-seller during the holidays.
Wort’s collection is curated but eclectic. Maybe that’s because he worked for 16 years at the Smithsonian’s Asian museums in D.C., buying things that had to be related to their Asian collections. “I don’t have that restriction now!” exclaimed Wort. “It’s fun when you go to market and think . . . I love this. I haven’t seen this before.”
His products fall into five categories: jewelry and other wearable accessories, such as watches, scarves and purses; games and toys; stationery/cards; pens/pencils; and books (mostly children’s). Whether big or small, items are laid out to be seen and enjoyed, as if in a museum.
“I hate to say this because it’s so unhumble, but I have a lot of things you don’t find everywhere,” said Wort. ”Unique things make this a good destination.“
Wort looks at the completed Lee Road rejuvenation as “momentary pain for long-term gain,” noting that street parking and turn lanes have improved business.
S'Wonderful Gifts has more natural light now, thanks to restoration of the storefront’s upper facade. Building owner Alan Kraus says coordinated new signs are in the works for all the businesses in his building, and he’s also adding a patio at the Lee/Meadowbrook corner.
Wort, who also worked as a buyer for the Navy Memorial, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the Ringling Museum in Florida, is planning to buy new games at ASTRA, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association show in Pittsburgh, this June.
He enjoys giving the personal attention shoppers don’t get in a chain store, and sees beyond his own business. “It’s about this whole block,” Wort said. “There’s a lot of vitality, and I do appreciate that my customers make the choice to shop locally. I’m enthusiastic about what’s happening at Cedar-Lee in general.”
People are realizing that it’s not true that everything on Amazon is cheaper, Wort said, adding, “Shoppers like things now, but I can get people things today. Walk in! There’s a name for that . . . a store!”
Libba Jackson-D’Ambrosi earned a bachelor of journalism from University of Missouri. Her communications career in radio, television, education, philanthropy, water and wonder runs through seven states.