Andrea Topalian of Moments by Andrea Photography is a contributing photographer for GOOD Morning Wilton. She composes a regular photo essay series about life in Wilton as seen through her lens. Today, she shows us what she loves shopping local, which is more than the convenience. To her, it’s more about getting to know the people behind the counter as neighbors and friends. Take a look at what caught her eye.

I’m GUILTY! I admit it. Amazon and UPS are my best friends. Walmart and TJ Maxx are my regular shopping grounds. I’m a bargain shopper by nature but I love Wilton and shopping local is one way to help my town.

We have some really cute shops with friendly store owners and unique products. They are a part of our community and a piece of the charm that attracts home buyers to the town. It’s wonderful that the store owners get to know their clients, help them with their shopping lists and even wrap their gifts! Shopping local is like have a personal shopper!

I stopped in to a few of my favorite places to do some holiday shopping and talk to the store owners about what they love about owning a shop in Wilton.

Erica from “B Chic” (78 Old Ridgefield Rd.) has been in business for almost ten years. She opened her store the same time I started Moments By Andrea in 2006. When I met her she was one of my daughter’s pre-school teachers! One of her favorite parts of owning a store in Wilton is watching kids from Zion’s Hill Preschool Program (and her client’s kids) grow up and eventually start to shop there on their own.

I ran into a mom friend coming out of Sweet Pierre’s (5 River Rd.). She has two kids with peanut allergies and loves that Sweet Pierre’s carries a range of nut free products. The kids really look forward to the candy she gets for them there every year!

Speaking of nut free products in town, I remember the first time I saw Susan Schmitt from The Painted Cookie (196 Danbury Rd.). It was at my daughter’s recital. I love how she sells custom cookies for each performance. She loves owning a shop in her husband’s home town and being part of the community. Her cookies have become a tradition for many families including my own! We always order custom bus cookies for the first day of school and something special for each holiday with their name on it. The kids really look forward to their Painted Cookies.

I love to shoe shop at Chou Chou (21 River Rd.). I’m guilty of some self-indulgent purchases at this boutique, mostly shoes! Katie Sanford from “Chou Chou” loves to see customers’ kids growing up, going away to college and coming back to the store over the holidays to visit, work and/or shop. She also loves getting to know her clients and what they like so she can keep them in mind when buying for the store! When I was there she was helping a grandmother pick out a gift her for grand-daughter and wrapped it up for her too.

I love the quote that Ann Nash of Signature Style (72 Old Ridgefield Rd.) gave me. She said, “We not only customize product, we customize the shopping experience as well.” She’s right! That is definitely one of the biggest draws to shopping at stores like hers! Not to mention the variety of unique products that you can customize and the fact that you don’t have to drive far or fight crowds!

We all go to the Toy Chest (5 River Rd.) for birthday gifts and holidays. It’s so nice to have someone help you pick the gift and wrap it up for you!

This was my first time speaking with the owner of Wilton Hardware (21 River Rd.). I was so impressed with the story of how this Wilton resident ended up owning our local hardware store. It’s truly a part of the community (as he intended) and it’s so convenient to be able to get all your basic necessities and then some! Yet again, always a friendly face waiting to help you find what you need! You don’t find that easily at the big box stores.

I’ve known Megan Abrahamson, owner of Blue Star Bazaar (237 Danbury Rd.), for a number of years. Our sons are friends, as are we. It’s been so fun to watch her business go from table top at events to a beautifully appointed store on Rte. 7 by Naked Greens. I love how she has so many unique gifts but also a variety of tops and jewelry for moms to treat themselves while shopping for others.

I’m embarrassed to say that this was my first time going into Nod Hill Soaps (81 Old Ridgefield Rd.). I’ve seen it for a few years across from CVS and had heard great things about it but never went in. I’m so glad I made an effort to do so now. The bath products are perfect gifts! They are extra special being that they are made right there in the back of the store by the lovely owner Catherine Romer who also helps you pick out the perfect gift!

My favorite gift to receive every year is a gift certificate from Dermage (475 Danbury Rd.). I’ve been lucky enough to receive them for years from my mother-in-law for every special occasion and they never go unused!

And don’t forget about all the wonderful restaurants in town! They all offer gift certificates and even the Wilton Deli (379 Danbury Rd.) has them! The perfect gift for a high school kid that has everything!

There are numerous other stores I did not get a chance to shop at in time for this photo essay but I’m working my way around to more! I love that part of my wrapping is already done and looks much nicer than when I do it myself! I also enjoyed getting to know the store owners. Many of them old friends but I got to meet a few new ones too!

Here are a few images from my shopping trip that I thought might inspire you to shop local too!

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Certified professional photographer Andrea Topalian is a Wilton resident since 2001, a Wilton mom since 2003 and a Wilton family portrait photographer since 2006 (