Small Business Spotlight: What-Nots

Do you need help with furniture shopping? Stop by this local shop.

It's hard to resist the lure of big box stores this time of year. The turkeys are cheaper. The deals are abundant. You can usually cross all the items on your list off in one convenient shop.

But in advance of Small Business Saturday, Oakton Patch is highlighting small businesses in our area, including What-Nots.

Read a question-and-answer session with the shop's owner, Michelle Shaheen.

Give us a little history behind the What-Nots. When did you open? Why did you choose Oakton? 

What-Nots opened last year on November 29th, 2011; it was the first snow storm of the season, as I recall. Oakton, showed up in great numbers, all happy to see us. We opened in Oakton because there wasn't a store like us anywhere near and our location, an old house built in the 1940's, though somewhat hidden off the main Chain Bridge Road, seemed so appropriate to house a Vintage Furniture and Accessory Shop. It was a perfect match.

What are some of your most popular items people are buying this time of year?

People who buy at What-Nots like us because we always carry unique and interesting items, that you may not see everywhere else--a hand-carved "kissing couple" cork screw from Portugal; a pair of painted chinese ancestorial portraits on silk; a classic vintage hermes scarf. Perhaps, you were looking for a chest of drawers--we have a walnut high-boy with maple inlays from the '30's that might do nicely or a primitive cabinet believed to be from the Shenandoah Valley, late 1800's.  We have a good mix of smalls and lovely furnishings along with a large selection handmade rugs in every size and color, lamps, mirrors and art, all priced competitively and sometimes with a little room to negotiate.

Do you have any tips for buying furniture as a gift?

Buying a lovely piece of furniture as a gift is priceless.  When buying for another person, it's a good idea to stick to pieces that you know will go great in their home.  A painted piece is always welcome.  It can be mix into any room in the house and adds a great accent or feature to the room.  We have a few painted pieces at What-Nots now.  One is a beautiful Antique (115 yrs old) Chinese painted console with drawers and a cupboard space at the center.  It's artwork is signed and dated and it would be a fabulous piece for a large Media Room with the television resting upon it!  Another piece is a wash-stand whose top comes up.  It is painted in a pale yellow and dates to the late 1800's.  It makes a great bar and adds a little splash to the room!  A pair of Chairs is a safe bet:  Who doesn't need chairs?  Especially, during holiday time, chairs are key!  We have a good choice of Hitchcock chairs as well as a lovely collapsible card table with 4 folding chairs, from the late 40's with black leather and wood.  Couple this with a playing deck of cards from the '50's in the newest "cellu-tide" and you have a much loved gift!  Grandparents and parents alike might find the lovely Victorian Child's Rocker, the gift to give. At What-Nots now, it's seat has the original cane and is in good shape.  A grandchild would be happy with this cherished piece.

Why is Small Business Saturday important to you? What are you doing to participate?

Small Business Saturday brings new people into our shops. It's rather courageous of people now a days to open their own store. We want people in our neighborhoods to take advantage of what we think they may find useful in their own homes. We have taken our time to find it for them. Neighborhood stores give people the choice to buy something a little different in a familiar environment.

Extra discounts on Saturday at What-Nots. Get into the holiday spirit!

Your furniture store is competing in a market filled with big box stores. What are some challenges you face in that business environment?

Big Box Stores provide a fast-paced, in-and-out scenario for the shopper. That said, a shop like What-Nots, provides a friendly, happy environment that is cozy and warm and wants you to be there, whether you buy or not. Have a cup of cocoa or coffee and just browse; listen to the music and sing-a-long or do the 60's moves to the Four Tops or The Temptations! Check in with us on a weekly basis because we're always bringing something new in to the store. So if you don't see anything this week, perhaps, next ... we'll be here to welcome you in.

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