Hoot and Howl’s Stephanie Swaim on a great time shopping for gifts in the heart of Morgantown.
Stephanie Swaim left the corporate world in 2018 to open Hoot and Howl artisan shop downtown as an outlet for herself and other great makers. Today, the shop represents nearly 200 local, West Virginia, American, and small business craftspeople, with a smattering of vintage pieces and a growing plant collection.
What do you love about downtown?
It’s an eclectic mix of stores, restaurants, and people. This fall, it was truly lovely to see the ginkgo trees turning gold—with all the stores and the brick everywhere, it gives you that nostalgic small-town feel. In winter they do the big snowflakes on the light posts, and all the retail shops decorate their windows with lights and fancy things—it’s really pretty.
Where do you like to shop downtown?
For casual clothes, River Fair Trade. Shannon there has excellent dresses, and her shawls and scarves are phenomenal. For something more upscale, or for a holiday party, Coni & Franc is a beautiful women’s clothing store. Pathfinder has such good outdoor cold-weather gear. I love the handmade jewelry created by the artisans at Silver Pennies—plus you can create your own from a huge selection of stones and charms and chains. And to buy a good leather accessory for somebody—a briefcase, a purse, a fanny pack—I go to Tanner’s Alley. That’s a lifetime product because, if anything were to go wrong with it, Charlie will take care of it. It’s good for men’s gifts, too, like belts and wallets.
What about other kinds of gifts?
Definitely Appalachian Gallery. Penelyn has all this amazing West Virginia–made work, and she’s also been carrying vintage glass—a lot of mid-century-style pieces, beautiful stuff. Old Stone House has a lot of collectibles and cute stationery pieces and, for the holidays, they completely reset the store and it’s filled to the brim with treasures—all the fun holiday decor and gifts. And there’s also Bear Wood. They make everything in-house at their wood shop in Hurricane from reclaimed West Virginia wood and bourbon barrels. You can get furnishings; you can get a small magnet. Everything in the shop is so nice.
Where do you like to eat?
Both coffee shops—Blue Moose Cafe and The Grind—are great places to caffeinate, and I love the breakfast at Zeke’s. For a light bite, Apothecary Ale House. And for dinner, definitely Von Blaze. There are a lot of other great spots, but those are my favorites lately.