By Paula Dettwiller
When Don Draper of the hit TV series Mad Men needed a Valentine’s Day gift for his wife, his loyal secretary would slip out of the office and into a nearby downtown department store. She would return with a lovely box, wrapped in colorful paper and embellished with ribbons and lace — courtesy of the department store, of course.
Complimentary gift-wrapping is almost as rare today as Don Draper’s fedora. But a few select retailers in the coastal area still offer it, for Valentine’s Day and any other occasion when a gift-wrapped package can warm someone’s heart.
Gifts from Lifestyles of Lynne in Boca Raton, like these heart-shaped Romero Britto salt and pepper shakers, are tucked into specially dyed gold boxes and tied with Lynne’s signature ribbon.
It’s a tradition appreciated by shoppers at Lifestyles of Lynne in Boca Raton’s Royal Palm Place. On a recent morning, Boca real estate agent Brian Jones stopped into Lynne’s to buy a housewarming gift for a client. He was happy to learn that owner Lynne Reiss would wrap the gift in her signature gold box with leopard-print chiffon ribbon.
“I went shopping over the holidays at Macy’s in Water Tower Place in Chicago,” Jones told her. “You know — the upscale tower where Oprah lives? I was shocked to find that Macy’s stopped gift-wrapping. How can you be Macy’s and not do gift wrapping?”
Reiss just nodded and kept wrapping. “I’ve always felt that if someone comes into a gift store, they want the entire gift experience, soup to nuts,” she says. She’s been wrapping gifts, complete with free gift card enclosures, since opening the store in 2002.
“In the beginning, it was a major bone of contention with my accountant, who was looking out for the longevity of my business,” Reiss says. “He suggested I do away with gift wrapping to cut back on expenses. I told him, ‘Don’t even go there, it’s not going to happen.’ ”
The Petite Connection on East Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach is similarly committed to complimentary gift-wrapping. They’ve been doing it since the business opened in 1989. They also offer free gift delivery. Owner Theresia Frost says people remember that extra level of service and keep coming back.
“We have a few husbands who call and say ‘Pick out something nice for my wife, wrap it, and deliver it,’ ” Frost says. And they do.
Even Don Draper didn’t have it that good.
Instead of wrapping paper and ribbon, The Petite Connection uses items from nature, both to contain and decorate the gifts. It’s a reflection of the store’s interior design, where scarves hang from a bamboo rod, necklaces drape over bits of driftwood, and a stylish handbag perches on a weathered log.
The natural look is the work of gift-wrap specialist Sandy Remo, who has worked at The Petite Connection for 12 years.
“After windstorms I run around and pick up branches and all the stuff that falls out of trees,” Remo says. “I take them home, put them on my porch to dry, wash them, and they’re ready to go.”
Remo wraps every gift differently, depending on its size and the “sticks and stones” she has on hand. “Men tend to like it, and I’m not quite sure why,” Remo says with a laugh. “But I always ask the customer first: Do you want it wrapped with traditional paper and ribbon, or my way?”
A sleek red leather jewelry pouch doubles as gift-wrap for a sparkling bauble or a gift certificate from Private Jewelers in Delray Beach. Photo by Tim Stepien
Cupid’s Artistic Touch
Across the street at Private Jewelers, the Valentine’s Day gift wrap is itself a gift: a soft red leather travel pouch for jewelry. Tied with a silk ribbon, the pouch has several zippered compartments inside to hide a pin, pendant or set of earrings. The pouch is also a clever way to give the gift of shopping: It can be folded around a gift certificate.
“Men are spontaneous shoppers for Valentine’s Day,” says one sales representative. “They tend to shop at the last minute. Their gift choices come from the heart — whatever they’re feeling at the moment. But if they’re just not sure about her tastes, we have a luxurious way to present a gift certificate.”
Pre-wrapped gifts in all sizes and price points are lavishly wrapped in Joy of Palm Beach’s distinctive chocolate brown and sky blue palette. Photo by Jerry Lower
Last-minute Romeos who drop in at Joy of Palm Beach on Royal Poinciana Way on Palm Beach not only get free gift wrap, they also avoid the wait. Gifts of all shapes and sizes are pre-wrapped in Joy’s signature colors of chocolate brown and sky blue, and displayed next to a sample of whatever gift is inside the box. Co-owner Joyce McLeary says customers love it.
“They can pull right up to the store, run in, and get something in their price range that’s already beautifully wrapped,” she says. “It makes their life easier.” For those who buy the more expensive gifts, the store is also happy to deliver.
McLeary, who opened her store Nov. 1, hopes her distinctive brown and blue gift wrap becomes as recognizable and desired as Tiffany’s little blue box. For now, one thing is certain. In the words of one male shopper: “My wife’s
gonna know I didn’t wrap this.”