Local Shops in Tyler, TX
PHOTO CREDIT: Antony Boshier
Beyond the mall and big box stores there's a vast collection of locally owned shops in Tyler that retail connoisseurs couldn't pass by.
Among the sweetest shopping spots in Tyler is the Sweet Gourmet, a charming gourmet food shop that draws customers in with a free sample of chocolate and keeps them coming back with exceptional customer service.
“We’re like an old-fashioned store from the ’50s, a time when you had to have great customer service to stay in business,” says Pam Gabriel, who quit her traveling sales job in 2005 and bought Sweet Gourmet. “We offer cooking classes and complimentary gift wrapping, and people always say they love the smell of the store with all the chocolate and fresh-roasted coffee beans.”
You never know what you’ll find here, but you can bet it will be a tasty treat.
“Our store is half chocolate and candy, half gourmet foods and kitchen niceties,” Gabriel says. “The chocolate we sell is imported direct from Belgium and France, and we have about 20 feet of fabulous chocolates made in the U.S. by chocolatiers who are running their grandparents’ businesses – everything from pecan turtles and truffles to orange creams.”
A fun retro candy section from the ’60s features hard-to-find sweets, including 60 different flavors of Jelly Bellies.
“We carry a lot of products you see on the Food Network – sauces, marinades, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, cake and scone mixes, syrups, beautiful jams and jellies, and marmalades,” Gabriel says. “We have Sweet Gourmet signature products too, like our coffeecake, white queso and salsa. I love seeing people’s faces when they walk in and say the store reminds them of when they were kids.”
Independent Tyler Shops
Other unusual shopping finds in Tyler include Karen Horton and Co., a combined gift shop and spa; Cole and Co., known for its fine jewelry, china and crystal; High Cotton, a trendy men’s clothing store; and Mary V’s By Shelby, which carries women’s apparel and accessories.
When Tyler women and girls need a special-occasion dress, one of the first places they often look is Spinout, a family-run women’s clothing store that has been serving Tyler since 1986. Owner Diane Bunker started Spinout as a paint-your-own T-shirt store 25 years ago, and it has evolved over the years into a sassy boutique carrying such designer names as Vera Bradley, Juicy Couture and Tory Burch.
Bunker says the secret to her long-lasting success has been to change with the times.
“You can’t stay stagnant – fads are always changing,” says Bunker, who runs the store with the help of her two adult daughters, Sara Seeker and Donna Alfred. “I ask my customers what they drive to Dallas to find. We try to carry exclusive brands.”
Bunker always has an eye out for the latest fashion trends and does a lot of buying in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York. Many of Spinout’s customers began shopping there as teenagers, and now they are mothers bringing in their own children.
“Middle schoolers shop with us all the way up to fun, hip grandmas,” Bunker says. “We do a substantial amount of sales online now, so Tyler girls who go off to college can still browse what we have in and still have a link to Tyler.”
Bridgette’s and Harley’s of Tyler
Bridgette’s is another Tyler store that caters to fashionable women. It opened its doors in 1992 and is still going strong almost 20 years later.
“The shopping experience at Bridgette’s starts with our customers, most of whom are already friends,” says Bridgette Manziel Hooper, owner of Bridgette’s. “Our staff will hand-select merchandise especially for you that reflects your personality and style.”
Bridgette’s husband, Harley Dean Hooper, is also in the retail business. He owns Harley’s, the premier men’s clothing store in Tyler that has been thriving more than 30 years.
“Being raised in East Texas, I have never wanted to do business anywhere else,” Bridgette says. “I love the people here. I wouldn’t think of having a business anywhere but Tyler.”
Read about more great shops in Tyler, TX.