By Deb Everts

This year marks the 25th anniversary for Alexandra, one of Ellicottville’s gift shops and keystone businesses. Anyone looking for the perfect gift has a good chance to find it at Alexandra.

Located at 10 Washington St. in the heart of downtown Ellicottville, Alexandra is a contemporary gift store where shoppers will find a wide selection of items including handcrafted pottery and glassware, handcrafted jewelry, bath and body products, picture frames and fashion accessories. Over the years, Alexandra has developed a large following, especially for cards and paper products.

Owner Joan Ess, of Williamsville, said she has always searched for unusual, well-priced, high-quality merchandise and most is American- or Canadian-made. She is proud to carry handiwork made by women refugees, fair-trade items and products offered by companies that “give back.” She does all the merchandise buying on her own, but manager Lynn Timon helps with reordering.

“We are especially proud to carry jewelry and pottery made by local, American and Canadian artists, such as hand-painted glassware by Golden Hill Studio. We recently acquired a selection of magical gicleé prints by Eli Halpin, an Alaskan-born artist who now resides in Austin, Texas,” she said.

Timon, of Ellicottville, said she has managed the store for 18 years this September, and she feels blessed to work there. She said the shop carries one product in particular that customers seem to love, which is a line of pottery from Hilborn Pottery that’s handmade by ceramic artist Nancy Hilborn of Cambridge, Ontario.

“It’s a very organic looking pottery that is very unique in shape, color and finish,” she said. “People love it and many people come in to get more pieces to keep adding on to what they already have.”

Ess said the first store, founded in Buffalo in May 1993, was named after her daughter, Xandra, then it was moved to Williamsville.

“I opened the second location in Ellicottville, in 1997, because I enjoyed the atmosphere and energy of the town and wanted to participate in the growth of the village,” she said.

Although Alexandra has been a presence among the gift shops of Ellicottville for a quarter-century, Ess said her store is not one of Ellicottville’s oldest. She said Earth Arts has been in business for over 40 years and Kazoo II for about 30 years.

To find out more, call Alexandra at (716) 699-5621 or visit online at and Facebook.