Dickens Gifts Since 1967

It’s been 48 years since the owners of Dickens Gift Shoppe opened their doors on the 76 Strip in Branson, Mo. They have greeted guests from around the country with their gifts, Branson collectibles and local artists. One year ago April 2013, the store relocated to the Grand Village Shops and I had the great honor of spending some time with this wonderful family last week. The store has evolved over the years, but it continues to be run by the Dickens, now 3 generations strong.

One thing these guys have down, is their ability to make the most amazing homemade fudge. In fact, Dianne (owner) and her daughter make the fudge and they are always coming up with new flavors to try. This last month, they debuted their Carrot Cake fudge and I was one of the first to taste this mouth watering treat. It really does taste exactly like carrot cake. You have to  try it.


However, fudge isn’t their only specialty. They carry locally made foods like jams, jellies, but they also carry locally made arts and crafts. In fact, they have someone who makes homemade lye soap for their store. It is wonderful. They carry metal signs, yard art and flags, bird houses, Branson souvenirs, beautiful wind chimes, and more.

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One of the most interesting items in their store is the GingerSnaps line. It is a line of jewelry that you can change to go with any outfit. When I was there visiting, they sold several pieces. It’s pretty and practical with a small price tag. Everyone in your family can find something to love in Dickens Gift Shoppe.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get your shopping on!!

– Erin Wicker

Treats from the Experts in Homemade Goodness

Sugar Leaf Bakery & Cafe at the Grand Village Shops
Sugar Leaf Bakery & Cafe at the Grand Village Shops

If you are looking for delicious food in Branson, Mo. , look no further than Sugar Leaf Bakery & Cafe at the Grand Village Shops on Highway 76. Owners Todd and Lori Jansen come from humble beginnings. The couple reins from a small town in Nebraska, but moved to Branson in 1996 with their family. It started as a dream, but with a ton of hard work and persistence, Sugar Leaf Bakery made it’s first cookie in 2004.

Sugar Leaf Wedding Cake on the cover of 417 Magazine
Sugar Leaf Wedding Cake on the cover of 417 Magazine

They have made the Grand Village Shops their home for the past 5 years and have greeted guests from all over the world to taste their homemade goodness. In fact, 417 Magazine has written many articles about Sugar Leaf’s cuisine and wedding cakes. Watch video about Sugar Leaf Bakery & Cafe

Each month, they have monthly sandwich specials and they are open year round. Come in and enjoy one of their award winning sandwiches, flavored Iced Teas, or desserts that will knock your socks off. I’m sure you will make Sugar Leaf Bakery & Cafe a MUST on your next visit to Branson, Mo. Visit their website for a complete menu HERE.

Post your Sugar Leaf Bakery Photos to our facebook page HERE.

This post made me hungry. I’m off to Sugar Leaf for some chicken salad and a peach tea. See you there!


-Erin Wicker

Made by Hand in the USA

I stopped by Peter Engler Woodcarving and Design Shop last week to meet the owner, Mary Bowman. I am truly fascinated by this shop, which displays local art from over 150 artists. I wanted to find out how this shop began. By the way,  If you are a supporter of items made right here in the United States, this is your store.IMG_3083

The original owner, Peter Engler was a famous woodcarver who began selling his wares in 1962 at Branson’s Silver Dollar City theme park. He believed that everyone should learn some type of craft and he strived to keep the art of woodcarving alive through generations. Mr. Engler made a huge impact on the Ozarks as the founder of the Fall Arts and Crafts Festival and the Ozark Mountain Christmas, both at Silver Dollar City. Peter passed away in 2012, but his legacy remains.

Peter Engler Designs

Mary Bowman, Peter’s friend and business partner, is now the sole owner of Peter Engler Woodcarving and Design Shop. She has kept his dream alive by selling everything you might need to begin the art of woodcarving, i.e. wood, wood carving tools, books, etc. Oh, and she too is a woodcarver and painter who learned the art from Peter. You can purchase any of Peter Engler’s remaining art pieces while they last. They are one of a kind, signed pieces and once they are gone, they are gone.


Peter Engler Original

Not only can you learn how to carve at this shop, but you can also learn the art of pottery. Local Potter, Tracy Adams, owner of Potternot Pottery, can also be found several days per week in the back of the store on her potter’s wheel. She began her artistic career at Silver Dollar City. She now has a huge following and I can see why. She makes everything from baking dishes to candle holders. Stop by and meet her. She gives live demonstrations on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday afternoons.

Tracy Adams, Potter

This store is full of life. It’s Americana at it’s finest. Stop by and meet this talented group of local artisans. They’ll be glad you did.

” it’s the journey that’s most important.” – Peter Engler

courtesy of Greenlawn Funeral Home
courtesy of Greenlawn Funeral Home

See you at the Grand Village Shops!

Follow Grand Village on Facebook.

-Erin Wicker



From Cow Hide to Leather Belt…

Remember the Golden Age when American Craftsmen made things from scratch? Where hand crafted items were highly regarded and appreciated? It seems a distant memory to many of us who live today, in a new Tech-Savy age where iPhones, Computers, and Social Media seem to have taken over. You can literally find anything that you want or need at the touch of a button.

Let me introduce you to someone who stills believes in the art of leatherwork and who has been crafting with leather for more than 40 years. Meet Greg, owner of Sunrise Leather Works at the Grand Village Shops. He started his business at the age of 16. It has now blossomed into a thriving leather shop full of handmade leather crafts like belts, phone cases, money clips, hats, purses, etc.


Craig, owner of Sunrise Leather Works
Greg, owner of Sunrise Leather Works

I met with Greg to learn the process of how a belt is created, starting with a cow and ending with a gorgeous work of art. Leather is unique; different from any “cloth” put together by man, for it is the actual skin of an animal that grew as the animal grew. The skins of cows provide most of the leather for carving.

These skins must be vegetable tanned so that they will readily absorb moisture, allowing you to mold and form the leather easily. After the 2 week tanning process, the leather is shipped to Greg in “sides”. See Diagram A for the layout of a hide.

the parts of a cow hide
the parts of a cow hide

Greg and his team of toolers, Virgil and Danny, cut the hides into long strips and begin the tooling process. (See Diagram B) After the belt is finished being tooled, Greg takes it back to his shop to airbrush. The entire process takes a month to complete. The finished product is then put on the shelf for sale.


The art of leather tooling.
The art of leather tooling.

The work that goes into 1 belt is truly unbelievable. Stop by Sunrise Leather Works at the Grand Village Shops and see these beautiful works of art for yourself.

This is leather tooler, Virgil who works at Sunrise Leather Works.
This is leather tooler, Virgil who works at Sunrise Leather Works.



Explore one-of-a-kind shops in a quaint little village where magic and memories lie behind every door.