Beginning on Nov. 18, the “Ding” Darling Nature Store will host a series of holiday and other special events and promotions in honor the 40th anniversary of the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge. It operates the two physical stores on Sanibel Island and ShopDingDarling.com online in support of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
Most of the events, unless otherwise noted, take place at Nature Store2 at 2250 Periwinkle Way. Thursday, Nov. 18, marks the annual After-Hours Holiday Shopping at Nature Store2 from 4 to 7 p.m., featuring food, drinks, giveaways, and free holiday gift wrapping.
The store will debut the 2022 collectible Luc Century Holiday Ornament for general sale that night. The new, limited-edition ornament for DDWS’ 40th showcases the society’s logo bird, the anhinga. This year for the first time, the ornament annually etched by Sanibel artist Century will be oval in shape rather than the traditional circular glass ornament.
DDWS will also host a daytime Holiday Shopping event at its flagship store in the “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Store at the refuge on Tuesday, Nov. 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with specials, giveaways, and free holiday gift wrapping.
On Saturday, Nov. 20, Art of Conservation headlines visits and signings by three local artists at Nature Store2. This year’s artist in residence, nature painter Rachel Pierce, will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The store will be debuting holiday cards designed by Pierce that day. In the afternoon, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., famed nature photographer Clyde Butcher and his photographer-artist wife, Niki Butcher, will be making personal meet-and-greet appearances.
Nature Store2 also will be participating in the island-wide Luminary Night, Friday, Dec. 3, by extending store hours to 9 p.m. and offering refreshments and special buys.
In keeping with its anniversary theme, the stores will be unveiling one new specialty item for every decade DDWS has been in existence supporting refuge education, research, land acquisition and restoration, and other conservation programs.
The first two products will be available for holiday shoppers. They include exclusive Avery Home tea towels designed especially for “Ding” Darling with seashells, manatees, roseate spoonbills, and other refuge birds. A hand-made logo coffee mug by Deneen Pottery in Minnesota in a limited-edition color scheme will also commemorate the occasion. The new items will be available at both stores and at ShopDingDarling.com.
Also new for the season, the nature stores will be selling merchandise relating to the original label artwork by Latina artist Emily Alvarez on its branded Wild Daze Ale, which rolls out Dec. 4 at a special event in Fort Myers with partner Fort Myers Brewing Co.
“All profits from Nature Store purchases go directly to benefiting wildlife and conservation,” said Nature Store manager Ann-Marie Wildman. “This always has been a fun way to get everyone into the holiday spirit with an altruistic twist. Shoppers can feel good about making a difference with their ‘retail therapy.’”