As a Bethesda resident, it’s been a while since I’ve gone shopping in Cabin John Mall. It was a must-stop for Roy Rogers and the toy store after my daughter’s soccer games, but is no longer part of my regular routine. 

Since then, the Potomac mall has been spiffed up with new signage and shops. One of those is the gift shop Occasions, which just put the mall back on my radar.

Unlike the typical gift store, Occasions offers items you’re not likely to see anyplace else. Owner Stephanie Menick makes sure of that.

“As soon as I start seeing the things that I sell in other stores, I change it up,” she says. Owning a gift shop has been her dream since she worked at Cabin John Mall as a teenager growing up in Potomac. The Churchill High School grad eventually got into the corporate gift basket business.

Though the festively wrapped baskets (starting at $40) are the highlight, there is no shortage of gift options here.

I was immediately drawn to the Nirvanna crocheted fingerless mittens and hats made by rural artisans in Nepal for adults and children—both tucked away in my mind for holiday shopping. The kids’ versions, shaped like animals, could double as a beloved toy. A purchase supports the artists.

I especially liked the bags of whimsical holiday pastas ($6.95)—reindeer alfredo, anyone? You’ll also find decorative cookies, soaps, Scout tote bags and pretty printed jewelry boxes by Mudpie ($27).

Even the unique fixtures are for sale. Stephanie had to economize when she set up her first store at National Harbor, using antique cabinets and tables. They became so popular with her customers that she ended up selling them, too.

Menick opened the first Occasions at National Harbor in 2008, and this second location a couple of weeks ago. It’s a family affair; mom Marilyn works at the store and has her own business at Cabin John Mall—Fitness Express.

Cabin John Mall, 11325 Seven Locks Road, Potomac, 301-299-8016,