From the moment I stepped out into the picturesque city of Florence, I fell in love. The beautiful Arno River, combined with the iconic duomo and big-city feel, made me realize this was my favorite place in Italy. Walking from street to street, I could smell the smooth aroma of leather. I immediately drifted off into fashion heaven. The first time I visited Florence, I was on spring break with my mom and dad. We had just finished our tour of the Accademia. After a quick treat, we passed by leather store after leather store until we found one that caught our eye: Gabi. I could not quite pinpoint why this store was so special; maybe it was the exquisite window displays, or the immense amount of merchandise that came in every color imaginable. We walked in and were instantly greeted by friendly Florentines. Their English was impeccable which made conversing with them that much easier. We asked them about their leather practice, and it did not take long to learn that they sourced everything locally. After looking around the beautiful store and feeling the handbags and coats, it was easy to see and smell that this leather was a cut above the rest. Needless to say, we were not in the leather market anymore. They were the perfect amount of helpful but not pushy, friendly rather than sleazy salesmen. After undressing numerous mannequins and looking through different mirrors, my mom, dad, and I each picked out a jacket that we loved. What makes this store even more special was my return to it two more times. When we went to Florence as a class, I was lucky enough to show my sister the ropes of Gabi. This time, there was a different woman working with her dog, George. George was an English bulldog that held an oddly close resemblance to Uga, the mascot of my sister’s alma mater. My sister travelled to Italy with her boyfriend, who tried on a few jackets. Though he was unable to make the final purchase, I went back later to buy his favorite jacket. (It’s going to be a birthday present, he just doesn’t know it yet.) I also picked out a genuine snakeskin purse for my sister. If I had any doubt about whether or not the purse was real, it quickly vanished the moment I felt the groves of the snakeskin. Though Gabi was a beautiful store with tons of products, the people that worked there made the store stand out. Unlike in the leather market, where one is constantly being pressured to buy products, this shopping experience was completely relaxed. Obviously, they wanted us to buy some of their merchandise, but they were also interested in hearing our backstory. They created locally sourced, well made products for reasonable prices. All in all, the experience at Gabi was lovely. My only regret is that we did not stay longer.