Sunday, July 21, 2024

Best of Washington 2024: Where to Shop

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Best Vintage Pop-Up

Disco Loft

Photograph courtesy of Disco Loft.

Find grandma-core knits, funky candle holders, and one-of-a-kind purses (think a clutch stamped with magazine covers) at this Instagram shop curated by thrifting maven Sidney Hui. Offline, she also operates Happy Daze markets around town, bringing together dozens of local vintage resellers hawking clothes and home goods from across the decades. Seasonal clothing swaps draw hundreds of people.

 

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Best Shop for Cute Bags

Clare V.

location_on 1238 Wisconsin Ave., NW

This boutique’s LA-meets-Paris aesthetic–a little eccentric, a lot chic–is on full display at the brand’s jewel box of a shop in Georgetown. There are cute sardine sweatshirts and maman necklaces, but the biggest draw is its selection of bags, which range from mini checkerboard crossbodies to oversize fannies to open-weave totes. Customize them with straps–or just grab, say, an electric-blue resin chain to liven up any timeworn bag already in your closet.

 

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Best Place to Consign Children’s Clothes

Kid to Kid

location_on 11711 Parklawn Dr., Rockville; 575 Baltimore Pike., Bel Air; 6039 Centre­ville Crest Ln., Centreville

The new shirt you just bought your kid is already too small? For parents with piles of outgrown clothes, toys, and baby gear, this consignment chain specializes in purchasing secondhand children’s items. Bring in a bag filled with too-tiny onesies, old stuffed animals, abandoned cleats, and more, and an employee will rifle through the stuff, offering cash or store credit. No appointment necessary.

 

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Best for Statement Ear Piercings

Studs

location_on 3288 M St., NW

Photograph courtesy of Studs.

Add this portmanteau to your vocabulary: “earscaping,” the art of turning your ear into a bespoke canvas using a mix of studs, huggies, and hoops. It’s the specialty of this colorful piercing studio in Georgetown, where piercers help you choose the right placement and bling for your desired look. (All jewelry is titanium and 14-karat gold.) Piercings are done with needles rather than guns, and unlike at mall piercing stands of the past, customers are brought into individual rooms for additional privacy.

 

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Best Shop for Permanent Jewelry

Love Weld

location_on 1710 Connecticut Ave., NW

Not all TikTok trends are long-lasting, but permanent jewelry is enduring by design. At this Dupont Circle shop, you can walk in or make an appointment (depending on your jewelry selection, each slot can accommodate up to six people, ideal for special occasions such as bridesmaid gifts or graduations), and choose from a variety of 14-karat-gold chains. Once you pick your bracelet, necklace, anklet, or ring, the piece is welded together on your body, to be removed only with scissors. Add cute charms for a customized piece.

 

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Best Shop for Budding Green Thumbs

Rewild

location_on 1924 Eighth St., NW; 232 Seventh St., SE; 700 N. Randolph St., Arlington; 7937 Tuckerman Ln., North Bethesda

Photograph by Mariah Jones.

The verdant shop with locations in Shaw, Capitol Hill, Ballston, and Cabin John Village arms anxious plant parents with resources to keep home jungles alive. The staff can guide you to ideal picks–based on space and lifestyle–then send you off with a care card for each plant. Want to get more in the weeds? Workshops focus on plant basics or more intimidating blooms such as orchids. For those dealing with an overwhelming plant–a monstera outgrowing its heavy pot or a fiddle-leaf fig that won’t fit in the car–the store also offers at-home repotting or pruning.

 

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Best Reason to Shop Local Bookstores

Curated Bookseller Shelves

Lost City Books | Politics and Prose | Kramers
location_on 2467 18th St., NW | 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW; 1324 Fourth St., NE; 610 Water St., SW | 1517 Connecticut Ave., NW
language Website | Website | Website
Photograph courtesy of Lost City.

There’s something de­pressing about getting reading recommendations via algorithm, how one book leads to a nearly identical read, making your world smaller with every page. For recs with real personality and verve, you need an actual book­seller—a human one. We’re turning to the standalone shelves at bookshops where staff members show­case their idiosyncratic tastes and books that would never otherwise sit together find themselves side by side. Find them at, among others, Lost City Books, Politics and Prose, and Kramers.

 

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Best Etsy Shop Come to Life

Relume

location_on 760 C St., SE

Photograph courtesy of Relume.

If the quirky-cute small businesses on Etsy were to open a brick-and-mortar store, this Capitol Hill shop would be it. Where else can you find a hairpin shaped like an Aperol bottle, alongside a Jennifer Coolidge prayer candle, next to a ball cap emblazoned with mozzarella sticks? Baubles come from the shop’s product line plus other local and small businesses, and you can make your own items, too: Book a craft session to create customized charm jewelry and fun candles.

 

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Best Toy Store

Pippin Toy Co.

location_on 1310 King St., Alexandria

Photograph courtesy of Pippin Toy Co.

Step inside this Old Town shop and the first thing you’ll notice is the life-size house frame with a door, intentionally half-built to inspire the imagination. Owner Amy Rutherford–also behind the nearby shops Penny Post and Red Barn Mercantile–says toys are designed to meet kids where they are developmentally, focusing on games and trinkets that help children learn through play. These aren’t your average building blocks: Shelves hold a treasure trove of Japanese crayons, science kits, mini guitars, and representative dolls, including a doll with Down syndrome.

 

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Best Way to Collect Local Music

New Columbia Record Club

location_on 1264 Fifth St., NE

Flipping through crates of vinyl is a great way to discover new music–and there’s plenty to flip through at Byrdland Records near Union Market. However, the shop also offers another way to find your next favorite artist, especially if you want to support local musicians. Co-owners Joe Lapan and Alisha Edmonson operate the New Columbia Record Club, a service in which, for a monthly $33 subscription fee, members choose a record each month from a few handpicked options, always including a release from a DC band or solo artist. Recent selections have highlighted Ex-Hex frontwoman Mary Timony and soul group Skip Mahoney & The Casuals.

 

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Best for Housewarming Gifts

Salt & Sundry

location_on 1625 14th St., NW; 1301 Fourth St., NE

Photograph courtesy of Salt & Sundry.

Host and hostess gifts need to occupy a delicate sweet spot: nice but not over the top, thoughtful but not presumptuous about the recipient’s space and needs. Salt & Sundry, with locations on 14th Street and in Union Market, is an oasis for exactly these types of goodies: handmade ceramics with just-so whimsical patterns, candles so pretty you won’t want to burn them, luxe chocolate bars in hefty, pleasing wrapping. Everything is just a bit nicer than what you’d buy if you were buying it for yourself–unless, of course, you decide you deserve a treat, and who are we to say you don’t?

 

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Best for Funky Glasses

These Eyes of Mines by June Mines

location_on 3828 26th St., NE

Photograph courtesy of the store.

Carla Hall, chef and host of the Max series Chasing Flavor, is known to rock a rotation of trendy eyewear. Her eclectic collection includes at least 71 pairs, and one of her favorite spots to find frames is this boutique run by optician June Mines. “June is the person to see when you want one-of-a-kind glasses,” says Hall. “She selectively curates only one of each. She’s sort of like an eyeglasses matchmaker–pairing the right face with the right frame. I trust her to know what I want even before I do.” Appointment required.

 

This article appears in the June 2024 issue of Washingtonian.

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