Look for gauzy embroidered tunics, shirred maxi-dresses in wild prints, and denim at this outpost of the Baltimore-based chainlet aimed at the young and the young at heart. Well-known labels such as Free People share space with under-the-radar brands like Funky People and Flying Tomato. The store also stocks fun wallets and accessories, and there’s a tiny sportswear section for men. 130-B Gibbs St.; 301-340-1061.
Searching for a rattan sea horse? You’re likely to find it at this nicely staged gift and home-furnishings shop where stylish baby togs from Italy share space with bright linens from France. There are also ceramics from Vietri, Italy; pewter serveware from Mariposa; and everything Vera Bradley—quilted bags, clipboards, pens, all in her trademark floral and paisley prints. 36-H Maryland Ave.; 301-279-2422; cottagemonet.com.
The mood is one of yesteryear, with toile and taffeta and antique reproductions of library tables and Regency-style benches. But there’s a breezy feel to this shop that’s anything but stuffy. Seda France candles, hand-painted Art Deco–style wastebaskets, and gilt-framed archival prints of fruit and flowers make it an unexpected destination for gifts, too. 36-D Maryland Ave.; 301-251-8577; pomegranate-co.com.
Shop and do good at the same time at the Rockville outpost of this chain that markets handicrafts from artisans in mostly developing nations. Wares cut a wide swath—crocheted hammocks from India, finger puppets from Peru, bead necklaces from Kenya. Fair trade was the standard here decades before it got trendy. 107 Gibbs St.; 301-340-7122; rockville.tenthousandvillages.com.
Kids will be entranced by the bright rain slickers and umbrellas hanging from the ceiling, rows of Playmobil habitats, and Melissa & Doug wooden toys at this well-stocked toy store. There’s a great stuffed-animal collection and some birthday-wish items, too, including a kid-size wooden stove and fridge. 36-C Maryland Ave.; 301-251-0220; toykingdomllc.com.
This light-filled shop at Rockville’s new Visual Arts Center showcases work by resident artists as well as quirky gift items. Among the finds are Mindy Lam’s delicate crystal-and-pearl jewelry, popular with brides; Mimi Harris’s whimsical necklaces fashioned from metal, stone, and found objects; and Bertrand Mao’s elegant Chinese-calligraphy graphics. Upstairs, the Rooftop (rockvillerooftop.com), an open-air event space, hosts South Beach–inspired parties every Thursday evening through October. 155 Gibbs St.; 301-315-8200; visartscenter.org.
This gallery showcasing North American artists has an earthy, contemporary vibe. The smattering of crafts includes glazed raku pottery, hand-dyed silk scarves, and glass sculpture. A collection of carved wooden items—gleaming salad servers, bowls with bright interiors, wooden boxes, and toys—is a standout. 33 Maryland Ave., 301-279-7525; thewaygoose.com.
An elegant fountain pen might inspire you to write the Great American Novel, or at least a letter. Owner and pen enthusiast Bert Oser sells stylish writing instruments from Waterman and Mont Blanc along with more obscure European labels such as Aurora, makers of the ornate gold-filigreed Venezia, and Lamy, known for its ultra-sleek pens. The store also sells linen-bound notebooks, a collection of Filofaxes, and clever greeting cards. 301-468-6939; bertramsinkwell.com.
Owner Ingrid Cooper thinks of jewelry as art. Her sliver of a showroom has a spare, modern aesthetic, with brushed stainless steel, platinum, and gold set with diamonds and gemstones. The creations—from German designers such as Xen and Henrich & Denzel—are by turns playful and sleek. For brides and grooms, there’s a chic glass case of engagement and wedding bands. 301-881-3534.
Those who worship at the altar of Tumi will find a wide range of roll-ons, duffles, soft suitcases, and totes at this stuffed-to-the-gills luggage shop. There’s also a collection of Sandstorm’s retro canvas-and-leather bags as well as sherbet-hued wallets and handbags from the preppy label Lodis. 301-984-4466.
Paul Wu has been selling cultured, freshwater, and South Sea pearls for almost 30 years; he goes to the yearly “harvest” auction in Japan to buy them. Though there are scores of lovely pearl rings, bracelets, and pendants, it’s the long strands of gleaming unknotted pearls in different sizes and lengths that catch the eye. Choose your clasp, and in three days you’ve got an heirloom to pass down to your children. 301-984-8422.
With cozy niches and distressed walls, this retro-meets-boho chain has the feel of a hip SoHo warehouse. Clothing, accessories, linens, books, furniture, and tabletop wares are in artful disarray. (The Rockville outlet of this national retailer has one of the area’s bigger home-goods departments.) Look no further if you’re after a goat-leather handbag or dinner plates with Ludwig Bemelmans–inspired scrawls of the Eiffel Tower. 11500 Rockville Pike; 301-230-6520; anthropologie.com.
New parents have been known to visit this one-stop shop for babies and toddlers every weekend. Set up like a supermarket, it’s the place to pick up a portable wipes warmer, Dan Zanes CD, or George Jetson–style high chair. You’ll also find strollers, car seats, cribs, formula, diapers, clothing, and toys—pretty much everything a baby could need. 1683 Rockville Pike; 301-984-1122; buybuybaby.com.
Before Nintendo, people spent leisure time building really cool stuff, such as replicas of the Titanic and Lionel train loops. Hobby Works sells all matter of paraphernalia for the avid hobbyist and hobbyist-in-training—from the simplest balsa-wood airplanes and snap-together skeletons to intricate box kites and Civil War soldiers for grand-scale reenactments of Antietam. 12274-G Rockville Pike; 301-468-6330; hobbyworks.com.
Whether you’re making a Moroccan tagine or Mexican hot chocolate, this spice shop has the goods. Crushed aleppo chili peppers from Turkey, Tellicherry Indian peppercorns, smoked Spanish paprika, and intense Mexican vanilla beans are among the finds. Penzeys also blends its own seasoning rubs. The Singapore, a 17-ingredient mix, adds a zippy lemon-pepper-curry flavor to Cornish hen and other poultry. 1048 Rockville Pike; 301-738-8707; penzeys.com.
This article first appeared in the August 2009 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here.