The Rockville branch of this area pet-store chain specializes in healthy, eco-friendly, organic toys, food, and treats. Check out the locally made food bowls by Greenbridge Pottery, or try housebreaking your dog with Chippers Training Treats, all-natural, dried meat morsels that are a good positive-reinforcement tool.
1643 Rockville Pike; 301-770-1077
Buy Buy Baby
This one-stop shop for everything infant is a favorite of new parents. The gigantic space sells practically everything a baby could need, including high chairs, formula, clothing, car seats, and diaper bags. A downstairs furniture showroom displays sturdy cribs and dressing tables. Standout brands include Burt’s Bees bath products for kids and Scandinavian nursery gear by Norway’s Stokke.
1683 Rockville Pike; 301-984-1122
Trendy junior clothing lines such as Tulle and BB Dakota fill this spacious Rockville Town Square women’s boutique. While the party dresses can be slightly risqué, the winter-coat collection features versatile styles that are fashionable without going overboard. Tagalong boyfriends will be happy to know the store also carries men’s sweaters and button-downs.
130-B Gibbs St.; 301-340-1061
The Cottage Monet
Our favorite of the Rockville Town Square gift stores, the Cottage Monet features a colorful selection of home accessories and personal knickknacks good for housewarmings and office parties. Along with the vases, plates, and decorative boxes, you’ll find Virginia- and Maryland-inspired pillows and dishtowels, Glam Naturale coin purses covered in postage stamps, and specialty jams and sauces. The shop also boasts one of the area’s largest Vera Bradley collections.
36 Maryland Ave.; 301-279-2422
Remember the days when hobbies meant more than pressing buttons on a video-game console? This bustling store is filled with old-school buildable toy kits such as model train sets, balsa-wood airplanes, remote-controlled helicopters, and launchable rockets. For novices, the friendly staff can explain the difference between tea clippers and lightships. If you’re looking for an educational children’s gift—or something the kids can share with their grandparents—this is the place to find it.
12274-G Rockville Pike; 301-468-6330
Last Call Studio by Neiman Marcus
The luxury Dallas-based store unloads overstocked inventory at its Last Call outlets, which means discounts aplenty on such designer lines as Rachel Roy, Alice & Olivia, Ali Ro, and 7 For All Mankind. Shoe lovers will appreciate this location’s selection of Tory Burch, Pour La Victoire, and Diane von Furstenberg heels and boots, and men can pick up cool jackets from English Laundry and Canterbury of New Zealand.
1601-B Rockville Pike, Suite 210; 301-230-4550
A spices-and-seasonings shop may be the last thing you’d expect to find along Rockville Pike, but Top Chef wannabes will delight in the dozens of dried chilies and curry powders, exotic spices, and free recipes scattered throughout this store. Seasonings are packed in attractive glass containers, which can also be purchased empty. Fun gift boxes come with groupings of spices for tacos, salads, baking, grilling, and more. Also available: salad dressings, pure flavor extracts, and the store’s own seasoning rubs.
1048 Rockville Pike; 301-738-8707
Pomegranate & Co.
The finds at this furniture, lighting, and upholstery shop look like they’re straight out of a South Carolina plantation home. Tables and armoires come in shades of traditional mahogany; muted beige and red florals cover love seats and sofas. Accessories include vintage prints of tropical plants and antique-looking chandeliers. The store also offers interior-design consultations.
36-D Maryland Ave.; 301-251-8577
Adventurous father/son pairs, die-hard campers, and former GIs can pass hours in this surplus store, where everything from heavy-duty camouflage coats to survival necessities are available to civilians. Less into the outdoors and more in tune with urban fashion trends? Check out the authentic Navy pea coats and sublimely simple rucksacks and duffles, all frequently featured in fashion magazines.
811 Hungerford Dr.; 301‑424‑1125
Ten Ren Tea Ginseng Co.
At this beverage emporium dedicated to the art of tea drinking, almost everything—from the pots to the plastic straws—is imported from Taiwan. While the extensive selection of ginseng root, dried herbs, and equipment is certainly impressive, the store’s primary focus is bagged and loose black, white, and Oolong teas. Looking for a hot Thai drink or bubble tea to go? The front bar is an excellent alternative to Starbucks.
825-G Rockville Pike; 301-838-8680
Ten Thousand Villages
Shop and do good at the same time at this nonprofit chain that specializes in handicrafts from mostly developing nations; proceeds benefit underprivileged artisans in 38 countries. Bestsellers include vibrant patterned napkins from India, Ghanaian soaps, delicate teacups and condiment sets from Vietnam, and colorful Guatemalan shoulder bags.
107-D Gibbs St.; 301-340-7122
The window-lined downstairs shop at the Metropolitan Center for the Visual Arts—Rockville’s artists-in-residence space—carries interesting jewelry, paintings, and photography as well as handsome wooden bowls made by local craftspeople. You’re free to wander upstairs to the studios, where a recent find was the work of Chinese calligrapher and landscape artist Bertrand Mao.
155 Gibbs St., Suite 300; 301-315-8200
For the Home
Looking to outfit a new home? Several good furniture showrooms dot Rockville Pike. Find buttery leather sofas, gigantic maple dressers, and high-end furniture lines including Stickley and Baker at Sheffield Furniture & Interiors (1582 Rockville Pike; 301-881-6010). Along with a large selection of Murphy beds, Hardwood Artisans (12266-K Rockville Pike; 301-770-0337) has pretty, locally crafted wooden tables, desks, wine cabinets, armoires, and more. For traditionally minded, family-friendly living-room, dining-room, and bedroom options, head to Bassett Furniture (1800 Rockville Pike; 301-230-2892) and Havertys (1428 Rockville Pike; 301-230-2310). Nearby chain Ethan Allen (1800 Rockville Pike; 301-984-4360) has cosmopolitan American style down pat. At Desi Living Innovations (1800-D Rockville Pike; 301-468-0101), the focus is on sleek sectional sofas and design-conscious large area rugs. Shoppers with a wide range of tastes might try Bloomingdale’s (White Flint Mall; 301-984-4600), which boasts the chain’s second-largest furniture department in the country.
This article first appeared in the February 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.