Cute Shop, Hon: Great Stores in Baltimore

Baltimore has become a hip shopping spot—with interesting fashions and housewares you won’t find anywhere else.

In the past two years, Baltimore has seen an explosion of new boutiques and stores. No longer is “Bawlmer,” as locals call it, known just for the Orioles and the aquarium—it’s become a shopping destination.

The four main shopping areas are Hampden, Federal Hill, Fells Point, and Harbor East. You can easily visit two or more in a day, and friendly store owners are happy to recommend other shopping and dining. It’s called Charm City for a reason.

I’d recommend starting a day trip in Hampden, where you’ll find more than 100 merchants along West 36th Street, or “the Avenue.”

Make your first stop Form (1115 W. 36th St.; 410-889-3116;, where owner Aimee Bracken stocks such fashionista-friendly lines as Vera Wang, Lavender Label, Graham and Spencer, and Alvin Valley. Next, pop a few doors down to Shine Collective (1007 W. 36th St.; 410-366-6100; You’ll find vintage furniture plus contemporary fashions including Joe’s Jeans and great local jewelry by Valentina Black.

Hometown Girl & Co. (1001 W. 36th St.; 410-662-4438; sells an interesting selection of Baltimore keepsakes. Don’t miss Red Tree (921 W. 36th St.; 410-366-3456; redtreebaltimore) for one-of-a-kind furniture, housewares—many of them ecofriendly—and accessories like Kobo soy candles.

Hungry? Famed Cafe Hon (1002 W. 36th St.; 410-243-1230; is home to the founder of the annual Honfest, a celebration of all things Baltimore each June. You can’t miss the cafe—there’s a two-story pink flamingo outside. Locals also love Golden West Cafe (1105 W. 36th St.; 410-889-8891; for every meal from breakfast to a late-night snack.

To check out emerging local designers and one-of-a-kind merchandise, make one last stop at Doubledutch Boutique (3616 Falls Rd.; 410-554-0055;, where modern lines include Corey Lynn Calter, House of Spy, and BB Dakota.

After exploring the Avenue, you could get back in the car and head to Federal Hill.

Federal Hill is known for its nightlife, but during the day South Charles Street is filled with friends shopping and enjoying lunch at one of the many restaurants and coffeehouses.

A good place to start is Babe (910 S. Charles St.; 410-244-5114;, where contemporary styles mix with premium denim by Rich & Skinny and Hudson. Next door at Funky Beehive (906 S. Charles St.; 410-685-4483; are whimsical tchotchkes such as message beans that, when watered, “grow” messages for the recipient.

A block down is Holly G. (1018 S. Charles St.; 410-962-1506;, named after owner Joanna Salas’s favorite character, Holly Golightly, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The clothes are elegant and feminine.

Across the street, newcomer Whimsy and Reason (1033 S. Charles St.; 410-234-0204; stocks stylish women’s clothing on the first floor and men’s on the second. The Bottom Drawer (1003 S. Charles St.; 410-783-8998) is the place to finish off a new outfit with a lacy underthing that’s classy yet not too covered up.

If you have the time and energy, head across town to Harbor East and Fells Point.

At Harbor East, a new high-rise development with beautiful lofts and condos overlooking the harbor, Washington retailers Urban Chic (811 Aliceanna St.; 410-685-1601;, South Moon Under (815 Aliceanna St.; 410-685-7820;, and Sassanova (805 Aliceanna St.; 410-244-1114; have opened outposts. The Baltimore branches are worth a peek—some are bigger than the Washington originals.

Don’t miss the tiny gem Handbags in the City (840 Aliceanna St.; 410-528-1443; for names such as Be&D, Botkier, and Michael Kors plus a small selection of clothing and jewelry.

Satisfy an afternoon craving at Glarus Chocolatier (644 S. Exeter St.; 410-727-6601;, where the locally made Swiss chocolates include Champagne and kirsch flavors.

Less than a mile away is Fells Point, where you can stroll along the water—check out the big ships in the harbor—before grabbing a drink at one of the pubs lining the cobblestone streets.

Feet starting to hurt? Trade in your kicks at Poppy and Stella (728 S. Broadway; 410-522-1970;, where you’ll find shoes, bags, and jewelry by Frye, Jeffrey Campbell, Matt & Nat, and others. Across the street is Cupcake (813 S. Broadway; 410-522-0941;, an airy boutique with deals on such names as BCBG and Vince. Killer Trash (602 S. Broadway; 410-675-2449) is worth a look if you’re willing to dig for bargains. The shop is packed with consignment clothing.

If you’d like to stay for dinner, book a table at Kali’s Court (1606 Thames St.; 410-276-4700;, a Mediterranean seafood spot. Ask to sit in the outdoor courtyard if the weather is nice. Kali’s Mezze is its less expensive sister spot, serving tapas. Meli Patisserie and Bistro (1636 Thames St.; 410-534-6354; is also popular.

This article first appeared in the September 2008 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here

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