Georgetown, Washington DC: Sophisticated Shopping
In this neighborhood, Linda Blair was hurled down a steep staircase; the Brat Pack roamed its street; its skyline can be seen from Watergate; yet it is thousands of miles away from Hollywood.
Founded in 1751, Georgetown was not settled by George Washington, as some might deduce. Rather, two Georges settled it: George Gordon and George Beall. Located along the Potomac River in the Northwest corner of Washington, DC, Georgetown is home to Georgetown University, the Old Stone House (the oldest building in DC) and several embassies.
After transitioning through a young, hip community in the 1990s, Georgetown’s diverse districts have emerged as sophisticated, and more mature with great restaurants, unique boutique shops and upscale hotels. Charming and classic, Georgetown is bustling with change, but many people never cross the bridge to pay a visit and wander the streets. Living in Virginia, I, too, am guilty of driving straight through Georgetown. Oh, what I’ve been missing…
Let’s go shopping! - The Design DistrictCady’s Alley at 3318 M Street, N.W.
This narrow alley was home to small shops serving industrial needs such as ironworks, cobblers and blacksmiths throughout most of the twentieth century. In the new century, it was run down and obsolete, ripe for change and a developer called EastBanc recognized the possibilities.
Spanning a city block, Cady’s Alley remains true to its industrial past, maintaining the cobblestone street and structural designs such as exposed brick, and glass and steel walls in contemporary arrangements.
Deborah Kalkstein, owner of Contemporaria was coaxed from NYC to open her shop in Georgetown, thinking she was not big enough. Today, her store anchors Cady’s Alley offering chic design furniture representing over 35 manufacturers. Walking into the 4000 square foot showroom along an expansive curved walkway, I was delighted to explore the various displays of Italian furniture, lighting, kitchen and bedroom arrangements.
The Shops at Georgetown Park Mall
Fornash is a fun shop with very girly accessories. Stephanie Fornash Kennedy, the designer and proprietor, began with handbags that are now her signature. I fell in love with everything in the shop, trying on animal bangels, beads, hats, and now clothing. Her Kiss Me Knot bags are customer designed with a choice of fabrics, trims and ribbons. The clutch bags are often the choice for bridesmaid’s gifts since they can co-ordinate with the bridal colors. As much as I desired my own custom designed bag, I was also smitten by a lavender-blue shawl with a ruffle down the front. So, the beautiful custom designed-by-me handbag with pink striped fabric and custom black bow selected by me will have to wait.
Book Hill District
First stop was Susan Calloway Fine Arts a gallery distinguishing itself in antique fine art from France with a limited selection of contemporary and abstract paintings and sculpture. A specialty is their archival custom framing using hand-painted gold trim.
The Phoenix is a nearby shop showcasing colorful artwork from Mexico. The store has passed to the third generation of Hays and has added quality clothing and accessories to the art and crafts line.
Each store held something we wished to buy, and Poppy’s was no exception. Heidi Hess, the owner, draws her inspiration from her customers. She spends hours talking to a client, learning their history, their family, what they value and who they are. From this information, she symbolically weaves their story through the piece of jewelry, making it uniquely their own. Bending silver into polished rings, bracelets and necklaces, Heidi’s spirit of light effuses her creations.
In the vanguard of bicycle shops is CycleLife USA. Imagine a whole new kind of shopping experience and then take it a step further encompassing everything a cyclist could desire. When I entered this cycle heaven, it took me a few minutes to adjust to what I saw. Was this a resort or a bike shop? In my experience, a bike shop resembled a mechanic’s garage: oil, grease and a line of new and used bikes. It was a bike shop, yet a café, or was it a health spa or a gym or a club?
I was inspired to be a part of this cycle devotion to health: join the weight loss program; indulge in massages; be analyzed and tested; discuss the plan with my coach; guzzle a strawberry banana blast after a rewarding workout in the exercise room and be the person I was meant to be.
Roaming around this bike spa, I found some bike "surgery" in progress. A new bike was being assembled piece-by-piece. Lying upside down with its wheels in the air, a smart candy-apple red bike was nearly complete.
How much is that bike? I inquired.
One more question, can it have a basket and a bell? Sure! I was told. And I was sold.
When you're ready to take a break from shopping, enjoy the exquisite, petite pastries from Patisserie Poupon (1645 Wisconsin Ave., NW).
Our lovely morning concluded at the Agraria Restaurant where natural farm fresh food from a collective of 40,000 farmers is the main ingredient. It is owned by the North Dakota Farmers' Union, so the customer can be satisfied that all the ingredients are straight from a farm. Healthy, delicious eating.
Georgetown has been a dream come true for many of the shopkeepers who live and work there. Their personalities infuse their boutiques with originality and they proudly display their products that they created or selected from around the world. In this tight community of creativity, they foster their neighbor’s growth to enhance the prosperity of all.