Shopping: A Few Suggestions

Kristin Ahlberg | Dec 1, 2007

When not attending sessions, visiting the exhibit hall, socializing, or seeing historic sites, I tend to spend my free time at the AHA annual meeting perusing the host city's shopping options. Actually, I seek out museum gift shops and homegrown retail outposts on every trip I take, thus explaining my Kinsey Institute t-shirt, Lyndon Johnson inaugural ball bracelet, and Ghirardelli Chocolate cable car tin. Washington, D.C., offers a plethora of retail opportunities, both large and small. If you are in the market for souvenirs, handcrafted goods, or some funky magnets for the office, these 11 Metro-accessible shops are a good starting point:

Pangea Artisan Market and Café at the IFC

2121 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-872-6432
Metro: Farragut West or Foggy Bottom (Blue and Orange Lines)
Located at the International Finance Corporation Building. Among the store's many wares are adorable hand-knit toy animals from Kenya, Bolivian basketry, jewelry, serving pieces, and stationery.

The Department of the Interior's Indian Craft Shop

1849 C St. NW, 202-208-4056
Metro: Foggy Bottom (Blue and Orange Lines)
The craft shop is located within the Department of the Interior building, and accessible by presenting a government-issued ID. The shop carries a variety of pottery, basketry, rugs, quill and bead work, and books.

Tabletop DC

1608 20th St. NW, 202-387-7117
Metro: Dupont Circle (Red Line)
Tabletop is a good place to visit if you like the design style of the 1960s. The store carries Swedish designer Lotta Jansdotter's textiles, Marimekko prints, and Daphne Olive jewelry and cufflinks, among other finds.

Après Peau

1430 K St. NW, 202-783-0022
Metro: Farragut West (Blue and Orange Lines) or Farragut North (Red Line)
Peau was started by a high-powered Washington dermatologist. The skincare and accessories store carries Washington-centric chocolate bars in flavors such as Smithsonian Salty Pretzel and Washington Monument and tableware designed by the Working Class Studio of the Savannah College of Art and Design.

National Building Museum Gift Shop

401 F St. NW, 202-272-2448
Metro: Gallery Place/Chinatown (Red, Green, and Yellow Lines) or Judiciary Square (Red Line)
One of the best places to buy gifts for everyone in your coterie, especially if your best friend, like mine, is an architect. You'll find Aalto glassware, architectural design books, monument and bridge posters, Alexander Calder-inspired mobiles, and M.C. Escher lizard puzzles for the kids.

National Museum of Women in the Arts Gift Shop

1250 New York Ave. NW, 202-783-5000
Metro: Metro Center (Red, Blue, and Orange Lines)
Books, household goods, compact discs, and Frida Kahlo sticky notes. As with most museum gift shops, items on hand often correspond to a given exhibit. See what you can find.

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Gift Shop

1050 Independence Ave. SW, 202-663-4880
Metro: Smithsonian (Orange and Blue Lines) or L'Enfant Plaza (Blue, Orange, Yellow, and Green Lines)
In addition to featuring Netsuke carvings and Hokusai t-shirts for the grown-ups, the Freer/Sackler shop has great gifts for kids, including sushi-shaped erasers, Chinese brush painting kits, Qin dynasty-era terra cotta warriors, origami books, and feng shui cat sculptures.

Home Rule

1807 14th St. NW, 202-797-5544
Metro: U Street/African American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo (Green and Yellow Lines)
More quirky items for the home, including anthropomorphic kitchen gadgets. Check out some of the other stores in this part of the historic 14th and U Street community, especially Meeps and Aunt Neensie's Vintage Fashionette, Pulp, Wild Women Wear Red, POP, and Go Mama Go!

The Textile Museum Gift Shop

2320 S St. NW, 202-667-0441
Metro: Dupont Circle (Red Line)
The Textile Museum (not to mention its gift shop) is one of my favorites, as it is an international celebration of history and striking visual design. The shop features handpainted silk ties; quilts produced in Peru, China, Mali, and India; jewelry; home accessories; and one of the best selections of tote bags in the Washington, D.C., area.

Proper Topper

1350 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-842-3055
Metro: Dupont Circle (Red Line)
Hats (naturally), clothing, books, paper goods, travel items by Tepper Jackson, baby clothes and accessories.


8519 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD, 800-656-3587
Metro: Silver Spring (Red Line)
So much Marimekko, it makes my Scandinavian heart soar. The Silver Spring outpost is the third Marimekko concept store to open in the United States (the others are in Florida and Massachusetts). A mixture of 1960s-era prints and newer, edgier graphics can be found on kitchen and bath accessories, apparel, children's items, and fabric by-the-yard.

Some of Washington's other noteworthy shopping centers include:

The Shops at Union Station

50 Massachusetts Ave. NE, 800-872-7245
Metro: Union Station (Red Line)
Selected stores: Jones New York, The White House/Black Market, Jos. A. Bank

The Shops at Georgetown Park

3222 M St. NW, 202-342-8190
Metro: Accessible by MetroBus
Selected stores: Record Town, J. Crew, Dean & Deluca, Comfort One Shoes

Mazza Gallerie

5300 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202-966-6114
Metro: Friendship Heights (Red Line)
Selected stores: Williams-Sonoma, Neiman Marcus, Loehmann's, Filene's Basement

The Collection at Chevy Chase

5471-5481 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Metro: Friendship Heights (Red Line)
Selected stores: Barneys Co-op, Saks 5th Avenue, Tiffany & Co.

—Kristin Ahlberg, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee, is a historian with the Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State. Disclaimer: The preceding opinions and recommendations are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Office of the Historian, the U.S. Department of State, or the federal government.



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