The holidays are here and with them the shopping spree. While it’s easy to rely on online shopping to fill your gift list, DC has a tremendous wealth of manufacturers, independent shops, and retailers that make supporting a local small business as easy as tapping your credit card. Whether you’re shopping on Small Business Saturday or waiting a little longer to tick off your list, here are some of the district’s best small, independent businesses to support this holiday season.
Iconic stationery brand Appointed celebrates its DC roots with a new flagship store in the heart of Ivy City. In addition to retail space, the outpost also doubles as the brand’s studio and office – the result is a minimalist’s dream. An elegant notebook bar invites you to create your own notebook by choosing the paper type, cover and the option to add a monogram. The good folks at Appointed will put it together while you wait in the sunny shop, browsing the curated collection of desk accessories and writing instruments handpicked by the brand’s founder, Suann Song, from her favorite brands around the world.
This multi-brand source is enjoying a short pop-up in Georgetown now through December 31st. The collective will include nearly two dozen local manufacturers, including those based in Alexandria Tulusa, known for textiles and block-printed housewares; the jewelry and vintage leather retailer, Definitionstudio; Charix shoes; and vintage goods and disco balls Libby lives colorful.
While record buying is experiencing something of a renaissance, Home Rule Records is one of only a few dozen black-owned record stores nationwide. And this place celebrates the city’s deep musical roots. Home Rule has made a name for itself as an expert in jazz, soul, reggae funk and rare vinyl. The packed, curated space at Brightwood Park is a bastion of art, music and music discussion. In addition to the slabs, you’ll often find a local artisan selling their wares within the space.
Founded by women, jewelry studio Kicheko is a local favorite for handcrafted pieces inspired by nature, texture, travel and geometry. Bold and thoroughly modern, the pieces are designed in the district and made locally. In addition, Kicheko runs a social impact program, with a portion of the proceeds funding school scholarships for children in the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Little District Books, a new store on Barracks Row, is a queer-owned bookstore that shares and celebrates LGBTQ authors and stories. The store sells books for all ages and reading interests, from non-fiction to children’s books, novels and more. Little District Books also stock small gift items and a fun monthly book subscription that would make a perfect and generous Christmas present.
Like records, houseplants are certainly having a moment, so you should seriously consider gifting a plant or two this year. Visit this boutique plant studio specializing in houseplants, stationery and gifts. The space is designed to evoke the feel of a small urban jungle, and just stepping in to browse is a transformative experience. The Little Leaf team can offer tips on the best plants to give as gifts and use their design know-how to show what makes sense for different spaces and decor.
The Phoenix has become a staple of Washington. The shop was first opened in 1955 by a couple who traveled to Mexico annually to source unique fashion and art items. Currently run by the third generation of this family, The Phoenix continues its commitment to global and sustainable fashion, jewelry and homeware.
Salt & Sundry is celebrating 10 years in the district and now has two retail locations. The store stocks more than 200 independent brands, with around 20 local businesses and more than 180 female-owned brands. The collection has an overarching eclectic and bohemian aesthetic with globally influenced designs, making this a great place to shop for home items like candles, quality table linens, baby gifts and jewellery.
The retail post of Capitol Hill’s design firm, Sanabria & Co, is a cozy East Capitol store that sells a range of household items, from high-priced vintage finds and lavish pillows and throws to affordable locally made items like stationery, notebooks, candles and honey jars. While the aesthetic is clean, cozy, and modern, you’ll always find something unexpected here.
Is there anything more beautiful than flowers? Following a surge in online flower delivery orders during the pandemic, former journalist-turned-florist-turned-florist Holley Simmons added two spaces to her retail store: a flagship store in Eckington and a small space on Barrack’s Row on Capitol Hill. Yes, you can buy fresh flowers from local farmers, but you can also shop She Loves Me’s range of vases, candle holders, candles, puzzles, cards and other thoughtful gifts. Both locations also have a dried flower bar where you can hand-pick stems to form a dried flower bouquet, perfect for a unique and long-lasting gift.
This bright, modern storefront just outside Union Market specializes in unique fine and semi-fine jewellery, heirlooms and bespoke pieces from both shop owner Mallory Shelter and other handpicked boutique brands from around the world. Shelter has built a following for its custom engagement rings and wedding bands, but their selection of non-wedding pieces alone is worth a visit. If you’re not into the jewelry market, check out the range of quality gift items.
This unique, minimalist boutique sells clothing brands from local and international manufacturers, handpicked to the shopkeeper’s taste for timeless and quality construction. In addition to high-end clothing and some gifts, Shopkeepers has a small cafe that sells coffee, bubble tea, and select Asian foods.
This business was started by a 22 year active duty veteran who felt drawn to doing something completely different. The result is a colourful, playful shop with trendy gifts for the home and kitchen, but also baby gifts, women’s and men’s accessories, stationery and books.
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