Shopping: It's go time

Despite the perception of the nation’s capital, D.C. isn’t all work and no play. In fact, often a culture fix can be found just a few blocks from the Capitol.

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So as the weather warms and the cherry blossoms flower, you, like me, may have noticed your spring fling weekend wardrobe is dominated by heavy coats and sensible outfits, which simply means it’s time to get out and explore the capital’s top shopping destinations, all conveniently located a short stroll from the office.

Capitol Hill, alive with the arts, is packed with eateries and shopping for the whole family. The Eastern Market is just a block from the Eastern Market Metro stop on 7th and C streets, and a 15-minute walk from the Capitol is the quintessential spring shopping experience. Whether it’s arts and crafts, fresh food, cute children’s toys, a summer dress or new chest of draws, if it exists, you’ll find it in some variation at Eastern Market.

A young pharmacist and aspiring jewelry maker, Pia Puatrakul is a local who followed her love into business. Spending her weekends at the Eastern Market, Pia creates and imports a range of necklaces, candles, bracelets and other cute trinkets to sell at the stall.

“I really want to transition into this eventually’ it’s what I love,” Pia said.

Jackson Collins, an artist, offers his wife’s and his own work for sale at Eastern Market, returning regularly for the atmosphere.
“If [Eastern Market] means I can do my art, I meet some people and I hang out, I’m cool with that,” he said.

His works, a colorful and eclectic mix of blues portraits and posters painted on canvas, encapsulate all the energy and liveliness found at Eastern Market, where being in a suit is very unusual and the laughter and music rings all the way to the Capitol.


Stitch DC

Across the road from the Marine Barracks, off Pennsylvania Avenue on 8th Street, a big blue door can be found, and behind it lies the prints of spring, bright yarns, cute knitting accessories and plenty of space to lay all your creativity out on the table.

Stitch D.C. is a colorful escape into the world of knitting, fabrics and crafts.

Stitch D.C. owner Marie Connolly, a real estate agent turned professional hobbyist and now Capitol Hill local says the idea was born out of luck and good timing.

“We opened in June 2004. I was selling real estate at the time, getting a little tired of it and knowing I needed a transition. I had just gotten back into knitting ... I went into places like GAP and thought, ‘I could make that’ ” she said.

“My husband was asking why isn’t there a store in town, why do we have to go all the way out to the suburbs if we want to buy yarn, and it all came together at the right time.”

Stitch D.C. has a regularly updated blog, full of information about upcoming classes and how to book, new patterns, tips, and tidbits on everything “stitch” — as well as links to Marie Connolly’s published books and patterns.


Georgetown


If the point is to get as far from the office as possible on the weekends, it’s worth checking out Georgetown’s Neapolitan-colored buildings for a busy but convenient shopping spree. Home to some of the world’s major fashion houses, as well as some D.C. designers, Georgetown offers endless options with storefronts taking up every inch of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

A bit further up Wisconsin, swing by Hardy Middle School on Sundays to find the Georgetown Flea Markets. The markets, while small, offer some of the best treasures around. Standouts include those you could only find in a Washington flea market, like political memorabilia sets, give this market its distinct identity. Outside of political memorabilia, however, the Georgetown Flea Market hosts an enormous range of goodies, most of it antique and vintage wares but also furniture, rugs, art, books, maps, fine and costume jewelry, table linens, china, vases, clothing, garden ornaments and photography equipment.