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Shopaholic: Wharf Edition

When you think of The Wharf, you may think of the impressive new music venues, the cavernous Anthem or the intimate music hall Pearl Street Warehouse. You may think of tasty brunches at buzzy new restaurants, or cocktails and  nightlife. You may be dreaming of paddleboard and kayak rentals at the Recreation Pier come springtime.

What’s left to do at the Wharf? Shopping, of course.  The Wharf has a diverse selection of shops to peruse on lazy weekends. Because what else are you going to do between mimosas at Requin and a rock show at The Anthem? Just heed this advice: don’t shop after too many mimosas. Or do! Support these local retailers and get a load of great items whether fun or practical.

Since we’re talking about the Wharf here, let’s begin with Anchor, a marine supply store. But you don’t have to own a yacht or frankly even a dinghy to find some cool items in here.  Beyond boat parts and supplies, Anchor also sells cute gifts, such as anchor bottle stoppers, copper mugs etched with a map of DC, large canvas totes adorned with octopi, and lots of apparel. They also have everything needed for a picnic on a boat – plastic wine glasses, a plethora of snacks, and yes! Alcohol! Anchor sells beer and wine. So when your buddy who owns a boat (we all have one of those, right?) wants to cruise on summer days, you’ll be prepared.

Speaking of alcohol, if you’re interested in something stronger, or something a little special, go no further than Cordial Craft Wine, Beer & Spirits. If Harry Potter were a child vintner instead of a child wizard, this would be his shop with its narrowness and cozy, wooden high ceilings laden with fine wines and specialty spirits. It’s a booze nerd’s dream. Pure artisanal magic!

Sample high quality chocolates from DC’s very own Harper Macaw.

What goes well with a fine wine? Chocolate. Colin and Sarah Hartman opened DC’s first chocolate factory, Harper Macaw, in NE off Bladensburg Road in 2015, and since then, their chocolate bars can be found in cafes and specialty stores across the city. They also have a pop-up chocolate boutique at The Wharf. Step inside this modest space and be welcomed by the fragrant, decadent aroma of high quality chocolate. Harper Macaw isn’t chintzy with their product, and are happy to offer you samples.

The Wharf has an interesting mix of clothing stores, whether your wallet is plump or periodically only is home to muffin crumbs (like mine….sigh!).  A Beautiful Closet carries a  mixture of items from denim dresses, bell-sleeved colorful tops, trendy cocktail dresses, even jumpsuits (if you can pull one of those off, I tip my hat to you). Whether you want to spice up your work or weekend wardrobe, owner Pamela Sofola has something for you – and she also offers personal styling consultations (maybe you actually can rock a jumpsuit!).   A Beautiful Closet also carries a small selection of home decor, jewelry, and international items (this is to be expected: Sofola is a former employee of the World Bank).

Peruse the racks of clothing that d/eleven carries, and a few words will come to mind: fashion forward and edgy. Besides luxurious jackets, skirts, knitwear, the eponymous LBD, d/eleven also carries shoes (I drooled over leather studded booties one might see Charlize Theron in), unique pieces of jewelry, and candles.

If you’re good on clothes but the last pair of glasses you bought were some flimsy frames from a second-rate chain, you would be well-served to consider an upgrade. Blink Optical only offers the best in eyewear. We’re talking  the most exquisite, stylish brands that craft each frame by hand.  They say the eyes are the window to the soul and all, so do your soul a favor and frame those eyes in sleek, stylish frames.

At first blush, skincare and cosmetic store Blush may seem only for the ladies. But that is just not true! Guys, you too can take care of those under-eye circles and rehydrate your skin with one of those odd yet surprisingly effective single-use skin masks that make you look like Jason from Friday the 13th. Blush makes a point to carry high grade, yet reasonably priced and approachable skincare. The store is bright, welcoming, and has knowledgeable staff on hand to help address whatever skin issue you want to address. Moisturizers, masks, exfoliators, serums – Blush carries it all in a space that isn’t overwhelming.

The Martha Spak Gallery displays the artist’s nature-inspired works.

Right near Blush, you’ll find a gem of an art gallery in Martha Spak Gallery. DC-based artist Martha Spak paints ethereal paintings that evoke feelings of serenity and calm, using nature as her inspiration. Stroll in, and more often than not you will find the artist herself painting. If you’re not in the market for large-scale original art, she also sells smaller paintings, many of The Wharf and its environs, and prints as well. She reserves the center installation of her gallery for rotating “guest” artists and frequently holds open-houses and events to celebrate the artwork.

If your living space needs an upgrade and you are looking for exceptional furniture, textiles, lighting, or anything home-decor related, you’ll want to visit the Ligne Roset showroom.  They specialize in contemporary designs, marrying function with bold, stylish pieces. Because, you know deep down it’s time to part ways with that $150 Crate & Barrel couch you got off Craigslist three years ago. It’s time! Take a step into Ligne Roset and they’ll help you find the perfect piece – and they also offer professional interior design.

Maybe you just bought a snazzy new bookshelf from Ligne Roset. You know what you need to do now. Fill it with books! Beloved independent DC bookstore Politics & Prose (around since 1984) has added a new location at The Wharf. Although it is impossible to walk into Politics & Prose and leave without a book, this bookstore is so much more than a bookstore! Continuing the traditions that we’ve all come to love from the original, this 2,300 square foot space hosts an abundance of author events, on fascinating topics and serves as a community gathering space. 

The Wharf wouldn’t be complete without a yoga studio, and that yoga studio is Yoga Factory. This studio is not discipline-specific and offers a variety of yoga styles. Yoga Factory has an edge over others – their instructors are hardcore. Zeb Homison is the 2014 International Champion in yoga and has repeatedly been among the top-ranked yogis in the country. Emily Vendemmia is a five-time Mid-Atlantic Regional Yoga Champion. Yowza! These yoga powerhouses are eager to help you reach your yoga goals in this inclusive studio.  If you are new and need the requisite yoga accoutrements, staff will help you select one of the top-rated Manduka yoga mats that they offer for sale, in addition to yoga towels to help stave off the dreaded sweaty slipperiness every time you’re in down dog. Cute athletic gear and water bottles can also be found at this great studio.

You can grab a coffee and relax after stocking up on bike accessories and hardware needs at Cafe Velo inside District Hardware & Bike.

Rounding out our rundown of retail, we have a trifecta: District Hardware & Bike is your one-stop shop for your biking, hardware, and caffeine needs – grab an Americano at the Velo Cafe inside while you shop. And it’s not crammed in a teeny corner of the shop, it’s a full-fledged cafe right smack in the middle, bifurcating the bike shop and the hardware section. It’s pretty nifty to be able to pick up some bike accessories, grab some tools or gardening items, and be able to chill out with a scone and caffeinated beverage all at the same spot. The hardware store has been around since 1971 (opened by a British immigrant and WWII veteran) and remains committed to community-based, friendly service – they regularly host classes on bike maintenance, home improvement, and organize social gatherings like their Bikes, Baristas, and Beers event where you ride to Vigilante Coffee and end the 22 mile trip with some cold ones. What’s not to love about that.

Suffice to say that The Wharf is home to a unique shopping experience – so get browsing.

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