Old Takoma: Retro to Rawhide
I'm not sure if it's the signs in store windows calling for peace and White House impeachments or the mix of vintage clothing stores and local artistic flair that scream hippie scene in Old Takoma. But it's definitely there in the few blocks of Carroll Avenue and several cross streets that make up Takoma Park's Old Town. This little-known shopping area straddling Washington and Maryland is good for unique gifts, hippie clothes and even a chew toy for Fido.
Among the mix of stores is Rerun, which sells previously-worn retro clothing and shoes, not to be confused with vintage clothing. Retro clothes are the threads people wore in the 1960s and 1970s and vintage refers to the 1920s and 30s, so says Rerun's owner. Half the store features the '60s and '70s garb, including a lacy wedding dress with a matching floppy hat for under $200 and some nicely broken-in men's Frye boots for under $50. The other half of the store has modern clothing with a hippie aesthetic. The store feels like it is stuck in a time warp with posters of Janice Joplin and Jimi Hendrix adorning the walls, along with old records and pins and bumper stickers calling for peace in the world. Some things never change.
Moonshadow and Polly Sue's are two vintage stores across the street from each other, both selling clothing, shoes and knick knacks. Moonshadow has the feel of a typical vintage store, selling a variety of clothes and shoes from as early as the 1920s, as well as vintage postcards, plates and tchotchkes. Some of the interesting finds were an Asian cloth-covered box purse for $12, vintage postcards from all the 50 states for $2 or $3 and dressy wool women's coats for around $65. Polly Sue's comes across as a vintage boutique with a wider selection of clothing, including wedding dresses for $110 to $175. I was struck by a 1960s cream dress with short jacket, a la Jackie Kennedy, for $42.
Now & Then, a few store fronts down from Polly Sue's, sold a wide variety of stuff but not in an overwhelming way like so many gift shops tend to do. The store had everything from yarn, toys, soaps and lotions to notecards and handmade purses. I found a funky purse made out of felt for $44. Who knew you could do that with an art supply popular with preschoolers.
I wandered down a curve of Carroll Avenue away from the main Old Town area and stumbled upon The Big Bad Woof . I had to go in once I spotted its mantra: "Essentials for the Socially Conscious Pet." I'm not sure my dog is very socially conscious (especially when he lifts his leg on my neighbor's manicured bushes), but I like the idea of it. The pet supply store had the run-of-the-mill toys but also a plethora of holistic medicine to treat everything from canine diabetes to digestive problems. Hey, whatever floats your boat. A large backroom also had a wide selection of upscale pet food and dog beds made from recycled materials.
I couldn't help but be enchanted by S&A Beads. The small corner store sell rows and rows of tiny beads and trinkets for jewelry making. Some of the beads go for as little as 25 cents to several dollars. Even if you're not a jewelry maker, it's worth a look.
Old Takoma even had a dose of culture with a handful of stores selling craft by local artists, including Takoma Old Town Gallery/Point of View and American Craft.
Know of any neat local shopping areas off the beaten track?
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Posted by: DJ Monet | November 8, 2007 7:53 PM
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