Off the Beaten Path: Downtown Silver Spring
I'm not the biggest fan of chain stores. Yes, Target does serve a critical purpose in my life, but in terms of shopping for fun, I run from stores like Target. So it was a pleasant surprise when on a recent shopping trip to Silver Spring's City Place, I discovered a few secrets among the downtown area's plethora of chains.
Tucked between stores like Pier 1 Imports and Borders Books are shops like Living Ruff, a large pet supply store with enough charm to attract non-pet owners. You'll also stumble upon Marimekko, which sells the Finnish company's fabric but also some of its clothes and bags. Keep walking up the street and you'll find Adega Wine Cellars and Cafe, a small eatery that also has a wine section filled with all kinds of reds and whites. I was also charmed by Strosniders Hardware, a quaint hardware store worlds away from Home Depot and Lowe's.
Living Ruff opened last August on Georgia Avenue, just months before the economy entered a recession. But that hasn't stopped people from buying the store's high-end pet supplies, says its co-owner Jessica Simon. You'll find everything from $12 chew toys to $40 bags of raw meat. Simon says many people shop the store for gifts for pet-owning friends, and a large percentage load up on their supply of high-end dog or cat food.
Around the corner is Marimekko's concept store at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Ellsworth Drive. It features a few racks of the company's clothes and bags, as well as its fabric, which starts at $40 a yard. You can also take sewing and knitting classes for all experience levels or rent a sewing machine for $7 an hour. The store also has sales going on like 70 to 40 percent off some clothing and 40 percent off bedding.
When you walk through Adega's doors and head to the right, you'll be in the café but if you veer to the left, you'll be smack dab in a small wine shop. It all looks expensive but I found several bottles for under $15. Plus the joint has eat-in specials on its food and wine on Monday nights and Saturdays and Sundays.
Two other stores worth a trip are Metamorphosis, a women's clothing and accessory store on Wayne Avenue, and Pyramid Atlantic Community Arts Store, an Ellsworth Drive shop that sells local artists' work. And you must take a spin through Strosniders. It packs a wide range of inventory from kitchen gear to tools in a small space.
Where do you like to shop in Silver Spring? Are there any other stores that are off the beaten path? What are some of your hidden gems in the Washington area?
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