Shopping Local on Capitol Hill


December 19, 2011, Washington, DC: Barracks Row and Eastern Market are not like Georgetown. We have none of the big box stores on the Hill outside of Union Station; instead it's the food, the drink and necessities like the neighborhood hardware store that we tend to write home about. Still, there are gems within a few short blocks for local shopping, several pictured here. And therein lies one of the biggest perks of living in a walkable neighborhood: Come Christmas, it's entirely possible to avoid the mall. On busy weekends before the holidays, there's no need to get in the car.

The Children's Stores: Dawn Price Baby, The Fairy Godmother and Monkey's Uncle are within twenty feet of one another on 7th St. SE between the Eastern Market Metro and the market itself. They occupy prime weekend real estate, with food trucks clamouring to park out front. Stroller parking occupies sidewalk space outside of Monkey's Uncle. On this side of the Hill, children are the easiest people to shop for.

Groovy Cards & Gifts is just next door to the children's shops. It's the perfect place for a funny card, a box of invitations, or a handful of stocking stuffers -- silly putty, magnets, yoyos, you name it.

Homebody: This design store on 8th St. SE is full of unique gifts for relatives with great taste. Sleek lines and original designs are incorporated into everything from wine carafes and serving platters to picture frames and furniture. Last year, I bought my mother a bright green bike basket from this shop. It's become one of my favorite stores on the Hill.

Forecast: Only recently did I wander into Forecast, a partially below ground store on 7th St. SE directly across the street from Eastern Market. Despite its half-hidden location, Forecast is a bright space where white brick archways beckon you from room to room. Soaps, socks, clothes, jewelry and home goods are among the gifts you'll find here and a teeny tiny Card Nook in the back right corner of the shop is a real treat.

Hills Kitchen: Hills Kitchen is a neighborhood favorite. It's stocked to the brim with kitchen tools, gourmet food, even a handy tool to cut children's sandwiches into shapes like whales and ladybugs. Looking for a pasta dish to bring to a friend's place to watch college football? There's pasta made specifically in the shape of your team's mascot.

Labyrinth: This game shop that opened last fall on Pennsylvania Ave. SE at 7th St. On weekday nights through the store's large back windows on D St., you can see adults gathered around game tables for friendly competition beneath the store's warm lights. It's a friendly place full of games, puzzles and brain teasers that your family members just might love.

Eastern Market: This is the main event on Hill weekends. Six days a week, the inside of Eastern Market is open for food shopping at the market's many stalls, but it's only on Saturdays and Sundays that the block out front and the parking lot beside the former Hine school closes to cars and fills with vendors. Find artwork, antiques and more on these lively streets. Pick up a hot cider and dinner ingredients before heading back home.