Category Archives: Mint Condition

Old Town Scavenger Hunt, Part One: The Plan

Beginning tomorrow, I am a girl on a mission. It’s the 3rd Annual Old Town Boutique District Scavenger Hunt. I have three days to hit 28 stores. Last year, I brutally failed to meet the challenge due to poor planning on Day 2. But, this year, I’ve got a plan.

For those who are new or unfamiliar with the event, the Old Town Boutique District Scavenger Hunt is a three-day treasure mapping of Old Town Alexandria, if you will, wherein you aim to visit as many boutiques in possible in hopes of being eligible for the grand prize $2,800 shopping spree (or one of the 28 $100 prizes). No purchase is necessary for the Hunt, but you do get a cool gift from every store that you visit.

The first thing you need to do is to visit the Old Town Boutique District website to print out your scavenger hunt card and map. Otherwise, you’ll be an explorer without a flashlight. Then, like me, you need to determine an appropriate strategy and plan.

When devising your plan of attack, it is essential to keep two factors in mind at all times: time and distraction.

It is easy to overlook how spread out the Old Town Boutique District actually is. It’s important to allot enough time to travel between locations, either on foot or by car. You also need to figure out the order in which you want to hit the stores. You can approach it geographically, by store type (i.e. clothing shop v. arts store), or even by theme (i.e. cooking, jewelry, shoes).

Next, perhaps more critically, you must permit yourself adequate time to explore the stores once you get there, which is where the distraction factor comes in. The 28 shops that make up the Boutique District are all unique, which means that they have the side effect of alluring one into wandering around perusing delights and delicacies for much longer than intended.

Last year, I failed in both dimensions. I didn’t realize how much area the boutiques covered and spent way too long in some stores and therefore wasn’t able to make it to others.

So, here’s my plan for this year:

  • Phase One: Visit the stores west of Alfred St;
  • Phase Two: Visit the stores east of Alfred St but west of Royal St, yet including Mint Condition and GRAPE + BEAN (which are on Royal St across from the Stanton Gallery and Lawrence Miller & Co.); and
  • Phase Three: Visit the stores between Royal and the Alexandria Waterfront.

Since I, like most people, have to work tomorrow, I’m going to try to hit a few of the stores in Phase One tomorrow night and then approach the Hunt in earnest starting Saturday.

Remember, many stores open at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow and Saturday but not until around noon on Sunday.

Happy Hunting! Check back next week to see how successfully I follow through on my plan!

Cleaning Out the Closet

One of the primary services I offer my clients as a Personal Shopper is the twice a year closet consultation.  I help them remove items that are worn or out of date, identify new items that would enhance their wardrobe, and put together new outfits from pieces they already own.  Even though I do this for my clients, it is somehow a struggle to do it for myself.  But this fall, I knew it was time.  I did a very thorough cleaning out and came up with a couple of large bags of stuff to get rid of.  Some of it was trash (should I mention that almost ALL of those pieces were worn out things I had only purchased a year or so ago from the large chain “discount” stores?  Where’s the value in that?!)  But I had some really nice things, barely worn and still very much in style.  So I contacted Mint Condition, an upscale consignment store and made an appointment.

Today I went in with my items and my two kids.  I’ve consigned before but I was really pleased with the service I received.  The ladies were very helpful, sweet to my somewhat wild children, and got me in and  out in a matter of minutes.  I will receive 50% of whatever they sell the items for in the first 60 days and half the sale price for the 30 days after that.  I can pick up whatever doesn’t sell as long as I go in before the 90 days is completely up and, if I don’t want it, they will donate it for me.  So I’m making money on stuff I can’t use anymore (which helps me purchase new items for fall!) and being kind to the environment offering the stuff to be reused. 

I should mention that I chose Mint Condition because of the cute stuff they have in there already.  I knew they’d be a good option for getting my pieces sold.  And I just might have to use some of that money right in their own store.  The pewter metallic Cynthia Steffe tunic hanging in the window was right up my alley.  And, if you’re looking to go really upscale, they had an iconic Chanel skirt suit in ivory, size 42 for $1800.  A steal, believe me, even at that price.  But I did notice it is scheduled to go to $900 on 9/1.  You can always wait and take your chances!

The Perfect Shopping Saturday

I have lived in the DC area for nearly seven years. Yet, even though I am admittedly a shopaholic, it is a rare weekend that I ever venture outside of Old Town Alexandria. Why should I? A quick jaunt through the Old Town Boutique District always meets my shopping needs.

When you can find a dress straight from this season’s runway at a boutique like Treat or Hysteria and a pair of handmade leather heels from an exclusive Italian designer at Shoe Hive, the argument for getting in my car to drive 20 minutes on the beltway to a shopping mall or to head to Georgetown to fight for parking suddenly loses credulity.

I am not lazy. As the owner of a new small business, I work crazy hours and am glued to my Blackberry and laptop. My weekends are much coveted free time to hang out with my husband and relax.

For me, there’s nothing better on a Saturday morning than rolling out of bed, hopping on my Dutch-style bicycle, and heading to Old Town for the Farmer’s Market followed by an afternoon of shopping in the hidden gems of the city’s boutiques.

So, over the past two Saturdays, I formulated a mini quest to chart out the perfect shopping Saturday in the Old Town Boutique District. I had intended to do this in one day. Yet, I was faced with the difficulty of this venture by its sheer magnitude because there are 28 shops in the Old Town Boutique District.

I love the idea of shopping local, both to support the city’s economy and to explore the unknown within the familiar. I’m always amazed at the selection of unique design, impeccable craftsmanship, and sheer variety available with the shops that comprise the Old Town Boutique District.

Combining data from my two samples, here is my personal ideal shopping Saturday in the Old Town Boutique District. Since I am a fashion addict, this list is exclusively clothing and accessory-related, and covers only a small fraction of the other shops in this group. There is no purchase necessary on my Saturday agenda, as most of the fun (and hence angst for my husband) is in wandering around to discover things.

  • Begin with a leisurely coffee at Grape and Bean.
  • Get a designer consignment fix at either Mint Condition or Diva.
  • Browse finds from this season’s sample sales at Treat.
  • Wander up King St to stock up on makeup and beauty products at Bellacara, then check out lingerie and sleepwear at Bloomer’s (secret: it’s also the best place in the DC area to find Spanx).
  • Walk down to Arts Afire or Fibre Space to admire their handcrafted goods.
  • Heading back down King St, saunter down St Asaph St to look in window of Fitness on the Run in order to contemplate whether or not to trade in gym membership for a private studio.
  • While pondering fitness goals, go to Red Barn Mercantile to browse their quirky and unique home furnishings.
  • Favoring the fitness value of walking via window shopping, walk five blocks to S. Fairfax St. to check out selection of designer clothes at Hysteria.
  • Walk a quarter of a block south into a cute little brick courtyard to admire (and inevitably try on) shoes from familiar and little known designers at Shoe Hive.
  • Finally, drag tired feet a few more blocks north and then east to buy a much-deserved piece of dark chocolate or other sweet treat from The Sugar Cube.

My next quest? To tackle La Cuisine and their myriad of cooking resources.