Today the weather was perfect - windy and crisp - just right for the beginning of October. So I hit Chinatown (the one in DC) and got myself some extra garments to don at work. Warm sweaters, more tops, and new socks. I'm not writing this into details but wanted to share great shops - they're not in Chinatown, unfortunately. There's nothing personal or unique about Urban Outfitters (hipster alert!) or American Apparel (extra hipster alert) and H&M (wannabe Swede alert).
Now, the stores I want to talk about - not just for the handmade goods they stock, but for their eye for details and design. True, the price tag on their inventory is high, but those shops inspire me. Browsing their stuff makes me want to garden, fish (who am I kidding?), start drawing, painting, and most of all, love what I'm doing. (I'm not sure what I just typed but that might be a classic defense of being overly materialistic.) Better get to the point.
Old Faithful Shop. Located in the industrial Gastown district of Vancouver BC, this shop is the ultimate inspiration for the Pacific Northwest. You will want to buy everything in here, even the owner's adorable French Bulldog. Then you'll want to buy a cabin so you have a respectable dwelling to put everything in. I bought my dog's knotted rope leash from here, and found the best incense sticks here (Paine's Cedar Incense - you can Amazon this actually). Old Faithful has a blog run by Walter Manning (the owner) - whom I met when I was there for the first time in July '10 - it's fun to read every once in a while. Walter takes it up to himself to browse and look for different new things and bring them to his store. And thanks to him/his store - I discovered the Chemex coffee system. Next on my shopping list: the kettle companion ($70).
Studio Neat. This is not exactly a store but it's a studio - entirely online. They have a blog also. Run by Dan and Tom. (I believe they have last names but it's their first names that I remember.) The designer and programmer duo, right out of Brooklyn's creative franchise, have developed exactly three products - of which I have promptly bought. Product # 1 - Glif. (An amazing tripod for the iPhone. Will do a Glif entry when I get my glif in mail. I was that close to saying e-mail, but Glif is real. And no, I'm not being glib.) Product # 2 - Frameographer App. (A simple stop-motion app.) Product # 3 - Cosmonaut. (A touch pen for the iPad, but designed way cool. Feels like I'm drawing on a charcoal.) And, oh this too! Product # 4 - It Will Be Exhilarating. (An e-book by Dan and Tom, explaining their whole experience with making their three products. It's a good quick concise read. They spared no secrets on their process.)
Vetted. This is slightly different, but just as fun, especially the publications page. Vetted is an online curated store founded by designers who love simplicity and I enjoy their picks. Even better, they write about it.
General Store. Located on Judah street in Outer Sunset - a true hidden gem in San Francisco - one of my favorite places in the city. Somehow Outer Sunset escapes the busy up and downs of the city - and it is almost literal to what it is - a sunset. (It's also foggy and cold most of the time. But, then again, it brings down the best of Seattle to San Francisco.) General Market reminds me of Old Faithful Shop but with a less north to the Northwest part. It's artistic, inspiring, and tasteful. (I saw they carry the same type of knotted rope leash I have for my dog.) Owners of the shop also run a business doing surfboards and skateboards called Two Birds Fly.
Now. Doesn't Atlas District need a shop just like those?