Diva Boutique thrills savvy fashion hunters with gently used designer apparel, earning the store the title of Best Consignment Shop of 2009 from the Washingtonian. A dachshund mannequin stares benevolently from the 1880s townhome's front window, ushering shoppers inside for an obligatory ear scratch and exploration of the boutique's ever-changing selection. Rack upon well-organized rack of clothes by designers such as Tory Burch, Diane Von Furstenberg, Prada, and Chanel greet visitors alongside accessories and a line of new jewelry designed to compliment the sophisticated stock. Those hoping to consign their own gently used duds can schedule an appointment for staffers to examine the items' condition, determine their sell prices (generally 1/3 to 1/2 of the original price), and assess their intellect with a brief written exam.
When owner Cindy McCartney isn't pampering her beloved pet dachshund—after whom she named her boutique—she strives to make a difference in the world. Recognized for her social activism by Northern Virginia Magazine, Cindy believes in tapping into her inherent "visibility as a retailer to support community causes" such as the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women movement and the Susan G. Komen National Race for the Cure.
Before Comfort One Shoes' sole experts are allowed to fit a single shoe to a customer's foot, they must graduate from Comfort One University and undergo a mentorship process. It's only then that they can help shoppers find their desired footwear, whether it be lace-up Ziera boots, On running shoes with CloudTec technology, or Thierry Rabotin shoes, handmade without uncomfortable, rigid components. Alongside men's and women's footwear, the shop stocks an assortment of bags and accessories such as colorful iPhone cases from Triple C Designs that protect phone exteriors and conceal scratches from the last time you transformed into a werewolf.
Comfort One Shoes also seeks to better the world through creative philanthropic efforts, such as collecting 25,000 shoes for those without and offering their employees half their pay and time off to volunteer in the community. Perhaps such initiatives are part of the reason Comfort One Shoes earned the National Shoe Retailers Association’s Retailer of the Year Award in 2011.
Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
On the showroom floor at Bensons Jewelers, display cases sparkle with diamonds, necklaces, watches, and charms from jewelry makers such as Reed & Barton, Elle, and Breuning. Rings missing gemstones or cursed tiaras in need of de-hexing can turn to the full service repair shop, where a jeweler with 20 years of experience fixes and restores baubles, backing all work with a six-month guarantee.
Seth Godin has revolutionized marketing with his innovative approach to communication and community. He is the founder of Squidoo, a former vice president of direct marketing for Yahoo!, and currently authors one of the most popular marketing blogs in the world. Godin's books—many of them best-sellers—have done more for marketing than Genghis Khan did for nomad marketing. The most recent of Godin's books, Linchpin, explores how employees can make themselves indispensable to their company by tackling tasks with the same sort of emotional commitment that an artist brings to his or her work.
Looking for a bargain on designer goods, from clothing to shoes to purses? Wander around Georgetown’s Second Time Around, whose “retail goes upscale” catchphrase suits the space perfectly. Unlike other vintage stores, this one is roomy, laid out in an organized fashion and well-maintained. Dressing areas are roomy and the place lacks that dusty mothball funk that can sometimes overwhelm lesser shops. You might even convince yourself that Second Time Around is just another retail boutique – until you look at the crazy-low prices on those Ferragamo shoes or that Armani jacket. Along with the most upscale designer brands, you can also find bargains on more moderately-priced labels like J. Crew. Once you’ve selected your garment, accessorize with some of the gently-worn costume jewelry. You’ll look like a million bucks, but have paid considerably less.