Shopping in Columbia

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To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.”

Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand’s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.

10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy.
Columbia,
MD
US

An authorized AT&T retailer, AT&T Portables sets itself apart from the crowd with customer-service-oriented staffers who guide shoppers through the process of picking phones and accessories from an extensive inventory. Each employee is well versed in the bells and whistles of the latest smartphones from Apple, Samsung, Blackberry, and Nokia, helping shoppers translate tech specs into real-world pros and cons. Customers’ chosen phones are accompanied by a range of protective and stylish accessories, as well as cellular plans that provide an appropriate amount of minutes, text messages, and bandwidth for sending and receiving urgent cat videos.

110300 Little Patuxent Pkwy.
Columbia,
MD
US

When it comes to footwear restoration, the experts at Cobbler’s Bench Shoe Repair don’t just go through the motions. Instead, they put in the extra effort to return each pair to a like-new condition, a quality instilled by the company’s founders, Charles and Sara Stern, in 1946. All repairs are completed within three days and use equal or better materials than the original manufacturer, which helps protect shoes from environmental damage and teasing from snobby loafers. Cobbler’s Bench also maintains an offsite plant with special equipment to carry out particularly complicated repairs.

8630 Guilford Rd.
Columbia,
MD
US

At the AAA–approved facilities, mechanics attend to vehicles with all the skill and understanding you'd expect from ASE–certified technicians. Versed in every make and model of car out there, they dive underneath hoods and reinvigorate autos with Interstate batteries and products from BG Products Inc., repairing anything that's broken and slapping down a 24-month, 24,000-mile warranty. This castle of car care doubles as a state-certified emissions-inspection facility, and their shuttle treats auto owners to free rides whenever it's not busy rescuing helpless jalopies from junkyards.

7248 Cradlerock Way
Columbia,
MD
US

Since 2005, friendly book monarchs John and Kathy Byer have built a browser's kingdom of more than 15,000 books, recently adding legions of DVDs, CDs, and vinyl to their burgeoning empire. Each hardcover and paperback comes neatly arranged by type, from romance to children's books to science fiction, and they range from 50%–80% off the suggested retail price. Nostalgic VJs and cash-strapped Frisbee dogs will happily sniff through the DVD selection ($4 per disc), the sisterly compact discs ($4.95), and their great-uncle vinyl ($3.99). New trades occur weekly, rendering Second Edition a valuable hub for anyone looking to pan for gently used gold, dog-eared Newbery Medals, or gently-eared dog gold.

6490 Dobbin Rd
Columbia,
MD
US

77kids, a new children's clothing brand by American Eagle, swaddles newborns and youths up to size 14 in rock ‘n’ roll–inspired duds featuring stylish retro details. The pink Rock Sparkle hoodie ($39.50) adds an urban edge to the animal print of the Flowy ruffle-front dress ($34.50). The Rad to the Bone graphic tee ($16.50) launches playground debates about skeletal system ethics and complements a pair of Destroyed loose-fit jeans ($34.50). A baby bedecked in an All Good! footed one piece ($16.50) gets a head start on learning rock ‘n’ roll vocab such as "rad," "awesome," and "check check, one two, one two."

10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy
Columbia,
MD
US