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.
Owned and operated by artist Kelly Hutchinson, Kelly's Art & Frame is home to a 2,800-square-foot art gallery where original paintings, watercolors, and limited-edition prints line the walls. Onsite custom framing services combine archival materials and meticulous work to properly preserve drawings, sculptures, and cherished pieces of ABC gum. With fellow artist Carol Fogelsong, Kelly also leads art classes, teaching the fundamentals to students during intimate group sessions.
Fragrant smoke wafts through the air of the Alhaery family's Cigar Palace, a haven for DC-area tobacco aficionados for more than 15 years. More than 90 brands rest inside humidors, with customers choosing from renowned brands such as H. Upmann, Partagas, and CAO, as well as cigarillos, accessories, and gift sets. Once purchased, cigars can be enjoyed at home or in Cigar Palace's cozy lounge, furnished with leather seats, a poker table, and a flat-screen television.
As an AT&T authorized retailer, Wireless Outlet of course can equip customers with smartphones packed with apps and features. But the shop is also big on accessories: car chargers and ear buds make devices easier to use, and cases keep gadgets off of E!'s list of 500,000 Worst-Dressed Phones.
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.