More than 150 varieties of wine, beer, and spirits flow freely into souvenir glasses, slaking thirsty throats with unlimited sips as guests nibble artisanal snacks at the National Harbor Wine and Food Festival's tasting stations. More than 100 international wines and local libations activate palates, and guests venture to the tasting theater to take in a seminar from wine pairers and gourmet chefs. Live steel-drum music sets the beachy airwaves quivering as attendees relax in the whiskey-and-bourbon lounge and experts demonstrate how to hand roll cigars, a skill that impresses friends and stops rival spies from secretly filling the cigar with live wolverines.
For nearly 40 years, the experts at Maryland Small Arms Range have helped to hone the aim of law-enforcement and security personnel as well as everyday citizens. After range outings, their clients can check out the showroom, where weapons experts advise on firearms, ammunition, and self-defense apparel.
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.
The readers of Washingtonian magazine voted the family-owned Princess Jewelers "Best Jewelry Store" in 2008, winning the company well-deserved notice for the careful, custom craftsmanship of its talented, certified jewelers. Two elegant showrooms display engagement and wedding rings set with diamonds or semiprecious stones, as well as earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and cufflinks that make a glittery gift for significant others or surprised trick-or-treaters. The company imports a large inventory of loose gemstones and diamonds, which may be fashioned into original designs or replicas of pieces in photographs, and jewelers can also restore damaged pieces to their previous beauty and wearability. On-site graduates of the Gemological Institute of America are capable of identifying legitimate gemstones by scent alone, using their bling-based expertise to appraise customers' new and antique jewelry and assist them through each step in the selection of a quality showpiece.