Positively 14th Street

U Street/Cardozo
Tuesday,
Jan. 27, 2 p.m.

With perfect grace, I sailed through the air, mimicking the poise of a prima ballerina as I unsuccessfully jumped over a puddle. I wound up ankle deep in a slushy abyss of Mother Nature’s winter vomit. I would have felt sorry for myself, but since it provided such intense amusement to my roommate, I let it go. After a couple wrong turns, due to my poor internal navigational system, we were on our way for an afternoon in Cardozo, making our way up and down U and 14th streets in search of everything vintage.

Looking for something specific at a vintage or antique store can end in disappointment, but it seemed like a good idea when my roommate Tara and I discussed the possible treasures waiting for us. Hey, it was the only thing that would keep our minds off the nasty weather and our constant stumbling into puddles. I told her I was interested in finding Valentine’s Day presents for family and friends and asked her for ideas. She said she was more interested in “long walks on the beach, playing in the mud and carving pumpkins.” I don’t think she understood the question.

One of our first stops was a cute boutique called Go Mama Go (1809 14th St.). Even though it wasn’t a vintage store, it had a certain appeal from the curb, mainly because it had a heater. The store, with its fiery orange-red walls, had trinkets and home furnishings ranging from flamingo martini sets to sushi candles, and it was very much a cozy haven from the wintry void outside. After finally deciding on a set of flamingo pot holders for my aunt, and vowing to come back for a red purse, we bravely ventured back out to the street.

Before we could even partially freeze, we took the easy way out (or in, depending on how you look at it) and entered the appealing non-vintage store next door. It seemed my plan to hunt for vintage havens was quickly disintegrating. Home Rule (1807 14th St.) boasted urban fixtures and other random accessories such as heart umbrellas and miniature devil rubber duckies. We were particularly drawn to a retro pistachio green espresso maker, but since our total counter space is equal to the area of a dart board, we had to pass. OK, that decision also may have been based on the $245 price tag. Our cheap – yet highly efficient – Mr. Coffee would do just fine. Once I’d purchased a pair of Valentine’s Day rubber ducks to present to my loving mom, it was once again time to hit the streets.

Next up was Pop (1803-A 14th St.), yet another store that was in no way vintage. However, I was doing well on my quest for Valentine’s presents, so things were still good. Pop was very different from the previous two stores we had been in. It mainly sold original clothing creations by the owner and a few other clothing items and accessories from a variety of other retailers. But even though there were some good finds, nothing seemed to be calling our names, so we were once again on our way.

Pulp (1805-1/2 14th St.) was by far one of the coolest stores we visited. The paper and card store also carried a variety of funny gifts, some chic and others kitschy (yet all in good fun), and it had something for everyone. There was, of course, a gigantic selection of Valentine-themed cards and gifts, some naughty and others nice. The store also boasted enough journals and art books to fence in all of D.C. However, I was more drawn to the collection of magnets and ended up selecting a few Bush-bashing ones for my dad. When I was finished purchasing my items and patting myself on the back for doing such a good job gift shopping, we bundled up to make the long trek back to U Street, where we would finally arrive at vintage store heaven.

Once we had staggered through the poorly shoveled portions of U Street, we arrived at Habitat (1570 U St.), a very small vintage shop. After wiping our feet, we entered the one-room store and leafed through the articles of clothing up for sale. I soon began to realize that even though there were some very nice items, the prices were a little too steep; I’m more of a Goodwill girl anyways. But Tara was in her glory, so I inquisitively glanced through a jewelry display along one of the walls while I waited for her. However, it soon became obvious that it was time to leave when I clumsily knocked something down and was subjected to the evil glare of the salesperson.

Our second-to-last stop was Nana (1570 U St.), which was slightly bigger than the previous store and had a bigger selection of clothing to leaf through. I was lucky enough to find a baby pink Nike jacket from the ’80s, one I’m pretty sure my grandmother in Minnesota already owns, so I put it back on the rack. Considering that she had never been and will never be what you would call a style queen, I think it was a wise decision. Actually, I would have thought the jacket was hers, but for the absence of tissues and ten-year-old coupons in the pockets. Even though there were other appealing items in Nana (the name of the store seems somewhat ironic now), the prices were just as steep as the previous store, so we were out the door.

Without knowing it, Tara and I had saved the best for last. Meeps and Aunt Neensie’s Fashionette (1520 U St.) was the diamond in the ruff for us. With two floors of very reasonably priced vintage clothing, we spent most of the afternoon there, where we found many things for each of us. Tara discovered a tempting ’70s bowling jersey with the name Randy on it but passed and went with a vibrant yellow scarf instead. I found a few modish scarves for my hair, an ’80s sweater vest with hearts on it and a lamp featuring a shell garden with a plastic Jesus standing in it. In the end, I did not purchase the lamp, which may well end up being one of the better decisions that I’ve made in my life. However, part of me will always wonder what my life would’ve been like with my shell garden and Jesus lamp.

Our shopping extravaganza was over, and it was time to head back to the Metro. Even though our feet were wet and we looked as if we had a bad case of dandruff from the rapidly falling snow, Tara and I were content. Our vintage treasure hunt ended well, and we had been able to bookmark a lot of stores to make our way back to on a drier day.

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