Local stores get creative
Four weeks into the “new normal” where most of our local stores remain closed, some of them are cooking up creative ways to stay in business. From one-on-one online shopping sessions to doorstep drop-offs, sales are still happening and homebound customers are grateful for the diversion — not to mention the chance to support their local favorites. “If you had told me three months ago that I would be doing Facetime shopping, I would have thought it would never work,” says Gayle Herrmann of the Oak boutique in Kensington. “But now I go around the store holding up my phone,” she says. “I show things to customers and see what they’re excited about, and I even decide what size to send them. I basically become their personal shopper.” Indeed, it’s the “personal” part that everyone seems to appreciate right now. You certainly don’t get that from an Amazon order. “We’re getting such nice compliments from customers,” says Toy Castle owner Brian Mack, who started offering home delivery last week. “It feels good during this otherwise very difficult situation.” So what kind of stuff are local people buying right now? Most of it seems to fall into four categories:
- Cozy clothes that are presentable enough for a Zoom session. “At first no one wanted to buy new clothes, but now that’s starting to change,” says Hanna Avissar Balkin of Hanna’s Connection. “People are beginning to socialize online, or do happy hour outdoors with social distancing.” Trendy loungewear by PJ Salvage is a bestseller at Occasions, while Scout & Molly’s in North Bethesda is selling tons of graphic T-shirts with inspirational sayings. Also: baseball caps that are cute enough to cover up bad hair and grey roots. “If you’ve got a conference call, you can give your hair a break and just pop that hat right on,” says owner Wendy Brack Fritz.
- Care packages. Some people are buying gifts for themselves, others for their friends and employees. Bath and body products are selling fast at The Cottage Monet in Rockville Town Square — “especially those that smell like the sea,” says owner Caya Cagri. Occasions, with stores in Potomac and Kentlands, has been dropping lots of cellophane-wrapped gifts on local doorsteps. “Babies are still being born, birthdays are still being had,” says owner Stephanie Menick. “And thank-you gifts are big right now. We’re wrapping up soaps, lotions, hand sanitizers, chocolate-covered pretzels. Depending on the situation, we’ll throw in kids’ games or dog treats.”
- Puzzles are having a moment. Toy Castle is delivering tons of them, but young families aren’t the only ones buying. Wildwood’s Red Orchard gift shop is dropping them off all over town. “Right now, puzzles are about 60 percent of our business,” says co-owner John Liberty. “Man, it’s a lot of puzzles. But it makes sense. It’s something for people to do when they’re stuck at home.”
- Masks — if you can get them. Rayna Badwey Matz, owner of R Boutique, started ordering maks a few weeks ago and can hardly keep up with the demand. “As soon as I post them on my website, they’re gone within hours,” she says. Hanna’s Connection just got its first mask shipments and is throwing them in free with every order. Anja Caldwell, owner of FiberArt Studio in Potomac Village, is making her own masks and has posted an online tutorial on how to do it.
The national outlook
Shopping center parking lots remained relatively empty this week as customers ventured out only for food and “essential” business. Best Buy, which saw a sales bump in March as customers invested in home office equipment, has now furloughed 40 percent of its workforce. Other retailers that have furloughed workers include Nordstrom, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, The Container Store, Marshalls and TJ Maxx. Meanwhile, Neiman Marcus and JCPenney are both said to be on the verge of bankruptcy.
We're Open! Local food, shopping and live classes
The “We’re Open!” Guide is our weekly list of locally owned businesses ready to serve you. Support our stores and restaurants — and give yourself a much-needed break — with takeout meals, no-contact delivery, shopping, kids’ programs and more. (Want to advertise in our guide? Email us: publisher@store reporter.com.)
- Brooklyn’s Deli, homemade meats, soups & sandwiches at Potomac Woods Plaza. 1089 Seven Locks Road. Phone: 301-340-3354. Open daily for carry-out & catering. Menu: brooklynsdelimd.com.
- California Tortilla, a family fave. Potomac, Bethesda, Olney and Quince Orchard locations open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m. for carryout, curbside pickup and delivery. Order one of our Family Fajita Fiesta or Family Taco Night meals today! californiatortilla.olo.com/home/.
- Cava Mezze, Greek comfort food. Family meals starting at $50 include kabobs, rice, salad, sandwiches & more. Champagne, batched cocktails, discounted beer, 1/2 off wine. Delivery with multiple apps, or 10% off contactless curbside pickup if you call directly: (301) 309-9090. cavamezze.com.
- Downtown Crown online services, restaurant takeout and delivery options at Sam Eig Highway and Fields Road, Gaithersburg. Whatever you’re craving, you’ll find it here. For a complete list of what’s available now, visit ShopDowntownCrown.com.
- Gregorio’s Trattoria, Italian favorites at Cabin John Village. 7745 Tuckerman Lane. Phone: 301-296-6168. Open daily for lunch & dinner. Carry-out, curbside pickup, pay by phone & contact-free delivery available. All wine and beer 1/2 off. Menu: gregoriostrattoria.com.
- Hunter’s Bar and Grill, the “Cheers” of Potomac. 10123 River Road. Phone: 301-299-9300. Open for lunch, dinner and gift card sales. Half-priced bottles of wine with food purchase. Delivery through DoorDash and GrubHub, or choose no-contact curbside carryout. Menu: huntersbarandgrill.com.
- Julii, comfort food + market goods. $30 family meals, sandwiches, Chef D’s favorite dishes plus toilet paper, paper towels & flour. Champagne, batched cocktails, discounted beer, 1/2 off wine. Delivery with UberEats, or 10 percent off contactless curbside pickup if you call directly: (301) 517-9090. julii.com.
- Metro Microgreens, locally grown hydroponic microgreens. Twelve varieties available. High in nutrient density and helps boost the immune system. Stays fresh for 10 days to two weeks. Contact-free delivery. Order at metromicrogreens.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-706-4884.
- Moby Dick Kabobs, Persian cooking on the go. Multiple locations in Maryland and the DMV. Potomac location: 240-660-2626. Rockville location: 301-738-0005. Open for carry-out, delivery and curbside pickup. Menu: mobyskabob.com.
- Normandie Farm, pop on over for fine cooking in Potomac. 10710 Falls Road. Phone: 301-983-8838. Open for carry-out service. Full menu, popovers & jam to go: popovers.com.
- Potomac Pizza, a delicious favorite since 1978. Multiple locations in Maryland and the DMV. Potomac location: 301-299-7700. Traville location: 301-279-2234. Chevy Chase location: 301-951-1127. Offering contact-free delivery, curbside pickup & takeout. Menu: potomacpizza.com.
- Sisters Thai Potomac, Asian & Thai cuisine + desserts. Pickup at Cabin John Village, 7995 Tuckerman Lane. Phone: 301-299-4157. Free no-contact delivery with $30 to $40 minimum order. Menu: sistersthaicabinjohn.com.
- St. Veg, 100% plant-based (vegan) cuisine at Fallsgrove Village Center. 14929 Shady Grove Rd., Unit M. Phone: 301-605-7511. Open for carry-out Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 6:30 p.m. Call in your order, pay by phone and pick up at the designated table just inside the entrance. stveg.com/menu/
- The Grilled Oyster Co., fine dining at Cabin John Village. 7943 Tuckerman Lane. Phone: 301-299-9888. Limited menu, beer and wine for carry-out & delivery. Email email@example.com to order. Menu: thegrilledoystercompany.com.
- Yekta Persian restaurant & market. 1488 Rockville Pike. Restaurant open Tuesday-Sunday for curbside pickup, carry-out & delivery apps; call 301-984-0005. Market open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily with curbside pickup. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-984-1190. Menu: yekta.com.
BEER, WINE & COFFEE
- Quartermaine Coffee Roasters, locally roasted fresh coffee. Bethesda store open 6 a.m.-3 p.m. daily with drinks, beans & pastries. Use the Quartermaine app or call 301-718-2853. Also: $5 flat-rate shipping with $30 minimum for beans shipped to your door. Click on the person next to the shopping cart at www.quartermaine.com.
- Talbert’s Ice & Beverage Service, beer & wine delivery. 5234 River Road. Phone: 301-652-3000. Open for walk-ins and as always, delivering beer & wine throughout MoCo, plus ice, sodas & mixers to the DMV. talbertsice.com.
- Hanna’s Connection clothing boutique. Refresh your closet. Refresh your mood. Temporarily closed at the Cabin John mini-mall, but offering virtual shopping and online orders with free delivery. Now offering designer face masks, $10 or free with purchase. Call us: 301- 704-0264. Shop Facebook or Shop Instagram.
- R Boutique, soon to reopen inside Art & Chemistry by Diego at Downtown Crown. Now selling unisex cotton face masks, solids and prints, hand-washable and reusable, starting at $10. Shop Facebook. Shop Instagram. For questions, call Rayna Badwey Matz: 301-943-2000. To purchase, visit rboutique.shop.
- Scout & Molly’s Boutique, your North Bethesda fashion destination. Temporarily closed at Pike & Rose, but now online at 30% off total purchase + free shipping. Check out our Instagram for weekly giveaways to promote positive vibes. Call us: 301-348-5047. Shop: northbethesda.scoutandmollys.com.
- The Cottage Monet, the perfect gifts for you and yours. Temporarily closed at Rockville Town Square (36 Maryland Ave.), but taking orders by Facebook, Instagram and email. Website: cottagemonet.com. Call us: 301-279-2422. Email us: email@example.com.
FOR THE KIDS
- International School of Music, now offering online music lessons. All ages and levels, multiple platforms including Skype, FaceTime and Zoom. Take the next step on your musical journey. Call (301) 365-5888 or visit our website: ismw.org.
- My Gym Live! age-appropriate fun for all the kids. Live interactive 30-minute kids’ fitness classes filled with song, dance, gymnastics, sports and more. Our gyms may be closed, but we’re bringing all the fun you expect from My Gym directly into your house. Now offering My Gym Live! birthday parties. More info here: mygym.com/potomac.
- Toy Castle home delivery service. Open for orders 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Same-day, no-fee delivery with $35 minimum order. 1,000-piece puzzles and tons of other items continually re-stocked. Shop for ideas our Facebook page, call for suggestions and to place your order: (301) 299-0680.