Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Happy Black Friday, Washington


I hope you all had a happy Turkey (or Tofurkey for some of us) day yesterday and did as much or little shopping as you liked today. I personally limited myself to picking up the Orange Box at Best Buy for $25, half off, but my darling girlfriend and both our mothers spent a little more time with World Market and other places.

So what does that have to do with DC, you ask? Well, nothing. However we celebrated my dearest’s dad’s birthday at Bebo Trattoria, Roberto Gallo Donna’s restaurant. It was the first visit for our families, so we told them about how much we enjoyed the food but that Signore Gallo Donna’s business management was sometimes a little…. lacking. Case in point – the crack is still there. Additionally, we told them, the service sometimes leaves a little to be desired.

Well, if our waiter – who was quite good – heard this and took it as a challenge, he also overheard the mention of someone’s birthday. Because when the end of the meal came about, he showed up with a tiramisu with a candle in it and sang. Which resulted in a lot of looking around the table at each other wondering “who asked for this?” As it turns out – nobody. It was entirely an impromptu observation and gesture from our server.

So, kudos to you, Mr Attentive, and you, Chef Gallo Donna, for employing him. I’m still worried you’re going down the black-duct-tape-on-the-door path that haunted Gallileo, but maybe you’re turning around the service quality so it more closely matches the delicious offerings.

None of which looked as horrific as the above picture I took of Mr Hanky the Thanksgiving Poo-urkey Cake I saw at Giant on Wednesday. *shiver*

Thanks for the correction Tom. There’s a lesson, kids – never post when sleepy!

A Light on 14th Street

I’ve just read the news that the lovely Noi Chudnoff, owner of one of my absolute favorite neighborhood stores, passed away on Tuesday.

Her cheerfully incandescent presence at Go Mama Go, her exquisite taste in art and artifacts, and her unwavering community spirit, will be very much missed. Over the years since she opened the shop, I’ve often browsed through its wonderland of goods to lift my mood. Many times she helped me out of a jam with gift suggestions, always bright.

I’m so sad I don’t know what else to say.

custom made from head to toe

Friend-of-MBDC Mike needs your help! He’s got a suit that needs to be altered by Saturday morning, preferably by a tailor in Northern Virginia (he lives in Falls Church), but DC is an option also if they’re especially fast. In a suit-oriented place like this, surely some of you have an opinion.

Anyone have a recommendation for a good tailor who can do a rush job? Mike is well aware that you can generally only have two out of “good, fast, and cheap.”

My personal favorite is the formalwear shop in Shirlington- they did a fantastic job on my wedding clothes.

IKEA College Park Emergency Exit to Reality

I often get lost in the IKEA College Park maze. That is until I found this secret passage to the outside world.

If you are by the shopping carts and want to escape before your wallet is empty, go right past this nice elderly couple and through that door marked “Emergency Exit Only”.

Don’t worry, there is no alarm, and it will lead you right to the front door of IKEA. Just remember, the front door is entry only. It will not open for you.

You still have to exit by the cash registers, but at least you’re free from the IKEA maze that much faster.

Expo Design Center: A $45,000 Expensive Error

I want to add a kitchen to my finished basement. A place for guests or renters to cook and entertain a guest.

On the advice of others I went to the Home Depot Expo Design Center Saturday morning. Oh what an error that was!

First off, all the massive bathrooms when you first walk in made me realize just how small my house is. But the real affront happened at the kitchen design center.

There a very arrogant salesman demanded I start my kitchen design with cabinet selections, ignoring my desire to start at what appliances would fit in my small space.

When I balked at his minimum kitchen design price, $45,000!, as ridiculous crazy talk, he became downright nasty. Apparently, unless you are trust fund wealthy, you are not welcome at Expo Design Center, Montgomery Mall.

Which leaves me with a problem: where do I go to design a little basement kitchen on a small budget?

Watergate Liquidate: A Walk Through

mo_233_.jpg So last Friday over lunch I dropped by the Watergate Hotel Liquidation to see for myself what it would be like, and maybe snag some nice table lamps for the apartment. I walked over to the hotel, and with some directions from security, found the way up to the entrance, which was graced by an hour-long line of eager bargain hunters and Watergate gawkers. They were letting in buyers in groups of fifty, at irregular intervals depending on how many people were in the hotel at the time.

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At the entrance I had to pay a $10 fee, but word is that the entrance fee was just crowd control for the first few days of the sale; from today onwards entrance is [supposedly] free. From there the group was directed to the lobby, where sample items like chairs, desks, armoires, beds, and other standard hotel room furnishings were on display, each with a tag showing a code number and price. Buyers were given order sheets, then were told to take note of what standard items they wished to purchase and in what quantities, that only a certain range of floors was open to the public, one-of-a-kind items would be individually marked, and payment could be made by cash or card at the concierge. Fixtures attached to the walls like bathroom vanities, toilets, chandeliers, and such were not to be removed, and could be ordered by code number and delivered later.

Ginger Jar Lamp Lobby Signs

Floors 8-14 were open that day, but there were only two tiny elevators (and a service elevator which doesn’t go to the lobby) to serve the group of fifty, so I ducked into a back hallway, looked for an EXIT sign, and found the stairs. Broken light bulbs littered several steps, probably from past unfortunate buyers with hard-to-carry lamps. On the eighth floor I emerged into a dimly lit hallway, mostly empty but for the occasional buyer drifting from suite to suite, and a couple of delivery men bringing a large table to the service elevator.

mo_240_.jpg About half of the rooms had been cleaned out of lamps and other small, easily-carried items. Most of the lamps lacked finials, but did all still have light bulbs. Very few armchairs were left. In one room a woman sat in an armchair and spoke quite loudly into her cellphone, “Honey, guess where I am? No. No. I’m AT THE WATERGATE HOTEL!! Yes! It’s great!”

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After admiring the view from a few of the rooms, I finally found two working blue porcelain ginger jar lamps with shades — one with a finial and one without — and hauled them back down the stairs. They were not too heavy at first, but were rather bulky and difficult to carry, seeming to grow heavier and heavier as I descended. Back in the lobby, there was a bit of a queue for the concierge, but nowhere near as long as the entry line. The cashier was even nice enough to give me a spare finial. Price: $25 each lamp. These go for anywhere from $60 to $300+ each brand new.

After a long walk and a stopover at the office, the lamps are finally in our bedroom, making it much more home-like as compared to the old BB&B plastic desk lamps we used to have — as evidenced by this photo from my wife:

Lamps in the Bedroom

Thanks, Watergate Hotel Liquidation Sale!

Watergate Hotel Liquidation Sale!

One of the things I love about living in DC is that I can go over to the Watergate just about any day of the week — yeah, that Watergate — and do my groceries at “Senior Safeway” (also known around this time of year as the “Student Safeway”), a relatively mundane grocery experience in the shadow of historic intrigue and infamy.

Now, however, a new Watergate shopping experience is open to Washington:

WGHsale.jpg

It’s a massive liquidation sale! While the hotel closes up for renovation till 2009, they’re getting rid of surplus desks, chairs, chests, armoires, sinks, tubs, toilets, cutlery, glasses, plates, pillows, four-poster beds and more, all worth anywhere from singles to thousands of dollars, heavily used by hundreds of guests, going for bargain prices. The sale runs every day of the week, Mon-Sat 10-7 and Sun 12-5, and there’s a $10 entrance fee to deter non-buying gawkers, but hey, isn’t it worth a Hamilton for the chance to get a piece of history? Or maybe a used desk for cheap? I saw a bunch of people carting off armchairs from there just this afternoon. Word is the bargains aren’t so great, but hey, Watergate!

Go for it! I know I will. Anyone been there yet? Score anything good?

More on this from WaPo, DCist, and DCBlogs.

Ikea Irony

Maybe it was the not-so-subliminal suggestion of Coulton’s performance of his song Ikea on Friday night, or perhaps just a straight-forward effort to placate my darling girlfriend after dragging her to a friend’s debut wrestling performance, but today we ended up in the Ikea in Woodbridge.

At some point since the last time we were there, Ikea has decided to start encouraging use of re-usable bags by charging $0.05 per plastic bag. Alternately they sell blue versions of the yellow ones they provide for use inside the store for $0.55. As someone who re-uses plastic store bags – if you buy something from Nice Mirror when we’re at a street fair you’ll get Ikea, Wegmans or Target bags for your merchandise – I find this somewhat irksome but hey, their heart is in the right place.

Or so I felt till we sat down for a cup of coffee after checking out… and discovered that the creamer was in individual plastic containers and – my favorite part – each wooden stirring stick was individually wrapped in paper, like a fast food straw. Guess the environmental left hand cashiers don’t know what the right hand cafe is up to….

For Sale: Kenmore Washer Dryer Set w/ Free Delivery

Soon after assuming my half-million dollar mortgage, I started thinking on how to convert my basement to a livable space for friends and family.

The first step on the long path to add a kitchen is to sell the high capacity & heavy duty Kenmore washer dryer set that came with the house.

They are clean and modern, in perfect working order – just like new. As a Metroblogging DC special, I’m selling the washer and dryer for only $350, a ~60% savings from their retail prices.

You can see the current model equivalents here: washer: 02627542000 dryer: 02667422000.

I’m even offering free delivery in Petworth & Columbia Heights neighbourhoods of Washington DC. Or you can pick them up. I can also deliver them for $15-$50 elsewhere in the Metro area, depending on distance, but cash payment is required before delivery.

Email me now if you are interested or read more details after the jump…
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Macy’s Wedding Registry Runaround

Now that the Betrothed Butterbean and I are in the full grips of the Bridal-Industrial Complex, I get to spend my lunch hours registering at area retailers.

Today’s mass marketer was Macy’s at the Pentagon City Mall and I was not impressed.

Unlike Crate and Barrel, where you can register and get a bar code gun in 3 minutes flat, the Macy’s bridal rep informed us it would take 20 minutes to register and we would need to make an appointment first!

We did not need the upsell, or to pick a “wedding theme” or a china & bedding ensemble consultation. We did not need an appointment and twenty minutes to fill out our names and get a price tag wand. What we needed was service, which Macy’s was in short supply of today.

But the wedding register clerk had plenty of time for herself. After we walked off in a huff, I noticed she was chatting with floor staff and messing about, clearly not expecting those that need assistance scanning in Waterford Crystal or Egyptian cotton sheets.

And with that attitude, Macy’s lost our bridal business. Has it lost yours?

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