By LAUREN FLYNN KELLY — When I first launched this column in 2014, it was primarily to tell the stories of locals hunting for treasure at area thrift stores, swapping unwanted clothes and making beautiful things out of otherwise landfill-bound items. I don’t think in my wildest dreams I could have imagined that an upcycled furniture haven (Tanglewood Works) and used bookstore (My Dead Aunt’s Books) would share a space in the SoHy Arts District, or that not one but two vintage-inspired shops would move in across the street at the old Liberty Tax office.
Inside half of the 5101 Baltimore Avenue retail space is Cookie Wear, curating a retro-modern vibe with digitally printed leggings and tote bags, large colorful canvases and embellished denim fashions — all the handiwork of local artists. On the other side of the store is a more muted but equally eclectic collection of clothing and accessories from a vast range of decades, with some items dating back to the early 1900s. To quote Suffragette City owner Holli Mintzer, the space truly offers “a little bit of everything.”
She and Cookie Wear owner Michelle “Noodles” Smith moved in last August, after having run pop-up shops out of Tanglewood Works. Smith had operated Cookie Wear in a couple of different Washington, D.C., locations and wanted a larger, more permanent space, so she asked Mintzer, who had previously sold her vintage goods at the former Polly Sue’s, in Takoma Park, to share the space.
Mintzer has scoured auctions, estate sales and flea markets — even purchasing a few items from locals such as yours truly — to stock up on vintage dresses, outerwear, hats, jewelry and some secondhand art and housewares. And under the Nonasuch Vintage and Craft brand, she sells her own upcycled “assemblage” jewelry and soft dolls handcrafted from wool felt and antique fabric scraps. Her delicate handmade necklaces feature gemstones, brooches and trinkets from pieces that otherwise wouldn’t be wearable on their own.
The name Suffragette City works on multiple levels, since it’s a nod to both the 1913 suffrage motorcade that started off in Hyattsville and the 1972 David Bowie song, and “we cover the whole span in between,” said Mintzer.
Smith, meanwhile, adorns everything from T-shirts to vintage suitcases with pop culture images from the 1960s through the 1990s, and prefers to “support local brands that make either upcycled or redesigned pieces.” She runs the business with her husband and three daughters, who also contribute to the retro vibes of the store. Upstairs in the 4342 Farragut Street showroom, you can find skateboard decks designed by one daughter and scarves crocheted by another, in addition to other gifts and items in eye-popping designs and colors. And, according to Smith, the name Cookie Wear pays homage to her late father, who “made good cookies and loved nice clothes.”
On warmer days, Smith often displays items outside under tents and plays music. “We like to have events, and we like to be noisy. We love to celebrate community, and I love the community here because everyone supports everyone, and I just hope we’ll be here for years to come.”
Mintzer said she’s also looking for ways to interact more with the community outside of regular business hours, and has begun hosting craft workshops and trivia nights at the store.
Both stores are open seven days a week, but shoppers are advised to check the stores’ respective Facebook pages for updated hours and events.