Pixie on Miss Pixies by Danny Harris

Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer, DJ, and collector of stories. In September, he launched People’s District, a blog that tells a people’s history of DC by sharing the stories and images of its residents. Every day, People’s District presents a different Washingtonian sharing his or her insights on everything from Go Go music to homelessness to fashion to politics. You can read his previous columns here.

“I was born on a dairy farm on the eastern shore of Maryland. I grew up working on the farm, bringing in the cows, picking corn and strawberries, riding tractors, and spending time with pigs and horses. Everything we grew and butchered kept us through the winter. I think that it was a wonderful way to grow up.

“As a kid, I would go into Washington to see the circus or go to museums. Being exposed to the city life made me really want to move to New York. While I liked growing up on a farm, I saw this big world and wanted to go someplace far away from the farming life. When I finally did go to New York, it freaked me out and I got really scared. Washington seemed like the next plausible place to go. I spent a lot of my teenage and college years at Rehoboth beach and met a lot of Washingtonians, so I knew people here. I moved to D.C. at 25 and have been here for 25 years.

“When I first moved here, I worked in the restaurant industry. I spent about ten years at Old Ebbit Grill, waiting tables in the private dining room. I was really pushy and bossy and the managers wanted me out. They used to tell me that I acted like it was my own private restaurant. People told me that I needed to either be a manager or just do my own thing. At the restaurant, I used to move furniture around and organize the rooms for events. One day, I said the next time I am going to move furniture, I want it to be for me. It was a little thought that got stuck in my head, but I didn’t think much about it.

Continues after the jump.

“In Adams Morgan, there was a a shop called Madam Adam, which is where the FedEx store is now on 18th Street. I used to go into the space all of the time and think about how I would redecorate and run the shop. Of course, I thought that I could do it so much better. I mean, the walls were 18 feet high and the shop owner had only painted as high as he could reach. The place was beautifully decorated, as long as you didn’t look up.

“One day, I bought something and told the owner that I would pick it up next week. He said that I needed to pick it up that day because he was closing the shop. He was tired of the customers, the business, and the city and had had it. I immediately asked for his landlord’s phone number. He thought that I was crazy and tried to dissuade me. Still, I called the landlord to rent the space. He asked what business experience I had. I had none and didn’t have any money in the bank either. I don’t now why, but he trusted me. Within weeks, I was digging out furniture from my parents’ house and opened Miss Pixies in 1997. The whole thing happened so quickly. For six months, I worked in the restaurant, ran the store, and went to auctions. I am not sure how I did it. Even thinking of it now, makes me exhausted.

“The neighborhood was so happy to have me, and it was a really wonderful experience to start a business in Adams Morgan. I would fill the store up with things that I bought on Thursday and the place was empty by Sunday. I stayed in that space until 2006 and then moved to a bigger space on the other side of 18th Street, under the old nightclub Chloe, in 2006. There, I ended up in a lawsuit with the landlord and had nothing but trouble with the space. It was a bad experience and I thought that I was done with the furniture business.

“In 2008, I was thinking about moving out to the beach and waiting tables again, but someone approached me about opening a furniture store and bar on 14th Street in the old Powell’s Auto Supply. I was really excited about the opportunity. Turns out that things didn’t work out with the bar, but I opened in April 2008 anyway.

“I didn’t want to leave Adams Morgan, but retail is not supported there anymore. After real estate spiked in 2004, everything had to be a bar or restaurant to pay the rents there. I am sad that retail isn’t able to make it there anymore, but have been blown away by the retail in this neighborhood. I am busier here than I ever was in Adams Morgan.

“What’s great about D.C. is that people support local business. At my store, I buy what I like, and like to think that I am educating my customers to have a better aesthetic. After all of this time, I know a lot of my customers, so I am happy that I know where and to whom the pieces are going. Sometimes, I even get to see the stuff again when they have me over.”

Miss Pixies is located at 1626 14th Street NW.

23 Comment

  • Does anyone else think that Miss Pixie’s is over-priced?? I like poking around in her shop, but I haven’t ever bought anything because I can usually find what I’m looking for much cheaper on craigslist.

    • i’m sorry, are you suggesting that retail costs more than wholesale?!

    • Miss Pixie has an amazing eye and no hassle, no frills approach to retail. When is the last time you felt craigslist was hassle free. I love to just be in her store. If you don’t want to pay a very modest premium for her taste or your convenience then I recommend you stay home in your underwear and keep wads of cash around for all your super affordable craigslist purchases.

  • Toro Mata, Little Shop of Flowers, Idle Times Book Store, and Design Within Reach Furniture work very, very hard to survive as the few remaining retailers in Adams Morgan.

    Wish more local neighbors would see the true value in these struggling non food and beverage store fronts and patronize them before ordering paying for something on-line.

    Most are open seven days a week in their struggle.

    Let’s all be good neighbors and THINK LOCAL FIRST.

    We all still love you, Pixie Windsor !!!

  • I’m always amazed when people say Miss Pixie’s is overpriced – especially since you just read a whole freaking story about the difficulties of keeping a retail space and the amount of work it takes!

    Half my -very cool – home is furnished from Pixies, (the rest from Ruff N Ready, Good Wood & yes, Craigslist) and I know that the very fair but more than yardsale price I’m paying is well worth it. Pixie does all the legwork – all I have to do is cruise in and look at all the best things she has picked out.

    • I totally agree – Miss Pixies is one of my favorite furniture stores, and ranks as one of my favorite stores in DC. It’s interesting to learn the origins of the store, too!

  • AGREE WITH ANON #2. For those who deplore IKEA and would consider it anathema to allow such nonsense in the house, PIXIE, TORO MATA, GOOD WOOD (among others) are definitely your kind of place.

    I HEART PIXIE! Much like Victoria, my place is a very, very Pixie dwelling. I find her prices to be really reasonable and am a bit surprised at the over-priced perspective. She is uber-cool about delivery and keeps a constant rotation of interesting new items in stock, plus mini chocolate chip cookies for all. Like I said, I HEART PIXIE! Visiting PIXIE’s is one of my favorite Sunday afternoon to-do’s.

    TORO MATA deserves love, too. Lovely owners and beautiful pieces. I have 3 pieces of furniture, some accents and a really cool leather bag from them. I deliberately paid for the uniqueness of the pieces & the quality of the craftsmanship. Check them out if you haven’t already.

    GOOD WOOD gives good wood. Cool place, awesome pieces, cool about delivery.

  • Pixies offers great value. Big fan.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I was sad when Miss Pixies left 18th. It was so easy for me to pop over and browse/shop. Now I have to think about it.

  • Fair prices, awesome furniture, and fun “whatnots.” We love Miss Pixie’s!!

  • Miss Pixies is overpriced and not all that impressive in my opinion. I am all about shopping locally, but when I visit your store and see a used standard issue IKEA Malm dresser for sale http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/70178603 slightly discounted…I find that slightly predatory and rather bromidic.

    • I had to look it up.
      corny, platitudinal, platitudinous

      • I looked it up too! It’s not often I come across an unfamiliar word, especially in a blog comment. It kind of made my day. 🙂

  • At least Pixie is not repeating her mean comments about Adams Morgan. AdMo supported her as a nervous first-time business owner; patronized her 1st location to its successful 9 years. And the thanks? Pixie:”I love the strong sense of neighborhood that exists in [14th]area, not nearly as transient as Adams Morgan. The difference is evident.”** Pixie,we have a great sense of community and neighborhood here in Adams Morgan. People participate in more non-profit fundraisers here, support and help locals,come together for many good causes.Glad for your success, but you don’t have to trash the place that gave you your start. **4-16-10 Borderstan

    • Whoa – when did “transient” become a “mean comment?” Doesn’t it just mean people come and go – like they actually do in AM? Why does having a strong sense of neighborhood on 14th st. make you so insecure about your own neighborhood?

  • Sorry but my parents are antique dealers and Miss Pixie’s is not overpriced. I have always been able to find good values in her store. Maybe her stuff isn’t cheap but that doesn’t mean it is overpriced. If you want to buy furniture that lasts you need to spend a little more money. Good Wood and Pixies are fairly priced for the furniture they sell.

  • i LOVE pixies, when she opened up on 14th in that gorgeous space i was so happy… AND AMAZED AT THE BEAUTY OF THAT SPACE. (i wish i could have those terrazzo floors!) a great addition to the new “home furnishings” zone thats its become. along with good wood, millennium decorative arts, ruff and ready and many others. I almost always find something at Pixie’s shop. I am not sure what people are used to when they say “overpriced”

  • Pixie still LIVES in Adams Morgan, for heaven’s sake…and a girl’s gotta make a living after all. Our apartment on Biltmore is chock full of Pixie treasures and the new space on 14th, while not conducive to drop-ins any more since I don’t have a car, is glorious. I still consider Miss Pixie a neighborhood treasure even if her business has moved. She is a savvy businessperson and I have nothing but respect for her.

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