Dear PoPville – Where to Buy Local Gifts for Out of Towners?

Photo by PoPville flickr user pablo.raw

“Dear PoPville,

I wonder if your readers have ideas for local gifts to bring out-of-towners when I’m visiting. What foods, crafts, or whatever will impress non-DC folks with their unique DC-ness? (I’d prefer things that are not political, so Obama bobbleheads are out.)”

How about Eastern Market?

67 Comment

  • Chinatown and V street (near to 14th in NW)have decent shops without crazy prices, The Spy Museum, Law Enforcement Museum and Newseum are the best spots I know. Otherwise, you can buy them something from Pier 1, but that’s not exactly DC fare.

  • Wherever good bean pies are sold

  • Ben’s Chili Bowl – The chili cheese fries are always a hit!

  • The Florida Avenue Wholesale Market. Not only will you get a great deal on some FBI shirts, you’ll be buying them in a grimy atmosphere.

  • The Jams from Copper Pot are delicious, unique and make a great gift. I think that they are available at the 14 & U farmers market, Bloomingdale farmers market and online

  • How about the Chocolate Moose – Connecticut and L Streets.

    The Levi Sisters have been selling DC goods for 25 plus years now.

    Check – em out!

  • I like the museum gift shop idea. One of the things DC has over so many other places is its abundance of unique museums.

    • Agreed. The National Museum of Art and the Freer/Scakler have great gift shops.

    • Thirded. Growing up as a kid in New Jersey, my favorite gifts were the ones my DC-based aunt and uncle bought at the Smithonsonians. The museums are the first place I go to look for gifts.

  • The White House Gift Shop (online or in Lafayette Park) has cool stuff.

  • National Building Museum gift shop has some fun DC-oriented stuff. And is otherwise awesome, also.

  • I like to buy gifts from the weekend vendors at Eastern Market. Also, the salty-oat cookie at Teasim is native to DC, I believe.

  • Eastern Market – lots of cool local crafts (coasters are a personal favorite).

  • The art museums (any one of them)have cool stuff you can buy…

  • The Renwick has a pretty nifty gift shop…doesn’t compare to National Building Museum in terms of size, but definitely some unique things there.

  • The Kennedy Center and National Museum of Women in the Arts both have great gift shops.

  • I understand the OP’s dilemma completely as I have had this problem before–It’s nice to be able to get people something ‘DC’ that isn’t a tourist item.

    I have occasionally bought items from Eastern Market–jewelry, etc and I once bought two small drawings of DC landmarks that my mom loved. I’ve kicked around the idea of buying a jar of Uncle Brutha’s for my sister who’s into hot sauce, so maybe other food items like that would work for you? I think you can also find some nice gifts (that are not touristy) at the museum shops. I’ve heard the building museum has a really cool gift shop.

    Hope that helps. I’d love to hear other ideas myself!

  • Chocolate Mousse on L and Conn. they may not be DCcentric but the stuff there is def. unique.

  • PULP on 14th has some cute DC stuff…

    • Second. (In fact, I was going to suggest it, but thought I should check if anyone else had suggested it first.) Some great D.C.-centric stuff and otherwise amusing non-d.c. specific goods.

  • me

    The DAR Museum has some really original things, and they also have a slightly more limited shop online to check the stuff out.

  • I have brought City Sports t-shirts… my family likes to exercise so no one ever turns down a t-shirt & with all the colors you can bring them one they’re sure to like.

    My $.02

  • Uncle Brutha’s hot sauce is great, especially the green sauce (No. 9, I believe). It’s not easy to find, but if you are willing to pay the marked-up price at Whole Foods, you can find it there.

  • without a doubt, Eastern Market. or if you can wait a bit, Crafty Bastards, which is only once a year.

    also, local fund raiser art auctions. Food and Friends is a great one.

  • There’s a guy who sells t-shirts with cool DC-themed prints at Eastern Market. I bought a couple from him for my brothers a couple of months ago — one had a printout similar to the Ork posters with DC neighborhoods but multi-colored, and the other had a DC flag on it. Cooler than those t-shirts that they sell on the sidewalks downtown, I think.

    I’ve also seen t-shirts with the DC metro map on it and other designs based off of the DC map.

  • Swing’s coffee. And it’s even pretty good coffee!

  • There’s a photographer who has a store north of Dupont Circle on Connecticut. He takes pictures from all over the world, his stuff is really great. He some great shots of D.C., highly recommended.

  • Why not support some hometown young entrepreneurs from DCPS schools that have launched their own businesses with BUILD DC ( Our students have products that have been featured at the AdMo pop up store and included customized laptop bags, scented candles, and DC teddy bears. You can contact BUILD DC at 202.393.7085 for more details.

  • i think the guy in the picture is trying to make up and excuse, but the woman is not buying it, a feeling that she is very familiar with.

  • Paintings, photos etc. from local artists – check out Mid-city artists open studios in spring & fall.

  • I get stuff for kid relatives at the Museum of Unnatural History on 14th in Columbia Heights.

    • +1…really good idea and helps a good cause too. It definitely works when you have someone that has everything (or doesn’t really need anything).

  • I occasionally work at Wake Up Little Suzie in Cleveland Park, and we sell these glasses ($12 each) that have different states on them, with illustrations representative of the location. I find the D.C. glass paired with the visitors home state glass is always an appreciated gift, and dishwasher safe! I actually have a California glass sitting at home waiting to be mailed to my sister as an apartment warming gift.

    I’m also partial to the White House pencil sharpener they sell at DCA.. I’m only joking a little.

    • +1 on Wake Up Little Suzie – great for gifts, I love with onesies with a single pocket in the middle of the chest for pacifiers. Not DC stuff, but cool and local and unique and fun stuff.

  • Trohv in Takoma has a selection of cute flour sack towels and tote bags. Also, Hill’s Kitchen sells cookie cutters in the shape of all the states (and DC).

  • The nut people at Eastern Market! i bring those home to my family whenever I can, and they are gone almost immediately. Also, I can vouch for Uncle Brutha’s. If it’s not also at Eastern Market, you can go to Hill’s Kitchen nearby to pick some up.

  • Also, Chocolate Chocolate between Farragut Square and Dupont Circle sells a monument collection:

  • Peggy’s North of the Border Gift Shop at 14th & Perry (on the SE corner) has some awesome replica Salvadoran soccer jerseys. They also sell baby clothes, calling cards, and a wide selection of plastic beads and semi-toxic stuffed animals.

  • Pulp on 14th Street has great DC stuff

  • During the summer, my family in New England always loves it when I bring up peaches, nectarines, appricots, etc. from the farmer’s markets here – Packing these can be difficult, but an egg carton works well for appricots, and peaches and nectarines can travel in a shoe box. Grocery store peaches up there are so unripe (I’ve had some that crunched like an apple when I took a bite), so real fresh peaches are a big treat.
    Also, Hill’s Kitchen at Barraks Row/Eastern Market sells a DC shapped cookie cutter (they may have other states too, can’t remember). And finally, the Capitol Visitor’s center gift shop sells a really nice (and I think inexpensive) note card set that is close ups of all the birds from the paintings in the Brumidi Corridor in the Capitol.

    • Oh! And as a kid visiting DC, I used to love the “space ice cream” that is everwhere at the Smithsonian shops – it’s weird stuff, might be a fun gift for the children in any families you’re visitng.

  • I always get stuff from the Air & Space Museum or just go to They may have something.

  • Hills Kitchen in Eastern Market. They sell cookie cutters in the shape of DC, as well as one for each of the 50 states. They’re neat little collectibles.

  • Metro map t-shirts. Probably can google them to find.

  • what does the OP mean by “local gifts”?

  • Wake Up Little Suzie (CP)
    Chocolate Moose (Farrugut)
    National Cathedral–Gift shop, flower shop, annual flower sale/carnival
    Teaism (go to the penn quarter location for the good stuff)
    Mayorga Coffee
    Claude Taylor Photography

  • I don’t think anyone mentioned Labyrinth yet. It’s around the corner from Eastern Market and a source of unique games and puzzles for kids and grown-ups alike.

  • Who are you [email protected]:52 and 3:57!!!! You are stealing my name!

  • Home Rule and Pulp on 14th

  • Belarus Caramels. Done.

  • This last weekend we took things from H Street NE to the folks we were visiting in NYC: two pounds of African coffee from Sidamo’s and a couple jars of jam from the Saturday morning farmers’ market.

  • Second for Swing’s coffee — it has become my DC gift of choice.

  • There is a lady who sells Cherry Blossom scented soap and candles at Eastern Market. I’ve given some to out of towners for gifts and they liked it a lot.

  • andy

    bootleg gogo cds

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