In “honor” of people who are out shopping today on Black Friday, and potentially more as inspiration for Small Business Saturday (if you happen to live in or be visiting the Richmond area), here is the third and final installment from my trip with the Boy down to see Ben and Nicole in early October (VA State Fair is here, and Richmond Restaurants is here). Because that same late morning/early afternoon that we had brunch at Galaxy Diner, we also went into SO MANY SHOPS on Cary Street. These were adorable proprietors with kind staff selling super cool things. There was not one chain among them. It made me seriously jealous of Ben and Nicole and their choice when it comes to shopping for the holidays or any other time of year.
First stop after eating was One Eyed Jacques. Considering the fact that the Boy and I are game lovers, as are Ben and Nicole, this was a natural place to begin our shopping journey. It’s a friendly local game store with lots of board, card, and role playing games, and also lots of game supplies. The day we were there, there were card tables set up in the back where people were playing Magic: The Gathering, and it was neat to see. They also had a selection of used and slightly damaged games that were deeply discounted. I bought some cool new RPG dice and a dice bag, the Boy bought a damaged copy of Timeline Inventions that was fun and we played later in the afternoon, and Ben bought Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate, which we played later that evening as well.
What goes with games better than candy? And it turns out there’s a soda and candy shop across the street from One Eyed Jacques, and it’s called Rocket Fizz. We meandered in and gawked at the many kinds of candies available. I loved the fact that they had a bulk-buying option where you could get pretty much any kind of salt-water toffee or choose from a variety of gummy and hard candies and pay by the weight. There were unusual candies, and strange flavors of soda available as well. Definitely someplace to stop if you were on a mission for something specific. It turns out that this one actually is a chain store (with LOTS of locations), but you wouldn’t know it from walking inside. And I hadn’t heard of them before, and it does a great job of fitting into the neighborhood small business schema.
Next we wandered into Ashby, a resale shop which carries both men and women’s clothing, something you don’t see too often as men tend not to be as into consignment as women are. But we perused many of the items – I joked with the Boy about buying a hat, and we tried on cool sunglasses. Nicole found a cool shirt (I think?), and I ended up buying a new (but locally made? maybe?) wristlet purse which holds money, cards, phone and keys. I ended up chatting with the clerk at who checked me out that too often these kinds of wristlets don’t hold quite enough, and we both agreed that this particular item would defy those standards. And I’m pleased to say that it did, and worked perfectly for a wedding I attended recently!
We then crossed the street and popped into World of Mirth. Remember that creepy doll eye photo from the State Fair post? That was taken inside this toy store, which is not at all creepy, and is actually AMAZING. They have so many great toys for kids of all ages. It was all I could do not to buy all the super cute things that I saw. This is basically the store where kids would go in around Christmas and just want all the things. And the great part is that so many of the toys are NOT your standard creepy Bratz dolls or other mass-market produced things. There are finger puppets of important historical figures (of both genders AND of many races and nationalities!), books on dozens of different subjects, dress-up things, non-standard plush toys, I can hardly remember them all. I do know that it took much willpower to only buy a cool pair of socks that will go to my sister at Christmas (and one other item that I can’t remember right now). It’s the kind of place a kid or an adult with a youthful heart could spend hours in without boredom.
Our next stop was perhaps the most niche of all the places we stopped in that day. It’s called Bits and Pixels, and it sells vintage and vintage-inspired video game merchandise. For example – we saw a bunch of old refurbished Nintendos. The original ones. There were games for all kinds of systems, including the kinds out of outdated consoles that I keep in my own home (the N64 and the Wii). I later learned that a friend sold a bunch of old Nintendo Power issues to that same store, so that’s cool. The Boy and I spent a lot of time wondering just how it was possible that a place like this could stay in business. But you know what? I don’t really care. The fact that a vintage video game store exists and continues to do business brings me joy.
Walking three shops down, we went into what was potentially my favorite store of the day – Mongrel. This was like the toy store, except for adults. It had EVERYTHING. There were fascinating books on every topic, super cute stationery and cards, amazing decor, and just cool stuff. We found this hilarious book in the “baby gifts” section, and couldn’t stop laughing. Ben and Nicole found some gifts for family members, and I walked away with some Christmas ornaments that I intend to turn into a non-Christmas craft project (watch this space!).
Our final stop was Chop Suey Books – a used book store that I adored. They had lots of current titles, along with a wide selection of older books at decent prices. Since I try not to actually buy books (I have so many I haven’t read already, and so little shelf space), I didn’t buy anything, but just browsing all the books and getting ideas for what to read next, or seeing different editions of books and authors that I enjoy was neat. The store also has a cat who lives inside named WonTon who often prowls around the shop, but try as I might, I found no evidence of the kitty. Very sad for a cat lady like me.
And that was it – we had a terrific time wandering in all these establishments, and there were lotss more that we didn’t go into. It makes me wish we had more diversity in little shops in our neighborhood, though I know we’ll get there someday. In the meantime, for those of you with access to small, locally-owned shops in or near your neighborhood, I highly recommend checking them out. Either this Saturday for Small Business Saturday, or anytime during the holiday season. Cute and quirky shops cannot exist without our patronage, and the holidays are usually the time of year most stores sell their largest inventory. Consider buying your next game, book, or toy at a small business. I don’t think you’ll regret the effects.
One Eyed Jacques, 3104 W Cary St, Richmond, VA
Rocket Fizz, 3031 W Cary St, Richmond, VA
Ashby, 3010 W Cary St, Richmond, VA
World of Mirth, 3005 W Cary St, Richmond, VA
Bits and Pixels, 2930 W Cary St, Richmond, VA
Mongrel, 2924 W Cary St, Richmond, VA
Chop Suey Books, 2913 W Cary St, Richmond, VA