By Meagan Hardesty
What can be said for a girl who shops too much? I suppose it depends on what your definition of ‘too much shopping’ is. I am an open shopaholic – especially when you give me a chance to go somewhere new and explore new stores. I am always going to say YES! My newest adventure takes me to Frederick, MD. I had only been to Frederick twice before – once for a date and the other time for a class assignment back in community college with my sign language course. The old historic town was calling my name.
“Come visit me! Shop, Meagan, Shop!” Who could deny this?
I chose to go on a weekend for my first shopping exploration. A Saturday in the small, but charming Downtown Frederick is a sight to see, even though it was a cloudy and rainy day. Nothing will ruin shopping for this girl.
The smell of food flooded the small Carroll Creek Park as I approached the Visitor Center. Inside, I was greeted by ladies sitting at the welcome desk, and then continued to look for the shopping section to see what guides they had to aid in my shopping addiction. I wanted to know where to go and which stores were the best around. Sadly, I only found a few guides that listed shops on a map. I thought to myself, “Well, Meagan, you’re on your own now.”
I approached the welcome desk and asked the ladies if they had a better map of the area and any other information that would be useful while I was Downtown. Debbie, one of the hosts at the Visitor Center, smiled and said, “You look like you’re doing a project for school. What can I help with?”
I smiled and nodded, and also added that I was on a mission to find where the best stores were to shop at in the Downtown area. She preceded to hand me the Visit Frederick guide book that they give to all the guests who visit with Welcome Center. She told me to try the self-guided tour and also to check out North Market Street because that was where most of the main stores people like to go will check out. I thanked her for her time and started on my journey.
While walking out of the Visitor Center, I saw a bright white sign with dark gray-black writing in the gloomy distance. It read ANTIQUES, the only word a shopper like me needs to see in order to get chills up her back and a smile so big it’s hard not to laugh at sometimes.
I quickly walked to this old stone building. I looked up at the sign, which hung over the road on a rustic, red enclosed bridge-type structure that reminded me of an old barn floating in midair. The inside of the building was full of sections that contained a multitude of different items. It was like the consignment mall down in North Carolina that I go to every year on vacation. A different vendor owns each stall and each vendor can sell whatever they would like to in their section. This makes it the perfect place to find old treasures.
A few stalls inside, I see a man and woman sitting by a cash register, and I said hello and introduced myself. I like to meet new people because you never know who you may meet. We talked about the bridge outside and the woman said it couldn’t be accessed. “There’s so much stuff up there, who knows what is inside,” the woman said. We all laughed and she asked if I wanted to know something interesting as I was looking at the Halloween section of a stall across from the counter. I looked up and she informed me that in a box behind the Halloween stuff was a real skeleton. Not a fake one that you can buy at a party store, an actual human skeleton. I looked at it in amazement and disbelief. The seller of the skeleton found it at an auction when a high school was being closed down. A funny fact about this skeleton is that it came with two right legs. I asked them, “So I guess it can’t dance or is that two left feet?” I thought it was a funny joke and they both giggled at it. I thanked them for their time and walked around the store a little more.
In the corner of one of the stalls, I found an old camera and a vintage spin dial phone. I have always wanted a phone like this and have been told I was born in the wrong time era. I played with both artifacts and made sure to take a picture with them.
After I was done playing around, I ventured down to Carroll Creek Park. This little creek was radiant even in the dim lighting. One of the bridges that crosses the creek was hand painted to look like it was made of stone. The talent it took to do this amazed me, and I wished I were that skilled.
I strolled along the creek taking in all of the sights and sounds. Children were chasing one another and giggling. Their parents smiling and talking as they followed and tried to keep up. As I began to walk down North Market Street, I was reminded of Downtown Annapolis. I live close to there and love to look at all the historic buildings that have been converted into shops and restaurants.
“I don’t even have to pull out my guide. I know exactly where I am going first,” I thought to myself. This giant, white building to the left of me. Tall windows reached to the top of the roof and there were huge signs that just read SALE! Even though I didn’t know what was in the store, I just had to go in and check it out. When I got to the entrance, I was greeted by a friendly security guard. Then I walked into the store, I was taken back in time to an old time jewelry store in New York City that I had seen in an old movie. High ceilings and glass showcases were filled with extremely fine jewelry, more than I could count. I felt like Princess Mia, from Princess Diaries, when she opened her closet and jewelry cases kept opening with nicer and nicer jewelry and tiaras.
I was greeted by an employee of Colonial Jewelers named Jessica. She told me the sale was for their 68th anniversary and walked me around the store. All I could tell myself was that I have a champagne taste on a beer budget, and I could not afford anything in this store. I needed to walk away, but I just couldn’t look away. The luxurious rings and stunning necklaces left me in shock. After she let me try on a few things, I decided it was time to continue on my journey and find a store I could afford.
Across the street from the jewelers was a small beach bike. I have one in North Carolina, and it caught my attention. It was a decoration outside of this little boutique called Shabby Chic Boutique. This adorable little clothing and accessory store was right up my alley. It was every girls dream! From shirts, shoes, skirts, earrings, a clearance section, you name it, they had it! I love clearance items (actually, that may be an understatement).
The two associates in the back of the small store greeted me and told me to ask if I had any questions. I started on my way back to talk with them, but kept getting distracted by all of the adorable clothing. Once I made it back, I met Hannah and Caroline who worked at the store. Hannah, a young girl about my age with glasses and brown hair, asked me how I was doing and introduced herself. Caroline, an older woman, did the same and I asked them more about the shop. Shabby Chic has two locations and is a boutique, as well as a creative studio. The owner, Christina, worked at Nordstrom for six years and then decided to open up her own store. The boutique sells all the clothing that she loves, and the creative studio is a place to go with friends to make crafts. Each month, the creative studio publishes a calendar with a different craft for each day. I fell in love with the crafting studio idea and plan to go back there on my next visit to Frederick. After I shopped the clearance section, I thanked the ladies and told them I would be back soon.
My stomach began to grumble. Food time! Whenever you are shopping, you always need to have good food. I walked up the street to a small pub called Bushwaller’s Irish Pub. The front of the building was pale yellow with deep Irish green and bright gold accents throughout the trimming, and the main door handles were brassy gold bars. On the front window, there is a large decal that says “Bushwaller’s” and in small print underneath, “A Frederick Tradition since 1981.” This is a charming little pub, and when you walk in, you feel like family. The bar was filled and everyone seemed to know each other. I sat over by the window and just took in the atmosphere. I looked at the menu and the first thing my eye went to was ‘crab dip.’ The best thing in the world is crab dip. When they brought it out the bowl was overflowing with crabby, cheesy goodness. After the crab dip, I ordered sliders. I enjoyed my lunch and observed this adorable older couple sitting at the table next to me. The woman was short, with gray short hair and large glasses. The man was skinny but tall with similar glasses. He pulled the seat out for his wife and then sat himself. Nowadays you don’t see these type of gestures and it just made me smile.
After lunch, I was craving something sweet. Down the street is a chocolate store called Perfect Truffle. They have over a dozen types of different truffles. I decided to treat myself and get a box of four. At $2 a piece, I had to control my sweet tooth. One of the truffles looked like a mini green apple. The designs and garnishes on the mini truffles were so precise and perfect. I guess that’s where they came up with their store name.
Close to the truffle store is another small boutique named Alicia L. There are two store fronts side-by-side. Each section is tailored to a different age group: one for a younger crowd, and the other for a more mature clientele. This older woman was working in the section for the mature clients. Pat, the owner, explained how she was working alone today, and that she would take me over to the other entrance. As I browsed, I asked her how long the store had been around and how she came up with her store name. She told me that she has been open for 38 years, and she said, “My store is named after my daughter.” She also told me that she wanted to sell clothing that allowed you to express yourself. The clothing was right up my alley, but a little out of my budget for this trip.
The last stop on my shopping list for the day was a record store that was on the way to the parking lot. The Record Exchange is a dream for old souls like me. I always dreamed of owning my own record player. I walked in and looked around and noticed a refurbished record player on sale. I asked the employee about it and we talked a little more. Needless to say, I didn’t leave empty handed. I purchased the record player, two tall speakers, a tuner, and an amplifier for a whopping $112. I still can’t believe it. I knew I was saving my money for something special! When you are patient, you can find amazing treasures.
After a good night’s rest, I ventured back to Frederick. I had a new goal in mind. Of course, I wanted to do some more shopping; but, I also wanted to check out this bed and breakfast that I seen in the literature I picked up at the Welcome Center. My day was planned.
Downtown Frederick includes North Market Street with numerous shops; but, there is also a section called Shab Row that is just a few streets away. This was where my shopping interests took me.
I had passed a pottery shop several times and decided to pay them a visit. The store is tiny, so it matches the name “The Little Pottery Shop.” I was greeted by a very friendly employee and wandered around the store. On the first floor is jewelry, organic soaps and lotions, and different pottery art. All the art in the store is from local artists. On the second floor, which is an open floor plan, were more unique art pieces. I found a makeup brush holder, soap tray, and some very cute teapots. I was unable to resist.
I also visited La Niche Boutique, Accents at Shab Row, and Smooch. Smooch is a unique studio. They create makeup to fit your preference. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They create the perfect shade of foundation and lipstick right in front of you. It was the most incredible thing I had ever witnessed. I was hooked as soon as they told me they could create a custom lip color just for me.
After all that shopping, I needed to take a break. I decided to pay the Hollerstown Hill Bed and Breakfast a visit. When you are a shopaholic, you need a place to sleep after a long day’s agenda. Just a few minutes outside of Downtown, I pulled up to this adorable little pink house, which is my favorite color, what a coincidence. An older gentleman named Phil greeted me. I was meeting with his wife, Betty, to go on a tour of their beautiful bed and breakfast. Betty was in the kitchen finishing up brunch for their guests who were in the dining area. We sat down and talked a little bit more about the house itself and how she and her husband got into the bed and breakfast business. Betty retired from AT&T and also ran a gift shop for some time in New Jersey. She and her husband also lived in Australia before coming to settle in Frederick. Betty said, “I named the bed and breakfast after the name of the hill it is on; the soldiers in the civil war used to holler back and forth up the hill to one another and that is where I got the name Hollerstown Hill.” I loved how she kept the history in the building and made sure everyone knew about the rich history of the town. The street that the house is on was one of the first paved roads, and the road was gated in 1920, she told me. The history in one little house is fascinating to me. The rooms were all decorated in a different theme. One of the rooms had a gorgeous balcony that overlooked the garden in the back yard. Betty and her husband were the sweetest hosts I have met and won me over when I first walked in the door.
I can’t wait to come explore this amazing town more. Until next time, keep shopping…