The interior of Relume, a gift shop located on C Street SE in Washington D.C.
The interior of Relume Credit: Darrow Montgomery

2023 has brought a bunch of new shops to greater D.C., those perfect places to buy the goods you need whether you’re shopping for a friend or yourself. Promised city services, such as in-home composting and bridge barriers, also have us feeling optimistic for the future.

To see what readers selected in Goods & Services categories, click here.

Best Place to Gorge Yourself on Queer Lit

Little District Books

In June 2022, local attorney Patrick Kern remedied something that’s been amiss in D.C. since 2009. He opened the city’s only LGBTQIA bookstore, the first since Lambda Rising closed in Dupont Circle more than a decade ago. Located in Barracks Row, along a strip filled with deep queer history, Little District Books celebrates queer and trans authors and stories. Spanning several genres—fiction, memoir, and more—the store sells books by LGBTQIA writers on queer, trans, and other topics, so long as the writer identifies under that big umbrella. They also sell books with queer storylines, regardless of the author’s identity. Stuck in a reading rut? Sign up for a surprise gift box of books curated to your interests; you can get as specific—“YA fantasy with witches and trans representation”—or as general—“surprise me!”—as you want. They’ll do the rest. Looking for a deeper connection? Little District Books also hosts author events and several book clubs. In 2023, it’s still nice to know you don’t only have to go to a gay bar to find community—and it’s a great way to keep our pink dollars circulating in that community. 737 8th St. NE. —Sarah Marloff

Best Luddite Shopping Experience

Analog Market

Since the summer of 2022, Analog Market has offered a new way to enjoy old-school pleasures. Founded by Dave Fogel, owner of coffee/vinyl shop Bump ’n Grind, the vibey upstart market is located in a small house right off the main Georgia Avenue drag in Silver Spring. On weekends, vinyl DJs stop by for five-hour daytime sets—regulars include Cowealtha Clay (otherwise known as actor Clayton LeBouef, who played strip club manager Orlando on The Wire), RWEONTHEAIR?!, and DJ Enyah. The space has also hosted live music acts, such as electronica maven Blinkhorn. The vendor lineup includes Mojomala (classic records and used books), Chase Love Retrofits (vintage clothing), and the Narrow Passage (antique maps and prints). Of course, Bump ’n Grind has a major presence, selling LPs and slinging drip, pour-over, and cold brews. Currently, the market is open Thursdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but keep an eye on Bump ’n Grind’s website and social feeds for updates on vendors, performers, and hours of operation. 923 Gist Ave., Silver Spring. —Nevin Martell

Best Upcoming City Service

Curbside Compost

The smell of hot garbage and decomposing food is inescapable in D.C.’s warmer months, so why would you want to let food decompose on your kitchen counter and have those scents infiltrate your entire living space? This is often the argument against home composting. Provide people with composting materials and pick it up from their homes, however, and you might get more buy-in. At least, that’s what the District is betting on with the curbside compost pilot program it’s launching this summer through the Department of Public Works. Approximately 12,000 D.C. households will get to try curbside composting through a yearlong pilot program that aims to reduce the amount of food waste Washingtonians throw out. Participants get a countertop bin and a street bin, a roll of bin liners, and instructional materials about what can and cannot be composted (paper towels: yes; diapers: no). Then they just start dropping food waste into the bin instead of the garbage and carry it outside for pickup once a week. It’s simple and hopefully not too stinky: DPW insists the containers have “been tested for odor and rodent —Caroline Jones

Best CSA Aimed at Supporting Local Black Farmers

The People’s Market

In 1920, there were nearly one million Black farmers in the U.S., making up roughly 14 percent of all farmers in this country. Over the past century, as a result of structural racism and limited access to capital due to discriminatory lending practices, those figures plunged. Today, fewer than 50,000 farmers identify as Black or mixed race, a mere 1.4 percent of the total. Entrepreneur Brandon Starkes, who previously worked in the D.C. and Prince George’s County governments, debuted the People’s Market in the spring of 2022 with the aim of supporting Black-owned farms in the region. The name is a nod to the People’s Grocery, a late-19th-century Black-owned grocer just outside Memphis, Tennessee. In the aftermath of a fight between Whites and Blacks outside the store and a pair of confrontations with the police, the shop’s owner and two employees were arrested and lynched while in custody. Starkes views his enterprise as a way of continuing their legacy by creating a marketplace for Black farmers and creators to sell their goods. His subscription delivery service does drop-offs on Sundays to customers in D.C., Alexandria, Arlington, and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Boxes brim with seasonal produce from the likes of Three Part Harmony Farm in Northeast D.C., Sisters of the Soil in Upper Marlboro, and Dodo Farms, in Brookeville. (A half box, which feeds two people, costs $40 a week; a full box intended for four eaters, costs $60 a week.) Customers have the option to add eggs, fresh cut flowers, and several body care products, such as soaps from Silver Spring’s Root Down Cleansing. —Nevin Martell

Best Day Spa

Capital Blossom

I’m a huge proponent of self-care, but there are times when the “self” just won’t cut it. In these situations, it becomes necessary to look for outside help. I’m not talking about therapy—though maybe I should. A recent birthday gift card brought me to Capital Blossom Day Spa in Adams Morgan, and I could not have imagined a better experience. I chose a special package they were offering for the month of June, but they have several deals that allow you to combine different services. None of them are cheap, but they are reasonably priced, and the service was well worth it. I arrived a few minutes early, so I had time to peruse the collection of snacks and goodies that went beyond the usual coffee and tea fare. I was the spa’s final client of the day, and was still seen right at my scheduled time. My masseur was very attentive, respectful, and responsive, and I left a good bit lighter than when I came in. 1805 Belmont Rd. NW. —Camila Bailey

Best Place to Splurge on Instagram-Worthy Nail Art

Queenie’s Nail Salon

If you tend to scroll on Pinterest or Instagram marveling at nail art videos, but wavering on the idea of one day getting a set yourself, this is for you. Queenie’s Nail Salon in Foggy Bottom offers a variety of services, including eyebrow waxing, manicures, and pedicures, but the main reason to visit them is to get that Insta-worthy nail art on your own hands. Queenie, the owner, is an unmatched nail artist. She’s able to achieve nearly any design you can find on your boards and explore pages. Plus, the salon’s for anyone, whether you’re the kind of customer who prefers a quiet, relaxing appointment, or you want to chat with the super-friendly artists. Prices are standard for manicures, but remember that the designs are typically extra. 1926 I St. NW. —Emily Martin

Best Way to Get High When Republicans Say You Can’t

Self-certify for a medical marijuana card in D.C. (or just go to Maryland)

Are Congressional Republicans meddling in your local affairs? Have they repeatedly passed a budget rider that prohibits your locally elected government from setting up a recreational marijuana market? Does it make you so mad that you just want to smoke a joint? You could, of course, take your chances in the District’s shaky marijuana “gray market.” But there is another option! Last year, the D.C. Council passed a law that allows residents and visitors to self-certify that they need medicinal marijuana, eliminating the need for a doctor’s note. The law was made permanent earlier this year, and has likely contributed to an increase in medical marijuana licenses. Still, the self-certification process is yet another hoop tokers must jump through, and the license comes with a fee ($30 for a 30-day nonresident license, $100 for a two-year resident license, which is waived until Dec. 7). Luckily, as of July 1, our neighbors in Maryland, who pay federal taxes and have representation in Congress, launched a recreational program with plenty of dispensaries within reach for D.C. residents. In July alone, the Maryland Cannabis Administration reported more than $87 million in sales—more than double June’s total before recreational marijuana was legal in the state. It sure would be nice to see some of that revenue flow into D.C.’s coffers. —Mitch Ryals

Best Improvement

Taft Bridge barriers

In 1986, D.C. installed barriers on the Ellington Bridge, which spans Rock Creek Park on Calvert Street NW. Since then, deaths by suicide there decreased by 90 percent. Barriers on the nearby Taft Bridge, which carries Connecticut Avenue NW over the park, were supposed to follow, but efforts to build them stalled in the intervening decades. They’ll finally be installed soon thanks in large part to the efforts of Chelsea Van Thof, who began pressuring the District to install barriers after her partner, Peter Tripp, died by suicide at the bridge in April 2022. Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen introduced emergency legislation that will dedicate $850,000 to design and install barriers on the bridge; it passed unanimously in February. —Caroline Jones

Best Store for Tchotchkes and Unique Gifts

Relume Co.

Having opened just in time for Barbenheimer mania, the brick-and-mortar iteration of Eastern Market frequenter Relume is packed with tchotchkes and decor emitting bright disco vibes. The eccentric storefront off the market’s main drag also carries its signature vintage candles, funky earrings, hair clips, vintage clothing, wrapped books for blind grabs, various arts and crafts, and other items that’ll make great gifts for anybody, or truly, yourself. Plus, the shop is dog-friendly for market days when you bring Fido along. If you’re looking to create something of your own, the shop opened up a section called the Makery, with stop-in hours for crafting and upcycling, as well as planned events for things like embroidery and pressed flower frames. 760 C St. SE, —Emily Martin

Two U.S. passports, one old and voided, the other new.
Credit: Darrow Montgomery

Best Way to Renew Your Passport

UPS Store on Wisconsin Avenue NW

Passport renewals, you may have heard, are taking a particularly long time these days, even if you pay for expedited service. Both neighborhood discussion groups and news stories contain pleas for connections to the State Department or an elected official who can make sure your new blue book arrives before your flight out of the country does. These reports only add to your panic if you have a recurring dream about showing up at the airport without a passport. If yours is due to expire in the next 12 months, head to the UPS Store on Wisconsin Avenue NW soon and let the helpful staff alleviate your worries. They’ll take your photo (it might not be flattering, but show me a passport photo that is), then sell you an envelope and postage, ensuring that your materials reach their destination in a timely manner. All you have to bring is your old passport, a completed application, and the processing fee. The Tenleytown location tends to be less busy than the stores in Columbia Heights or downtown, making the process simpler still. Spend the weeks before your new passport arrives daydreaming about where it will take you. 4200 Wisconsin Ave. NW. —Darrow Montgomery, as told to Caroline Jones