The neighborhood of Del Ray in Alexandria, Virginia has a great little motto: “Where Main Street Still Exists.” And it is absolutely true. Del Ray’s main street, Mount Vernon Avenue, is lined with adorable shops and independent restaurants. It is the kind of place that encourages residents to hang around close to home, rather than wander into the city, and also lures in people from neighboring towns who are looking for something different.
One of those adorable shops is called A Show of Hands, and it is my favorite kind of place: a store completely devoted to selling the works of local artists and crafters.
Currently more than 300 artists have their work on display there, and more are added all the time. Nearly every artist featured is from Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC or West Virginia, with just a few sprinkled in from other areas.
A Show of Hands will celebrate its fifth anniversary this November, and over the years has served as the launching pad for several northern-Virginia area artists and crafters.
Store owner Pat Miller, who is also chairman of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts, says that was her intention all along. While the store accepts work in all mediums from artists of all levels of expertise and experience, the focus tends to be on emerging artists. Those who maybe still have their day jobs, and can’t yet focus completely on their artwork.
Having their goods for sale at a store like A Show of Hands is often the first step to working on their art full time.
The inventory at A Show of Hands is purposefully diverse. Paintings, photography, pottery, fiber work, soaps, jewelry, wooden toys, and homemade jam all have a place there, in addition to nearly anything else a local artist could dream up. The store even sells work from local musicians and poets, and occasionally sells tickets to events starring resident recording artists.
Pat and co-owner Maria Wasowski plan trunk shows and demonstrations at the store that feature resident artists, and are also planning to host performances at the shop sometime in the future.
The most popular items in the store are jewelry and baby goods, as the shop is a very popular destination for locals looking for that unique and special gift. After all, nobody wants to show up at a baby shower with the fifth Baby Gap sweater.
The store’s unique and ever-changing stock has made it a favorite destination for locals as well as tourists visiting Alexandria. Many of the handcrafted goods in the store cannot be found anywhere else!
A Show of Hands is located at 2301 Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria, VA. Drop by Tuesday through Fridays 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, Saturdays 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sundays noon to 5:00 pm.