Designers are rethinking the ways in which architecture can foster social equity.
Salt & Sundry offers urban-bohemian house wares with eco-friendly sensibilities.
Union Market, D.C.’s hippest spot for the best in food, would not be complete without its retail anchor, the urban-bohemian Salt & Sundry. The store is a cleverly curated celebration of the art of setting a fine table and enjoying a satisfying meal. Rustic and alluring, Salt & Sundry entices with offerings such as small-batch tonics, handcrafted chocolate bars, gorgeous vintage place settings and elegant table linens.
Founder Amanda McClements spent 10 years as a food and travel writer before making the leap into retail, cementing her reputation as one of D.C.’s freshest and most stylish voices in food. Her shop follows the visually rich but appealingly simple aesthetic of her website Metrocurean, which she founded in 2005 to chronicle her love of cooking and the burgeoning D.C. bar and dining scene.
“I was looking to create a type of space that I couldn’t find,” says McClements. “I had a space in my mind where I wanted to shop that didn’t exist.”
Salt & Sundry focuses on local foods, small-batch producers and vintage goods, which makes the store a treasure trove for sustainable-minded shoppers. A delightfully calm and pleasant space amid the bustle of Union Market, the shop earned the title of 2013’s “Best Place to Buy a Hostess Gift” from Washington City Paper and sent Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema into a shopping frenzy.
McClements favors artisanal products and looks for organic and fair trade certifications. The shelves are stocked with quirky delights like spicy ginger shrub, wood-barrel aged maple syrup, whisky stones milled by the country’s oldest soapstone workshop and goat’s milk soap wrapped in the pages of old books. Her father, a craftsman in North Carolina, uses salvaged and locally milled wood to build farmhouse dining tables for sale in the store. The other products she sells come from talented artisans from across the country and around the world.
“We feature a lot of Fair Trade products, handmade products and American-made products,” she says. “I love traveling and scouring the globe trying to find great artisans. There’s been a huge movement in supporting different trades and knowing where the things that you buy come from.”
Shoppers can find Turkish towels, Japanese dinnerware and French water glasses alongside quality products local to D.C., such as Gordy’s Pickles and Growl Cold-Brew Coffee Concentrate. The shop also carries intriguing finds from around the mid- Atlantic, such as finishing salt made from an ancient brine well under West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains.
“Anything you can do to support your neighbors is great,” McClements says. “Keeping money in a local economy helps build and grow a strong community.”
Salt & Sundry does its own part to promote vibrant community life. The store hosts special events featuring local chefs, bartenders and food experts. Visitors might enjoy an old-fashioned happy hour focused on the classic cocktail, chat with an author at a cookbook signing or participate in an absinthe class and tasting.
McClements, a Southerner with a tasteful sense of hospitality, works to make the shopping environment welcoming and convivial. The store is filled with warm Southern Americana charm much like its owner.
“I just love the opportunity to engage with our customers on a daily basis,” McClements says. “I love talking to people and sharing the products I’m passionate about. Being able to do that in person—having that community—is a real treat.”
Everything about this shop is a treat: from the happy hostess behind the counter to the maple-matured sherry bourbon oak vinegar on the shelf.