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Best Gift Shop

Covet

Before she launched Covet in 2010, Autumn Clayton did most of her gift shopping on etsy.com. “I got so tired of going to the mall and seeing the same types of gifts over and over,” she says. “It’s hard to find anything special.”

Located on the top floor of an old farmhouse in Arlington’s Bluemont neighborhood, Clayton’s offbeat boutique fills a little corner of that void. Ascend into the dreamlike space and you’re apt to find earrings suspended from an old birdcage, lanterns draped in pendant necklaces, and baby cups stashed in an antique pram. Throw pillows and other housewares are casually tossed on vintage chairs and hidden in the shop’s many nooks and crannies. “The display is very irreverent and random,” Clayton says. “People say it looks like a store in Portland.”

Many of Covet’s wares—like the guest towels that are hand-embroidered with the words “hot mess”—are sourced from local artists. “I try to avoid the made-in-China populated plastic,” says Clayton, who often hosts trunk shows and other events that allow shoppers to meet the designers face-to-face. “I try to connect the customers with the makers,” she says.

Emily Rich, who recently popped in to Covet to buy jewelry to spice up a simple dress (she was attending the Mark Twain Awards at the Kennedy Center), counts among the many women who rely on the shop as a go-to place for unique accessories you can’t find anywhere else. “I was on a mission,” Rich says. “I was here five minutes and I found the perfect stuff. Arlington could use more stores like this—with personality. I tend to seek out stores that are not big chain stores.” –W.K.

5140 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703-247-9797, www.facebook.com/2covet


Other top vote-getters:

Trade Roots
Le Village Marché
Stylish Patina