Looking for the perfect graduation, bridal or Mother’s Day gift? The Preppy Pink Pony offers a personalized touch.
Dear readers, have you stopped giggling yet? I haven’t. I still can’t say this store’s name with a straight face. It took me a while to come around to the idea of writing about this petite pastel playground. But I do respect a woman who embraces what she loves, and Preppy Pink Pony owner Virginia Kennedy pulls no punches.
Unapologetically preppy and a lover of pink (the pony part she’ll explain later), Kennedy fills her pocket-sized shop in downtown McLean with perhaps the most cheery and gifty merch you’ll find this side of the Potomac. A former attorney who switched gears in order to spend more time with her family, she brings happiness to the masses in the form of punchy totes—including a mind-boggling selection of Scout products—plus hand-painted serving trays, pet accessories, housewarming items, jewelry and more.
“Everything in the store is something I would purchase for myself and give to my best of friends,” Kennedy proclaims on her website.
The store is so infectiously happy that some customers spend hours browsing and keeping the staff company, dropping by as much for the social aspect as for any shopping agenda they might have.
Now for the “pony” part: What started as an activity to pass the time while attending her daughter’s horse shows up and down the East Coast—Kennedy would set up a card table with needlepoint belts and personalized equestrian gear to sell—evolved into a tent-sized operation that required an 18-foot truck for transport.
When her daughter went off to the University of Virginia in the fall of 2008, Kennedy moved her inventory into a storefront off Chain Bridge Road. (This also enabled her to stay close by for her son, who graduates from Langley High School and heads to Cornell this year.) Four years later, she hasn’t done a lick of advertising or even self-promoting among her friends, yet loyal customers flock to the store season after season.
“Every year I think we’ve sold the last cosmetic bag that we could possibly be able to sell,” Kennedy says with delighted surprise, “and then we sell more.”
Colorful wares notwithstanding, here’s what makes the place my pick for spring: You can knock out every graduation present, bridal gift and teacher thank-you in one fell swoop. Wendy Pilch, personal stylist and owner of Arlington-based Spendalla, sings the praises of the store’s monogrammed necklaces—available in enamel, laser-cut acrylic or engraved sterling silver—as her go-to graduation gift.
Crunched for time but want Mom and Dad to know that you had the forethought to pick something out especially for them? The store’s on-site personalization services can help create a unique gift that looks like you thought about the recipient months in advance of Mother’s or Father’s Day.
If you’re hosting a wedding, in a wedding or attending a wedding, not only does the Preppy Pink Pony have stationery, bridal party accessories and wedding gifts covered, but the store can also host your bridal shower on its lovely garden patio out back. They’ll hook you up with a florist and a cake baker, too.
And the monogramming—oh, the monogramming! Nearly everything in the store is just waiting to be embellished with a set of initials. An envelope clutch is cute, but not particularly notable until an elegant, cursive monogram is stitched into the leather. Letter-clad, ribbon-trimmed wicker bags and Jonathan Adler cellphone cases share space with tiny porcelain jewelry dishes ready to be inscribed to their recipients.
The personalizing potential ranges from the excessive (e.g., embroidered floor mats for your car, which, if the store’s parking lot is any indication, must be a navy-blue BMW SUV) to the thoughtful. Beautiful and useful platters and cutting boards can be engraved with not only the recipient’s initials, but also the giver’s signature.
During my visit, I admire a sample display of luxe linens from Matouk, all with sumptuously high thread counts and a dizzying array of color options. Kennedy approves of my swooning, showing me her favorite satin-trimmed and appliquéd monogram on a diamond matelassé coverlet.
I wonder aloud who buys these—to which she replies that many brides and beach-house owners put in orders for the dreamy sheets. Plus, “a lot of the girls come in for college and get their monogrammed bedding,” she adds. When I choke at the idea of teens spending $350 for their dorm room beds, Kennedy doesn’t miss a beat.
“Remember, dear,” she smiles, “we’re in McLean, Virginia.”
The Preppy Pink Pony
1355 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, VA 22101,
Know of a great little store that needs discovering? Email style columnist Adrienne Wichard-Edds at email@example.com.