Bye-bye, shopping mall! Buy-buy, local shops!

Ira Ripken demonstrates popular item Smart Mass putty at Fair Day's Play.


Shopping season is here. But shopping malls, big-box stores, traffic jams, or disappointing internet orders need not be your fate, not if you shop local.

Takoma Park has the stores, the merchandise, and the home-town feeling that will inflate, not puncture, your holiday mood.

This is the first of a series of articles on Takoma Old Town shops. Most are independent and locally-owned. Many sell goods made from other small, independent firms. Often the goods are fair-trade or union-made in America.

Each article will describe a number of stores, what they sell, what they feature for the holiday seasons, what sales they offer, and their vital information: address, hours, contact information, and websites. This time we feature Fair Day’s Play, Takoma Bicycle, Amano, and Artful Framing. Find more local merchants at Main Street Takoma.

Since children and toys are the holiday gift-giving focus, we lead with a toy store. Fortunately for the Takoma Park area, it has the only independent toy store for miles around.


Fair Day’s Play


Fair Day’s Play is a toy store and more. They have an astonishing variety of play-things tucked into a small, cozy space. They have educational games, sports equipment, hula-hoops, jump-ropes, kits, puzzles, family games, cooperative games, science kits, LEGO products, children’s books, card games, marbles, jacks, yo-yos. Arts and crafts, dice of all types, Magic The Gathering cards, costumes, “green” toys, Japanese interlocking toys, brain-teasing logic games and more.

The shop, located at 7050 Carroll Ave. is owned by Lisa Ripken, assisted by 10-year-old son Eli Ripkin. The toy-store-with-a-conscience was established April 1, 2008.

Ira Ripken demonstrates popular item Smart Mass putty at Fair Day's Play.

Ira Ripken demonstrates popular item Smart Mass putty at Fair Day’s Play.

Ripken says she has toys for every age, from clutching-toys for babies to adult card games.

This holiday season she expects to sell a lot of LEGO products, board games, and seasonal items.

Of course, the store has stocking stuffers: Japanese erasors, Tangle “fidget-toys,” animal figurines, and dozens of other small toys and curiosities.

This season the store will also feature Peruvian sweaters, hats, and gloves. She also has ornaments made in Peru, and some from Vermont. She will have new children’s books, stuffed animals, wooden toys, and doll houses.

Their sports equipment includes fair-trade sports balls of all sorts and gear such as shin guards.


The store can take orders as well. Orders usually take 1-2 days to deliver.

Fair Day’s Play participates in the annual Pajamarama, a multi-store Old Town sales event. It will be Dec. 8, 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM. Discounts are offered to customers wearing pajamas. The store offers 20% off that morning.

They are open every day of the week says Ripken, including Thanksgiving Day morning.

Fair Day’s Play hurs: 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Contact: 301-270-4999



Takoma Bicycle


For those hoping to see a bicycle under the tree, Takoma Bicycle has wheels for all ages: tot to adults.

Takoma Park is hardcore bicyclist territory. That could be why the city is blessed with 2 bicycle shops. In Old Town, Takoma Bicycle at 7030 Carroll Ave has been there since April, 2010 when owner Bruce Sawtelle took over the space.


Takoma Bicycle owner Bruce Sawtelle in his workshop.

Takoma Bicycle, just named one of America’s Best Bike Shops for 2013 by the National Bicycle Dealers Association, features Giant brand bicycles, and is having a sale on last year’s models.

Got bikes? Maybe a bike seat or helmet will be under the tree instead. Or a new light, bell, lock, pump, gloves, or bike pants. Smaller items fit into stockings: reflectors, pant-leg clips, maps, inner tubes or repair kits.

The shop will offer holiday specials on helmets, locks, pumps, lights and apparel.


Sustainable-minded Takoma Parkians might prefer a refurbished bike to a new one. Owner Sawtelle offers service as well as sales. The service workshop is right at the front of the store.

Gift cards are available in any dollar amount.

Takoma Bicycle hours: M-F 10-8, Sat. & Sun. 10-4

Contact:  301-270-0202,

Website:  Facebook:




If hip, stylish clothing, shoes, and accessories are on someone’s wish-list, go to Amano.

Amano, at 7034 Carroll Ave., has anchored the Old Town shopping district since 1997. Owned by Jeffrey and Veronica McCandless, the boutique sells women’s apparel, “comfort” footwear, jewelry and accessories for work or casual wear. Their seasonal selection of gloves, hats and socks are appropriate for men as well – perfect holiday gifts.

Amano owner Veronica McCandless looks over the gloves display.
Amano owner Veronica McCandless looks over the gloves display.

Sweaters, wool jackets, scarves and boots are popular this time of year, too. Amano’s boots, like its shoes, are “comfort” footware –  supportive yet stylish. The brands include Merrell, Clarks, Taos, Born, and Keen.

Their apparel is unique, often made in small lots. They use free trade imports and made-in-USA suppliers. Their wide selection includes garments made of natural fibers such as organic cotton. Their clientele range from artsy to professional.

Amano garments.
Amano garments.

For gift-givers unsure of size, color, style, or which item to choose, gift cards can be purchased for any amount and used at any time.

Customers can sign up for Amano’s discount emails and sale notices on their website or friend them on Facebook

Amano Hours/Days: Mon-Fri. 11-7, Sat-11-6, Sunday-11-5

Contact: 301-270-1140,

Website:  Facebook:


Artful Framing & Gallery

shop pic 2

If your gift is a photo, print, or painting, you need to frame it. Or maybe you’d like to give some beautiful artwork.

Artful Framing & Gallery at 7050 Carroll Avenue carries a wide variety of fine framing materials from notable frame designers such as Roma Moulding and Larson Juhl. The shop’s knowledgeable staff helps customers design appropriate frames all types of artwork. Shop owner Dilip Sheth says “Our ultimate goal is to preserve your artwork while creating an exquisite frame that meets your style and budget.”

shop pic

Artful Framing’s frames and artwork.

Artful Framing has been in Old Town Takoma Park since 1995. “imagine what all these years of experience in custom framing can bring,”says the owner, citing the shop’s motto, “Creative Design with Quality Service.”

Owner Dilip Sheth also happens to be the in-house artist, whose popular paintings and prints are for sale in the shop. His paintings are colorful and unique. They are great, says Sheth, to warm up a home or business.

shop pic 4

Painting by Dilip Sheth and framing samples.

Artful Framing has an ongoing sale for the holidays, be it for custom framing or Dilip’s paintings. Follow the link below to the website for details.

Following the holidays there will be a 20% off Winter Sale.

Hours/Days: Mon – Fri 11am to 7pm Sat 11am to 6pm Sun 12pm to 4pm

Contact:301 270 2427,

Facebook: Website


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About the Author

Bill Brown
Bill Brown moved to Takoma Park in 1982. He has been involved in journalism in one way or another since he co-published an underground high-school newspaper in the late 1960s.

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