Living Well: Pixie Windsor, owner of Miss Pixies furniture shop in D.C.

March 28, 2012

When it comes to window-shopping, Miss Pixie’s Furnishings and Whatnot is tough to resist. The 14th Street boutique is known for its neon pink exterior, wacky window displays and the seductive scent of chocolate chip cookies. For treasure hunters, it’s a trove of eccentricities waiting to be explored.

“Our stuff runs the gamut,” says Pixie Windsor, who first opened the store in 1997 in Adams Morgan, “but we like it that way. It’s never boring.”

Windsor, 52, grew up in Cambridge, Md., and has a degree in art history from Salisbury University. She moved to the District with a friend in 1985 and got a job in the restaurant business. After 12 years, she worked up the nerve to open her own shop.

“I grew up on a farm, so we used to go to cattle auctions and yard sales all the time,” she says. “My aunt furnished her entire house from estate sales, and I remember thinking as a kid, ‘Why would I be playing outside when I could be digging through cool stuff all day?’ ”

Over the years, she moved her shop around Adams Morgan, where she lives, before settling into 1626 14th St. NW in 2005.


Pixie Windsor, owner of Miss Pixie’s, says, “My dream when I retire is to open a store that sells only trash cans that will double as a wine bar. I’ll call it Wasted.” (Marvin Joseph/WASHINGTON POST)

Windsor stocks the store with the 20-
to 40-something Washingtonian in mind. “They’re busy people who may not have tons of money and just want to furnish their apartment with stuff that isn’t boring,” she says. “They’re stylish, they know what’s in the magazines and they keep me current, too. It’s a fun group to shop for.”

When neighborhood rental prices skyrocketed last year, Windsor considered moving the store to Petworth or H Street NE, but the foot traffic didn’t compare, she says. She negotiated with her landlord and renewed the lease earlier this month. “I’m thrilled,” she says. “This is my little gem.”

The bad news? The building’s new owners aren’t crazy about the pink storefront and want to paint it gray. “But that ship hasn’t sailed just yet,” she says.

We spoke with Windsor recently to get to know her personal style.

The original idea: Miss Pixie’s was initially going to be a furniture store-and-bar combination. I had talked with my good friend Jeff Dawson, who owns Bedrock Billiards and Buffalo Billiards, about opening one together in this space, but it never materialized. My dream when I retire is to open a store that sells only trash cans that will double as a wine bar. I’ll call it Wasted.

Your home: I live in an apartment that faces west over Kalorama Park and gets a lot of sunlight. And no, it’s not neon pink! The woodwork is white, and the walls are dark gray. I actually painted the apartment pink when I first moved in, but it felt like I was right back at work. That didn’t last long.

Personal collections: I have a ton of art and tchotchkes. I have a collection of paintings by a 1930s Greek artist, framed graffiti, pinup girls, burlesque costumes by a Vegas costume designer and a lot of portraits that kind of freak my friends out. I used to collect American art pottery, but the cupboards are full. Now, I collect wacky 1960s glassware that I use for parties.

Inspiration: I go to New York a lot. When I’m there, I always visit ABC Home, which was my inspiration when I first thought about opening a store. And I watch an embarrassing amount of HGTV. It’s usually the reason I’m late for work.

Entertaining: Every year, I have a big Christmas party and a big New Year’s Eve party. I’m not a good cook, but I have a beautiful kitchen, so my friends come over to cook at my house. For drinks, I’m a big fan of the punch bowl. That way, I don’t have to play bartender all night.

What you love about Washington:
As a retailer, it’s a very predictable city. Everyone goes away in the summer, everyone shops on the weekends and especially on a federal holiday. As a resident, I love the diversity. I grew up in a little cow town, so I love the flavor of this city.

Favorite hangout: I’m really pleased with what’s happening on H Street. It reminds me a lot of how Adams Morgan used to feel, junky and exciting.

Go-to restaurant: La Fourchette in Adams Morgan. It’s a teeny restaurant owned by a French couple who moved here 30 years ago speaking no English. The food is wonderful.

Looking ahead: I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon, but when I do, I will probably move to New Orleans. Ideally, I’ll split my time between there and Rehoboth, where I’ve been going since I was a little girl.

The story behind the cookies: I was sitting in the Baltimore train station reading a National Geographic story about perfumes. The article said that men are attracted by the smell of baked goods and chocolate. So I thought, “Well, I’ve got the girls figured out. Maybe that’s how I’ll keep the boyfriends occupied.” So I made a big batch of cheap, Safeway brand cookies and put it by the register when I opened my first store. They were a huge hit. That afternoon I realized I was going to have to make these every single day for the rest of my life. And indeed I do. Because if I don’t have them, they’re all I hear about. “No cookies today, Pixie? What happened to the cookies?”

Living Well is a series about Washingtonians who live stylishly.

Read more

Chat Thursday at 11 a.m. with Pixie Windsor

Living Well archive:  Read past Q&As with designer Joe Ireland and lifestyle blogger Meg Biram.

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