“I think she would be very happy to see this,” says Mahr, 52, who is originally from Baltimore and now lives in Wesley Heights in Northwest Washington. “I’ve tried to do a sort of European, south-of-France feel.”
In the 17 years his shop has been open, Mahr has become an expert at choosing things Washingtonians (and visiting shoppers such as Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi) like to give as presents, during the holiday season and for other special occasions. (Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf registered for wedding gifts there.) He has expanded from his original tableware to collections of home furnishings and decorative accessories. During December, a parade of customers seek help zeroing in on the ideal present. As the economy has shifted, he has added $5 fireplace matches and $12.50 pastel earbuds to his more lofty offerings.
He spoke with us recently about what his life is like this hectic time of year.
Holiday plans: Christmas is my busiest time of year. Christmas Eve, I work until 3 or 4 and then I close the store and go to the Four Seasons for a massage. Usually, I then have a quiet dinner with friends. This year on Christmas Day I’m taking off for India.
The tree: I’m a Jewish guy, and I always light the menorah my parents gave me. But I love having a Christmas tree. Every year, I get a group of friends together and we go to Sundback’s on Wisconsin Avenue [now Dan and Bryan Trees] to get my tree. They help me put up the tree, and I put on all of the lights. Then I sit back and have cocktails while my friends decorate. I have a lot of old-fashioned ornaments. It’s a great time.
Colored lights or white? Colored lights, those great big ones.
The tree-topper: Nothing.
Shopping: I shop when I travel throughout the year, especially just before Thanksgiving. I was just in Mexico and got a cool snow globe for a friend who collects them and a silver-and-turquoise sculpture for another friend. Of course, the rest of the stuff I get at my store.
Pet gifts: Of course I buy gifts for my dogs. And I buy gifts for my friends’ dogs.
Wrapping: I like to wrap a gift exactly as I would love to receive one. These days, even with people spending less on gifts, you still want the present to look extra special, so the wrapping is super important.