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Where Shopping Gets Personal

These days, a visitor standing at the intersection of King and Loudoun streets can stroll less than a block in any direction and shop the world: dinnerware from Italy; garden ornaments from England; carpets from South Asia; and plenty of furniture and art -- old and new, imported and American-made. Here are five of the more recent arrivals in that four-block area:

Wanda Crossley opened EnglishManor Gardens & Interiors 3 1/2 years ago (27 S. King Street; 703-669-3300). At the time people asked her, "Why Leesburg?" she says, adding that now "it's really starting to happen out here." Her store, which includes interior design services, specializes in statuary, architectural pieces, "bench-made" French furniture and original oil paintings. Prices range from $6 for a bag of homemade toffee to $7,000 for a French armoire. Crossley's airy space is easy on the eye -- and on the ear, too, when Sweet Pea, the green canary in residence, is in the mood to vocalize .


Shoppers stroll Maryland Avenue in Annapolis. (Photo Craig Herndon for The Washington Post)

Just across the street is Crème de la Crème (101 S. King St.; 703-737-7702), which came to town 2 1/2 years ago. The shop sells imported pottery and linens, mostly with a French country look, and French figurines called "santons," or little saints. Shoppers can pick up a pair of candles for $10 or a tablecloth for $200, but what draws many people is a display of ceramic guinea hens in one window; against all odds, the fat pinheaded fowl exude an undeniable droll charm. And despite last summer's "Brood X" that descended on the mid-Atlantic region, Crème de la Crème's signature cicada-shaped vases are actually cute. In the South of France it is said that cicadas bring happiness.

The Dutch, on the other hand, put their superstitious stock in the magpie, or ekster. The saucy, black-and-white bird supposedly brings good luck -- when it comes in twos. At an 18-month-old shop called Ekster (105 S. King St.; 703-771-1784), where a pair of artificial magpies perch behind the cash register, Caroline and Jon-Paul Saunier sell old and new house and garden furnishings imported from Europe. A sampling of their goods, which start at $5 and go up to about $5,000, includes Belgian linens, apothecary jars, old oil portraits, elk antlers and ironstone ware. Shoppers can roam through theme rooms upstairs, downstairs and outside the old house.

At Penny Lane Antiques and Gifts (109 S. King St.; 703-771-1984), owner Penny Latham has been in business a little more than a year. Background note: Penny Lane was Latham's nickname in high school, and lyrics from Beatles' songs are scrawled across walls and ceilings of the historic house that is now chock-a-block with offerings as diverse as folk-art-style birdhouses and leopard-skin Christmas stockings with curled toes and feather trim. Whimsical cards sell for about $2; vintage or new furniture is priced to about $500. "Who needs a jeweled finial?" Latham asks. "But they are beautiful."

Some visitors to Woven History and the Silk Road (3 W. Loudoun St.; 703-443-8770) may recall Mehmet Yalcin's store of the same name located near the District's Eastern Market. Yalcin, who opened his store in Leesburg last November, sells rugs handmade in Pakistan and Nepal by refugees from Afghanistan and Tibet. A woven bag can be had for about $40; an 11-by-14 made-to-order carpet may sell for $17,000. Yalcin also carries antique Chinese furniture; thangkas, or Buddhist spiritual art; jewelry; and exotic musical instruments. When he blows on a silver and turquoise inlaid conch shell from Tibet, the sound, he says, is "the echoes of the Himalayas."

The Loudoun and King streets crossroad is also home to several antique stores. Between them, the two biggest -- the Leesburg Antique Emporium (32 S. King St.; 703-777-3553) and the Black Shutter Antique Center (1 Loudoun St. SE; 703-443-9579) -- have nearly 100 dealers. Check out the Chinese baskets, Roseville pottery, Celtic jewelry and vintage clothing.

Other shops in the four-block area sell equine-themed gifts, quilts, paint-it-yourself pottery, art and Civil War memorabilia -- and that doesn't touch on all the shops in the rest of the downtown.

Parking is no problem. Metered spaces are 25 cents or 35 cents an hour, and the town has a deck on Loudoun Street where parking is free for the first two hours and 50 cents an hour after that.

Those in need of sustenance might try the inexpensive China King (5 S. King St.; 703-777-9831), the not-inexpensive Eiffel Tower Cafe (107 Loudoun St. SW; 703-777-5142) or the beautiful Lightfoot (11 N. King St.; 703-771-2233).

For those who must shop the name brands, Leesburg's new trolley is making free weekday runs to the Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets (241 Fort Evans Rd. NE; 703-737-3071).

M.J.McAteer


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