The SpiceSuite Spice Bar is simultaneously tiny and as big as the world. That's how it is when the product you sell has been around for millennia, used as food preservatives, as medicine and as a means of trade.
Angel Anderson's shop, at 6902 Fourth St. NW in Washington's Takoma neighborhood, is a warm, umber anchor near the end of a row of unassuming shops. It's a short walk from the Takoma Metro station. Stroll by focused on your phone and you might miss the store's window, which is decorated with Moroccan lanterns.
"Food is fashion for me," says Anderson, a foodie and fashionista. "The kitchen and the closet are about adventure."
The SpiceSuite has Anderson's vibrant personality and is filled with colorful signage, art and antiques. There are shelves of small vials of spices and spice blends, some for purchase, some for visitors to sniff. The scents alone can whisk a person back to a grandmother's kitchen or a market in Zanzibar. Anderson makes a blend every month. "One of my favorites has been the masala that I picked up in New Delhi, India, this April," says Anderson, who travels to collect spices. "It's so fragrant and fun ... because it has such complexity."
One way Anderson makes time for travel involves business ingenuity. She invites fellow entrepreneurs to sell their products at the SpiceSuite on Fridays and Saturdays in pop-ups. Anderson gets time off when her "Spice Girls" run the store. Spice Girl Danita
Nikki Brooks has a line of whipped shea butter, sugar and coffee scrubs, candles, soaps and sprays called
Zen in a Jar. She's at the store the third Saturday of each month, noon to 6 p.m. "I learn about the ins and outs of running a brick-and-mortar shop," she says.
SpiceSuite has been open nearly two years. Back when Anderson first noticed the Takoma space was available, the leaser asked what her plans were. In that moment she was uncertain, but she still offered an answer: "I told him I wanted to open a spice store," Anderson recalls. "Spices were something I would always seek out when I traveled. In some ways, it feels super random, but when I think about the evolution of the space, it feels divine."
Clockwise from top: Art and antiques sit alongside various vinegars, oils, spices and other goods at the SpiceSuite
Spice Bar in Washington's Takoma neighborhood; store owner Angel Anderson.