This is a busy season for The Irish Walk, the Washington area’s singular Irish specialty goods store.
“There’s a lot of green in here right now,” says owner Patricia (Patty) Theobald. The Irish Walk has been in business for 45 years; Theobald, a former payroll manager in the District, has owned it for nine.
This might be the month for St. Patrick’s Day, but the shop, at 415 King St. in Alexandria, celebrates all things Irish all the time. Among the most popular of its 13,000-plus items are Claddagh rings and other jewelry, hand-knit sweaters (which start at $250) and candy. There are also Irish dance shoes, tea, soda-bread mixes, Inis colognes and lotions, and Guinness shirts, caps and housewares. The Irish Walk also carries a few Scottish items.
“First Communion season,” in the spring, drives up sales, too, Theobald says. So does wedding season. Ireland sporting events, televised at two nearby Irish bars — Murphy’s and Daniel O’Connell’s — help sell jerseys and other items.
The Mullingar pewter comes from the County Westmeath town of the same name. The Belleek china comes from Northern Ireland.
“What we don’t get directly from Ireland,” Theobald says, “we get from Irish companies.”
Her sources include the Showcase trade fair in Dublin and another in Secaucus, N.J. The Irish Walk takes part in Alexandria’s Ballyshaners Irish Festival, usually held in August, and the Celtic festival held in September in Shirlington.
“We try to support Ireland in any way we can,” says Theobald, who became her own boss after previous owner Bernadette Troy offered her the opportunity to do something “fresh and new.”
Theobald was looking for a change, she says. She’d had some retail management experience during her college years. She decided that buying the store was a shot worth taking.
Newlyweds Aaron and Melissa Reed were on a first visit recently. They bought chocolates, Aaron said, and looked at jewelry. He has a Scottish background. Melissa’s heritage is Welsh.
“It’s a unique store,” Aaron added. “It has personality. ... The personality is what makes Alexandria.”
In business for 45 years, the Irish Walk in Alexandria specializes in clothing, jewelry, food and novelty items from Ireland.