gettin’ pretty in the city no. 18: the yellow button.

As I sat down to write this entry, I remembered a children’s book by Anne Mazer called The Yellow Button. I’m not sure if Miranda named her store after the book, but its ideas certainly apply. It’s about a yellow button that sits in the pocket… of a dress… worn by a girl… who lives in a house… and as the short tale progresses, it demonstrates how everything–even a small, insignificant yellow button–has an important place in the universe, and how we are all–every one of us–connected by that commonality.

If Miranda is the girl with the yellow button in her pocket, she’s definitely established her place in our little corner of the universe, and in doing so, provided another way for folks to connect with each other and our city.

Miranda’s store, which sells clothing, accessories, shoes, handbags, and jewelry, is gorgeous. Beautiful artwork and stylish furniture fill the space, honoring the charm of downtown. For such a small shop (which by the way has expanded since opening), she has an ample treasury of clothing for all occasions.

Brandy and I were actually shopping that day with a specific occasion in mind–we were being interviewed by FOX News Richmond about the blog and our love of Harrisonburg. So we came to the Yellow Button to pick out a new dress. Brandy narrowed it down to a little purple floral number and a light blue dress with frilly cap sleeves. I tried on several as well and sang along to Radiohead obnoxiously in the dressing room (I have a knack for remembering lyrics). I reeeeaaallly liked this green floral dress a lot, but at the last second I swerved and chose a cute sleeveless dress the color of coral.

Just for fun, I tried on a couple of long dresses. One was red with a band of purple fabric at the bottom, and I felt like Medea, the character in the ancient Greek play who kills her kids to get back at her husband, Jason. It also reminded me of dresses my mom would wear to the neighbors’ on Bridge Night in the 70s. I wanted it. The other was a light sea foam green and it was gorgeous and SO SOFT. I wanted it equally as much.

Anyway, the next day we donned our new duds and went to the Hardesty Higgins House (which I, in my pre-TV nervousness, kept calling the Higgy Hardy House–geez!–and the rest of the afternoon, we could NOT stop saying, “Nana nana nanana, gettin’ Higgy wit it.”) And after standing in a chilly wind for a couple of hours and making a zillion bloopers and wondering if those poor guys got any footage worth a hoot, we finished our first I Love My Burg television interview. It airs this week on Fox News Richmond, and in case you don’t get that channel (cuz’ we don’t), we’ll post a link to it later this week. Watch for that!

Thanks, Miranda, for helping us solidify our little sliver of the universe, too. The Yellow Button is located at the corner of South Main and Bruce Street and is open Monday-Saturday 11:00am-7:00pm and Sunday 11:30am-4:30pm. Go get pretty!

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

friendly city fashion no. 13: mint.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since Mint opened. I remember it like one remembers every single word of a really terrible song. No, that’s not right. I remember it like I remember the time in third grade that I threw up four times in the school cafeteria but got to stay home the rest of the week.

Hm. That’s not the image I’m going for, either.

Let’s just say that I remember it with mixed emotions. So, so proud of and happy for Anna after working really hard to open that store, yet so, so FREAKING OUT that I was losing my hair dresser. Bittersweet… but mostly sweet. Yes… maybe that’s what I should have said in the first place.

Can we just start this post over?

I’m happy for Anna and my hair misses her.

Her store, Mint, is just awesome and quintessentially her. Brandy and I went there recently to browse. I had my kids with me, but that’s okay because Anna’s equipped: she’s got Legos. That bought us a good twenty minutes to drool over the new arrivals for spring. The variety in the store is fantastic. Not only does she have an array of dresses, skirts, and tops (sizes, styles, colors, and “levels of fanciness”)–which I appreciate because I am so weirdly shaped–but she also sells jewelry, handbags, shoes, and a random collection of bizarre oddities.

Like coin banks that say “Saving for Therapy.” And the always-classic Vinnie’s Tampon Case. Greeting cards. Wine bottle stoppers. And sticky notes that say “Just wanted you to know: something smells/this sucks/check your teeth/you rock.”

At this point those twenty minutes expired and Cal threw an Angry Bird across the store (“but he wanted to fly, Mom!”) and hit the earring display. Ohnoyoudidnot! And I had to put him in time out, which bought us another five minutes.

         During this time, the three of us had an attack of girliness and I was coerced–no, FORCED, to try on some items. So I hunched over in the dressing room, and squeezed and tugged and even laughed out loud… although I really do like that feather dress. (Anna later told me I chose the “short person” dressing room. It was sort of like being in Alice in Wonderland, you know, where she grows really big and gets her head stuck in the ceiling thing.) I tried on these:

On our way out, we saw half-price winter hats! I ended up buying mine…

… and later I doubled back and got the other one for Brandy, along with a pack of “something smells” sticky notes. Just so she knows. And since then, we went back to Mint to see Denise Kanter Allen’s art on First Friday (post forthcoming!) and I picked up that feather dress.

Visit Anna at Mint on West Market Street in the Union Station building. She’s open Monday – Saturday, 11 til 6.

friendly city antics no. 1: granny longlegs

 When I told my kids we were going to Granny Longlegs today, I got mixed reviews. Cal was unusually excited about it—later I realized he thought I’d said “Granddaddy Longlegs,” and he must’ve expected some kind of spider-themed Chuck E. Cheese or something. Bree reserved her enthusiasm, as usual, until she found out Brandy would be there with her camera and this wouldn’t be a typical shopping trip with boring old Mom.

If you haven’t been there in a while, like me, you really should get in there soon. When we walked in, we joined several customers already perusing the sweeping assortment of second-hand goods. While the store (which is an extension of Mercy House, by the way) carries mostly apparel—clothing, shoes, accessories—they also sell books, housewares, and collectibles. I don’t know what it is about pouring over the former belongings of strangers, but it’s… comforting. Every item in the store has history, has a past, has a story—just like people. Everything is vibrant and alive and eager to become part of a new household. Brandy’s shutter clicked like a hundred times, capturing the life of shoes, purses, all of it.

Here are some things we love about the place:

1. It’s so clean! Everything is neatly arranged, there’s room to move about and see what’s being offered, and its organization is logical—which is good for someone like me, who gets overwhelmed quickly at even the idea of shopping.

2. The clothing is arranged by type (shirts, pants, skirts, etc.) and then by color within each category. I like that. Size is not the focus. It’s almost like size is irrelevant—a new experience for most women. Look for the color you’re drawn to, then find your size. Plus, a whole rack of yellow shirts just makes me happy.

3. There’s a book closet. Actually, two. One for hardbacks, one for paperbacks. It sounds nerdy, but what a joy to stand in a four-by-four closet and be surrounded by books. I want that in my house. I’d sit in there all day. Maybe add a mini-fridge and a hot plate… I’d be all set.

4. There’s a PURSE closet. Ohgollyohgollyohgollyohgollyohgollyohgolly. You know, I’m a practical person and I don’t get all crazy about the Dooney & Bourke purses or the COACH bags. I usually approach “purse shopping” from a utilitarian standpoint: does this thing have enough pockets for all my crap. But seeing all those purses, of various ages, styles, and social statuses, lined up on the shelves of three walls literally made me clap. And I might have even squealed except that my excitement was so deafening I’m not sure what I said. At any rate, I bought one. THE BEST ONE.

Those closets made me fantasize about a sledgehammer….

5. In the back of the store is what seems to be a man’s walk-in closet, filled with hats, ties, suits, socks, shoes, and even underpants. Since we felt relatively sheltered from the public, all tucked away back there, we got a little silly. First, hats. Bree picked a Yankees cap, Cal put on a Pittsburgh Penguins cap, Brandy chose a “Father of the Year!” hat, and I wore a Pike’s Peak hat that said, “I like it on top.” Hee hee.

Several group photos later, I thought it would be cute to dress the kids like old men, each in a jacket, tie, hat, and oversized shoes, but it turned into what we later dubbed “Mafia Moments.” Look at the photos—you’ll understand.

All in all, we loved our visit to Granny Longlegs and recommend you go there, too. For $15.00, I got a purse (WITH a matching change purse), an L.L. Bean corduroy skirt (adorbs!), a hat, and two books for the kids. Plus awesome photos, thanks to Brandy (she is AMAZEBALLS), and fun memories to deposit in my heart.

Oh, and in case you were worried, Cal had such a good time that his disappointment about “Granddaddy” Longlegs vanished. By the end of the outing, he’d asked Brandy if she wanted to come over and see his “bat cave.” Wocka wocka. That kid.

In short, Granny Longlegs is yet one more reason why I love my burg. Visit them soon in downtown Harrisonburg, next to Jess’ Quick Lunch.