Atlanta Georgia


A Boulevard of Boutiques through Atlanta's Charming Neighborhoods
Take a shopping stroll through some of Atlanta's charming neighborhoods. In warmer weather, small restaurants put tables on the sidewalks for al fresco dining. You'll find the food choices, along with the buffet of boutiques, specialty shops and fine galleries, equally delectable. As with any extensive menu, the toughest question is where to start.

DECATUR

When Karen Mascavage decided to bring a bit of the New York boutique world to Atlanta, she chose Decatur for her men's and women's shop, DressCodes. She felt right at home in the eclectic mix of stores where people can find everything from shoes (Eviva) to global gifts. A case in point: People describe Mingei World Arts as a museum with a sense of humor. They tell owner Ann Van Slyke that they come in to see new things and to learn something, and to find that unusual gift. You'll find a mélange of jewelry, wood carvings, crafts and antiques — everything from a vintage kimono to beetle wings.

Her boutique stocks labels from Sweden, New York, Los Angeles and Japan, including Kicking Mule Workshop jeans and Shades of Greige casual wear for men. Women can find a designer variety of this season's floaty, feminine dresses, as well as nautical pants by Saint Grace. The work of local artists fills the walls.

"Decatur has the nicest seven-block walking area in Atlanta," echoes Warren Hudson, owner of Decatur CD. With 35 years of record business experience, Hudson has created a comfortable and knowledgeable environment for music-lovers of all ages. He stocks thousands of CDs, new vinyl and books about music. A new sound system supports concerts of local artists.

Owner Christina Muir sells her own jewelry designs and the work of Scott Blackman (at direct-to-customer prices) at Vivid Boutique, along with stationary, soy candles and French bath products. Just for fun, stop by Heliotrope, a medley of quirky and quality house and garden gifts. The French wine glasses ($9) and Jane Jenni Melamine Plates with cute sayings are perfect for outside dining.


VIRGINIA-HIGHLAND


This eclectic urban neighborhood has it all, from Indonesian furniture and art (Gado Gado) to quality woodworking tools (Highland Woodworking). For boutiques, there's cutting-edge clothing at Bill Hallman Original, and luxury bamboo towels and organic cotton baby togs at the environmentally friendly Eco Bella.

Three years ago, Steve and Cathy Walls turned their love for all things Italian into Bella Italia. You'll be a fan, too, when you see their hand-made, hand-painted majolica ceramics and hand-finished Busatti linens. The nearby shop, Bella Cucina Artful Food, translates that art into pestos and pasta sauces.

Christie Harper, owner of Dabberdoo, sells merchandise that can be personalized with monograms or names, such as baby gifts and other items from travel mugs ($26) to stemless wine glasses ($10 each).


BENNETT STREET


This Soho-style mix of galleries and art centers has been an Atlanta destination for fine art and antique-lovers for 25 years. The Stalls features luxury furnishings from 60 American and European dealers. Anne Irwin Fine Art began introducing the city to emerging Southeastern artists in 1985 and has expanded to new work from across the country. Owner and former New Yorker Susie Pryor shows her own work and other contemporary masters at the Bennett Street Gallery.

WEST MIDTOWN/BRICKWORKS

Less than a mile from Atlantic Station, projects such as the Brickworks (Marietta Street) and Westside Urban Market (on Howell Mill Road) are making this area a boutique and design hub for the city, according to Paul Baird, co-owner of Verde Home. "It's a growing area and there's a cool vibe here," he says. Three partners with antique and Nepalese carpet expertise opened the showroom of sustainable (eco-friendly) and stylish home furnishings this past November.

Their blend of hardwood furniture from Peru with organic upholstery, accessories and rugs from Tibet complement the urban sophistication of Bungalow and Kolo Collection's high-quality indoor/outdoor furniture. Savvy Snoot, a consignment store for designer furniture, sells "snooty brands at savvy prices," according to manager, Rob Gini. "We take in beautiful new things almost daily," he says.

Customers expect the unexpected with fine linens, porcelain and furnishings at OwenLawrence. World travelers and owners, Owen Halpern and Lawrence Pritchard, say they pride themselves on their taste and long-standing relationships with top European makers and small, family-owned manufacturers. You'll find recycled-glass barware from Spain, chocolate- or lemon-scented throws from Italy, and contemporary Arzberg porcelain from Germany, along with a wealth of knowledge and old-fashioned Southern customer service.

JUST for MEN

Atlanta abounds in women's boutiques and specialty shops, but where do guys go when they want fashionable style, fit and expertise?

Since 1996, a popular choice has been Miller Brothers Ltd. in Buckhead, where men know they can find a traditional custom-made suit, a Lilly Pulitzer floral shirt, colorful spring tie, custom cowboy boots or a great belt to go with premium denim. Brothers Greg and Robby Miller know workmanship and quality, and they know their customers.

Men feel right at home with the 42-inch plasma TV, sofa, and bar and grill, which the owners often use on Saturday. So, when do men get sartorially fitted? "During the commercials," jokes Robby Miller. Bringing the latest fashions from New York, Miller says, "We offer a great product mix based on what our customers want and need. It's not stuffy or boring — more like classic with a twist."

Sid Mashburn designs and manufactures some of his own-label items from his Atlanta westside store. Others are made in England, Scotland, Italy and New York. "I believe in buying the best fabrics," he says. "Classic but updated" is how Mashburn describes his one-stop store for men's formal and casual clothing, shoes and accessories.

-Adapted from the May/June Atlanta Now magazine, originally written by Laura Raines
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