If you have been anxiously awaiting the return of the wildly popular 116 King Seasonal Pop-Up, great news! The doors to 116 King will re-open with a grand opening event this Wednesday, March 22nd from 4-8pm. 116 King Seasonal Pop-up, which opened before the Christmas holidays last year, was met with huge success, so as proprietor and glutton for punishment, I decided to reopen 116 King, bringing back the best-of-the-best vendors and adding a variety of specially selected retailers boasting incredible product lines.
I am thrilled to throw open the doors to my new and improved mixed retail store with a grand opening event on Wednesday night. South Block Juice Co., who will also be popping up at 116 King, will be at the grand opening with samples of their fresh-pressed juices. Everyone is invited to attend, so be sure to come out for this fun event!
While I excel in shopping, sourcing new product lines, and creating beautiful retail spaces, writing is not my jam, so I enlisted the help of my former roommate and dear friend, local Alexandria resident, and writer Sheila Kennett Johnson to assist with this project.
Fortunately for me, when I decided to drop out of graduate school and head back to D.C. for a “real job” with the company I had interned with the year before, I lucked into a great living situation in Old Town. Thanks to a friend of a friend, I was connected with Jennifer Desiderio, who was Jennifer Kearney at the time, who was looking to fill a room in a group row house on the 400 block of S. Lee Street. Jennifer hailed from Birmingham, Alabama and went to Auburn, I was a graduate of Ole Miss who had grown up in the Mississippi Delta, and within minutes of talking on the phone about everything from mutual friends to SEC football to internships on Capitol Hill, I accepted Jennifer’s invitation to fill the vacancy in the room on her second floor, which possessed its own private loft.
I had either ignored, or most likely just forgotten to ask, about the size of the room. I can recall eagerly pulling into Old Town that day, and after officially meeting Jennifer, she escorted me to my new room and—record scratch—to my horror, not only was the closet barely big enough to hold all of my clothes from Harold’s, the bedroom floor was not even big enough for the full-size bed I had driven up strapped to the back of my Daddy’s truck. The private loft, accessible via this tiny ladder, was nothing more than a heat trap that eventually served as storage for makeshift drawers I made out of Rubbermaid boxes to hold my underwear and sweaters. I cried. And like any good roommate would do, Jennifer still makes fun of me to this day about it.
Nineteen years later, Jennifer and I are still close friends, and she and I recently met up for margaritas and chips and salsa, which totally counted as dinner back in the day, to discuss the reopening of her seasonal pop-up shop, 116 King. Jennifer possesses a particularly remarkable gut instinct when it comes to identifying trends in retail that shoppers are looking for; therefore, each vendor has been thoughtfully selected to fill these needs. None of the distinctive brands carried by 116 King can be found at any other store in Old Town, which gives both customers a singular opportunity to shop plus affords new and smaller retailers the ability to test the market and receive direct feedback from their consumers.
Loyal devotees to 116 King Seasonal Pop-up will be thrilled to learn fan favorites such as the men’s clothing line Bald Head Blues, canvas totes (and one of Oprah’s favorites!) from local vendor Crab & Cleek, one-of-a-kind kilim loafers and bags from Artemis Design Company, and Little Birdies, with their great selection of kids’ shoes, clothing, toys, books, bathing suits, and even whimsical life rafts, will all be returning.
New to 116 King this spring are fun brands like Palm Beach Sandals, which Jackie O made famous, Fair Harbor Clothing, which offers a variety of board shorts and athletic wear all made from recycled water bottles, and Sea Star Beachwear, boasting a classic espadrille made with a quick-drying neoprene upper that can go from ocean swimming to strolling the beach or boardwalk in minutes.
In addition to the wide-ranging variety of retailers, 116 King Seasonal Pop-Up will host several outstanding trunk shows each month, such as a men’s trunk show with Criquet Shirts around Father’s Day.
The most notable trunk show is by the New York City based handbag line Neely & Chloe, created by sisters Neely and Chloe Burch, who also happen to be Tory Burch’s nieces. Jennifer and I are especially excited to shop this affordable line of luxury handbags. We laughed about the drastic measures we used to go to in order to support our obsession with the then “it bag” Kate Spade nylon original. Our favorite go-to, money-saving strategy was to stock up on Lean Cuisines from the Safeway on Royal when they placed them on sale five for $10.
116 King will also continue hosting specially curated events such as a Mother/Daughter Sip and Paint around Mother’s Day, plus a Sip and Paint for a Ladies Night Out. A few other trunk shows 116 King will be hosting include Mi Golondrina, Corroon Bags, and K. Kane Jewelry.
While Jennifer and I often long for the days of being roommates in a group house of girls, where we had the luxury of dipping into each other’s closets and accessories, we both agree life is pretty sweet for us these days. We are (sort of) all grown up, married with healthy kids, and blessed with lasting friendships all in our beloved community of Alexandria where Jennifer now runs her own successful Pop-Up shop. Besides, we can always have bottomless baskets of chips and salsa to share over margaritas but this time with no salt. Swelling just comes too easily in our 40s. Sigh.
To learn more about the unique brands and happenings at 116 King, please follow @116King on Instagram. Special events and trunk shows are constantly popping up at 116 King, and you won’t want to miss out! 116 King Seasonal Pop-up will be open seven days a week from March 22nd through September 15th.