A Good Day for a Shopping Marathon


Yesterday, I got it in my head to go on the Old Town Boutique District Scavenger Hunt. One of the advantages of homeschooling I’m finding is that I can actually follow through on the “I’ve always meant to…” items that get shelved into the dark recesses of intention. Well, I’ve always meant to stroll around the shops on King Street, and this gave me an excuse to do just that.

So, apparently, you can pick up a scavenger hunt “passport” at any number of participating stores and use that as a guide and excuse to casually browse through a number of stores. This was great for me because I’m not much of a shopper, and I psychologically need some sort of goal or directive to be in a store and, honestly, I’m a little intimidated to be in some of the chi-chi places.

I didn’t realize you could get the passports free (I was skimming), so I signed up for a BAGGU bag experience at $10, which you pay for online and pick up at the Visitor’s Center in Alexandria. Turns out, worth it. In addition to getting the opportunity to have your passport ticked off, you get a nice little freebie at each store you visit.

Being as confused as I normally am, I didn’t realize that stores wouldn’t dig out the freebie unless they saw you had the bright neon bag with you. I spent half the day with the bag stashed in the stroller, so I missed a lot of freebies. Oh well. As luck would have it, someone involved in promoting the Boutique District noticed me shlepping my kids around and gave me a nice little gift card to Union Street Public House for taking our picture for publicity. I probably look bedraggled.

(There’s also an Instagram game/contest, but too much for me. I do wish now I had some pics to share; you should check the link out to peruse all the fun other people had.)

Yes, of course, the kids were with me. Didn’t I just say that homeschooling gave me an excuse to do these things? I mean, truthfully, I just thought we could use the day to take a nice stroll out of doors, but there were some hidden opportunities in the scavenger hunt.

For one, it was easy for me to hand the passport over to Biggie and tell him to go to the counter and get the passport stamped at each store. I actually got him to accost people and say “Please” and “Thank you.”

We also got to see a lot of neat stuff. Wonder of wonders, King Street has some pretty cool stores! There was a lot of sensory enrichment; we got to smell soaps and spices, taste olive oils, touch yarns, and just take in lots of wonderful curiosities. JB’s favorite was probably eating a yellow watermelon mini-popsicle at Whimsy Pops. Or maybe eating half a caramel-salt donut at Sugar Shack. (Did you know Sugar Shack posts daily freebies on their Facebook page?)

Biggie bought a few little things, like some rocks at Potomac Bead Company, so there was a little math practice in there, too.

And the exercise. We started at 11 at the eastern end of King Street, and we marched through the highways and byways of commerce all the way up to the Metro Station, three hours later, just in time for a playground playdate with the Alexandria Homeschoolers group. JB was in a stroller, and Biggie did not complain once.

This was not really my original plan; I didn’t really have any expectation to accomplish anything other than have some time outside and see a couple of stores, but Biggie made it a mission. Even after our time at Blue Park Playground, he insisted that we go back and hit the last few stores that we missed on our passport. So we finished, which qualifies us for an entry into a drawing for a gift card.

Prize, no prize, we got home with a bunch of stories and a free bath bomb from Ladyburg, which made my kids smell nice again.


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