June 28, 2007

Woman's Industrial Exchange

I happened to wander into the Woman's Industrial Exchange this afternoon. Baltimore's version of this old concept store began just after the War of Northern Aggression (or the Civil War, as it is commonly known), to help women of means who were lacking cash, exchange their needlework, handicrafts and cooking for cold currency. In fact, the Duchess of Windsor's mother often took in sewing from the Exchange. Current consigners receive 65% of the price of the item sold.

The Baltimore, WIE used to have the most wonderful restaurant, which can be seen in a scene from Sleepless in Seattle (watch this clip - it's hilarious, but it's not this one--->) where Meg Ryan and Rosie O'Donnell's characters have lunch. The average age of the waitress, and they were all women, was about 90. They wore Tiffany-blue dresses with huge starched white bows. Hopefully, another restaurant will be coming in soon, but it will never be the same as the original.
In the St. Louis Woman's Exchange, they sell the famous Cherry Dresses, which have been classics for more than 50 years. In Baltimore, the store is famous for its sock monkeys. There are WE's across the country, including Dallas, Memphis and Philadelphia.
Right now, the Baltimore WIE is having a terrific sale on Michael Weems glassware. It's really spectacular stuff and is being sold at a deeeep discount. If I told you how deep, you would not believe me... and I don't want to tell in case I buy presents there. People will think I am skint!

Do you have a Woman's Exchange near you? Do share...


  1. That glassware is just gorgeous! I should stop by - or maybe not. I'm still trying to replenish my bank account a little bit.

    War of Northern Aggression! Strange. This is the second time I've heard that phrase this week. Every day another reminder of which side of the Mason-Dixon Line I'm on. I won't even mention the Confederate flags I see around the neighborhood!

  2. That cherry dress is adorable! I dressed my girls in things like this as long as they would allow it.

  3. Boy are you lucky. Book Thing and WIE! No, nothing like that here in Atlanta, which is not surprising as we tear down or get rid of anything old or with a history. Sounds like a wonderful place though!

  4. How interesting all of this is. I would love to get hold of one of those cherry dresses - I'll have to see if there's a WIE in my town.

  5. What a great place to get gifts for friends and esp. for their children - who quite frankly don't need anything. I love knowing where my money goes - thanks for sharing this.

  6. The Women's Exchange of St. Louis has sold over 1,000 cherry dresses since Guy Trebay's article was published in The New York Times on 3/18/07 - and the wait is now 12 months!


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