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...