Destination: Located on Mount Vernon Avenue in the quirky Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Bellies & Babies has been the one-stop shop for maternity and children’s clothing for the past four years.
Atmosphere: “We are really a community store. You will see a lot of local families,” says Dawn Luepke, owner of Bellies & Babies. While it has a boutique atmosphere with displays of higher-end merchandise, there isn’t a feeling of exclusivity within the store; it is as kid-friendly as it gets.
Bread and Butter: From Lilly Pulitzer to Ralph Lauren, Bellies & Babies tries to carry the quality items at consignment prices. They also offer a variety of handmade products.
Sweet Surprises: The real gem of this store is their selection of rentable designer dresses for expectant mothers. “I have to give credit to my husband on that idea,” Luepke says. With so many black-tie events to attend in the area, no expectant mother wants to shell out $300 or more on a gown that might not fit several months later. A two-day rental is only $45.
Fiercest Fan: Mothers, period. Luepke has three children, two of whom were born just 16 months apart in separate seasons. Working in a corporate job and having to pay for a maternity wardrobe for winter and spring was just a bit too much. She decided to help other local moms in the same situation.
Blows to Budget: Not many considering you can earn back what you spend—consigners receive a 45 percent commission on every sale. The store does sell some assorted new boutique items, which can run up to about $160 depending on what you want. –Cate Jensen
Destination: 1913 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria