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Garden District is one of the many businesses that has helped to make 14th Street a place to go in the nation's capital. Here are a few items that can be purchased on 14th Street in Washington: When the shops close, here is what you can do: Fourteenth Street used to be a scary place. It drifted into disrepair after the race riots in the late s, and prostitutes, drug dealers and panhandlers dominated the street. In the past five years -- as real estate prices in the area skyrocketed -- about a dozen stores and eating places have opened on the blocks between U Street and Rhode Island Avenue.
Thrift shops, corner liquor stores and a few dilapidated auto repair shops remain. But the newer establishments that cater to a hip, moneyed, stylish crowd are making the area a new hot spot. The pioneer was Home Rule Inc. The place has a funky look, with lime-green and blue walls and a cement floor. Pulp -- recognizable by its bright purple storefront -- considers itself the anti-Hallmark. It sells thousands of cards, from the spiritual to the sexual. Nearby is Go Mama Go! The place is colorful and spacious.
It wasn't always this way. With its several new furniture stores, some are referring to 14th Street as the furniture capital of the capital. Muleh, which opened last April, carries high-end, organic-modern furniture from Bali, Thailand and other far-flung places. It also carries clothes so shoppers can "furnish their homes and their wardrobes at the same time," said owner Chris Reiter. Three other recently opened furniture stores are Maison 14, Vastu and Reincarnations Furnishings.
And for more of a treasure hunt there is always Ruff and Ready Furnishings, an eclectic used-furniture shop that has been around since Just up the street from these shops is Cafe Saint-Ex, which opened a year ago and buzzes almost every night. It is a cozy bistro with wood floors, mustard walls and a tin ceiling. The cafe can get crowded on the weekends, but on weeknights, it is charming.
Customers marveled at how the area is changing. Open since October, it is a reasonably priced, pan-Asian restaurant not at all affiliated with the Rice eating place in Manhattan.