Our city begins Phase One of reopening today, which for us means curbside pick up of online orders, three days a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, both locations. We are excited to see our shoppers again, and to keep everyone as safe as possible, we're pleased to announce PROPER PROTOCOL: 1) place your order here on our website (and be sure to check out our exciting, expanded selection!); 2) check the box on the product page when ordering to confirm your pick-up day and time when placing your order, and 3) WEAR A MASK to our door, where we'll greet you IN A MASK with your order! Easy peasy, or waht passes for easy peasy in #newnormal times.
Also, we will have a selection of ready-to-buy gifts on hand in the shop if you want to add anything to your purchase when picking up, or if you want to place a same-day order. You can find those choices in our Weekly Picks section, and they will be displayed in our shop windows.
Finally, we are happy to make appointments for special pick ups or for virtual shopping dates if you need a more *hands-on*, specialized shopping experience. Contact us for more details.
Can't wait to see your masked faces soon!!
Happy Memorial Day! We were looking forward to putting together a playlist full of sweet summer jams to enjoy poolside, but we thought about who Memorial Day was honoring and we shifted gears. In his 2011 Presidential Address from Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama remarked, "But on this day we remember that it is on our behalf that they gave their lives. We remember that it is their courage, their unselfishness, their devotion to duty that has sustained this country through all its trials and will sustain us through all the trials to come. We remember that the blessings we enjoy as Americans came at a dear cost; that our very presence here today, as free people in a free society, bears testimony to their enduring legacy. Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay. But we can honor their sacrifice, and we must."
In addition to sparking nostalgia for more normal times, we thought that sounded just right. We crafted this playlist to honor and thank those who made that sacrifice. It's a more somber collection than our normal fare but we think it befits the occasion. We hope you enjoy it.
On Good Morning America today, folks! Watch this story about how we're rolling with the changes, how our WFH set up has evolved, and how the Little Boxes of Wonder have shared so much joy and given me great hope during this crazy time. Thank you, GMA!
As we scramble to help our business adapt during the pandemic, the ebb and flow of puzzle inventory colors our home with a dynamic backdrop. We certainly miss having the shops to showcase our lovingly cultivated treasures. Similarly, we've heard from many of you that you miss the atmosphere and relaxing ambiance that a visit to the shop offered. While we can't recreate for you the soothing plants or blend of aromatic items of the shops, we can share a bit of the music we would be playing if you were able to visit us. Every Monday we're planning to post Spotify playlists of 33 songs chosen from the music played in each store. We've made an effort to represent beloved musicians, especially those lost to Covid-19, but mostly we're just trying to share good tunes to help take the edge off during these tough times. If you enjoy this week, check back next week for another 33 songs. Hopefully, we'll all be back listening to these songs together before too long. Be well, friends, and hang in there. We're looking forward to seeing you all on the other side of this challenge.
A Tip of the Hat to Proper Topper
By Stephanie Green - MAY 6, 2020
In its 30th year, Proper Topper is more than a hat shop; it’s become a sorority of strength.
As she plans the store’s anniversary year, Anna Fuhrman, who founded the original in Union station, says she’s most looking forward to celebrating “the friendships that were sparked.”
After store closures, store openings and a current chemotherapy regime, Fuhrman is still propping and topping — no small feat in the turbulent world of COVID-19 retail.
“I have weathered the big changes in business after Sept. 11, the Great Recession, the dominance of Amazon. Still, nothing can really prepare you for a complete shutdown of your business.”
Fuhrman tells us she’s able to keep paying her 10 staff members during the city’s lockdown, but her house has turned into “a shipping center, and the majority of the shop’s inventory has moved into my living room.” Looking forward to Mother’s Day, she’s developed an online curation of “gift picks” which she curbside-delivers herself.
In a true nod to the times, Proper Topper even has its own hand sanitizer it calls “Proper Comfort.”
How far it has come — and rolled with the punches.
Back in 1990, Fuhrman was an Oklahoma native who had landed a job with Amtrak after graduating from Georgetown Law. From the cozy environs of her Cathedral Commons location, she reflects on how different Union Station was back then, a bustling hub of tourists and commuters eager for retail opportunities.
Today there’s everything from H&M to Magnolia Bakery, but three decades ago she saw an opening at the station, particularly for women. She conceived of a fun hat shop project and the first Proper Topper was born, followed by a Georgetown location near her home on P Street.
Today, Proper Topper operates out of Dupont Circle and its latest iteration at Cathedral Commons, where Fuhrman relies on her network of National Cathedral School parents and students.
“My daughter, Lucy, is attending remote learning classes from NCS in her bedroom. And, at the end of her school day, we both don gloves and masks and hit the road to deliver packages around the city. It’s a new normal,” she says.
Young women whose mothers once worked for the shop are regulars now. “We used to sell scrunchies, and now the kids are looking for them,” she says.
As for hats, you can still find the perfect cloche or garden-party variety, but the shop is a girlygirl’s paradise, with candles, jewelry, headbands and plants — the gift shop that keeps on giving you gift ideas.
Fuhrman explains that, with online shopping edging out small businesses, she leans into her senses when creating the shopping environment.
The shop has a “secret garden” feel, complete with such touches as inspirational quotes on the windows and French jazz. It’s a “feels nice, smells nice” way to shop, she says. In other words: the anti-Amazon.
She’s also proud of the merchandise she’s developed for her adopted hometown, like the “I Heart My Swamp” T-shirts and other pieces advocating D.C. statehood.
Fuhrman’s dream is to one day be back in Georgetown, which she still calls home. We are looking forward to welcoming her — and even the scrunchies — back with open arms.