BEFORE THERE WAS Amazon.com (the “everything store”), there was Rodman’s, Washington’s very own everything store.
How many places can you think of that sell Roquefort cheese and Les Trois Petits Cochons pate and also rent out wheelchairs? Sell vacuum cleaners and hold wine tastings? Fill prescriptions (for pets too) and, while you’re waiting, put a new battery in your watch?
Costco comes pretty close, but Rodman’s has better parking and smaller package sizes. And more variety. And prices that are just about as good.
Rodman’s started out as a discount pharmacy back in 1955, but it has long since gone beyond those baby steps, while still being owned by the Rodman family. In fact, the pharmacy is tucked away on the lower level of the Wisconsin Avenue store, next to all the home health aids you might need (sitz bath, anyone? folding cane?).
But that’s not why I go to Rodman’s; I go there for the same reason some of us, ahem, go to Costco: to see what they might have that we didn’t know about and now absolutely have to have.
The food offerings upstairs dazzle in an everyday kind of way: Feldkamp’s real pumpernickel bread slices, the large packages of Italian cookies, big bags of ground turmeric, chocolate seemingly from everywhere, vials of Cook’s vanilla beans (the only ones that look plump and fresh–okay, a friend of mine reps them, but it’s true).
But downstairs, in the housewares section, behind the largest display of Sodastream products I’ve seen around, there are Caspari paper cocktail napkins (and Ihr napkins, if you prefer those), plus coordinated paper plates, an enormous selection of Colonial Candle classic tapers and pillars in a rainbow of colors, and a wall laden with . . . seems to be everything you can put under a candle, over it, around it . . . plus little wax “buttons” to hold tapers in place in the candlestick holder.
Then, among the kitchen things, some Rodman’s buyer has a jones for silicone. There are tiny tongs whose ends are “hands” dipped in the stuff, ladles, spatulas, even measuring spoons.
I went to Rodman’s the other day, just to make sure everything was still in place. The very silly sunflower pot lids? Check. The big acrylic ice tubs for parties? Check. The green tea incense? Check.
But don’t worry: I left some stuff behind for everyone else.
5100 Wisconsin Avenue NW
4301 Randolph Road
(at Viers Mill)
5148 Nicholson Lane