I DON’T REMEMBER when I first discovered Cherishables, an antiques and decorative accessories shop off Dupont Circle. But I do know that I’ve had antique-brass valances over my living room windows for 28 years now and I bought them there.
I didn’t meet owner Marilyn Hannigan back then; well, maybe I did, but my focus was on getting those 44-inch-wide valances into my little hatchback, not on social niceties. But it soon emerged that so many people interested in home decoration and/or American antiques knew Marilyn, so maybe I felt I knew her by osmosis.
Marilyn closed Cherishables in 1998. Some years later I found out she still sold things–antiques, exquisite little things from the stationery and gift trade shows–and her pre-Christmas sale became the source of my best holiday gifts. Whether for my sister or my hairdresser, Marilyn had something appropriate and appropriately priced.
Now comes the sad news: Marilyn has decided to hold a “farewell sale.” I found out in a flyer she mailed out to her regulars labeled “Worn out after all those years.”
It’s hard to show pictures of Cherishable’s gems individually; the magic is in walking slowly through the alcoves of the lower-level “sales room” in the home she shares with husband John, and discovering something here, something there. This is where I first saw those charming Kitchen Papers–you know, the pads of paper placemats, often with Victorian scrollwork or utensils drawn in black on the white ground. Now other places have them, including Rodman’s (of course!), but I know I saw them first at one of Marilyn’s sales.
Cherishables also designs and makes its own tree ornaments, and devotees have been collecting them for years.
When I pressed Marilyn to say whether this was really, really a farewell sale, she hesitated. Maybe in future she would do something on a scaled-down basis. “Wait till you see all the things I have!” she said the other day. “My problem is that I’ve been buying [merchandise] like I had a store that was open six days a week!”
Maybe Marilyn’s over-enthusiasm is our good luck. She promises that everything, including the handmade Christmas ornaments, will be 30 percent off. But the best thing, of course, will be to share a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with Marilyn.
The Cherishables sale is Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 20-22, 11am-7pm (until 5pm on Saturday). Address: 7100 Exeter Road, Bethesda (please use the Denton Road entrance). 301-654-2614, firstname.lastname@example.org.