Potomac West Interiors and Antiques in Alexandria‘s Del Ray neighborhood is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this year with owner Susan Driscoll at the helm.
Growing up almost next door to Mt. Vernon, Susan came to her interest in antiques early and at the age of 14 bought her first antique, a radio, at the now defunct Thieves Market.
Fast forward to a career as a trade broker in a barter clearing house and then a life change that called for a new line of work.
Susan initially tried her hand at buying and selling antiques as a small independent dealer but soon realized that she would never make a living scouring flea markets and yard sales.
And from that Potomac West Interior and Antiques came into being. Susan reasoned that if she could rent space to other dealers plus collect a percentage of sales then she just might have a fighting chance to do what she loved.
When I asked her why she came to Del Ray the answer was very simply “the space was available.” Add to the fact that Potomac West is located on the corner of Monroe and Mt. Vernon Ave. – one of the busiest intersections in Alexandria – with a Burke and Herbert Bank across the street, a parking lot in back, and a basement area, it was a no brainer.
Susan now has 35 vendors at Potomac West, some of whom have been with her from the very beginning.
She still keeps her hand in the business but, as she said, “I don’t have to go looking anymore, it comes to me.”
A second iteration of the business came into being just about three years ago when Susan took over the space immediately adjacent to Potomac West. Original plans to create one large space were scrapped after the construction estimate skyrocketed from $5,000 to $36,000. The second building was also, as Susan so delicately puts it, “shabby” – thus was born “Not Too Shabby Antiques and Consignments.”
The consignments run into the thousands with everything from a single item to entire households. One thing Susan is particularly proud of is her “donation” program.
Consignors have 90 days in which to complete a sale. At the end of the 90 days they must either pick up the unsold items or allow Susan to donate them to one of three local groups who serve needy families and individuals: United Community Ministries (UCM), ALIVE!, and Habitat for Humanity ReStore. And to complete the transaction Susan even provides individual tax receipts!
To keep things interesting, Susan has added a series of occasional Thursday lectures which are open free of charge to the public.
Speakers have included a professional organizer, a Feng Shui expert, and an expert on costume jewelery.
Susan is also beginning to offer her services for estate sales.
Personally, my wife loves shopping at Potomac West and Not Too Shabby. It’s a great source for everything from vintage hankerchiefs and jewelery to elegant furniture and decorative accessories. And if you’re in the market for something specific, talk to Susan and she’ll keep an eye out for you.
Potomac West and Not Too Shabby are open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am to 6pm and Sunday, 11am – 5pm.
So whether you are looking to furnish a new house, want to update your look or need just the perfect accessory, drop by Potomac West – and tell Susan we sent you!