Shop Talk

Canton's the place to browse or buy, with hip, locally owned stores opening up on Canton Square and in the Can Company.

Focus On Canton

January 30, 2000|By Sloane Brown

In case you haven't noticed, Canton is cool. Comparing Baltimore neighborhoods to those in New York -- if Fells Point is our Greenwich Village, then Canton is our SoHo. What were old canning and licorice factories years ago now house trendy condos, restaurants and businesses. Canton also has become the latest "in" place to shop, mainly around Canton Square (the 2900 block of O'Donnell Street, bordered by Linwood and Potomac Streets), and in the Can Company, 2400 Boston St.

There may not be scads of shops in Canton (yet), but most that are there are locally owned and operated -- not a Bath and Body Works or Banana Republic in the bunch.

Modern Music

2919 O'Donnell St., 410-675-2172

Welcome to a world of music you might not know existed. But just about every club disc jockey in town, and the mid-Atlantic region, does.

The first thing you notice when you walk in is that this shop carries record albums. You know -- those black vinyl records that spin on a turntable. But these aren't just any records. Here, the bins aren't labeled by artist, but by type -- such as Groovilicious, Moody or Narcotic. This is electronic club music. And these records are what DJs "spin" at clubs, using bits and pieces from various albums to come up with their own musical creations. In fact, chances are you'll see several DJs wearing headphones in the middle of the store, sampling Modern Music's newest arrivals at several turntables.

The nonprofessional electronic music fan is welcome, too. One wall of the store is stocked with CDs. And owner Joe DiCarlo and manager Jason Patrick are happy to help with your "electronic" education.

2910 on the Square

2910 O'Donnell St., 410-675-8505

"Cool, contemporary, functional and reasonably priced," says co-owner Stephanie Yesko, "that's the criteria here."

And that's what you'll find in this gift shop. It's an eclectic collection of clever crafts and creative manufactured goodies, with handmade jewelry and housewares, fab photo frames, techy business card holders, and funky lamps -- just to scratch the surface. Prices range from $1.95 for a happy face zipper pull to $425 for a mosaic table. Among the most popular items: whimsical transparent lunch boxes printed with multicolored bugs or dinosaurs ($15), which many women are buying as handbags; and eerie-looking cement drawer pulls that look like cupped hands ($12).

And let's not forget the shop's "official greeters" -- Dillon, Sadie and Mazel -- that Yesko rescued from either the streets or the pound, each of which rests on his or her own pillows behind the counter, when not welcoming visitors at the door.

Little Gallery on the Square

2912 O'Donnell St., 410-327-7899

Looking for a slice of Baltimore to brighten up your own space? Look no further. If artist Herb Schwartz doesn't have a rendition of your favorite B-more neighborhood, he can pen-ink-and-watercolor it on commission. His studio/shop is crammed with local scenery, most of his creations going for $35 to $125.

And if you're lucky, he'll tell you about his years as a movie publicist, and show you a stash of swingin' '60s photos featuring him with stars like Gina Lollobrigida, Lauren Bacall and Peter Lawford.

Square Footage

2931 O'Donnell St., 410-327-8808

In the Canton club scene, clothes matter. That's why Lance Rachuba opened his shop a year and a half ago. After spending the previous nine years in hip cities like London, Sydney and New York, Rachuba found Baltimore lacking in cheap city chic.

Not now. Square Footage carries funky threads for men and women, made in stretchy microfibers or pleather with an "urban contemporary" look. There are shoes, accessories and lines including Ethic, XOXO, Bronx and Zoom. And nothing is over $100.

What's more, Rachuba keeps his orders to one small, two medium, and one large, "because nobody wants to be seen wearing what someone else is wearing."

Note: The best day to shop is Wednesday, when new shipments come in.

Madison Boutique

The Can Company, 2400 Boston St., Suite

114, 410-558-3600

The mod mindset flourishes in this kicky boutique. Owner Catharine Incaprera was the costume supervisor on "Homicide." When that Baltimore-based TV show closed its operation, Incaprera opened hers.

Now you too can wear what the stars of your favorite TV shows do -- labels like BCBG, French Connection, Laundry and Betsey Johnson. Incaprera calls them "hip, trendy classics" in a mid-priced range, from $35 to $200.

Among her winter favorites: a "French Connection" black and white gingham skirt with some "nice little girdle action" and matching babushka ($55); and "cute little Spock pants" (a la "Star Trek"), black, cropped, with a wide cuff, by Laundry ($124), that look great with boots.

Chesapeake Wine Co.

The Can Company, 2400 Boston St., Suite

112, 410-522-4556

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