When Cynthia Gompert left for Holland three years ago, she left behind more than her friends and family. She left behind a dedicated group of shoppers who had frequented her store for more than a decade.
Gompert's store, Eight Hands Round, was originally located on lower King Street in the early '90s. From there, she moved to 2310 Mount Vernon Ave., where she resided for four years until she left. The store was right next to Pat's Place, and the large storefront windows always displayed an unusual mix of items.
One week, it might have a potter's bench with gardening items; another week, some vintage children's riding toys. It was never the same, and most items were pretty unusual.
Old and new, Gompert had a knack for finding things that were fun and different. It was a great place to find a gift for that person who was hard to buy for.
She moved to Europe in 1999 when her husband accepted a three-year job assignment. Knowing that she'd be back eventually, she said that she did a lot of buying over there. Coming back for periodic visits to the states, she said, "I always came to the avenue."
When she returned, she knew she wanted to be near the site of her original store. Her original space was not available (The Dreamery is now located there), but there was a nice space right around the corner. It's not on the main drag, but it is right next to St. Elmo's Coffee Pub.
WHILE IN EUROPE, Gompert said that she established a contact with a man from Hungary who purchases old Hungarian furniture and pottery. She said that she received a shipment the week the store opened this past April. In the container were several hand-painted antique trunks, a painted armoire, a painted corner cupboard, antique boards with coat hooks and more. She has continued to buy an eclectic mix of items to complement those antiques.
Gompert said that she tried to contact most of her former customers, but not everybody has found her yet. As word gets around, many old and new customers will find many fun and unusual display of items from all over.
Eight Hands Round is located at 116 E. Del Ray Ave., Alexandria. They can be reached at 703-518-3058.