Forgot the boss’ birthday? 

Metro’s got you covered.

Pop tarts and birdhouses here.
  • Pop tarts and birdhouses here.

The now-departed Sterling store at the corner of Capitol and Center was the only store I ever saw where you could buy a man’s workshirt, a bridesmaid’s dress and a carton of eggs at the same time. It was also about the only place you could go if you worked downtown and tore your stocking or ran out of Kleenexes or needed a birthday card at the last minute. There’s a well-stocked little booth in the River Market that carries a lot of necessities, but it’s hardly centrally located for all those folks in the high-rise office buildings to the south and west.

So while the 6-month-old Metro store at Capitol and Louisiana doesn’t compare to Sterling in either size or variety, it definitely fills a void, and it packs so much into such a tiny space you’ll wonder why Target and Wal-Mart insist on being so damn big.

The store is tucked inside the same high-rise as the Sufficient Grounds coffee shop, on the northeast corner of the intersection, across the street from the Sports Page and just a block east of where Sterling was. It’s smaller than your average gas-station quickie-mart, but odds are if you really need it, they have it.

Owner Eric Tinner, who also owns the coffee shop, said the building’s management asked him to open the store as a service to their tenants after Sterling closed.

About half the store is dedicated to food — candy bars, ice cream treats, pre-packaged “meals” like Pop-Tarts and Chef Boyardee pasta bowls, and, for the health-conscious, a set of bulk food bins where you can buy a bag of trail mix or dried fruit or, random, wasabi peas. There are also bins of chocolate-covered almonds and pretzels and coffee beans, and cute little boxes you can fill up for a last-minute gift.

In fact, you could throw a whole birthday party from Metro’s inventory: balloons, plastic forks and paper napkins, greeting cards, gift bags … . And, of course, the gifts themselves — decorative birdhouses, wooden cow figurines, cigars, handmade jewelry and art, those maddening wooden puzzle things, a wine lover’s set. If you’re in desperate need of a present for someone who isn’t your significant other, chances are you can fake your way through it with something from this store. As of last week, Metro is also officially a U.S. Post Office site, and a Western Union outlet as well.

Another big chunk of space is given over to office supplies, including CD jewel cases and extremely cheap organizers (a small fake-leather one cost $3.50, for instance). And there are other basics: shoe-shine supplies and pocket-size toiletries, umbrellas, mini bottles of cleaners, that sort of thing. Metro has the most extensive variety of Burt’s Bees products I think I’ve ever seen in one store. And magazines. And cigarettes. There’s probably a ’57 Chevy somewhere in there too.

n Just a couple of tidbits this week:

• Ilies Mouhmoud, a Tuareg silver artisan from Niger, will appear at the Ten Thousand Villages store in the River Market at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 27. Mouhmoud’s jewelry — rings, necklaces, earrings and cuff bracelets — is etched with delicate, intricate geometric designs, and some pieces are inlaid with colored stones. It’s beautiful and reasonably priced — the bracelets run about $42, and the rings about $24.

• Feinstein’s in the Heights is hosting a trunk show of the fall/winter collection from Windsor, a luxury European sportswear line, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. June 6-7.





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