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Card Boutique To Open

Pulp on the Hill Is Store’s Second Location

At Pulp on the Hill, words such as “creativity,” “joy” and “love” cover the walls, next to the artwork designed by local artists. Worn-down doors hold greeting cards. Refrigerator magnets sit on an antique refrigerator. And in the vault … well, that’s where the “edgy stuff” goes.

The new gift store opens Thursday on the 300 block of

Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast. It offers an eclectic mix of coffee-table books, candles, music, art, baby items and, of course, greeting cards that provide a unique flavor to the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

It is the second Pulp store created by Ron Henderson, who opened the original shop on 14th Street Northwest in November 2002. Trained as a clinical psychologist, Henderson came to D.C. to try to work in government programs that would help bring people together.

Instead, he created a place where he believes people can feel like they are part of a kinship, he said.

“I kind of come from a whole community-based mind-set,” he said. “I am very loving and friendly with my staff. Our slogan is ‘come feel the love.’”

When he first came to D.C., Henderson noticed that there were not any greeting card stores in the city with an artistic vibe. So he decided to fill the gap, opening a store that featured nontraditional cards and an array of gifts, from books that double as journals to CDs created by local musicians.

“From the day we opened, we were just blessed with a lot of success,” Henderson said. “We have had such an amazing first year on 14th Street.”

He added: “People have said, ‘Thank you for being open, we really needed this in D.C.’”

The three-story location on Capitol Hill is twice the size of the first Pulp store, Henderson said. It will also provide something unique: an upstairs meeting room for members of the community. Henderson said he expects to use the room for speakers and community groups to hold meetings, especially in a city where this type of space is so premium.

In fact, a group of artists and a branch of Amnesty International have already approached him about holding meetings at the store. Henderson has even thought about holding yoga sessions in the room, he said.

“I think this is going to be our healing space,” he said. “It’s a chance for us to do something with the community that the community wants to do.”

The opening of Pulp comes at a time when the Capitol Hill neighborhood is going through a major revitalization.

“Cities have their moment, and I really think that this is D.C.’s moment,” Henderson said. “I’m really happy and proud to be a part of a social energy in the city.”

Henderson found the location in Capitol Hill on a whim.

During the summer, officials at Union Station approached Henderson to open a location in the station’s shopping area. Henderson, however, declined.

“We didn’t think we could do a community-based store there,” he said. “That was sort of our vision.”

But the idea of opening up another location became implanted in Henderson’s mind, and he began looking for the perfect place. He found it in an old, beat-up storefront that once served as a bank (hence the vault). After scrounging up the money, knocking down a few walls and working with his staff to refurbish the store, Henderson said the location is ready for visitors.

“I think, if anything, we are going to bring our own strengths here,” he said.

At his stores, Henderson tries to create an atmosphere of “kindness, community, love and fun,” he said. He works closely with his staff to make sure the vibes are heartfelt, he said.

“Everyone’s strengths kind of come to play here,” he said.

Beverly Jones, a close friend of Henderson’s who will work as the manager of the Capitol Hill store, said that energy is what makes the place so unique.

“I think we bring ourselves — me, Ron and the staff,” she said. “We are warm, loving people.”

Henderson said he does not know who will be most attracted to the second location (“I don’t know when our rush is going to be,” he said), but he expects an array of visitors, including Hill staffers, local residents and tourists.

Henderson said he thinks he was able to accomplish his reason for coming to D.C. — bringing happiness into people’s lives.

“I’m able to do my community stuff, just through a different avenue,” Henderson said. “We’re able to share the love with our customers.”

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