Gift Guide 2016: Sowebo

Robert Williams says he’s opening a gallery in one of the apartments adjacent to his shop, Umri Siki (1100 Hollins St.). The place is filled with artwork, mostly traditional African carvings, statues, and granary doors ($100 and up), plus posters and advertisements from Jim Crow America. He’s also got jazz ephemera—mostly stuff from his own days gigging on the saxophone. Lady Day, Gerry Mulligan, and plenty of memorabilia related to the late drummer Chick Webb, who died in 1939 and received, according to Williams, “the biggest funeral Baltimore ever saw.”

The neighborhood has been in transition for 25 years, with developers coming in and going out in booms and busts. The streets are alive with friend and family greetings and this corner, where Williams has held court for two decades amid incense and shea butter and carved jewelry boxes, seems to be the center of it. The Circulator’s Orange Line stops here, too.

A hundred feet up the street is City of Gods (1118 Hollins St., [410] 350-4382,, your exclusive source for an artful Black Jesus T-shirt ($30), a Muhammad Ali design, or any of several “City of Gods” designs that bring the movement to your own body. Kurvy Gurl Apparel (40 S. Carrollton Ave., [443] 889-8621) features clothes for men and women in sizes S through 4x. Tight dresses, faux leather leggings ($32), and other high-fashion stuff at good prices.

Hollins Market (26 S. Arlington Ave., [410) 685-6169) is the city’s oldest continuously operating public market building, dating from 1839. The 30,000 square feet houses Johnnie’s Seafood, Mike’s Lunch, There’s Jack’s, Chuckie’s, Lauman’s, Big Wong, and Eddie’s Lunch. And for that spiritually devoted person on your list, there’s Quiet Time Inspirational Gifts. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

Warrior Death Indian Hoodie ($65), City of Gods, 1118 Hollins St., (410) 685-4637,

Ali Proud Tee ($30), City of Gods, 1118 Hollins St., (410) 685-4637,

Black Lion Head Varsity Jacket, maroon ($75), City of Gods, 1118 Hollins St., (410) 685-4637,

Black Lion Head Varsity Jacket, black ($75), City of Gods, 1118 Hollins St., (410) 685-4637,

Copyright © 2019, Baltimore City Paper, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Privacy Policy