The Beginning of a Retail Massacre?

It seems inevitable that the pandemic is going to wreck absolute havoc on the long term retail vibrancy of Georgetown. And we may already be seeing the initial dominoes fall.

Brooks Brothers have already permanently shuttered its Georgetown location. Perhaps this was a long planned closure; it seemed to occur almost immediately after the shut down order was put in place. But there are no reports of wider store closures from the store. This seems to be a one off for just Georgetown.

But more clouds are coming. The Crumbs and Whiskers announced that it will likely close its Cat Cafe:

It should be noted that the company has previously flirted with closing the Cat Cafe before backtracking. So the wreckage of the Coronavirus may have simply cause a re-revisit of those plans.

But if both these closures are merely those close to the edge simply falling off, that is cold comfort. Lots of Georgetown stores are close to the edge. Restaurants and bars have gotten the most attention during the shutdown, but shops are getting hammered just as hard, and don’t even have the salve of take-out or delivery to mitigate the pain.

Retail already faced an uncertain future in the age of Amazon. Sadly the virus may clear up that uncertainty, but not in the direction we’d hope.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Beginning of a Retail Massacre?

  1. MGT

    The GT retail cycle in a nutshell:

    1. Corporate landlord borrows from the bond market to buy a Wisc/M corridor property at an insane price
    2. Property sits vacant for 1-2 years while corporate landlord tries and fails to get approval for its plans to triple the square footage via redevelopment
    3. Corporate landlord needs to justify the original insane price paid, so they offer the space for lease at a monthly rent several times higher than what an actual operating business (as opposed to 3D brand billboards or banks) can afford to pay. Property sits vacant another 2-3 years, “somehow” escaping city fines
    4. Eventually, either Chase Bank moves in or the property is flipped to another bagholder, starting the cycle all over again

  2. kerlin4321

    To MGT’s point: Call Your Mother tried to find a location on the main commercial corridor but said they would not have even been able to break even given the insane rents.

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