Tag Archives: Retail

What the Demise of the Mall Means to Georgetown’s Retail Landscape

The Georgetown Park mall has been a depressing place to visit for a long while now. And if it’s possible, it’s getting even more depressing as Vornado, the new operator of the mall, is summarily kicking out long standing tenants like the Hattery, seen above.

GM’s heard many rumors of what Vornado plans to do with the space once it kicks out every last one of the tenants. But none of the rumors have been substantiated. Both CAG and the Georgetown Park condominium association have reached out to Vornado and received no information.

Most of the rumors revolved around several large anchor stores. And it’s GM’s prediction that Vornado is much more interested in a building with a couple large tenants than a bunch of small ones. And the callous manner that they have been kicking out the tenants, giving them notice measured in weeks not months, would tend to support that prediction.

But if it is indeed the case that the mall will become just a couple big box stores shoehorned into a city, what does that mean for the retail landscape of the neighborhood?

GM can’t say for sure, but he can tell you what the numbers might look like. Every year GM takes a survey of every single store in the neighborhood. Last February he counted 530 stores (“store” for this purpose means retail, restaurants, salons, etc. Pretty much everything commercial except office space.) Continue reading

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The Morning Metropolitan

Photo by M.V. Jantzen.

Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:

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Washington Post Writes Yet Another “Is Georgetown Dead?” Article

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Every six months of so, it seems some news outlet rolls out another “is Georgetown is dead?” story. This week it was the Washington Post’s turn.

Inspired by the genuinely sad story of the closing of Furin’s, the Post ponders:

Is Furin’s merely an example of the normal business cycle of Georgetown, or a sign of larger problems to come? Do mom-and-pop shops have a place in the neighborhood or are national chains destined to take it over?

In fairness to the Post, they do present a slightly more nuanced picture of the neighborhood than many “Georgetown is doomed to mall stores” articles. They quote John Hays, owner of Phoenix, who argues that changes come and go. In the end, the Post concludes that there has in fact been a reduction in independent shops, and that that is a result of high rents:

Nancy Itteilag, the real estate agent who sold Furin’s, said rents on M and Wisconsin can range from $30 to $70 per square foot, a cost that she and Hamilton think puts pressure on existing independent businesses and can be intimidating and prohibitive for small-business owners looking to set up shop. (Being a chain doesn’t guarantee success, either; American Eagle Outfitters and Reiss are two recent casualties.)

What the Post doesn’t mention is that the vast majority of business in Georgetown are still independently owned. Yes, there’s less independent retail than there was 20 years ago. And the retail, whether independent or chain, is less resident-oriented. But that’s a trend common to many commercial districts. You can blame the Internet for that, among other uncontrollable forces. Continue reading

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Help GM Catalog the Worst Signs in the Neighborhood

Right now, GM is working on an effort in behalf of CAG to address some of the poor signage in the neighborhood. You may not realize it, but every single sign in Georgetown needs a permit. Depending on how long that sign is up, that permit needs to be approved by either the D.C. Historic Preservation Office (for signs up 30 days or less) or the Old Georgetown Board (for signs up 30 days or more).

In practice, this is a rule observed mostly in the breach. While most significant store signs do go through the proper approval process, most of the cheap and (frankly) ugly signs like the ones above don’t. So to address the proliferation of non-permitted signs, CAG is working with the BID and other to educate the storekeepers about the rules (see this circular) and to catalog the worst offenders for reporting to the Historical Preservation Office. Continue reading

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The Morning Metropolitan

Pinball Museum by Chris DiGiamo.

Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:

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Georgetown Becoming A Little Less Like a Typical Mall

Photo by Knowsphotos.

Recently GM sat down to compile some of the new stores that are planning on opening up in Georgetown in the near future and a realization occurred to him. Georgetown is in the midst of a shift in terms of the retail mix.

What does that mean? Well consider the chain stores that have closed in Georgetown over the past two years, or so:

  • RRL
  • Chico’s
  • Pottery Barn
  • Smith & Hawken
  • Talbot’s
  • American Eagle
  • Banolino
  • Puma
  • Ed Hardy (thankfully it looks like the second coming of this store also closed recently)

They’re all perfectly fine, average stores you could find in just about any mall in the country (RRL was perhaps a slight exception to that; there are only five of those in the country).

What has moved in over that same period of time, however, has been decidedly less common. Some, but not all, offer “higher end” goods. But in almost every case, they are stores that you can’t find in Anytown, USA’s mall: Continue reading

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All the Stores in Georgetown – 2011

Tuesday, GM reported on his annual survey of stores in Georgetown. Today, he thought people might be interested in actually seeing that list of 527 stores (actually, make that 530, since GM realized he left out Village Hair Design, the Ralls Collection, and [blush] Scheele’s Market).

So here you go:

Safeway Supermarket
Verizon Electronics
Acqua Nails Salon
Unleashed Pets
Café Divan Restaurant
Animal Hospital Pets
Talio Hair Salon
First Cash Pawnbroker Pawn
Duron Paint
Einstein Bagels Restaurant
Starbucks Restaurant
Ledos Restaurant
Baytok Clothing
Everards Clothing
Sky Shoes Clothing
R&G Pop Up Shop Antiques
Harmony Salon Clothing
Bistrot Lepic Restaurant
P.O. Boxes Etc. Mail
Carine’s Bridal Clothing
H.A. Gill Realtors Realtor
ReMax Realtor
Miller & Arney Antiques
Adams Bank Bank
HSBC Bank
Casbah Café Restaurant Continue reading

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The State of Georgetown 2011

Photo by twofivesevenzero.

Every January, GM walks up and down the streets of Georgetown updating his database of the stores of Georgetown. He started this two years ago by simply scribbling down on a notepad every establishment on M and Wisconsin. Last year, working from an established list GM could take the time to expand the scope a little more and make sure to get all the stores on Wisconsin and M as well as those just off. Well this year GM went whole hog. He gathered a list of every single establishment in Georgetown. From Le Petite Corner Store to Jean Pierre to Tony and Joes to Jack’s Boathouse.

And what’s the grand total? (drum role) 527. That adds exactly 100 stores over last year’s tally (that doesn’t mean there are 100 new stores, of course, it just means GM counted 100 more. Some are new, some were just off GM’s scope last year).

Here’s how those numbers break down:

Independents Vs. Chains:

GM first started surveying stores in Georgetown to get a sense of just how many stores are independent and how many are chains. The first set of numbers surprised GM. Of the establishments on Wisconsin and M, 70% were independent. Last year’s survey found almost identical results.

As of today and including all establishments, the number is a tad higher: 73%. That makes sense, since a lot of the new stores that GM captured are off of the main drag and thus more likely to be independent.

Chains represent 26% of establishments. The last percentage or so are regional chains (e.g. Five Guys).

As he’s done in the past, this year GM again took at look at how those percentages look like when one considers only stores within one block of Wisconsin and M. Not surprisingly, the chain percentage goes up. However, as in past years, they still can’t crack 50%. Right now, chains make up only 41% of establishments within one block of M and Wisconsin. Continue reading

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Updates to Aren’t They Building…

Photo by M.V. Jantzen.

Up at the top of this page, you’ll see a link to a page that GM tries to keep relatively up to date: Aren’t They Building…

GM doesn’t always do a great job keeping it right up to date, so he occasionally has to clean it up. Like today. So with that, here’s are some changes:

What GM had:

Serendipity 3
-No announced date
-GM prediction: Summer 2010Fall 2010

What’s new:

Obviously they didn’t hit the fall 2010 mark. In GM’s defense, there’s been about zero reliable information about this project and it seems like it’s plagued with delays.

What GM had:

Sprinkles Cupcakes
-No announced date
-GM prediction: Summer 2010fall 2010 Continue reading

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The Morning Metropolitan

Photo of Buffalo statues by Pinelife.

Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:

  • An absolute must-read over at Carol Joynt’s blog: an old Washington Post article on how the patrons of Nathans felt about the upcoming election, in 1980. So many hilarious and timeless things going on there.
  • WaPo decides that Georgetown is all better now. GM’s not sure how much is different it is than six months ago when WaPo was ready to declare Georgetown dead and buried.
  • Biker struck on Prospect St.

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