Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

M Street Sees Quick Turnover in Retail

The constantly shifting M Street landscape has seen the addition of several national retailers and the closure of established businesses over the past few months.

Georgetown Business Improvement District Communications Director Rachel Cothran described the retail environment of M Street as tied to the surrounding neighborhood.

“M Street continues to be home to exciting retail often not found anywhere else in the region,” Cothran wrote in an email. “Georgetown is Washington’s top spot for a completely unique shopping experience, special because of the density of stores, the charming and beautiful residential area, the historic beauty of the architecture and C&O Canal.”

According to Cothran, it is not at all unusual for areas like Georgetown to experience turnover in storefronts, though she also pointed to many lower-profile establishments that have no intention of moving.

“We love to point out off-the-beaten spots here, like the great antiques stores, boutiques and galleries in the Book Hill section of Georgetown,” Cothran wrote.

Plenty of national retailers have entered the Georgetown neighborhood lately, including Alice & Olivia, Forever 21 and Rent the Runway.
Kate Spade Saturday also opened a branch in the neighborhood near the intersection of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue in October, but the spinoff of the Kate Spade brand is already closing, along with the label’s men’s shop, Jack Spade, which is located on Wisconsin Avenue. All Kate Spade Saturday and Jack Spade stores will be closed nationally by the middle of this year to allow the company to focus more on its original brand, according to the Washington Business Journal.

Additionally, the Pinkberry location at the intersection of 33rd and M Streets closed in January, along with six other locations of the popular frozen yogurt shop in the D.C. area. The space was auctioned off, and, according to the Washington Business Jounral, the winners of the auction, Amandeep Brar and Kamran Ahmed, plan to reopen the Georgetown location in addition to five of the other spaces.
For the most part, however, national retailers are entering, rather than leaving, the Georgetown area.

In addition to the development of Georgetown Park Mall, where Forever 21 and T.J. Maxx are located, as an affordable option for shoppers in the area, the Old Georgetown Board and the Commission of Fine Arts approved the development of a new affordable retail center in the parking lot at 3220 Prospect Street, located across from restaurants Mai Thai and Cafe Milano.

Though Cothran indicated the changes are common for an area like Georgetown, Adelaide Haase, a sales associate at Barbour, an English luxury brand with a store on M Street, said she noticed some differences in the characteristics of the area, specifically with regards to the addition of more affordable brands.

“In terms of the changes in Georgetown, I’ve been living in the area for two years, and specifically in Barbour I’ve heard from customers questions such as, ‘Where are all the high-end stores?’” Haase said. “This used to be a really lux area of town, and living here there are still a lot of great places to shop, but I can also see how people wouldn’t necessarily be making that trek into Georgetown if high-end stores are leaving or if there is a change in the demographic of the shoppers.”

Haase added that the changes around Barbour have not had a noticeable impact on the store’s business.

“It definitely fluctuates,” Haase said. “Our store in particular was extremely busy in December with the holidays, and I wouldn’t say that we noticed any kinds of changes.”

In addition to changes in shopping, the Georgetown neighborhood has also seen changes in restaurants.

Rhino Bar & Pumphouse, a renowned spot for Georgetown students, announced its closure earlier this month, with the manager expecting a national brand to take the bar’s place after the restaurant owner declined to pay the increased rent on the space.
Last semester, local restaurant Mr. Smith’s relocated from M Street to the former location of Chadwick’s on K Street. Both Mr. Smith’s relocation and Chadwick’s closure were the result of increasing rent.

Mr. Smith’s manager Ernesto C., who requested that his surname remain anonymous, said that the move was convenient for both Mr. Smith’s and Chadwick’s.

“It was the right timing for both for the takeover and for us to move in, since they were looking for [a] buyer, and we were looking for [a] new location,” Ernesto said.

Similar to the trend in clothing establishments, national chains are entering the neighborhood, with the recent prominent opening of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, a Delaware-based chain with 106 locations in 16 states, as a prime example.

Capriotti’s Manager Stephen Hardy spoke about the steady increase in business he has seen since the restaurant’s Dec. 15 opening.

“Although it was a slow opening, we’ve gained some traction since the students have been back,” Hardy said. “It’s been great and definitely entertaining having a student base, and we love being here in Georgetown.”

Elizabeth Borowiec (COL ’17) said that the changing environment with more affordable retailers was friendlier to students, though she noted it was difficult for shops to rely on the student population as regular consumers.

“It’s becoming a lot more student friendly, for example, Forever 21 and H&M,” Borowiec said. “I thought Kate Spade Saturday was a part of that, at least concerning jewelry, but I guess not. Honestly, I think it was just a bit too far of a walk for the ideal student clientele to really discover it.”

Hoya Staff Writer Sarah Smith contributed reporting.

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