The Week 3 Retail Stores Disappeared in D.C.

These Independent Stores Closed at the Same Time 

I have a really cool gig at Washington City Paper. My weekly column, The Indy List, lets me highlight independent makers, artists, and retailers within D.C.

Before it was The Indy List the column was called Buy D.C. I wrote, curated, and photographed it for two years.

Last August I had a very odd week reporting for Buy D.C. Every store I went to was closed.

At least that’s what it felt like.

In reality, I popped by three different stores that week and found that there was no *there* there anymore.

  1. First up – Lotus Blooms

This was an adult store in Adams Morgan that featured pretty lingerie, sex-positive products, and educational classes. The staff was GREAT – inviting, warm, and all about education.

Lotus Bloom still has one store open on King Street in Alexandria.

2. Timothy Paul

Timothy Paul in Washington D.C.  
This was a furniture store / interior design company on 14th Street. I was so befuddled about their closing that I contacted them to get a quote about what happened. They never got back to me. My 100%, pure speculation is that rent JUMPED in this area. It’s only over the past two years that developers started building on 14th Street like crazy, more restaurants moved in, and rent prices went through the roof.

3. Books for America

Books for America in Washington D.C.

Technically this was a non-profit, but it operated like a used book store. A message on their website stated, “After 14 great years, and more than 1 million books donated to local schools, shelters, and many other organizations, Books for America has shut down permanently due to financial pressures.”

By the end of the week I was at a loss. What the heck was going on? Was this an aberration, or was D.C. going through a retail change?

Now that time has passed I can confidently say that this city is going through a major retail overhaul. Chains are moving in while independent stores are struggling to remain open. It’s disheartening.

The thing I’ve learned since I started to write about D.C. retail: It is very, very difficult to keep non-chain stores open in this town.

 

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