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Shaw Celebrates Small Business Saturday as Retail Stores and Restaurants Boom

Accompanying images can be viewed in the December 2015 issue pdf

By Alexander M. Padro*

After decades as a retail desert, Shaw is on the move, with three-dozen openings in 2015, more than two-dozen in 2014 and another two-dozen already scheduled for 2016. The neighborhood recently set two records, with 20 new businesses opening in October and November and 15 ribbons cut for new businesses on Small Business Saturday, a possible world record.

Shaw’s observance of the annual nationwide Small Business Saturday promotion on November 28th highlighted this retail renaissance and featured 15 ribbon cuttings, including 10 at developer JBG’s new The Shay (8th & Fla.) and Atlantic Plumbing (8th & V) mixed-use/residential buildings at 8th Street and Florida Avenue and 8th and T Streets, respectively.

The Shaw Small Business Saturday events began at La Colombe in Blagden Alley, the first of three stops in at-large Councilmember Vincent B. Orange, Sr.’s “Coffee and Tea with the Councilmember,” a tradition now in its second year. Orange chairs the DC Council’s Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which has oversight over the government agencies that support small business development. After paying the tabs of dozens of customers at the Philadelphia-based coffeehouse’s first DC outpost, Orange and his team, along with TV cameras moved on to Calabash Tea and Tonic on 7th Street, which opened in May and was festooned with blue and white balloons and decorations, the national “Shop Small” campaign’s colors.

The entourage then merged with Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s team at Compass Coffee’s new, second location on 8th Street at The Shay, where even more media were gathered for Small Business Saturday coverage. Bowser, Orange, Department of Small and Local Business Development Director Ana Harvey, business owners and developers posed for photos under a mural of Compass’ Made in DC logo.

Orange and Bowser moved two doors north to Lettie Gooch boutique, where the mayor shopped and bought a top and pair of earrings. The boutique first opened on 9th Street in 2006, moved out of Shaw for a few years, and returned just in time for Saturday’s event. Orange then joined fellow at-large Councilmember Elissa Silverman in the lobby at the Atlantic Plumbing building for the ribbon cutting kickoff.

Ribbons were then cut at design shops Cherry Blossom Creative and Typecase Industries and the Foundry Gallery before moving to The Shay buildings for Riide’s made in DC powered bicycles, the all-new Serv-U Liquors, bike and motorcycle garb purveyors Chrome Industries, Steven Alan men’s and women’s fashions, Compass Coffee, local tailors Read Wall, and Lettie Gooch. Along the way, the group passed Washington Project for the Arts’ new gallery, Atlantic Plumbing Cinemas’ six-screen Landmark Theater, the pop-up Tie Bar, eyewear icon Warby Parker, Frank & Oak menswear, technical cashmere mavens Kit & Ace, about-to-open Glen’s Garden Market’s second outpost, and several new restaurants under construction.

A limo van whisked the contingent to the new Dacha Market on 7th Street, followed by Convivial Restaurant at City Market at O, and the final businesses, all at Douglas Development’s Gang of Three complex in the 1200 block of 9inth Street: tech policy shop Development Seed, the newly-relocated and expanded Reformation Fitness, and Mid-Atlantic cuisine restaurant The Dabney.

The two-hour frenzy of ribbon cuttings was videotaped and is being submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records for verification as the first time this feat has been achieved anywhere.

Shaw Main Streets, the commercial revitalization and historic preservation nonprofit that has been guiding the neighborhood’s revitalization since 20003, sponsored the world record attempt as part of the annual effort to encourage residents and visitors alike to shop, eat and drink local on the day after Black Friday. Free Shaw Main Streets reusable shopping bags were also distributed by participating businesses.

A few days before, Events DC announced that all six vacant retail spaces at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, just north of Mt. Vernon Square and between 7th and 9th Streets, had been leased, with four food and beverage establishments, an exercise studio, and a barber shop filling the spaces; all are scheduled to open in 2016.

Businesses that opened earlier in 2015 included fitness studios District Pilates and Shaw Yoga; cafés Piassa EthioCuisine and Rito Loco; Unleashed by Petco, Red Valet Cleaners and U Scoot scooter rentals and sales; bar/restaurants Freedom Lounge and Noble House; expansions of Chercher Ethiopian Restaurant, Ivy & Coney, and TG Cigar Lounge, and a reopened Duffy’s Irish Pub.

Upcoming openings include some of the most widely anticipated DC restaurants in years, including Eric Ziebold’s Kinship and Metier, Top Chef contestants Kwame Onwuachi’s The Shaw Bijou and Marjorie Meek-Bradley’s Smoked & Stacked, Tim Ma’s Kyirisan, Rob Rubba’s Hazel, Michael Friedman’s All Purpose, Tiffany MacIsaac’s Buttercream Bakeshop, and Josh Phillips’ Espita Mezcaleria. 2016 is going to be a delicious year to dine in Shaw!

*The writer, a long-time resident of the Shaw neighborhood, is also the Executive Director of Shaw Main Streets.

Copyright © 2015 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Shaw Main Streets, Inc. All rights reserved.