West Elm has come back. Both in that they are back in the city, opening their first new store in the District since closing an underperforming Metro Center location in 2009, but also in terms of really reinvigorating the design and style of the homewares chain.
The Williams-Sonoma Inc subsidiary debuted in 2002 to considerable excitement. They were positioned as a bridge” brand for those who wanted something more upscale than IKEA, but not as expensive or “mature” as their sister store Pottery Barn. Everything came in the then-essential espresso wood finishes and blocky shapes which would go on to define so many apartments across the country.
However, at some point a few years ago – around the time they opened the Tysons Corner retail location – it seemed like the brand had lost a bit of its way. Designs had leaned hard to the faux-ethnic and zebra-print and too many core pieces from shuttered Williams-Sonoma brand Hold Everything were awkwardly folded in to the West Elm range.
The newest location of “affordable modern” furniture and homegoods chain CB2 opens in Georgetown on Saturday, April 30th. This is the ninth location for the Crate & Barrel offshoot and the first in the Washington area.
Catering primarily to a younger demographic with a bright, modern style, CB2 keeps prices considerably lower than its sister chain and makes a point to scale furniture for more compact, apartment-sized living spaces.
‘Louis Vuitton Dog @ Atatürk Airport’
courtesy of ‘lrumiha’
While within the District and around the region the recession seems to still be felt terribly – the census numbers reported yesterday, for example, which show a marked rise in childhood poverty – other pockets of the metropolitan area are recovering faster. It was reported recently that, for the fourth year in a row, Maryland ranks second in the nation for millionaire households. Virginia holds seventh place in that ranking, and the District tenth. According to Forbes, six suburban counties in our area are among the wealthiest in the country. Loudon County Virginia, the richest in the region is also top in the nation, followed closely by Fairfax County.
Moneyed suburban Virginia – the flushest area within a region with one of the strongest economies in the country – made an appropriate setting, then, for experts to convene on luxury retailing in the post-recession world. The first event of 2010’s All Access Fashion encouraged journalists and marketers to delve into what is meaningful for consumers today. Even if some individuals still have the cash to buy them, how does one – brand or shopper – justify “luxury” goods?
‘Washington, DC Woodward & Lothrop historic 2’
courtesy of ‘army.arch’
West Elm is closing its DC store which is currently located in the former Woodward & Lorthrop department store building at 1020 G St. NW – also known as, the building over a Metro Center entrance. This comes as another sign of the times, backtracking from the city’s efforts to boost the density of retail stores downtown – “it was a corporate decision, this location was just not as successful as they’d hoped,” said Store manager Dion Barela for the Washington Business Journal.
On a positive note for the rest of us, the furniture retailer is currently holding a sale on remaining store items. The store has an approximate close date set for March 15th.
For this, my first contribution to We Love DC, I want to talk about a company new to the DC area that is leveraging collective buying power to offer fantastic discounts at local retailers and service providers. “Groupon”, which launched its DC operation on May 26th, is a catchy play on the word “Coupon” (I know this seems plainly obvious, but I’m just playing it safe) and a division of Chicago-based parent company The Point, which harnesses the power of individual contribution to generate large scale impact in a social capacity. The Point’s company slogan is “Make Something Happen,” which is pretty kickass because after all, who doesn’t want to make shit happen?
Anyways, the idea behind Groupon came about from a basic problem that many of us busy urbanites suffer from: so much cool stuff to do, but almost too many choices, which means I keep returning to my “usual” spots, only to leave thinking, “man, I really gotta try some new places/things.” But I never did. That is, until I signed up to receive Groupon’s daily deal here in the District. Actually, the first thing I did was buy the hardworking lady friend in my life an hour long massage at Lunar Massage worth $75 for a mere $30 (brownie points on the cheap!). That’s a deal that can’t be beat! Oh wait, sure it can – perhaps by the 60% off Groupon for pilates classes at Mind-BodyFitness, the 71% off at Miracle’s in the City men’s salon, or the 57% off at Posh restaurant. Are you gettin’ what I’m puttin’ down here? Groupon = bigtime savings for patrons + bigtime exposure for businesses, which in turn = win/win for all! Continue reading
‘Day 60: Going Out of Business’
courtesy of ‘quinn.anya’
I spent several years of my young life working in Uncle Chuck’s Camera Emporium Wolf Camera, so on my priority list going into a Ritz Camera ranks somewhere between… swapping hankerchiefs with SARS carriers and stabbing myself in the face.
However, Dealmac reveals that the closeout sales start tomorrow. They’re closing almost half their stores as part of their chapter 11 restructuring and apparently will be discounting items to get them off the shelves. Personally I’m not optimistic the deals will be that great or include many worthwhile things; I imagine that anything that can be moved will likely be shuffled out to more profitable stores – they still have about 400 that will continue to do business. However it should not be a repeat of the Circuit City nonsense where a 3rd party liquidator peddles things at list prices that are above what you’d pay anywhere – these sales are still through Ritz themselves as they try to reorg.
If you want to give it a shot I’ve culled all the closing stores from our surrounding area from the (annoyingly not-sorted-by-state list) PDF linked in the Dealmac article. It looks like all the ones in our area are closing, but check the list below the jump before you head out just to be sure. Continue reading