Friday, August 12, 2011

DCentric: A Retail Boost for H Street

Stores like Nouveau Fleur could be eligible

DCentric discusses a new program meant to bring additional retail to H Street. The program provides funds for new and existing "small and unique" retail businesses. There are some restrictions. For instance, the following are not eligible: bars, restaurants, hair salons, barber shops, cell phone shops, or liquor stores. Existing businesses would only be eligible if they do something new that creates jobs for DC residents. Businesses must from on H Street NE between 3rd and 15th. Interested in opening a retail business on H Street? Attend the next session of Street Talk.


Anonymous said...

This is fantastic. It's exactly what we need on H Street now and the restrictions for new business make perfect sense.

Dave B said...

In that article, somebody mentions that they want retail that helps the poor people out?

What might that include? It almost seems like a paradox.

two scoops said...

how about a business that installs and maintains public restrooms? would go a long way to reducing the number of human crap piles in my alley

Anonymous said...

Why is this grant limited to businesses with 1200sqft or more? That seems to cut out a lot of Mom and Pop shops that are commerical on the ground floor and residential on top. Don't we want unique stores and a higher residential density?

The same people who wrote this grant also allowed weeds to spring up in every treebox and cobblestone crack on H street NE.

Chris said...

My retail dream for H Street is that Chuck Levin's opens up a second store on H. It's too much to imagine them relocating -- they're too big now. But opening another store on H would be cool.

It would also be symbolic: as I understand it, their current location is where they went to when they fled H Street after the riots. The original Chuck Levin's was where the Autozone parking lot is now. It'd be a great vote for the future for Chuck Levin's to come back to the neighborhood.

chuck said...

@Chris -
That would be great, it is hard to find a good quality music store. I had never heard of Chuck Levine's until Frank from Sova told me about them. I had no idea they were originally on H St!

Anonymous said...

This is some of the best news I have heard for H! (Aside from the large scale condo and apt developments that have or are breaking ground soon!)If I were in a position to open a business on H I definitely would. Ideas for stores anyone? I like the bicycle shop idea in the article. Music and book stores would be excellent too. Also:
1) A reclaimed and refurbished home furnishings store similar to Restoration Hardware - (minus the massive chain store status, of course) would be amazing!

2)Art stores for local artists to showcase and sell their work.

3) A high-quality bakery

4) Quality butcher shop that sources locally.

4)Specialty cheese/wine shop like Cowgirl Creamery in Penn Quarter.

5) A cupcake shop (there's no fighting it)

Any others?????


Gonzo said...

Homebrew shop! (ok, niche market).
Bakery? Would LOVE to see H St. Bakes figure out a way to make a business plan and provide awesome baked goods.
Kitchen shop? The one on 14th and S seems to do well and I loves me the eatins.
Custom T-shirt and clothing store - non pretentious and affordable. Seems fitting for the area.
Music shop? With all the venus and HR-57, seems appropriate for the area to host a music shop.
Garden shop? Risky in 2011 and Garden City went under, but maybe it would make it on H St.
Arts Store? or does Utrecht have the market covered?
Used furniture store? There are a handful around U st corridor - Craigslist is a better option but they make fun, free museums.
Bike Store?
Used records/books?

I don't know. It must be hard as hell to be a small retailer in todays' market. I think you either have to be innovative, trendy or have a very dedicated cleintelle.

Chris said...

Most people probably realize this; but just in case not, when I was talking about Chuck Levin's -- they're a shop that sells musical instruments and supplies, sells/rents pro audio equipment, facilitates music lessons, etc. They're not the kind of "music shop" that sells CDs/vinyl/tapes.

I mention this just because, as much as I love recorded music stores and therefore it breaks my heart to say it, I don't think a recorded music store could survive on H in the modern era. It's too hard for a brick and mortar store to make money selling recorded music. I wish that weren't true.

Anonymous said...

This might be a bit out-of-the-box but it had occured to me that it would be possible to set up a small recording studio on or around H (empty building for lease at the corner of 15th and G NE would be perfect too, albeit not on H) for local bands to record a demo, or a full LP for that matter. All it would take is proper sound proofing and the up front costs of the equipment.


Gonzo said...

I second a recording studio... H St. Records. I have a mixer and some mics. Just need about 300K more and we're ready to roll.

Chris said...

And some very, very good personnel. These days home studios are so cheap to make that professional studios are really feeling the pinch; and so they distinguish themselves by the expertise of their engineers. IOW, you don't pay for their nice room or their nice mics or their nice digital audio workstation; you pay for the expertise of the person engineering your session.

Anonymous said...


Agreed. I have had a home recording studio for about 7 years now (use Cubase, M-audio firewire external sound card and Neumann mics) and the sound I get is 100x better than local band demos. (I.e. go to any of the myspace pages for bands that play at RnR Hotel, you will get what Im saying).

And I guess thats the point. With some decent equipment and people who basically know what their doing, you could set up a viable business.


Anonymous said...

Huge lot with a garage and other small building for sale in the 600 block of 14th St NE...more condo coming?

ro said...

that property has been for sale for at least five years

HStreetDC said...

This is the type of shop I'd love to see on H Street. All price ranges. Just stuff, some of it good, but all of it interesting and none of it the boring crap from chain stores that you see everywhere you look.
Owned by Gillette Hayman Wing who grew up on Capitol Hill. Her grandmother was Libby Sangster who owned Antiques on the Hill where Port City Java is now located. Her father Barry Hayman ran the shop for years after Libby died and he now has his business in an antiques mall in MD. Her mother Gina still lives on the Hill.

Other cities seem to have cool shops like this but where are they in Washington? If we build it on H, will they come?

Ess said...

Wasn't Club 401 (or whatever it was called) in the space where Tru Orleans is now part recording studio? That place pretty much closed before it opened, but I like the recording studio idea. There are plenty of musicians/performers coming to H st (HR 57, R and R, Atlas) anyway, might as well do a lil' recording while they're here.

HStreetDC said...

Inspire BBQ has a sound studio above the shop.
The new biz coming to 1337 H will have that too as I understand.
Since that's not retail, it probably won't qualify for the grant program. Unless they find a way to make the studio a subsidiary of a retail operation.

Hillman said...

Toy store. Not one that sells vintage handcrafted all wooden toys certified cruelty free and in keeping with feng shui and Native American ideals of the brotherhood of man.

No whimsical smarmy crap.

One that sells toys kids actually like. Star Wars Lego sets. Electronic toys. etc.

There's a lot of kids in the greater Cap Hill area, and as far as I know their parents have to go to the burbs to get even a basic toy.

Hillman said...

Gay bar.

Yes, I know, not eligible for this program.

But The Gays are moving to H St area in droves. Gays new to the city are selecting H St over traditionally gay areas of NW. I literally see it every day.

There's a huge market for a neighborhood gay bar that isn't a dance bar and isn't particularly trendy. Just some place you can have a beer, see your neighbors, etc.

Bear Happy Hour off of U St NE draws over 1000 people each Friday night. They come from all over, not just NW.

Think Remingtons on Pennsylvania Ave except not just country music. Remingtons has survived for pretty much forever, despite being a very narrow niche market.

8th and El said...


I brought my bass trombone for college there when Chuck was still alive. I wouldn't call it a viable music store, but I get your point. I mean, where else can you buy a bass trombone around town?

I hope that coop bakery gets in on this.