The 14th Street retailer go mama go! is closing its doors sometime in the next few months, according to owner Jonathan Chudnoff. He distributed a press release minutes ago by email.
“The store will remain open until the building’s owners find a new tenant. Normal operations will continue through January, followed by clearance sales of merchandise, furniture and fixtures in February and March. Rotating art exhibitions will continue until the store closes. The actual closing date will be determined once a new tenant is ready to step in.”
Chudnoff’s late wife, Noi, started the store and he kept the store open after her death. In the press release, Chudnoff cited “the twin blows of the general economic decline and the death of the store’s founder, Noi Chudnoff, whose dynamic spirit, creativity and personality were key ingredients in the store’s early success.”
Noi Chudnoff died unexpectedly on November 6, 2007. We still miss her and we will miss seeing Jonathan and popping into go mama go! Both Noi and Jonathan contributed much to 14th Street and the entire neighborhood as well as to a number of charitable and human rights causes. Good luck to Jonathan, and the store’s employees.
Full news release below fold.
From Jonathan Chudnoff, go mama go!
Go mama go!, the vibrant housewares, accessories and gift shop on 14th Street NW , will be closing its doors in the next few months, according to its owner, Jonathan Chudnoff.
Chudnoff attributes the closing to the twin blows of the general economic decline and the death of the store’s founder, Noi Chudnoff, whose dynamic spirit, creativity and personality were key ingredients in the store’s early success.
“There was a question we heard often at the start, ‘what is the concept?'” Jonathan recalls. “Noi would laugh and say that she was the concept. I kept the store open after her passing because it’s been good for me to remain in the place to which she was so devoted, to maintain the customer and community friendships and loyalty that came to mean so much to both of us. But two years of subsidizing the store with my own earnings and savings has convinced me that it is time to let it go.”
The store will remain open until the building’s owners find a new tenant. Normal operations will continue through January, followed by clearance sales of merchandise, furniture and fixtures in February and March. Rotating art exhibitions will continue until the store closes. The actual closing date will be determined once a new tenant is ready to step in.
“I’ve thought about this decision for a long time and hoped that I could keep going until the end of the lease in 2011,” Jonathan explained. “Reality has caught up with me. I’ve loved our time on 14th Street and still believe that this block is the best block in the city’s best neighborhood. I certainly intend to remain part of the mid-city mix in some way. But I’ll also have a chance to rediscover weekends and mind that neglected yard that my Silver Spring neighbors have been so tolerant about.”
Noi designed the store as a place to display art as well as the eclectic collection of housewares that combined beauty with everyday usefulness. Early on, the store was a venue for musical performances and dinners that made it as much a home as a shop.
Noi used her profits to support causes and organizations that mattered to her, including the Whitman-Walker Clinic, N Street Village, GenderPAC, Concerned Black Men, Habitat for Humanity, Equality Virginia and the Studio Theatre. Her greatest passion was for Ganymede Arts (formerly Actors’ Theatre of Washington), Washington’s premier glbt arts company.
Jeffrey Johnson, Ganymede’s artistic director, recalls that “we are Ganymede Arts because of her. She was the first person to really believe in the company and she gave her whole heart to make it happen. She was just as dedicated to us as she was to her store, and her generosity in time, energy, passion, joy and knowledge that she brought to us here at Ganymede Arts laid the cornerstone for how we will move forward and ‘seize the day.'”
Noi Chudnoff and Jocelyn Lindsay started the business under a tent at Eastern Market in 2000. Even as they worked in that small, part-time space, the partners provided full services to their customers, including deliveries, special orders and gift registries. After a year Noi became the sole owner and started looking for a permanent store location. She was pointed in the direction of 14th Street by Karen Tanaka, then of the Washington Post, who introduced her to Greg Link and Rod Glover of Home Rule.
When Noi decided that 14th Street was the place, she found a warm welcome from established businesses as well as residents eager for the neighborhood to thrive again. When she expressed concerns about being a newcomer to Virginia Ali of Ben’s Chili Bowl, Mrs. Ali assured Noi that all she needed to be concerned about was bringing something good to the neighborhood.
Her excitement about her neighborhood was contagious in many ways. When Ron Henderson came to Washington, he expected to work in AIDS policy at the Department of Health and Human Services. As his friendship with Noi grew, so did his realization that what he cared most about was how people expressed their feelings for each other and thus was born Pulp, Ron’s card shop that was, and is, much more than just a card shop. Likewise, she encouraged many artists who had never sold or even publicly displayed their work to become much more than they imagined that they could be.
“I believe that this legacy of Noi and go mama go! will remain long after the store is closed,” said Jonathan. “A big piece of them will remain with us wherever we go and whatever we do.”
For more information, contact Jonathan Chudnoff at 301-325-6987.