From Tom Hay
For Borderstan‘s ongoing series on local entrepreneurs and retail businesses, I sat down with Rod Glover, one of three co-owners of Home Rule located at 1807 14th Street NW. Home Rule is the landmark housewares store on the 14th Street corridor offering everything a stylish urban residence needs. Greg Link and Glover opened the store in September 1999. Grace Allison joined them as an owner about two years ago and is also the store manager.
Glover, who has a fine arts background, initially got involved with Home Rule when his neighbor Link, who was working on the concept for the store. Glover needed artist studio space, and the lease for the 14th Street location included the whole building, so the second floor fit the bill. He then became involved in the business and continues to work there part-time while working on his art. Glover currently has studio space in West Virginia and plans are in the works for an upcoming show of his art early next year at Gallery plan b down the street at 1530 14th Street NW.
Borderstan: Do you recall why the location on 14th Street was selected?
Glover: Affordability. With the idea of, if you build it they will come. The reputation of the area was not fantastic, but we thought enough people would venture over
Borderstan: Are there any surprises about the way 14th Street has developed over the past decade?
Glover: The big surprise is that it happened at all. We were hoping for the changes, and when it really did happen we were thrilled.
Borderstan: Tell me about your window displays?
Glover: Well some are concepts that just pop into my head, others are inspired by a product line or a manufacturers display. The themes revolve around a product or some searsonal aspect or anything that would get a customer to stop and come theough the door.
Borderstan: Any advice for people who are interested in starting a retail business?
Glover: Make sure you have help… a support network of others who understand retail. It is a difficult business and if you don’t have the skill set, you will need to have people in your network who do.
Borderstan: How has Room & Board opening affected foot traffic?
Glover: It is somewhat too soon to tell… I think we have lots of customers walking though the door with R&B catalogs, so that is a visual cue that it has been a boon to foot traffic.
Borderstan: Do you think the DC Government can do more to help small retail entrepreneurs?
Glover: Yes! It is very frustrating to hear the city tries to lure big box stores by giving tax breaks. I wonder if there is anyone in city government who wants small businesses to survive.
Borderstan: What is the biggest challenge a retail business owner faces today?
Glover: Getting your customer to come back. There is a lot of competition for the consumer dollar, especially in the current economy. You can’t rest on your laurels. You always have to keep everyone interested in returning and find new customers.
Borderstan: Can we expect the usual great bargains from Home Rule during this years Dog Days Weekend?