From Mary El Pearce. Follow her on Twitter@CupcakesDC and email her at maryelp[At]borderstan.com
If you take a stroll down 14th Street NW without a particular destination in mind, you’ll probably miss a lot. The juxtaposition between new, old and renovated buildings makes for exhilarating window shopping, but if you find yourself on a not-so-pretty block you may pass over a gem.
“This block will always look this way,” says Timothy Paul, owner of Timothy Paul Carpets & Textiles of his store’s block located on 14th Street between Rhode Island Avenue. and P Street. “That guy owns the building his shop is in; he lives above it.” He goes on to tell me about the other small business owners around him. After nine years in his location, he knows the neighborhood and the people who make it what it is.
The outside of Paul’s modern-looking store is surprisingly camouflaged amid the older stores, whose shabby exteriors tells the neighborhood’s history and their resistance to gentrification. Somehow, even so close to the Whole Foods whose urban prophecy: “If you build it, they will come,” seems fulfilled, these seemingly out of place shops survive. But then again, so does the upscale carpet store nestled among them.
Inside Timothy Paul’s store you’ll find carpets in brilliant colors and patterns, no one like any of the others. Not only are the carpets woven to last for decades, each one has a story behind it. If you ask Paul, who you’ll find in the store almost every day, he’ll tell you all the background he knows on every piece. And if you’re wondering where to get a great cup of coffee afterwards, he can tell you that as well, and who to talk to when you get there. Shopping here is an experience, and Paul will guide you through it with the kind of details only a longtime resident who is passionate about his trade and his neighborhood can offer.
Borderstan: Why did you decide to open a small business?
Timothy Paul: I went to school to be a painter, so at 27 I was painting during the day and waiting tables at night, and I realized I had to do something that resembled a career. I went to work for this woman in a rug shop, and she saw my enthusiasm and said, Here’s the ball, run with it. I had a lot of ideas on how to do it on my own and I was willing to take the risk, so I opened my own shop nine and a half years ago.
Borderstan: What do you like about carpets and textiles?
Paul: I like their uniqueness. They may have been originally created as garments, bed covers or wall hangings that were woven by an individual in their home or tent. I look at the material and use it differently. These pieces are labor and time intensive, and in that sense they’re like works of art. It parallels what I went to school for.
Borderstan: How has your life changed since you opened your own business?
Paul: In my home I’m surrounded by beautiful things that I probably wouldn’t own otherwise. This experience has taken me to places I probably wouldn’t otherwise have been to. As a business owner, you have to get up every day and tie your own shoelaces. Your and your store’s survival depend on you. So it’s probably made me tougher and harder working.
Borderstan: What’s the most challenging thing about running a small business in DC?
Paul: No. 1 is the price of doing business, and at the top of that list is the rent. DC has come through this recession better than any other city in the country, so rents are high and spaces are hard to come by. The second major hurdle is the Internet. It’s a wonderful thing that’s helped businesses, small and large, but in a small business like ours it can hurt, because we don’t have the capital to compete with rug producers who can sell their products directly on their website or through sites like One Kings Lane or Gilt. Customers will come in and look at my carpets then wait to shop on these websites, so I’ve made nothing and invested a lot. What the consumer doesn’t realize is that it’s not always cheaper online.
Borderstan: Any advice to someone thinking about starting a business?
Paul: Be patient and learn the business. If you want to open up a wine shop, go work for a wine shop for two or three years then work for another wine shop for two or three years, then work for an exporter. The failure of a lot of people is they love a particular thing or activity, so they open a store, and running a shop it’s not just about selling. It’s about inventory, negotiating a lease, hiring employees. For all that, you’d do better to gain some experience first.
Save your money. The price of doing business is so expensive, and now with the recession it’s so hard to get a loan. Be kind to your relatives and parents, because you’ll need some sort of income to get through.
And finally, you have to have all the confidence in the world. I never thought I would fail. I thought, I’m going to be doing this the rest of my life.
Happy Friday morning, Borderstan. A few news items… some news bits… happenings this weekend. So, read this posting and then turn off your computer and go enjoy the fall weekend. See you Monday.
- There was a gun robbery t 11:40 p.m. last night on the 1500-block of U Street NW. Here is the Police Alert: “Robbery (Gun)_2340 hours_1500 Block U Street, NW_No lookout given DO NOT TAKE ACTION CALL 911 W/EVENT #i20090562310. Sent on: 10/08 23:56″
- The Humane Society Walk for the Animals is tomorrow (Saturday the 10th)… 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Constitution Gardens on the National Mall.
- The National Equality March events are this weekend, ending with a rally at the U.S. Capitol around 2 p.m. on Sunday.
- On Monday I will have some Crimes of Note for the past couple of weeks… along with a look at crime stats for September for the Borderstan area.
- Cast members of the Real World DC (which is packing up and leaving town after finishing filming) had some of their individual works displayed last night at gallery plan b on 14th Street NW. I wanted to go to last night’s one-night exhibition, but work called (you know, the stuff that pays bills).
- If you missed the second Delhi Dispatch, it’s an interesting read: “Delhi Dispatches: Commuting with Cobras, Deities and Dust.” The contributor is an ex-Borderstanian and a friend and neighbor.
- NBC Channel 4 picked up the story of the “Men’s Parties” death at 14th and Corcoran NW. The Sexist at Washington City Paper summarizes the police crime report for you. 14th & You has a good posting, too: Is the city trying to shut down the club?
- Don’t forget Luis’ picks for stuff to do this weekend in Borderstan and around town, including some restaurant recommendations: “Borderstan Weekend October 10/11.”
- 14th & You has some very good postings on businesses coming and going on the 14th Street corridor: “Update: “Green Pets” Relocation Moving Forward” and “Latest on Birch & Barley; Diamond District Seafood coming soon.”
- If you’re going to see what’s in your Netflix movie queue, plan to watch something on-demand or are head to the video store (if you can still find one!)… check in with Mary the Borderstan Movie Fan: “Borderstan Movie Fan: Health Care Options at the Movies” or check out some of her other recommendations for food movies or sexy movies.
Gallery plan b in Borderstan at 1530 14th Street NW is hosting a one-night exhibition that will benefit three area non-profit groups. “Perspectives DC” is an exhibition in brush, lens, and words… a one-night exhibition to benefit Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, Dupont Circle Village and the Logan Circle Community Association.
On our bedtime walk-with-the-dog, we went by 1618-A 14th Street NW, site of the early Sunday morning death of a patron at the location’s private club. The police tape was gone and the gate was unlocked.
After taking a gander at the building’s front, we headed down the 1400-block of Corcoran. There is an iron security gate on the Corcoran side of the building and you can easily look into the back “garden” area of 1618. We heard a door open and saw light coming from the building. A guy stepped into the back area. I asked him if they were open for business. “Yes,” was the response. (more…)
These are the most popular postings from the last 30 days.
- Saturday-Night Vigilante Justice: Victims Catch U Street Mugger
- Mahnke Family Seeks Witnesses to Sept. 3 Metrobus Incident
- Me or the Dog? Both of Us?
- “Real World” at 2000 S St NW; a Halo Lounge Angle?
- RWDC: What Glamor and Excitement?
- The Rest of the Story: Report #09085657, “Robbery with Gun”
- Policy Restaurant & Bar Opens this Monday
- 12th & U NW: “Mama said there’ll be days like this”
- Garden District Closing 14th & Church Store
- 17th Street Dog Park is Open
As of Tuesday evening, approximately 150 to 200 people had voted in the Borderstan poll, “14th St NW: What Do You Want More Of? This is an approximation as voters could select as many of the 12 choices as desired.
A total of 912 votes were cast for 11 choices plus Other to the question, What kind of stores and businesses do you want more of on the 14th Street NW corridor… between Thomas Circle and Florida Avenue NW? You can pick as many as you want.
My initial read on the results, below, of this very unscientific poll, is that respondents tend to want more food options in the affordable range (lower-priced restaurants and delis) along with places to hang (coffee houses). In addition, people would like to have more general shopping options, including clothing stores.
Noticeably, there was no excitement among respondents to this poll for more furniture stores, art galleries or clubs/lounges.
Here are the results:
- Lower-Priced Restaurants: 17% (155 votes)
- Delis & Food Stores: 16% (150 votes)
- Coffee Houses: 11% (103 votes)
- Apparel Stores: 10% (93 votes)
- General Retail: 10% (89 votes)
- Upper End Restaurants: 9% (79 votes)
- Theaters: 6% (58 votes)
- Clubs & Lounges: 6% (52 votes)
- Art Galleries: 5% (48 votes)
- Furniture & Home Stores: 4% (38 votes)
- Other: 2% (21 votes)
Happy Monday, Borderstanians. Hope you enjoyed the weekend and had a chance to check out the MidCity Business Association’s Dog Days sidewalk sale on 14th Street NW.
We went on Saturday and ran into a number of neighbors and enjoyed talked to the local business owners that we have come to know. Here is a short video of Saturday’s happenings at Dog Days, courtesy of Borderstanian Joel Lawson.
Florida Avenue Grill is perfect for a weekend breakfast with wonderful home-style food at a very good price. At the corner of 11th Street and Florida Avenue NW, it has been a fixture in the area for years.
Lauriol Plaza at 1835 18th Street NW is probably one of the best places in town to enjoy Latin American food. Get there early for brunch, lunch or dinner; good prices for the food and service, but it is usually crowded.
“FuckingA” is playing at the Studio Theatre, 1501 14th Street NW. “A bloody, modern riff on The Scarlet Letter, as only Suzan-Lori Parks could do it–with wicked poetry, biting comic songs and unforgettable style. In ‘Fucking A,’ Parks takes a wild, theatrical carnival ride through a post-apocalyptic future, where an outcast abortionist will do anything to reclaim her lost son.”
See “Tribute To Nina Simone” on Friday, July 3t, at the Bohemian Caverns at 2001 11 Street NW. “Blessed with a beautiful voice and a marvelous craft, Akua Kyerematin’s musical roots run deeply through the blues, jazz and R&B, her style, thus, is a fluid and constantly evolving neo-soul conglomeration that stresses jazz and the blues. Look closely at Akua Kyerematin today, for you will surely be hearing huge things about her tomorrow.”
“Good People, Bad Behavior” is at G Fine Art Gallery, 1515 14th Street NW with works by Tim Bearse, Christiana Caro, Nicholas des Cognets, Benjamin Jurgensen, Ian McMahon, Nataliya Slinko, Hannah Walsh.
“Line Forms Here” is showing at plan b gallery in Borderstan, 1530 14th Street NW. This is a new show: “Line Forms Here – Works in various media with a linear focus,” by Chad Andrews… Amy Davis… Karen Hubacher… Juditha… Arpi Sahr… Melissa Widerkehr… Brian Petro… Greg Minah and Gordon Binder. It opened July 23 and runs through August 23.
“Broadway Rocks!” is Saturday August 1 at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA: “The National Symphony Orchestra will perform Hairspray, Jekyll and Hyde, Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Opera, Lion King, Wicked, Tommy and more! Fusion is what it is all about.”
Paul McCartney is at FedEx Field on Saturday August 1 at 7:30 p.m. in Landover, Maryland.
Come out this weekend and celebrate life in Borderstan with two area events. Enjoy food, shopping and great people watching this weekend on 14th Street NW and U Street NW.
First is the “U Street Community Festival.” The U Street Neighborhood Association hosts a community festival this Saturday, August 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Reeves Municipal Center, 14th and U Streets NW. The event is in conjunction with the 10th Annual MidCity Dog Days of August Sidewalk Sale weekend and the weekly Farmers Market (9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturdays only).
The 10th Annual MidCity Business Dog Days Sidewalk Sale: Don’t miss this fun event in Logan Circle-Borderstan: tons of sales and activities along the 14th Street Corridor and U Street, NW
The U Street Neighborhood Association will host a community festival this Saturday, August 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Reeves Municipal Center, 14th and U Streets NW. The event is in conjunction with the 10th Annual MidCity Dog Days of August Sidewalk Sale weekend and the weekly Farmers Market (9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturdays only).
Put ’em down on your calendar… always good fun in Borderstan. The 10th annual MidCity Dog Days Sidewalk sale is next weekend, August 1 & 2.
From the MidCity Business Association:
August 1st and 2nd mark the tenth annual Dog Days of August sidewalk sale along and adjacent to the 14th and U Street corridors. MidCity shops, galleries and restaurants will take their wares to the sidewalk, feature performers and special events and welcome shoppers to one of DC’s most unique and dynamic retail zones.
Are we finally going to get some good cheap food on the 14th Street NW corridor? Looks that way, hopefully. Nothing against the upscale places that have opened (or soon will) in Borderstan over the past few years, but we really can’t afford to drop $50 every time we don’t feel like cooking on a Tuesday night. (Yes, I am still waiting for a real Greek-owned diner… the type you find in Chicago or New York.)
Here’s the news from our friends at 14th & You:
“Devilish Burgers Headed to 14th Street.” Hot on the heels of the recent announcement of the forthcoming bakery and wine bar next to Marvin (“I’ll have a loaf of cinnamon bread and a glass of your 2003 Malbec please”), 14thandyou has received this nugget of info: the space down adjacent to the bake-oenology place, located at 2001 14th Street, will in fact be a “top-shelf” burger joint owned by Policy’s Omar Miskinyar and David Karim, and featuring creations from Policy chef Brian Murphy. Read posting.
“More Info on “Table 14”; “World’s Best Philly Cheese Steak” Coming to 14th Street.” Metrocurean has an update today on the forthcoming establishment on 14th Street from the Local 16 guys… In other news, a quick peak inside the former 14U coffee shop seems to show renovations moving forward for the soon-to-arrive “JJs: World’s Best Philly Cheese Steaks“. Read posting.