From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.
Now that we’re done being laborious and all our beautiful white clothing has been relegated to the back of our closets, summer 2012 is drawing to a close. The majority of DC public pools have shut down, and the National Building Museum’s mini-golf exhibit ended on Labor Day.
Looking back, this summer has been a blur of barbecues and beers, of puppies and prams, of Magic Mike and marriages, and of photobombers and figs. Outdoor cinema and concert series are ending, and students have returned to fill our favorite watering holes to the brim.
Over Labor Day weekend, a group of friends had to break to our cribs to change our clothes once more, ‘cuz we were invited to a barbecue that started at four. With veggie burgers and brats on the grill and a mellow playlist on at full volume, this backyard bash was the perfect outro to the season.
Five Tunes for the End of Summer
As you say goodbye to this summer’s bounty, enjoy these five inspired tunes:
- From Minneapolis’ North Community YMCA’s Beats and Rhymes program, these kids rap about the best snacks since Andy Capp’s Hot Fries made their debut.
- Taking its cue from the many other “Call Me Maybe” covers of the summer, Cookie Monster reminds us that sharing is indeed caring. Snickerdoodle, anyone?
- With elections fast approaching, The Presidents of the United States of America show us how peachy keen life can be. Without having to speak to an empty chair.
- In case you missed it, the universe hosted a blue moon on August 31. On the same evening, Local 16 debuted samples of Blue Moon’s Caramel Spiced Ale in support of Shaw Middle School’s Arts Program. A bit of Sinatra for all that.
- And, in case the 2012 Olympics failed to spice up your life, the Spice Girls made sure they did.
From Tom Hay
For Borderstan’s ongoing series on local entrepreneurs and retail businesses, I paid a visit with Etna and Nastassia, the mother-daughter team that owns Toucan Boutique at 1911 9th Street NW. We had met Etna during this year’s Dog Days sale on 14th Street, when their booth was set up next to our table.
Toucan Boutique opened in April 2010 and is one of the only clothing shops in their stretch of 9th Street. Just south of U Street, the area is home to many restaurants and bars and is also known as “Little Ethiopia.” Note to the guys out there: I had thought Toucan Boutique only sold women’s clothing, but they have a great selection of men’s shirts and outerwear, too.
Etna and Nastassia are originally from Brasilia, Brazil. Before Toucan Boutique opened, Etna had been a marketing director for Brazil Watch Publications and had always wanted to have her own business. Her daughter, Nastassia, who attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, was working in photo production before coming back to DC to join her mother in the business.
Borderstan: How did you select the 9th Street location?
Nastassia: I was living in the neighborhood when there had been a clothing store in this location and when I saw that the space was available, I jumped at the chance to add some diversity to this area’s businesses.
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?