by December 26, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,658 0


The top business story in 2012 was one of a series (most by Tome Hay) on Hank’s Oyster Bar’s ongoing dispute with a group of neighbors and its interactions with the DC Government. (Luis Gomez Photos)

It’s that time again… a look back before we start 2013. Like last December, we will provide you with a list of the most-read stories on Borderstan by category. Today are the Top 10 from the Business section.

The web is forever, so they say. Posted stories continue to get hits a long time after originally going up on the site. As a result, some of the most-read stories for the year were sometimes published the year before — especially if they were published late the year before (not the case with any on the following list).

Top 10 Borderstan Business Stories of 2012

These lifestyle stories were Top 10 most read last year on

  1. Hank’s Forced to Shut Half of Patio; Owner Seeks Community Support (Borderstan)
  2. Plans Unveiled for the Louis at 14th/U; Will Remake Famous Corner (Gomez and Rhoades)
  3. BakeHouse’s Business Plan: Do Everything Really Well (Ashley Lusk)
  4. Owner Christopher Torres Explains Reincarnations’ Closure (Maggie Barron)
  5. Atlantic Plumbing: 375 Units and 25,000 Square Feet of Retail Space (Rachel Nania)
  6. 14th Street: Reincarnations Furnishings Closing (Luis Gomez)
  7. Mila Clothing: Zoning Variance For 14th and U Street Property? (Tom Hay)
  8. DC Noodles Closing for 1 Year; Stem Boutique Closing Doors July 1 (Luis Gomez)
  9. New Dupont Development on 17th and O Starting Construction Soon (Rachel Nania)
  10. No Hotel for 13th and U, Project Will Be Residential Says JBG  (Tom Hay)

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by September 12, 2012 at 9:00 am 2,051 0

"Urban Essentials"

Urban Essentials now at 1401 14th Street. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]

Urban Essentials has moved its merchandise from a 12-year stay at 1330 U Street NW to the 14th Street Corridor.

"urban essentials"

Urban Essentials showroom. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The locally-owned furniture store specializes in small-scale furnishings specific to urban lifestyles. According to David Schaefer, founder and owner of Urban Essentials, the recent boom in apartment and condo developments along the 14th Street corridor continues to create a demand for smarter, sleeker and smaller-scale living ideas.

Urban Essentials‘ new location at 14th and Rhode Island NW was previously occupied by Reincarnations Furnishings. After 20 years, Reincarnations closed its doors this past spring, due to increased rent in the neighborhood.

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by July 27, 2012 at 8:00 am 2,075 0

Urban Essentials

Urban Essentials will move from its U Street location to the former location of Reincarnations on 14th Street. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT] 

After 12 years at 1330 U Street NW, the contemporary home furnishings store Urban Essentials is relocating to a new 5,700-square-foot storefront on 14th Street NW. And to help ease the burden of the move, Urban Essentials is marking down all floor sample items by 20% to 60% starting Saturday, July 28.

Urban Essentials’ new location at 14th and Rhode Island NW was previously occupied by Reincarnations Furnishings. After 20 years, Reincarnations closed its doors this past spring, due to increased rent in the neighborhood. Urban Essentials is scheduled to open its 14th Street location on September 5.

The locally-owned furniture store specializes in small-scale furnishings specific to urban lifestyles. According to David Schaefer, founder and owner of Urban Essentials, the recent boom in apartment and condo developments along the 14th Street corridor continues to create a demand for smarter, sleeker and smaller-scale living ideas.

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by April 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm 6,232 1 Comment

"Borderstan""Reincarnations""14th Street NW"

Reincarnations at the northeast corner 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Maggie Barron. You can reach her at maggie[AT] and follow her on Twitter @maggiebarron.

Yes, you heard right. After 20 years, Reincarnations is closing its doors. As the pioneering furniture store in an area now known as “furniture row,” the end of Reincarnations, on 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW, feels particularly significant to the changing 14th Street landscape.

Back in January, when I profiled owner Christopher Torres for Borderstan, he seemed excited about what was to come. Why the sudden change? According to Torres, negotiations with his landlord have been going on since November, but the landlord would not settle on a final contract.

Torres told me on Wednesday that with real estate taxes included, his rent was slated to go up from about $15,000 to $18,000 per month. “I don’t think people realize how expensive rent can be,” he said, “and that’s not counting other expenses like insurance and utilities. I could have made it work, but I am not going to crank $300 sofas out the door all day to make the rent. I felt like I would have had to sacrifice quality or service to do that.”

"Borderstan""Reincarnations""14th Street NW"

Christopher Torres, owner of Reincarnations. (Julian Murphy)

“I told the landlord, ‘If you can rent the space for that amount, do it.'”

Torres said it has been a very difficult decision to make. “I’ve struggled with it. I’m very sad to leave. I was a pioneer on that street. The store is doing very well, and it’s never been an issue of ‘going out of business.’ But for the price I’m paying there, I could be in Manhattan.”

As for plans to move to a new location, Torres says he has not considered it, yet. “It’s always been in the back of my mind. I’m not saying no but I haven’t even had time to go look at spaces.” He added that he is not selling the business or the name, so the possibility is always there.

Though Torres is sad to close, he still sounded upbeat. He is currently working on a line of upholstery called CGT, which he expects to be available in some local Borderstan-area stores. For customers who want to know what’s next for Reincarnations, Torres says that he will keep the store’s Facebook page running with updates.

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by January 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm 2,464 2 Comments

"Borderstan" "Christopher Torres"

Christopher Torres of Reincarnations: “A little bit of bling goes a long way.” (Julian Murphy).

From Maggie Barron. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @maggiebarron.

“A little bit of bling goes a long way,” says Christopher Torres, the owner and creative force behind the furniture store Reincarnations. I talked to Christopher to find out how his business went from a yard sale side project to one of the fixtures of 14th Street’s “furniture row.”

Borderstan: How did Reincarnations begin?

Torres: It started with a yard sale. My background was visual merchandising and presentation for major retailers and department stores. As retail got more streamlined in the late ’80s and early ’90s, every store started looking the same. I was getting so stifled at work that I needed a creative outlet. So I started buying old pieces, giving them a totally fresh identity, and selling them at my yard sales.

I would work 40 to 60 hours a week at my regular job, then come home and work on furniture all night long. Customers would come up to me and say “where is your store?” That’s when the light bulb went off. I realized I had found a niche. In 1993 I opened up my first store on 17th Street NW near Dupont. I don’t redo furniture anymore, but that’s how it all began. I thought it was just a hobby, but it turned into a business.

Borderstan: How do you keep the store fresh after almost 20 years?

Torres: Everything in the store is new. I never repeat the same item. Sometimes that’s hard to do with hot-selling pieces, but I do it. I’ll kill it and I won’t bring it back. I don’t want to be Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel. Those are great stores – nothing against them – but you walk through those doors and you know what it’s going to look like. I like people to come in and be surprised every time.

Borderstan: You are sort of the anti-Pottery Barn?

Torres: It’s the truth! Everyone is so afraid to be different that they all end up looking the same. It’s really boring. I refuse to do it. Shopping is an outlet for a lot of people. It needs to be exciting and creative. It shouldn’t be a chore. A lot of people come in to the store and I can see that they’re struggling. I’ll go up to them and say “look, if you’re not having fun with it then you shouldn’t be buying it.” That’s always been my philosophy. It’s just furniture. We’re not doing major surgery. It should be fun.

Borderstan: You moved to 14th Street NW years ago, before it was popular. How come?

Torres: We had been on 17th Street NW for years, and every day I passed by the corner lot where the store is now on 14th Street NW. It was abandoned, and the windows were all bricked up. I always thought the architecture was so pretty, and that it could be a beautiful space.

Eventually I needed more room for the store, but I wanted to stay in the city. I thought of that space on 14th Street, but everyone said I was nuts – my broker said it wasn’t big enough, it was rundown, and it was on 14th Street. I was over in Dupont, which was hot hot hot, and I kept thinking that there was nowhere for all this goodness to go other than to 14th.

That was almost 10 years ago. It’s incredible how I’ve seen that street change. I was one of the first ones to move in, and now 14th Street has become furniture row. When I saw the big guys come, like Mitchell Gold, I knew I had made the right decision. I was the pioneer.

Borderstan: Did it make you nervous when the other stores started moving in?

Torres: No, I loved it – the big retailers spend millions on advertising to get people to their destination. And to get to their destination, you have to drive by mine. So I don’t have to pay for advertising to get people to my neighborhood. There’s enough business to go around. Plus, those stores have a totally different vibe and price point than we do. I love that those stores are there – I want more of them!

Borderstan: Do you have advice for other business owners in the area?

Torres: In this climate, my advice would be to play it safe but also remember to go out on a limb sometimes. Do something crazy that you would do in the best of times, because that’s what is going to get someone into your store. I see a lot of stores that are doing nothing and just waiting for something to happen. Take a risk on at least a couple of things. Otherwise it’s a world of grey and beige, and it’s not any fun for anyone.

Borderstan: What do you have planned for 2012?

Torres: I just signed a contract with a furniture manufacturer to produce some of my own designs, not only for my store but also for other retailers across the country. I’m going to focus on designs for urban contemporary situations. The pieces will probably come out this summer. So finally I’ll be able to have the pieces that I’ve been looking for but couldn’t get anywhere.

Borderstan: What decorating tips do you have for people who are just getting started?

Torres: Think big. Even in a very small room I would rather see two large pieces of furniture than a whole lot of little. Bigger pieces have more impact – they make the room feel bigger. When there are lots of little pieces everywhere, it creates too much clutter and your eye doesn’t know where to go.

With color, it’s all about what you love. Find a color combination that makes you happy and that pleases your eye – it could be from a men’s tie or a shirt you like – and go from there.  Just because the world is saying that coral is the hot new color, don’t let that sway you. There’s no design police. It’s your home.

Finally, don’t involve all your friends! I see people bringing in six or seven friends, and everyone’ s opinion is going to be different. You’re going to leave the store so confused and you’re not going to buy anything, and nothing is ever going to change. And at the end of the day, everyone leaves your home but you.

"Borderstan""Reincarnations", 14th Street NW, Logan Circle furniture stores

Reincarnations is at 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW. (Luis Gomez Photos).


by December 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm 3,736 0


Everything for your Christmas/Holiday Tree (plus Hanukkah candles and Menorahs) can be purchased in the neighborhood: Housewares on 17th Street, Logan Hardware, Tabletop, Miss Pixie’s Furnishings  & Whatnot, PULP, Home Rule and Reincarnations.

From Matty Rhoades. Email him at [email protected].

Got your Christmas tree? Getting it this weekend? Maybe it’s your first tree away-from-home and on-your-own? Whether this is your first tree or you’re looking for new ornaments and glitz this year, you’ve got a number of local shopping options — all of them locally owned businesses. You can buy your tree, locally, too, and have it delivered: Here are your options.

You don’t need to board a bus, navigate Metro or get in the car. You can buy everything you need for your Christmas Tree (Holiday Tree, if you prefer) in the neighborhood — from the tree stand to ornaments and lights to the star on top.

For Hanukkah: Logan Hardware has “Festival of Lights spirit to spare.” They carry Menorah candles ($8.99 to $11.99) and Draydels filled with candy and gum ($2.99). Housewares on 17th also has candles and three different Hanukkah Menorahs ($17.99 to $29.99). You can get Hanukkah cards at PULP. FYI, Hanukkah begins December 20 this year.

The Basics

For the basic necessities of decorating and caring for your tree, you have two local options:

Tree Stand and Disposal Bag. You need a tree stand for the tree. Logan’s tree stands run from $19.99 to $119.99. Over at Housewares on 17th, there are three models from $13.99 to $24.99. (OLD CITY green carries tree stands, too.) While you’re at it, pick up one of those tree disposal bags for a few bucks — you put your tree in it come January and haul it out to the curb ($2.29 at Logan). Buy one: It will keep dried needles from falling all over your floor when you take out the tree. You will thank me for this.

Lights. Options! Multi-colored or clear? Blue or red, perhaps? Large or small? LED rope lighting is an option for the truly energy-efficient. At Logan, they have LED, icicle and traditional string lights in white and multicolored ($2.99 to $39.99). At Housewares on 17th, there is a plethora of lighting options right by the counter, including blue and red strands. Examples: a string of 100 clear lights will set you back $5.49 while a strand of 25 of the large old-fashioned sized bulbs goes for $10.99.

Basic Ornaments and Add-Ons. You want to go basic and not spend a lot of money on ornaments? For example, a box of six colored ball ornaments at Housewares will cost you $7.49. Logan also carries tool-shaped ornaments for a fun touch ($4 to $8.99). Both hardware stores also carry the add-ons: ribbons, garland, icicles, and even spray-on snow ($8.99 at Logan).

Ornaments: Fun and Glitz Time

Now for the really fun part of decorating your tree — unusual, creative, fun ornaments… the kind you collect or give as holiday gifts. You’ve got five great options in the Dupont-Logan area — one right off Connecticut Avenue and four on 14th Street.

Home Rule, 1807 14th Street NW. Home Rule carries a wide variety of fun ornaments, but the store says they are selling out very fast: “We carry plain white lights on green cords, garland (two styles this year), mini ornaments, full-sized ornaments, ornament hooks, 3-foot faux trees. Ornament prices range anywhere from 75 cents to $34.99.” Check out photos of their ornaments and holiday offerings on the Home Rule Facebook Page.

Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot, 1626 14th Street NW: Miss Pixie carries a beautiful selection of vintage ornamentsfor the tree: “We have lots of ornaments. Most are vintage dating back to as early as 1920 — most are from the ’40s and ’50s — and some are new. Most are $5 each, a handful are $8 and some are $1. We also have garland, trees and little houses for under the tree and maybe a handful of nutcrackers left at $5 to $22.” Check out some of the photos on Pixie’s Facebook Page.

PULP, 1803 14th Street NW. PULP is carrying round, flat porcelain ornaments with the DC flag logo design on them ($14.95); mini glass charms for little trees (Cracker Jack, Monopoly iconic images, he Keep Calm and Carry on designs ($4.95 each); tiny mustache charms that work on tiny trees, and zipper pulls and backpacks ($3.75). PULP also has round, glittered, blown glass ornaments with geometric shapes on them ($39.95). In addition they have rainbow ornaments, and rainbow mirror ball ornaments. Check out photos of their ornaments and holiday offerings on the PULP Facebook Page.

Reincarnations, 1401 14th Street NW. Reincarnations owners say they “try to get unusual and different ornaments each year.” This year they have Rockette reindeer ($15 and $45), space/rocket Santa ornaments which are glass and very retro, selling from $10-$15 each; the snowman collection consisting of a cloth ‘shopping snowman/woman at $25 each, a lava snowman lamp at $79; snowman ornaments at $10 to $15 each; and various Santa glass ornaments at $20. We also have a cupcake ornament collection at $5 each. “We also have the over the top 6-foot feather Christmas tree in pink, blue, green, white and gray at $259 each.” Check out photos of their ornaments on the Reincarnations Facebook Page.

Tabletop, 1608 20th Street NW. Just off Connecticut Avenue, Tabletop carries a selection of Jonathan Adler ornaments that range from $24 (white ceramic) to $28 (multi-color decal) for the singles… and a set of two Mr+Mrs Muse ornaments go for $48. Check out photos on Tabletop’s Facebook Page.


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