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Georgetown's Independent Retailers Face Change, Trouble

Independent retailers disclose a decline in customers.

The French Apartment closes for good, a symbol of a suffering independent retail base in Georgetown. (Photo by Michelle Peirano)
The French Apartment closes for good, a symbol of a suffering independent retail base in Georgetown. (Photo by Michelle Peirano)
Book Hill's The French Apartment closed its doors on Sunday, an act that exemplified a suffering market for art, antiques and one-of-a-kind design pieces in Georgetown, owner Kathleen McGarrah said.

According to a Washington Post article, she isn't the only Book Hill business owner suffering these days. 

The Post spoke with Michaela Keeling, co-owner of Carling Nichols, and Josh Hermias, economic development director for the Georgetown Business Improvement District, as well as McGarrah. 

The overwhelming sentiment from the three interviewees was that changing technology, a younger resident base and high living costs have made it difficult for Book Hill businesses to get customers.

Read the full Washington Post article here

McGarrah told Patch that the Georgetown BID had promised more signage and that other retailers are looking for solutions like putting on more French Markets throughout the year, but finding a strategy is not simple.

"I think the neighborhood looks at a pretty block and can't imagine something is wrong behind the storefronts," McGarrah said. "But it's very quiet up here." 

Most of the new residents in Georgetown order furniture online, at Ikea, or want to be able to order multiples of an item, McGarrah said. And the small, independent Georgetown shops are suffering. 

"The whole street used to be furniture stores," she said. "This is old school. This is Georgetown 50 years ago."

Read the full Patch interview with McGarrah here

Heiner Contemporary also closed in January, but it was for personal reasons, owner Margaret Heiner said. The gallery used to be on Wisconsin Avenue, neighboring The French Apartment. 

Read the full Patch interview with Heiner here

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