A Quiz: Is Bethesda’s Mainstream Retail Trend for Flat-topped Chairs or Flat-bottomed Hoes?

There’s a mainstream retailing trend among people in their 20s and 30s. Unlike their counterparts from the mid- to late-1980s—brands such as Brooks Brothers, Prada, Ralph Lauren, and a seething demand for foreign luxury—there’s virtually no shop in downtown Bethesda that isn’t laden with new-demographic stuff. Mostly, this stuff is a tagalong to the pop-ups at chains such as Nordstrom and Crate & Barrel. Under the headings of “Brand Leadership” and “Understanding Different Customers,” the most popular concept is “Full-price.” That means everything is priced the same at all Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom stores, except that every small brand has its own redefined mark-up, and the difference that makes from day to day can’t be seen. We tried out various “full-price” departments, across a variety of departments, for a quiz of American retail:

Outlets And Catalogs

Danks, a two-store-strong chain that sells mostly European fashion and shoes, operates test stores with various eye-popping brands. Lately, the catalogs have reached out to Middle America. There’s a new Seven For All Mankind Store and the “Seven For All Mankind area” at the Yard House in Gaithersburg. Where do those outside seven suburbs call home?

Online TV Stores

For TV content, Shoo-Fly, BuyTV, and T-Vast dominate. BuyTV is the only brand to carry Fox Sports and Viacom. Shoo-Fly sells HBO Go and Fox Sports Go and Viacom’s stable of streaming content. At T-Vast, streaming also comes from Fox, Viacom, and HBO.

Café Coops

If you’re one of the 53,200 people living in Bethesda’s Zola—a 2-year-old mixed-use development at North Vista Road and Maryland Avenue—you just opened your coffee shop of the future: Potomac Reserve (well in sight of Danzinger Square, where James Beard and Bobby Flay restaurants now occupy a mini-mall). The building is rising now, and says Palmer James, “we’re already working on plans for your coffeehouse.”

A few brand news and updates: J. Crew now sells a spotless men’s loafers that cost $450. http://ikombit.jcrew.com. The Doubrai Bar and James Beard Restaurant are still under construction, but get ready to see more Mannino’s Cafe. http://mdla.guesthouse.com. One of the few stand-alone Café Coops in the area is Jimmy’s No. 43 on New York Avenue near Northdale. http://mainstreetfoodclinic.com. The Hilton Shady Grove in Rockville had its grand opening this month. http://hiltonhv.com.


The Sherman clothing store in Bethesda (where rents were being charged as high as $100 a square foot) has been saved from extinction by a giant distribution center owned by a major P&G subsidiary and redeveloped as a Walgreens and 7-Eleven. Walgreens has also figured out the idea of Kits and is positioning the “Express & Shop” concept as the go-to drugstore for knock-offs and miscellaneous fast fashion. One Kits that had gone out of business is H&M, which had sold the “Made in America” District labels on the corner of Georgia Avenue and Wisconsin Avenue, and has purchased the store from its owners and plans to open a smaller unit at the new Safeway on Wisconsin. The doors to Glynis’s Kits were already shut this summer, but we’re told that buyer Ines Biernat has relocated a couple of stores, and other less trendy spots such as Trevi in Silver Spring have found buyer-friendly rents.

Like this article? Sign up for our Daily Digest to get Washingtonian in your inbox each morning.

Leave a Comment