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Boutique Owner Says Fairfax Better For Business Than Bethesda

By Aaron Kraut

Thursday - 12/19/2013, 3:25pm  ET

Take5 Boutique logoSakina and Mahir Iskender opened their Take5 Boutique last year in Bethesda with high hopes and an exclusive roster of high-end fashion designers.

They debuted a British clothing brand with Aston Martin test drives and took part in a number of other events to get the word out. But the boutique, and its location on Fairmont Avenue, just wasn’t working.

Mahir Iskender said it became clear that Bethesda — at least the Woodmont Triangle section of town — wasn’t the place for a small, high fashion-minded business.

The husband and wife team from Germantown moved Take5 to Fairfax’s Mosaic District this week, leaving the Bethesda space vacant.

“As an entrepreneur, I would not recommend boutiques to open in Bethesda. Maybe Chevy Chase would be better,” Mahir Iskender said. “It is a very tough market as people are very conservative over there and for some reason, not willing to spend.”

He told the Washington Business Journal that Bethesda’s older clientele gave him the sense that the Mosaic District would be a better fit.

Bethesda Row has a number of clothing boutiques on Bethesda Lane and Bethesda Avenue. The property owner, Federal Realty, also hosts fashion-inspired events year-round, including an annual fashion runway show to promote the stores.

But breaking into Bethesda Row is an expensive proposition, Iskender said. Most of the existing shops have a national presence and much more money behind each operation.

“The lease is so high in Bethesda Row and Chevy Chase, it is difficult to survive,” Iskender said.