Former Georgetown Brooks Brothers now an incubator for small retailers

Jewelry designers Kicheko Goods is one of the D.C.-area merchants opening at Concept 31/M in Georgetown. (Courtesy EastBanc)

Concept 31/M in Georgetown is also hosting art store Ubioubi. (Courtesy EastBanc)

Athleisure apparel maker Flex All Day has a presence at Concept 31/M in Georgetown too. (Courtesy EastBanc)

Building on street corner.
Concept 31/M opened this week at 3077 M Street NW in Georgetown. (Courtesy EastBanc)

Building on street corner.

EastBanc, the largest owner of retail properties in Georgetown, has found a new use for the vacated Brooks Brothers store on M Street: A space for small D.C.-area merchants and designers who have never had a physical store to try out a brick-and-mortar presence.

Concept 31/M, which opened this week at 3077 M Street NW is designed for both new brands to experiment with one of their first physical locations, as well as for established national brands to test the Georgetown market with short-term leases.

In effect, it is a 22,000-square-foot space for several pop-up stores at once.

The initial lineup of merchants include jewelry designers Kicheko Goods and Isabel Alexander. There’s also sandal maker Laiik, frame and art store Ubioubi and athleisure apparel maker Flex All Day.

Concept 31/M will soon have a coffee bar, too.

EastBanc said it will eventually expand the available space to the second floor of the building, making room for a total of 20 or more short-term retail tenants at any given time.

“We are working to create a place where brands, be they primarily digital or brick-and-mortar, new or old, have a space where they can easily experiment and learn,” said Eastbanc president and CEO Anthony Lanier.

Merchants and designers can apply online for short-term leases at Concept 31/M. Eastbanc said lease terms are as short as 30 days. Rent is based on a percentage of sales.

Brooks Brothers permanently closed its high-profile Georgetown location last summer, after nine years at the corner of 31st and M Streets, one of several Georgetown closings since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Georgetown’s storefront vacancy rate is currently 13.5%, compared to an average of 6% in the five years before the pandemic.

The number of visitors is down by 48%, according to the Georgetown Business Improvement District, although COVID-19 vaccines and lifting restaurant and retail restrictions are expected to bring more shoppers back this spring and summer.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

This content was republished with permission from CNN.

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