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Beer to Bullfrog Bagels: If it's made in D.C., it will be sold in this store

September 7, 2017

Shop Made in D.C., a brick-and-mortar retail store devoted to all things made within the District’s borders, is coming to Dupont Circle this fall.

The 2,500-square-foot store and cafe aims to open by mid-October at 1333 19th St. NW, which was formerly home to Baja Fresh and Pizza Studio.

The combined restaurant and retail store is the brainchild of Stacey Price from People Make Place — and formerly Think Local First D.C. — in partnership with Neighborhood Restaurant Group, the District government’s Made in D.C. program, the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District and Boston Properties. All are teaming up to launch the venue.

It will sell a rotating selection of goods that are part of the Department of Small and Local Business Development’s Made in D.C. program, including Mallory Shelter, Hollow Works Ceramics, Printed Wild and District of Clothing. There will be between 20 and 25 producers at any given time.

In the cafe, Shop Made in D.C. will feature at least 15 local food and beverage producers, such as Bullfrog Bagels, Prescription Chicken soups and Ice Cream Jubilee treats. NRG Beer Director Greg Engert will direct the beverage program, offering brews from six breweries located in D.C., at least one District Winery-branded wine and perhaps a locally-brewed nitro cold brew coffee. There will even be a soundtrack of D.C.-based bands and musicians.

The project is funded in part by DSLBD, via a $100,000 grant given to the Golden Triangle BID that will be passed along to the Made in D.C. retail outlet. That’s why for the first six months, at least, the store will only carry goods whose makers have opted in to the Made in D.C. program.

The $100,000 matches $202,750 in in-kind contributions from Boston Properties, the Golden Triangle BID, People Make Place and Neighborhood Restaurant Group, according to DSLBD. NRG will also contribute some cash, although the amount was not disclosed. Shop Made in D.C. is treating the first six months as a pilot, although it will be able to stay in the space for up to two years.

“Where did this come from? It came from my heart,” said Price, who was the founding executive director of Think Local First D.C.

Price and Neighborhood Restaurant Group co-founder Michael Babin have been talking about this concept since 2013.

“We started talking about the things that would really help that program have a bigger impact on the small business of the city, and the maker community,” Babin said.

Price has been fighting the Washington stigma for years.

“People from outside think that we’re transient, dull, all politics, that we’re all buttoned-up," she said. "But we really aren’t. We’re a rich community of doers, makers, people that are taking chances and quitting their buttoned-up jobs to do things that they’ve always wanted to do.”

They landed the location because Boston Properties had approached the Golden Triangle BID for ideas to activate the space until it begins a repositioning project for 1333 19th, which will be triggered by law firm Akin Gump’s move in 2019.

Price liked the location for its size, for the fact that it already had some restaurant infrastructure and for the location. It’s close to many D.C. residents, but also in a tourist hub that draws visitors who may be looking for something distinctly local to bring home.

“There’s a whole subset of tourists that happen to stay in Dupont but they don’t go to places like H Street or Shaw, so they don’t see the flavor of our city in a way that I would like them to,” Price said. “My philosophy always is, how do we get in front of people, how do we meet people where they’re already going?”

Price will serve as creative director and a general manager of sorts, and NRG will advise on the food-and-beverage operation. The BID will provide marketing support, as well as some special events. BID Director Leona Agouridis called the store’s opening in the neighborhood “a dream come true.”

“It’s just a wonderful mix. I think there’s a possibility for some real magic around the holidays,” Agouridis said.

Price plans to track the sales of each maker, and also the visibility of the brands they carry to show hard data on how the store has grown small businesses.

“If we do this right, then we’re helping grow these brands,” Price said. “I want to be able to say, over the next six months, that we have grown over 100 Made in D.C. brands, and we have grown them in these ways.”

By: Rebecca Cooper