Future bright for M29, serendipitous for Nathans


Georgetown’s newest retail addition, M29, invited us for a peek at the new place last week in the wake of their grand opening on March 1. The shop, operating under the auspices of the Four Seasons Hotel and labeled a “lifestyle store,” is touted by the owners as the first of its kind in Georgetown. The idea? Eschew any sort of theme or niche and offer up a wide breadth of artisan clothing, accessories, games and knickknacks from which customers can pick and choose.

“It’s meant to be an experience,” says Allyson Wilder, who manages the store’s retail inventory.

Actually, scratch that: inventory’s not the word. In fact, the shop carries no backroom stock of any kind — the items on sale, everything from Moyna handbags to Stewart Stand cufflinks to John Derian’s delicate decoupage, are on display in their entirety, and when they’re gone, well, they’re gone.
It’s part of a shrewd business plan that both discourages customers from passing up on an item they might never see again, and instantly adds value and cachet to wares that quite often are one of a kind. The trademark concept behind M29, though, is that everything in the store — save perhaps the walls and windows — is up for grabs. Customers can buy up a swath of handmade ceramicware and, if they like, the table it sits on.

Named for the intersection where it stands, M29 is distinctly Washington, offering its visitors an industrial, minimalist feel, naturally lit by floor-to-ceiling windows stamped with a rash of cherry blossoms. The store imports items from artisan craftsmen, designers and artists hand picked by Director of Retail Deborah Bush, whose years in the design industry — and the Rolodex to go with it — have afforded her a keen sense of what residents in an affluent, artistic neighborhood might like. So far, she boasts a roster of 35 designers, none of which are local, the idea being to refresh the Georgetown art scene with crafts it won’t find anywhere else.

Experience, indeed.


It’s been confirmed: Nathans, which has stood gutted and boarded up since the iconic Georgetown restaurant closed last July, will be the new site of Stephen Bruce’s Serendipity 3, a New York-based upscale ice cream parlor famous for its frozen hot chocolate and patronage by Andy Warhol. The effort to bring in the shop was spearheaded by local restaurant owners Rodrigo Garcia and Britt Swan, who signed a contract last Thursday, according to local blogger Kate Michael. Serendipity 3, known in New York’s Upper East Side as one of the most visited corners in the city, could make its debut on M and Wisconsin as early as spring 2010.

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