A Pop-ular Business Model in Georgetown

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Robert Fleming, General Manager of Rapha in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Courtesy Robert Fleming.

Pop-ups are becoming popular as a way for businesses to try out their products in specific markets. You may think you know exactly what Georgetown has to offer, but there’s often the element of surprise with these pop-ups, which diversify the selection of goods to buy and brands to keep an eye on. Here are a few that have caught our attention.

Rapha, 3025 M St. NW

Robert Fleming, general manager of Rapha in Chicago and Washington, D.C., said that the sportswear store — which focuses on bicycle racing — uses the pop-up business model to test local markets, connecting with the area where each pop-up store is located. “We enter markets through our pop-ups,” he said.

The first goal is to build a community where people are encouraged to ride together, and the second goal is to get people interested in Rapha’s stylish biking clothing. The pop-up will last through January, after which Rapha hopes to establish a full-fledged clubhouse. Having executed this model with success in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the London-based company is optimistic about setting down roots in Washington, D.C.

State & Liberty, 3035 M St. NW

Lee Moffie, CEO and Co-Founder of State & Liberty. Photo by Selma Khenissi.

Lee Moffie, State & Liberty’s CEO and cofounder, said that his apparel business started as a website in 2015. After a pop-up in Boston was very successful, a broker suggested that he bring a pop-up to Georgetown. State & Liberty sells clothing for men who have athletic bodies; items are cut with more room in the upper body and tapering at the waist. Though nearly all of the company’s business currently comes from online sales, Moffie hopes to use the pop-up space to get the business’s name out there. “I think people are looking for something new nowadays,” he said.

GTöwn Pop Up, 3210 Grace St. NW

Founders of GTÖWN POP UP Wendy Whittleton and Denisse Zapata. Courtesy Denisse Zapata.

Denisse Zapata (married name: Holman) said she has always been called to help women. The work she puts into GTöwn Pop Up, which sells clothing, jewelry, purses and art, helps satisfy this need for Zapata, one of the owners. She believes that the business can empower women and connect them to their divine side.

The business started online in September of 2016. Opening a pop-up seemed like the logical next step. GTöwn Pop Up promotes products from artists, designers and distributors, all of whom are referred to as “producers” by Zapata, who called attention to the European lingerie sold by the shop. She hopes that by December every brand will have made some money. After that, the pop-up business will return to the online world. “This is a journey,” she said.

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