Business Ins & Outs March 21, 2018

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Mariana Garavaglia, Director of Stores for Amazon Books, greeted consumers and the press on opening day: “We’ve put together a store that integrates the benefits of online and offline shopping . . . It's all about discovery.” Georgetowner photo.

Latham Property Under Crescent Management

Crescent Hotels & Resorts of Fairfax, Virginia, has been tapped by Thor Equities to be the managers and operators of the new hotel going up at 3000 M St. NW. It’s name, for now, is the Latham Georgetown, a Curio Collection. The opening is set for spring 2019. Retail will also be located at the corner of 30th and M Streets. The hotel management company’s portfolio includes Marriotts, Hiltons, Hyatts, Westins and Wyndhams.

Out?: Dolcezza

We hear that this is temporary, as in “closed for renovations,” which the sign notes at 1560 Wisconsin Ave. NW, although the small building is for sale. This is the original Dolcezza, the gelato and coffee spot founded in 2004 by husband and wife Robb Duncan and Violeta Edelman. Other locations include Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, the Wharf, the Hirshhorn, CityCenterDC and Bethesda.

Own Your Wonder’s Christina Han and her husband Lorenzo. Photo by Patrick Ryan.

In: Makeup Salon Own Your Wonder

Own Your Wonder, a makeup salon for those on the go, held its grand opening last week. CEO and founder Kristina Han and creative director Robin Izsak launched the store and website with the mantra: “However you define beauty — own it.” The place at 1659 Wisconsin Ave. NW welcomes all and all skin tones and “aims to disrupt the makeover experience, moving beyond the sales-driven retail environment and past the outdated beauty counter.” Own Your Wonder offers à la carte makeup application services and monthly membership programs.

“I always thought there’s a hair or nail salon on every corner, why not makeup? Why aren’t pro-makeup artists easily accessible outside of a mall?” asked Han, a former Olympic swimmer, educated at Fairfax High School and Harvard.

In: D.C.’s First Amazon Books Opens on M

A first for Washington, D.C., and the region, this is a big “in.” Amazon Books officially opened March 13 at 3040 M St. NW, ironically at and next to the site of a former Barnes & Noble bookstore, now occupied by Nike. Another Amazon Books is planned for Bethesda, Maryland.

Amazon.com brings its unique brand of book selling after conquering the online commerce world and mortally wounding bookstores and other retail, whether big-box or independent. That means a real brick-and-mortar, 10,000-square-foot bookstore on two levels, touting its list of what D.C. is buying. Real bookshelves with real books complement the section on Amazon’s devices, such as Kindle, Alexa, Echo and other smart-home accessories, along with a coffee bar. (Oh, there are juicers and blenders for sale, too.) Downstairs, there’s a children’s book section.

Custom shelving lines up the top sellers according to Amazon.com, and all books face out in columns. Amazon Prime members also can get discounts on certain books — half-price for some titles.

The new retail spot is two blocks from Bridge Street Books at 2814 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Georgetown’s last independent bookseller. Few other bookstores remain, save for those selling used books, such as the Lantern, a Bryn Mawr bookshop, at 3241 P St. NW.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is also the owner of D.C.’s major newspaper, the Washington Post. Amazon also owns Whole Foods and serves its Allegro Coffee at its bookstores, which now number 16 around the U.S. The world’s richest man also owns a Kalorama mansion, and the nation’s capital remains a contender for the new Amazon HQ2. Apparently, for D.C., it’s an Amazon world and we’re just living in it.

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