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REI is almost ready to roll

April 25th is opening day for the new REI store at Pike & Rose, relocating from its current digs further north on Rockville Pike. The 36,000-square-foot store will have a similar layout to the company’s new flagship location in D.C., with a full schedule of classes, meetings and events for the hiking/biking/camping community. We asked company spokesman Mike Ferris the question we’ve been hearing from so many Store Reporter readers this winter: What does REI think about L.L. Bean‘s plans to join the lineup at Pike & Rose? Ferris says competition between the two stores is a non-issue. “Our goal is to collaborate with other retailers and the local community… to help more people get outside,” he tells us. “In the end, we all benefit when more people have access to the outdoors.”



Duck Donuts in Rockville and Gaithersburg:




ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen


Shophouse gets chopped

This week we say goodbye to ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, the Chipotle spinoff that’s going out of business after six years of failing to meet its parent company’s expectations. Eight of the chain’s 15 locations were in the D.C. area, where fans have been mourning the loss these past few days by visiting even more often than usual. “We’ve suddenly doubled up on sales since the announcement that we were closing,” says a ShopHouse staffer at Pike & Rose. “The same people have been coming in over and over.” But it’s too little, too late: All ShopHouse restaurants closed at the end of St. Patrick’s Day.






Clear Knee Mom Jeans at Nordstrom


New at Nordstrom: windows for your knees

This week we got a much-needed chuckle over the denim pants that launched a tweetstorm: Clear Knee Mom Jeans. Now on the shelves in the Topshop department at Nordstrom, these $95 beauties are aimed at teens who’ve been wearing “mom jeans” ironically — but they’re drawing critiques from actual moms who wore them before ironic fashion was a thing. “Teens! Explain yourselves!” snarked the Twitterverse, while reviewers on had some very specific suggestions: “Great for hiking and checking your knee for tick bites along the way!” “Perfect for shopping days; I use a dry-erase pen and write my grocery list on the clear panel!” “Everyone knows that knees are the windows to your soul. Now I have windows to my knees! Thanks Nordstrom!” Despite the week-long hatefest, these jeans haven’t sold out just yet. Click here to check them out.



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Bagel City in Rockville:




Tea from Rumi Tea/Shafa Blends


A makeover for Rumi

Rumi Tea and Spice, one of the few remaining independent retailers at Westfield Montgomery Mall, is getting a mini-makeover. “We’re changing our name to Shafa Blends as we add new products like olive oils and other types of beverages,” says co-owner Darius Zolfagharian, who opened the store two years ago on the lower level next to Claire’s. The mall’s tea business has really heated up since then, with Teavana relocating to larger quarters and newcomer David’s Tea joining the lineup this past June. Zolfagharian says his business takes a different approach, focusing on natural products without artificial flavors and colors (click here to take a look). “Those other stores have really gotten far away from what tea should be,” he says. “We’re not trying to be a candy store. We want to be a real tea store.”



Blast 28 Infinity at Churchill High School:




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Pita platters from The Halal Guys


Halal this fall

Opening this fall at Wintergreen Plaza on Rockville Pike: The Halal Guys, a brick-and-mortar version of the New York City food cart business with the crazy-long lines. What’s on the menu? Beef and chicken gyros served with pita or basmati rice, plus sides of hummus, baba ganouj, falafel and fries. “Our secret is our white sauce — not the typical tzatziki with cucumber — which puts everything together really well,” says Maryland franchisee Rabi Ullah. He’s also opening a location in College Park, with plans for further expansion statewide (click here for the menu). The Halal Guys replaces Rocklands Barbecue and Grilling Company, which has exited Wintergreen Plaza now that Mission BBQ is open.



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Emily Grace at Park Potomac


Goodbye Emily Grace

Emily Grace, one of the original tenants at Park Potomac, closed its doors this week after seven years in business. The boutique specialized in high-end fashions from lines like Vince, Michael Lauren, Joie and AG Jeans. Park Potomac, which will be buzzing this summer with the debut of three new restaurants, is already talking to replacement tenants.






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Fire pit from Offenbachers


Offenbachers returns to Rockville

Offenbachers, the D.C.-area retail chain that closed its doors last winter, is making a comeback of sorts in Rockville. Home Escapes, a 30-year-old retailer from Virginia, has purchased the Offenbachers name and opened a showroom just around the corner from its former home on Nicholson Lane. The store carries a similar assortment of hot tubs, spas, outdoor furniture, fire pits and pool tables, but the original Offenbachers team is not involved with this venture. Click here to check out the inventory.



Park Potomac Spring Festival:




JT Interiors Mother's Day Tea Tasting:




Strathmore in North Bethesda


Who won our tickets for Rent stars at Strathmore?

Congratulations to Store Reporter readers Dara Baylinson and Gail Hyman, who each won a pair of tickets to see original Rent stars Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp at Strathmore in North Bethesda. Strathmore’s spring/summer schedule also includes appearances by Tony Bennett, Audra McDonald, Gladys Knight and the creators of the Serial podcast. Click here to check it out.





For information about a discount at Regency Estates Swim Club, email




"Muddy" jeans at Nordstrom


Fashion fails: muddy jeans and washable cashmere

Just a few weeks after we told you about that regrettable “mom jeans with windows” incident (click for details) comes news of yet another Nordstrom denim debacle. This time the retailer has been universally shamed for its $425 “heavily distressed” Barracuda jeans. Apparently, “heavily distressed” in Nordstrom-talk means “covered in fake mud.” In other fashion fails this week, washable cashmere company Kit and Ace announced the closing of all its U.S. stores including the one in downtown Bethesda. Kit and Ace was the brainchild of ousted Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, who once helped kick off the athleisure clothing trend. This time around, Wilson apparently overestimated the public’s appetite for $398 turtlenecks.



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New REI store at Pike & Rose


Opening day for REI

Tuesday (April 25th) is opening day for the handsome new REI store at Pike & Rose, the beginning of a new wave of tenants that will soon include L.L. Bean and a Pinstripes bocce and bowling center. The 36,000-square-foot store replaces REI’s older location at 1701 Rockville Pike, which will close its doors for the last time Sunday night. Grand opening festivities are set for the following weekend (April 28th-30th) with classes, music, food and giveaways. For more on the new REI store — and what the company thinks about being neighbors with L.L. Bean — click here for our March 16th edition.



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Nespresso at Westfield Montgomery Mall


Hello Nespresso

The Nespresso store is finally open at Westfield Montgomery Mall — several months behind schedule, but well worth the wait for the espresso-obsessed. If you’re looking to sip a custom-brewed cappuccino while you debate the pros and cons of the Vertuo Plus vs. the Lattissima Pro, this is the place to do it. Adding to the cool factor: A towering rainbow coffee pod display that makes the store feel a bit like an art installation. You’ll find Nespresso on the mall’s second level across from Swarovski; click here for a sneak peek of those snazzy coffee machines.



Washington Talent Mitzvah Madness:





Rent stars live at Strathmore — win our tickets!

This week we have a special giveaway for Broadway fans: A chance to see Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp, two of the original stars of Rent, appearing live at Strathmore on Friday, April 28th. The pair will perform songs from the show that made them famous (click here for a preview), along with their solo albums and post-Rent careers. (Pascal also starred on Broadway in Cabaret and Elton John’s Aida.) Strathmore’s spring schedule also includes appearances by Tony Bennett, Audra McDonald, Gladys Knight and the creators of the Serial podcast. Want to enter our raffle for Adam & Anthony Live? Click here to send us an email, or visit our Facebook page. Update: Dara Baylinson and Gail Hyman won these tickets. Stay tuned to Store Reporter for more great giveaways.





Realtor Lisa Nasar:




Bra from Victoria's Secret


New home for Victoria’s Secret and Pink

Victoria’s Secret and Pink are on the move at Westfield Montgomery Mall. The lingerie sister stores are leaving their current spot in the Nordstrom wing for a new home between Macy’s and Sephora. The relocation should happen sometime this summer. Who will move in when the bras and undies move out? Stay tuned.



For a discount at Regency Estates Swim Club, email




Lovesac beanbag


Lovesac, baaaaybee

Behold the Lovesac. If you’re not familiar with this line of beanbag-style furniture, that’s about to change: The Connecticut-based company is joining the lineup at Westfield Montgomery Mall, opening late summer/early fall next to Aldo in the Nordstrom wing. Besides the basic round Lovesac pictured here, the retailer also offers “Sactionals” for your family room, “Squattomans” for your feet and “Petsacs” for your dog (click here to check out the lineup). This will be the second beanbag-style furniture store at Westfield Montgomery Mall; Yogibo opened 18 months ago near Old Navy.



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