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.”
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.
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 Nordstrom.com 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.
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.”