BID Members Report Phenomenal Winter
Pinstripes' upstairs meeting room was the venue for the Georgetown Business Improvement District's quarterly meeting April 19, and after 40 or so members settled into their seats — with their plates of custom doughnuts, cookies and fudge brownies — BID staff asked the central question of the gathering: “How’s business?”
The food business owners spoke out first. “Phenomenal. Wonderful. Better than expected. The best ever!”
Several of the fashion retailers said the same. Visitors, shoppers and regulars had come in to their establishments in higher numbers than ever. And while, for some, sales were only slightly higher, in general the crowd felt that the increased traffic was a good sign for future sales.
What is causing this unexpected spike in winter business?
Most agreed it was the mild, even warm winter weather that brought people out and in. That plus the many big events in Washington, D.C., and Georgetown this winter, some expected (the presidential inauguration) and others not (the Women’s March). Also mentioned was the improved shopping infrastructure in Georgetown itself. When asked, the business owners did not report having increased either their advertising or their social media presence.
BID staff reported on a number of activities and projects planned for the spring. The weekend sidewalk widening of the 3200 block of M Street was expanded beginning April 1 to accommodate better pedestrian traffic flow and new street furniture, such as planters to decorate the barriers, gateways into the walkway, tables, chairs and benches. Businesses are being asked to “take ownership” of the sidewalk features provided by BID, bringing in the furniture and décor at night and putting it back out in the morning.
As the weather heats up, businesses will also be asked to “take ownership” of the parasol share program. Light parasols will be supplied and replenished by BID for store owners to offer to visitors and shoppers as they stroll the business areas of Georgetown. The parasols are to be returned to the nearest participating retailer when they leave the area. Called “Shade, Share and Shop,” this program is also being expanded this year.
Spring events include next weekend’s Georgetown French Market along upper Wisconsin Avenue, overlapping with the Georgetown House Tour on Saturday, April 29. A number of out-of-town news personnel and their guests will be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner that night, as well as various pre-dinner and post-dinner parties, including some in Georgetown.
The Georgetown Design District’s Days of Design are scheduled for May 4 to 6, the Georgetown Galleries’ Spring Art Walk for May 5 and the Bike to Work Day at Waterfront Park for May 19.
BID members heard reports on various Georgetown projects, including the total renovation of the C&O Canal and the five large development projects (notably the conversion of the West Heating Plant into condos). All are experiencing bumps, but “will be done,” various BID staffers assured the members. That includes figuring out how to accommodate traffic flow and designated areas for rideshare pick-ups and drop-offs, bus turnarounds (that don’t include the middle of streets), bike lanes and parking spots, both in garages and on the street, especially on K and Water Streets.