- Jackie Flanagan plans to move her U Street boutique to Mt. Pleasant. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
When the holiday shopping season ends, popular U Street boutique Nana will close for a holiday of its own. When it returns, the store will have a new home in a new neighborhood: Mount Pleasant.
On Tuesday, owner Jackie Flanagan signed a lease at 3068 Mount Pleasant St. NW, formerly the Mount Pleasant Deli. Just short of 1,000 square feet, the new location will provide more space for the shop’s vintage-inspired, ethically conscious clothing and accessories.
Mount Pleasant Street, packed with small eateries, is far from overflowing with options for window shoppers. Thrifter’s hideaway Frugalista is directly across the street, along with another feature of the block: a Circulator stop. Flanagan see the number of traveling eyeballs on the new location as a perk, in addition to the spot's street-level entrance.
“It’s more bike and stroller friendly, and easier to access for those with disabilities,” Flanagan says. “There’s something about the open space that I’m really excited about.”
After eight years, Nana is a veteran of the U Street corridor. “U Street has been a great home to us, and I’m honored to be a part of that fabric,” says Flanagan, who previously lived in the neighborhood. After her family moved to Mount Pleasant three years ago, she felt drawn to that area. “Something has been missing living [in Mount Pleasant] and operating on U Street,” she said. “This is a reflection of where I am.”
She hopes her customers will follow. “I can’t go anywhere in Mount Pleasant without seeing people who shop at Nana.”
But the move breaks up what has become a powerhouse block of retail options: boutiques Lettie Gooch, Junction, and ShoeFly, home décor stops RCKNDY, Millennium, and Habitat, and the block’s most recent additions — vintage clothiers Ginger Root Design and Dr. K Vintage.
“Stores come and go, and rent continues to rise,” says Junction owner and MidCity Business Association member-slash-volunteer Shannan Fales. Entrepreneurs often move into a space with a set budget, but small profit margins combined with rising rent can make it difficult to grow. "It’s hard to develop as a mainstay, a destination spot."
Flanagan seemed to agree. “When I went to U Street, everyone said, ‘Are you crazy? How could you open a business on that block?’” She’s hearing the same thing now. A glance at the Mount Pleasant Mainstreet website offers a map of available retail space along with a bulleted list of Mount Pleasant's attributes, like friendly zoning classifications and nearby parking at the DC USA retail complex.
Flanagan expects the build-out for her new spot to be ready by the end of the year, and a late-winter reopening will reveal more than clothing. A basement with workshop space will allow Flanagan’s husband, Joe, to build furniture out of reclaimed wood. “He gets to be a part of creating inventory,” Flanagan said, as she outlined a plan for the couple to have complementary items available for each season.
But will U Street shoppers come to Mount Pleasant just to watch Nana grow?
“Nana’s presence alone may be an incentive for more businesses to move in,” Fales said. “You never know what neighborhood is going to be hot.”