Housing Complex

Recession Double Dipping? Pet Boutique Bites the Dust

(Lydia DePillis)

(Lydia DePillis)

There weren’t a whole lot of people kick-starting small businesses in December of 2009. But Todd Walderman, an internet entrepreneur, thought he could make a go of it. He bought a pet store on O Street from its septuagenarian owner, moved it to P Street in a commercial enclave off Wisconsin, and renamed it the Georgetown Belle Pet Boutique.

“You can buy almost anything here that’s related to pets, from dog biscuits to a tiara,” he told the Georgetown Current in April. It’s true—the narrow but deep space is stuffed with beds, collars, treats, and trinkets. They even offer pet salon services.

Walderman might have been too optimistic. A few months later, a STORE CLOSING flag hangs out front. Sales dropped off after the winter months, and Walderman can no longer afford his $5,000 per month rent, along with restocking inventory.

“Things over the last three months got very slow, and never picked up,” he says. Hopes for quick economic recovery have faded, and people are still careful with their money—100 customers will come through in a day, and buy nothing.

It doesn’t mean the end for Walderman’s business entirely. “I’ll just take it online,” says the web-savvy businessman, who already has a warehouse lined up in Baltimore.

But some things won’t sell well when you can’t pick them up and turn them over and decide on a whim that someone might like it. And meanwhile, Georgetown loses another storefront.

P.S. I’m writing about Georgetown retail and branding this week. If you’ve got any particular knowledge, insight, or opinions, please drop me a line! ldepillis@washingtoncitypaper.com.

  • SG

    I hope this series isn't another "Gtown is dying" meme. The turnover, during the worst recession in the last 30 years, has so far been for the better. Same with Cleveland Park. Someone should send the memo to Washington Post, where every few months they come out with doom and gloom articles about the Nats stadium area, Gtown, or Cleveland Park.

  • JJ

    I'd be careful about drawing broad conclusions from the failure of a tiny boutique business that sold expensive and decidedly non-essential items. Opening a store in such an expensive area ($5k a month for that tiny space?) seems like a poor business decision, especially given the weak economy and people's reluctance to spend on frivolous items. The fact that the rents in Georgetown are still so high is indicative of continued high demand in the area....it's just a matter of the right businesses (read: profitable) taking the space. It's simply survival of the fittest, and there's nothing to be concerned about there.

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