While most rock & roll vacated the truffle-scented streets of Georgetown long ago, at least one man is keeping the faith: Rob Norton, the proprietor behind the neighborhood’s boldest business proposition of late, Hill & Dale. It’s a record store.
Well, it’s actually a little more than a record store. Hill & Dale—-no relation to the upscale Lower East Side gastropub nor Hillandale, Md.—-will specialize in new vinyl records, photography, and posters. The shop, currently under construction, is located in the 1,200 square foot space formerly occupied by Parish Gallery. Norton, a 44-year-old who lives near Politics & Prose, plans to host a grand opening during the first week of February.
A veteran of the pharmaceutical industry, Norton says he’s thought about opening a place like Hill & Dale for a long time. He says it’s a “pretty big career change, but it’s sort of a culmination of a lifelong dream of opening up a store that’s focused on music.”
I won’t harp on the obvious risks associated with opening a record store in this economy/yuppifying city/cultural moment—-I have nothing new to add there—-but still, D.C.’s most expensive zip code seems like a less than obvious choice for such a wistful endeavor. Yet Norton has his reasons for choosing the neighborhood. “I hadn’t been thinking about Georgetown, honestly,” he says. He had been looking for a space in the U Street area, not far from the city’s other numerous record stores, and he “wasn’t coming up with anything that was really ideal.” He says the old Parish space came at a “good price,” and its location near M Street NW seemed optimal.
Referring to other D.C. shops including Joint Custody, Som, and Crooked Beat, Norton says those shops are great for used vinyl, but he just wants to focus on new records for now, in a variety of genres. “I like so much music… there’s no single focus,” he says of his inventory. “There’s a lot of rock and indie and experimental music and a lot of blues and jazz.” Besides the records, he plans to sell original photography by Peter Simon and silkscreened posters.
Norton has made some significant changes to the space, which had been the home of Parish Gallery for 22 years until owner Norman Parish died last summer. He’s rethought the floors and taken out a drop ceiling to create a more open feel. “The most important thing is the vinyl,” he says, but he’s also interested in creating an inviting environment. “The idea is to make it a nice place to hang out.”
Hill & Dale is expected to open in early February at 1054 31st St. NW, Suite 010.
Photo by Flickr user chrishimself used under a Creative Commons license.