If the “new U” has any old hands, Meeps Vintage Fashionette is one of them. But the quirky boutique, open since 1992, has now become a victim of the boom it helped pioneer. When owners Danni Sharkey and Leann Trowbridge, who’ve run the shop since 2001, were told that their landlord wanted to open a business in part of the building the shop occupies, they decided it was time to move to a cheaper locale.
But Meeps isn’t heading down to 9th Street NW, H Street NE, or any other up-and-coming area. It’s opting instead for the already came-and-went: Adams Morgan.
When Sharkey and Trowbridge looked for new digs on U Street, pickings were slim. One landlord wanted $5,432 per month plus utilities for a basement property with poor lighting and a rodent problem. When, after a six-month search, the former home of 18th Street Video became available, Sharkey and Trowbridge jumped for a monthly rent cheaper than any U Street property they’d seen. (They decline to get into specifics.)
“Adams Morgan is now more accessible than ‘the new U,’” Sharkey says. “The revival over there [in Adams Morgan] is dead.”
Pat Patrick, the boutique’s broker and a 30-plus-year Adams Morgan resident, blames U Street’s impenetrability on national chains “that pay high-end prices, forcing out the community that has been there.” Adams Morgan, on the other hand, “is a unique island in a sea of exploding rents,” Patrick says.
Sharkey says she hopes to revive 18th Street retail that, in recent years, has been eclipsed by Adams Morgan’s Mardi Gras atmosphere. “It’s cool we are going back to where it all started,” she says.