The Pop-Ups

Image by Caylon Thomas

WASHINGTON-In a donated storefront located right off the NoMa Gallaudete U Metro station in northeast Washington is a bargain.  It is called Turning the Page, a non-profit bookstore devoted to helping the District of Columbia’s parents and students

But it won’t be here long. The store, which opened in early May, closes at the end of the month.

Just a few blocks away at 1274 5th St NE, is another temporary store.. Walking distance from the chic Union Market area is Emporium DNA Edit, a clothing store with signature brands for the Districts’ fashionistas. It opened in May and closes its doors at the end of October.

Both stores are part of a growing trend called Pop Up shops that can be seen throughout the District and the nation.

Pop-up shops in the District have become fleeting fixtures.  J.D. Ireland, Kit & Ace and Northern Grade have all had pop-up shops in the NoMa area over the past summer. But all around the District there are pop-up shops, from seasonal stores selling Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Fourth of July apparel to jewelry and clothing stores.  Some stay for one or two days, some stay for months.

Pop-ups initially began catching on shortly after the turn of the century and have since become temporary fixtures in American cities. As retail space begins to open up due to the closing of businesses pop-ups move in.  They’re primarily used to get the word out, unload old inventory, test new markets, and vet new business ideas.

Turning the Page is one example.  The store is located in a trendy, upscale neighborhood, but its purpose is to fund educational programs for parents and students in the less fortunate neighborhoods of southeast Washington  as part of a partnership with two middle schools and six elementary schools.

Its pop-up shops earn income and serve as drop off locations for donations that are later sold. It also has a permanent location at 1030 17th Street NW.  The money is used to fund programs for parents to become better educators, better collaborators with teachers, and leaders in their school community.

Its store offers books of all genres: mystery, thriller, horror, kids, poetry and plays. They also carry books on law, true crimes and even textbooks for college students. Their CD’s range from Marvin Gaye to the latest pop artists. DVD’s are educational as well as for entertainment.

All their products are beyond reasonably priced. Books are priced between $3 to$4, CD’s at $3 and DVD’s are $4.

Turning The Page receives their books from book drives at apartment buildings, university buildings, and office buildings.   Its development manager, Robin Crowell, said the organization has seen a return on its investment.

Teachers are reporting that family engagement is better, children are learning better and becoming more motivated, Crowell said. Parents have also reported that the programs have increased their ability as parents to teach their children, she said.

Emporium DNA Edit has its own unique flavor. The clothing shop offers signature brands for the most fashionable of the Districts’ residents.

The temporary store is located inside the bowels of an old loading dock, where customers listen to smooth music and browse through jackets, jeans and the sea of shoes lining the floor and walls to find their perfect wardrobe.

Jermaine Neal is a native Washingtonian and a part owner of Emporium DNA.

“We chose a pop up store to test the location and find out if we should place a permanent store there,” Neal said.

The pop up store is an offshoot from the organization’s permanent location, Emporium DNA in DuPont Circle, Neal said.

He said the store chose the Union Market area “because it’s an up and coming area and in the next couple of years it’s going to be considered the new U Street.”

Saida Sine, a 21-year-old college student, said she loves Emporium DNA Edit.

“I go to the DuPont Circle location all time,” she said, “and it’s a welcome surprise to find the pop-up shop so close to Union Market.”