Winter Break, Recession Deal Double Blow to Business on Howard Row

Many businesses look forward to an increase in sales during the holiday season, but shopping dies drastically at the eateries and clothing stores along “Howard Row” as students travel back home for winter break. This season, business owners are getting a double hit from the recession.

Fewer Howard University students will stop for a quick bite of Jamaican patties at Negril or nail polish at Beauty Island III Beauty Supply, two familiar pit stops on Howard Row, located on Georgia Avenue between Sherman Avenue and Bryant Street.

Negril owner Charles Warner said that his sales decrease by 30 percent during the winter holidays. “I can’t complain though, because other businesses are really struggling, and I really have to thank the students for always supporting Negril,” said the Howard alumnus, who majored in psychology and graduated in 2007.

Warner has been familiar with Howard Row since childhood when he would visit the campus with his father, who was chief surgeon at Howard University Hospital for more than 40 years. Warner has noticed a decline in sales since he bought Negril in 2007.

“I was a lot busier when I first bought it last year, but you know business is slow everywhere,” he said. Since business slows down during the holidays, Warner closed the eatery for the Thanksgiving weekend. Besides the Howard Row location at 2301-G Georgia Ave. N.W., Warner owns Negril restaurants at 965 Thayer Ave. in Silver Spring, Md., and 12116 Central Ave. in Mitchellville, Md.

Beauty Island III Beauty Supply, located at 2301 Georgia Ave. N.W., also expects to suffer some hard times during this winter break. Manager Won Hong says he has seen a difference in sales since 2006.

“Almost all of the customers are Howard students,” he said. Hong blames the recession for his declining business. “They still saving their money so sales are down to 20 percent,” he said.

McDonald’s Corp. is one of the most popular fast food chains in America and on Howard Row as well. However, business slows down during the winter break, said Ladayta Artez, one of the managers at the McDonald’s, located at 2328 Georgia Ave. N.W. by the Howard University Plaza Towers.

“Howard students make up 60 percent of our business,” Artez said.

Business is also off at Up Against the Wall, located at 2301-M Georgia Ave. N.W., said employee Kyia Threatt.

Sales are “extremely, extremely low, and business has been slowing down lately,” added Threatt, 19, a sophomore majoring in biology at Howard. An assistant manager said that she wasn’t shocked by the decline in sales, because students are focusing on buying textbooks and paying tuition.

One bright spot for business along Howard Row is Last Stop, a local store that sells clothing from North Face jackets to Black Label T-shirts. Last Stop continues to have the same number of customers during the winter break. In fact, its business increases with purchases made by the D.C. high school students.

“It gets pretty busy during the break because most of our customers are people from D.C. and not so much Howard students,” said Regina Childs, 20, a D.C. native who worked at Last Stop during the summer and returned during her winter break from Florida A&M, where she is a sophomore.

Most of the clothing at Last Stop has a D.C. style, Childs explained. “A lot of Howard students aren’t familiar with this clothing,” she said.

Business was booming during the Thanksgiving weekend for Black Friday, Childs said. “It’s going to be busy right before Christmas.”