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Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Boutique sells only D.C.-made products — and is aiming to help the city's makers thrive.

Walk the aisles of almost any store, and you’ll find a flood of items that are essentially interchangeable in their function and presentation, providing little more information about their origins than “Made in China.” 

The anonymity of these products’ makers not only alienates us from understanding the manufacturing process, it also robs us of the sense of community that manufacturers and makers instill.

For Shop Made in D.C., a new store and café that exclusively sells food and goods made in Washington, D.C., by D.C. residents, process is as important as product, and the community that makers foster is as much on display as the store’s inventory. All items within the store are linked to the story and photo of the maker on a placard accompanying the product.     

Among the 24 makers and two food vendors who are featured in Shop Made in D.C.’s launch are long-standing D.C. residents and new arrivals, some with decades of experience and others just breaking into the field — all contributing to the D.C.’s creative culture and community.

Anthony Dihle of Victory Dance Creative was born in D.C. and has been a maker for 13 years, screen-printing posters that commemorate D.C.’s beloved neighborhoods, while Allie Federle of 76ANDMAINE has lived in D.C. and been a maker for around a year, handcrafting jewelry inspired by the natural world.

 

For these makers, Shop Made in D.C. finally offers the opportunity to reach a wider audience.  

“It gets the information out. It gives them another outlet. And it takes away the hard part. They don’t have to be here. For a lot of these makers, this is their side hustle,” said Stacey Price, co-founder and creative director of Shop Made in D.C. and founder of People Make Place.

Price had dreamed of creating a venue for small local businesses in D.C. since speaking at a conference for local makers in 2012. Shop Made in D.C. was finally realized with the confluence of support from the city’s Department of Small and Local Business Development’s (DSLBD) Made in D.C. program, the Golden Triangle BID, and Shop Made-in-D.C.’s Co-Founder Michael Babin, who also founded the Neighborhood Restaurant Group.

“Our city is full of makers. The small businesses and the people behind those small businesses make this city a better place, but there’s a whole host of people who don’t know that.” Stacey Price, Shop Made in D.C.

Shop Made in D.C. makers are also participants in the Made in D.C. program, which funds Shop Made in D.C. Active since July 2016, the program stipulates that at least 51 percent of the enrolled businesses’ employees be D.C. residents, a guideline to which Shop Made in D.C. adheres.

Through the store, Price aims to raise awareness of in the Made in D.C. program and the importance of makers in defining a city’s community.

“Our city is full of makers,” said Price. “The small businesses and the people behind those small businesses make this city a better place, but there’s a whole host of people who don’t know that, whether they’re visiting or someone who’s just not looped into that circle. It is my hope that this store, in some ways as a storytelling engine, starts to change people’s perceptions of this city.”

Price plans to increase the number of makers whose products are sold within the store over the next several months, and, maybe, in coming years, provide space for the makers to produce their goods as well as sell them, further removing some of the biggest obstacles that small businesses face.

Shop Made in D.C. officially opened this past Thursday with its grand opening running from Friday through Sunday. RSVP to visit Shop Made in D.C. this weekend to receive a free Shop Made in D.C. bag with any purchase.

Several other promotions are also scheduled for the grand opening such as a Bouquets and Brews Happy Hour, during which DC Brau Brewing Company beers and Urban Stem bouquets will be specially priced at $5, between 5 and 7 p.m. today.

Shop Made in D.C. is located at 1333 19th St. NW and is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.