After 12 years in business, Urban Chic is closing. The upper Wisconsin Avenue boutique that’s garnered Washingtonian Best of Washington recognition will shutter by the end of July.
Those who have kept tabs on Urban Chic may be surprised to hear this after the shop’s recent revamp. In an effort to save the boutique, owned Lindsay Buscher celebrated a relaunch with an in-store party on March 26, when she revealed a new lineup of younger, hipper designers targeted at the area’s 20-something shoppers.
“That night was awesome, and we were feeling really positive about it, but I also went into that night knowing I wasn’t sure it was going to fix the problem,” says Buscher. “I feel like as a small business owner, we’re fighting a fight we can’t win right now.”
The problem, Buscher says, is that bigger retailers have turned shoppers into bargain hunters through frequent sales–something that small businesses, such as Urban Chic, with its designer brands and price points running up to $400, can’t compete with. And with the recent influx of big retail chains in Georgetown, such as H&M, T.J.Maxx, and Forever 21, shoppers have even more inexpensive options to keep them happy on M Street. In fact, the trend towards bargain fashion shops can been seen all over Washington, where large fast-fashion and discount chains such as Nordstrom Rack, Forever 21, and H&M have seen huge growth in the past five years.
Also relevant to Urban Chic’s struggle, Buscher referenced the opening of a brick-and-mortar Rent the Runway, which offers the option to rent designer dresses and accessories at a fraction of their ticketed price.
“I don’t know how that could be good for any local boutique that has a dress business,” she says.
With many factors affecting the boutique’s decline, Buscher says that she had known for about a year that the closing of Urban Chic was inevitable.
“I love Georgetown, and I love and will miss all of our loyal customers that have stood by our side for the last decade,” says Buscher.
Starting July 2, all Urban Chic merchandise will be 35 percent off. Buscher is also looking to sell the store’s furniture, mirrors, hangers, and mannequins.