Real Estate

Why You Got That Free Banana at the NoMa Metro This Morning

Yes, the NoMa BID says it copied Amazon's "banistas"

A banana stand at Amazon headquarters in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson.)

NoMa, together with the neighboring Union Market District, is one of four areas the city has pitched to Amazon as the future home of its hotly pursued HQ2. Which is why we did a double-take this morning when we spotted a friendly woman in a NoMa BID t-shirt handing out free bananas to commuters as they entered the metro station. Banana stands—staffed by “banistas” —are a familiar site around Amazon’s Seattle campus, where the tech giant gives the gratis fruit to passersby every day, whether they work for the company or not. The idea came from CEO Jeff Bezos himself, as a way to build good will with the surrounding community.

So, this morning, upon spotting what we presume was DC’s first ever banista, we momentarily wondered if NoMa had already won the HQ2 sweepstakes, ushering in a golden-hued era of boundless tropical produce. No such luck—at least not yet—says NoMa BID president Robin-Eve Jasper: “We were just acting silly one day, sitting around, deciding what we could do for the neighborhood for Valentine’s Day—and we’re all about Amazon—so we said, ‘Hey, how about this?’” Though the bananas were a one-day thing, she says the BID plans to do similar give-aways in the future, and notes they gave away watermelons last Fourth of July.

Like all the players making a run for HQ2, Jasper couldn’t share much about her involvement in winning over the company, other than to say, “We just want to do what we always do— make sure people see why it’s fun to be here.”

Free bananas are a start.

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She oversees the magazine’s real estate and home design coverage, and writes long-form feature stories. She was a 2020 Livingston Award finalist for her two-part investigation into a possible wrongful conviction stemming from a murder in rural Virginia. Kashino lives in Northeast DC.