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This New “Retail Co-Op” Near Union Market Isn’t Just Another Home Goods Store

In Seven Words will be powered by the "pop-share" platform Guesst. It opens November 21.

All photographs courtesy of EDENS.

Just in time for the holidays, another retail spot is coming to the Union Market district.

Opening November 21, In Seven Words is a curated design and home goods “co-op,” but it differs from similar spots like Steadfast Supply or Shop Made in DC in that its business model revolves around a tech platform called Guesst. The platform is the first of its kind to use the “pop-share” method, which connects small, direct-to-consumer retailers with temporary brick-and-mortar locations.

While other retail spots use the platform, In Seven Words will be the first store built specifically around it, says Michele Varian, Guesst co-founder and owner of an eponymous home design store in New York. Initially, Varian will serve as the curator of the 1,500-square-foot space by Union Market, after which the store will cycle through different curators, or “authors,” who will cultivate its offerings. The space will also host workshops and creative events.

Varian launched Guesst with partners Jay Norris, Alex Libkind, and Edward Ludvigsen in 2018 after realizing that small brands were struggling to find an affordable way into physical retail spaces.

Here’s how the platform works: Say you’re a small retailer who wants to move into a brick-and-mortar space, but can’t pay the overhead for your own permanent spot or an all-out pop-up. Guesst connects these retailers with physical storefronts that have room to showcase their items, and streamlines all the backend information (such as tracking sales and inventory) so retailers can easily move from one participating storefront to the next.

“This is a path for sustainability,” says Varian, who describes the platform as a facilitator between brands and retailers. “If we don’t give access to everybody, our world is going to get really boring.”

In Seven Words will contain goods from the likes of Hayley K.S. Fine Jewelry,  Numbskullduggery Ceramics, and Soolip Stationary (as well as Varian’s own line of lighting, pillows, and wallpaper). While the store’s current offerings are a mix of Guesst users and Varian’s contacts from Los Angeles and New York, she plans to host a local casting call by the end of the year to get more DC-area retailers in the store.

And as for the name? Inspired by the urban legend about Ernest Hemingway writing six-word stories, the crew from Union Market developer EDENS realized that two of their favorite slogans contained seven words: “Our work is bigger than real estate” and “We are in the business of humanity.” In a nod to Hemingway, the store will ask participating brands to provide a seven-word mission statement that sums up their spirit, almost like what you’d find on display next to a piece of art.

“It’s like going to a museum,” says Varian of walking through the curated space. “It’s a place of discovery. It’s a place of stimulation.”

You can check out In Seven Words starting November 21. It will be open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 AM to 7 PM.

In Seven Words; 1268 4th St. NE

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Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She previously was the editorial assistant at Walter Magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Adams Morgan.