DC Retailers Prepping for Obama Influx

Retailers in Washington, D.C., are optimistic that the millions coming to town for tomorrow’s inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama will help drive sales during a difficult selling period.

“We are gearing up for the masses,” said Lue Deandrade, manager of Solbiato Sport in the Georgetown area.

“We’re getting ready and making sure we have plenty of stock and plenty of employees working,” added Chris Allen, group manager of Comfort One Shoes, which has nine stores in the District, as well as seven locations in nearby Maryland and another six units in Virginia.

Sarah Cannova, co-owner of Sassanova on Wisconsin Avenue, hopes people will take advantage of the opportunity to get some retail therapy. “We are expecting a lot of shoppers who wouldn’t normally come into our store,” she said. “On the whole, people are coming to the city to celebrate. We want positive people, with positive attitudes, who want to spend money.”

Kassie Rempel, owner of SimplySoles in the Columbia Heights area, is looking forward to an increase in foot traffic and decided to unveil her spring merchandise early as part of the celebration. “This is something I’ve never done before,” she said.  

Rempel also decided to link her store to the festivities by playing host to a pre-inauguration party last Wednesday, where she unveiled a new shoe inspired by the First Lady-elect, Michelle Obama. “I named a shoe after Michelle,” she said. According to Rempel, all proceeds from the event will go to Suited for Change, a nonprofit that provides clothing and accessories to women who are transitioning from incarceration or unemployment into the workforce.
But Rempel had mixed feelings about the big day.

“As a Washington, D.C., resident, I’m apprehensive about the inauguration and the effects of the influx of 2 million people to our city,” she said. “As a store owner, I’m excited about the increase in foot traffic.”

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