Culture | May 10, 2022 8:00 am

DC’s Coolest Clothing Store Just Opened Its Second Location

If you’ve ever lined up for a sneaker release, this is news you need to hear

Interior of Somewhere
Interior of Somewhere
Somewhere

Spend any time in the Union Market area of Washington, DC, during a workday, and you’ll see it’s a far cry from the crowds of brunch-hungry tourists it typically attracts on the weekend. There’s a hustle and bustle, to be certain, comprised of patrons of the market’s remaining vendors; as I scoured the 4th St NE block for parking — a rarity at any given point — the line at Mexican Fruits, a produce store in business since 1999, snaked out the front door. Across the street at the La Cosecha food hall, outdoor tables began to fill up with lunch-ready patrons. It’s quite the juxtaposition: in Union Market, old and new live together in harmony. 

As I drove by, there was a new commotion not related to either Mexican Fruits or La Cosecha. Sort of sandwiched in between both spaces, the letters on the façade of Somewhere’s second DC location went up as I approached the space to speak with co-founders Dominick Adams and Steve Place. Not only did DC’s coolest store survive the pandemic, but they did well enough to open this second space on May 1. “This was kind of always part of the plan,” Place says. “We were always gonna expand to a second location. For us, the second store is really about cementing our place in DC. We are trying to be a global brand, radically rooted in DC.”

It’s also about getting closer to the heart of DC — literally. “I think [Union Market] still has this old, literally living next to something that’s brand new,” Adams adds. “I think this neighborhood is filled with people that maybe have never had certain foods that La Cosecha might serve, or they might not have certain foods that O-Ku might have. Or maybe they never had Low Country food like St. Anselm might have. And that’s dope, you know? Union Market seems to be a space where everyone lives today.”

What better way to cater to that space than by offering shoes, a product everyone needs. Many of the brands Somewhere has helped to spotlight in the Navy Yard store — Hoka, Merrell and Asics, to name a few — will be present here, along with a significant player: Nike. The store’s experience with one of the world’s most recognizable brands is off on the right foot. “There’s no magical, secret door to knock on for Jordan or Nike,” Adams states. “When they’re ready, they’ll find you. It’s all on their terms. They’re being very gentle and supportive. Like some people from the brand came to our first release and stood in line with us.”

Somewhere Union Market isn’t just about being “immersed in incredible shoe brands,” as Place puts it, but cultivating a dedicated space for Somewhere’s own in-house brand. Previous offerings included totes, hats, socks and a few collaborations through the pandemic-era Window Shop, but the scope will now be much larger. I jokingly ask about a Somewhere Blue mohair cardigan, and Adams amusingly replies that it’s an “idea that’s been talked about.” More than anything else, Adams sees the offerings as a “full brand line” and emphasizes that the keyword to tease what’s coming is “growth.”

Yet all of these things aren’t nearly as exciting as the “secret” Adams is keen to unveil. As he and Place walk me through the stockroom, we see a hefty-looking iron gate. Adams unbolts the top and bottom latches of a massive metal door as we walk into the graffiti-clad alley, and we arrive at what Somewhere will call the “Classified” experience. An evolution of the Window Shop, the door will function as a sort of speakeasy for, well, whatever the shop wants. Place states it’s a more “efficient” way to handle, say, shoe releases — if you’re handling lines out the back, the front of the store is still shoppable — but it’s the primary way notable events at the shop will function. 

Considering the pandemic almost derailed their dreams, how confident is the Somewhere crew about opening a second store only about two-and-a-half years into the lifespan of their initial location? “When we first started, we all kind of looked at each other and were like, ‘Let’s build a really solid business that lasts,’” Place declares. “If we want to be in the city for 10 to 20 years, we have to create strong unit economics and just a strong business foundation. We’re exactly where we want to be.”

 “The brick-and-mortar [experience] is what gets us up every day, “ Adams adds. “We’re excited to see customers. We’re excited if customers love [a product]; we’re excited if they don’t like [a product] because they’re the heartbeat of this city. The heartbeat of these neighborhoods are people interacting with people. It’s all about having that personal interaction.”

As I leave, the sign is now entirely in its place, as if to officially redefine Somewhere’s place among the old and the new of DC. If they’re lucky, Somewhere may be the heartbeat that helps further to tie those two distinct halves of the city together.