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WEDNESDAY | 08.14.2019 | EXPRESS | 3

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Antique store accedes to age Buffeted by changing tastes, the Brass Knob will close after 38 years GLUTTONY


THE DISTRICT Selling antiques is a lonely business in Washington. And it’s about to get a little lonelier. After 38 years in operation, the Brass Knob, one of the last architectural-antiques stores in the region, is closing. In the District, where dozens of antique stores have closed in the past decade, the Brass Knob in Adams Morgan was seen by some as the last holdout against 21st-century market forces. Its departure in November will leave a gap for Washingtonians in search of 19th- and 20th-century salvaged architectural details, like doorknobs and light fixtures. The store’s closing will also mean the end of a small but devoted community of antique-lovers: art history students, museum curators and interior designers who came to swap notes, buy gifts and admire the detailing of old lampshades. “It was an institution,” said Patrick Sheary, a regular customer and the curator of furnishings for the Daughters of the

The Brass Knob’s owner, Donetta George, left, helps a customer. George said it’s time to “move on” from the store.

American Revolution Museum. “You relied on it to be there in the way that it’s always been.” Yet owner Donetta George said that “at some point, you just have to fold your tents and move on.” George opened the Brass Knob with a business partner in 1981. Business boomed in the first two decades but slowed in the early 2000s with the rise of online retailers such as eBay. Then the flow of customers dried up during the Great Recession, and the store never quite recovered.

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George thought for years about closing, but every time, a customer would make a big-ticket purchase to tide the store over. Also, she owns the three-story building near the intersection of 18th Street and Kalorama Road NW and leased out the top floor for additional income. “Frankly, I think she kept it going for us, so we would have jobs,” said Kirk Palmatier, 64, who has worked at the store for 30 years. “If I were in her position, I don’t think I would have lasted so long.”

Palmatier said the store’s efforts to adapt — like launching a website — haven’t made much of a difference, in part because people are just not as interested in antiques as they used to be. Sheary, the museum curator, said homeowners today are looking to create minimalist interiors, with ready-made pieces from large retailers. “For kids now, a doorknob is a doorknob, as long as you turn it and it opens,” he said. REBECCA TAN (THE WASHINGTON POST)

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Express 08142019  

Express 08142019