Scuttlebutt, Seriously Sad Scuttlebutt: Could Brassknob Warehouse be Closing Soon?

I received a very sad tip the other day and while it hasn’t been exactly confirmed it wasn’t really denied either… When I first stumbled upon the Brass Knob Warehouse located at 57 N Street, NW I was blown away (not to be mistaken with the Brass Knob retail space in Adams Morgan). It is filled with tons and tons of items for those renovating a house. For someone who posts a ‘door of the day’ you can imagine my delight… You can see lots of photos here.

Anyway a reader wrote in saying that he heard the Warehouse was closing up shop. I immediately called the Warehouse and while they said they are still open for business they also said that, “the economy hasn’t been kind to us” and that their business is based on home renovations which have seriously slowed down. So while the shop is still open, it sounds like if business doesn’t pick up they may not last until the economy completely rebounds. And that would be a very sad for a very cool warehouse. I certainly hope that my reader tip was overly pessimistic!

46 Comment

  • Noooooooooooooooo. See. This what im talkin bout. Lost dc. The lame-ification of dc. Sure it will be boring condos soon enough

    • yeah, brass knob.
      universally loved. universally just browsed.

      • I restored my house, which had been home depot flipped, using brass knob. In this age of horrible flips it would be a great loss to anyone looking to restore their house. Especially one effed over by a bad flip. But snark all you want

        • snark? hardly. that’s why they are closing.
          “the economy hasn’t been kind to us”

        • It’s not like their merchandise will disappear into the abyss.

          Someone will pick it up at some auction and they will continue selling their inventory.

  • it would be a shame, but man, they haven’t taken care of that building themselves. windows busted out, etc. i’m not saying that every place in the city has to be antiseptically clean, but structurally sound would be nice. you can look disheveled without being a dump.

    sorry to hear they’re having financial trouble.

    • i don’t think they own that building.

    • I’m no structural engineer, but I’m fairly certain a broken window or two doesn’t necessarily make a building structurally unsound.

    • I think that used to be artist work space. There was a bunch of artists who sort of took it over and had studios and some of them lived there, too.

      • if by “took over” you mean rented, then yes, thats the place.

        its was all artists before brass knob moved in there, i guess about 5 years ago?

  • as i told them years ago their best bet is selling all that metal as salvage. Keep 10% but there’s no market for that much junk.

  • I’ve found just the right screen door, double hung window, sash cord weights and plumbing doodad from the Brass Knob Warehouse. I’d be sad to see them go.

  • We need to grow the private sector which provides for everything.

    Until we understand that, we’re not getting anywhere.

  • *their* business, PoP. 🙂

    • I saw that, too, but decided it was such an incredibly trivial thing to point out – and completely off the point, so I let it drift.

  • They have some really nice stuff that’s hard to find. I’m not saying it’s overpriced, but you don’t find many deals there. In this day when most people are trying to cut back it makes sense they are struggling. Sad but not surprising.

    • I love browing there and have bought a few items. However, there have been a couple of times that I wanted to make a spantaneous pucrchase but was turned off by having to track someone down to tell me the price. Price tages would be nice there.

  • Niche businesses like this usually have the most success with a strong online presence. Their Web site says they ship nationwide, but without having their stock cataloged and searchable online, it’s difficult for someone in California or Iowa to find something they might want to buy.

    • Exactly, Ivanna. I agree that it could be a very successful business if some changes were made. Even for someone in DC, like myself, I’d rather search online before I go down there. Its a big oversight on their part.

  • Hit the road hippies!

    • Right, b/c only “hippies” appreciate items with some history and character as an alternative to crap from home depot. Loser

  • Oh, no-oo-ooo! I hated it when we lost another architectural salvage business, The Canal Co., on 14th Street, maybe 20 years ago. We can’t lose the warehouse, too! I live in an apartment, and I’ve bought cool stuff from both places. Could it be that people just don’t know they’re there? :/

  • So sad – this place is a real treasure for anyone trying to properly renovate a rowhouse.

  • BKW is one of my favorite retailers in DC, but it’s limited for someone like myself who doesn’t invest a lot of time and energy on home renovation, but occasionally wants appropriate items which fit my home’s historic character. Like a lot of their fans, I probably take it somewhat for granted.

  • Any indication on an actual closing date?!?!?

  • It would be a shame to lose them, but there’s always Community Forklift

  • Said above but I’ll reinforce: great unique stuff, overpriced, horrible web presence. If they lowered prices and increased web portal, they’d probably be doing better for themselves. Their approach of just accumulating a huge volume, then do nothing to sell it, is proving to not work. Hell, their advertising budget might be $0 since PoP is the only place I ever read about that store.

  • It sounds like I may be too late with this question, but do they (did they) also buy items from people? I had to replace a bunch of windows, sadly, but I kept the 1920s double hung sash thingies because I knew someone would want them. They’re just sitting in the basement because I’m lazy and I don’t know what to do with them.

    And on point, I sure hope these guys make it. What a shame if they have to close.

    • My sashes went to a farm in PA. There are people who want them, but not necessarily people in DC willing to pay for them.

  • I’m going to agree with Chic on this one. This is relevant to the Community Forklift/Second Chance discussion the other day. Brass Knob has some really nice items, but they’re prohibitively expensive for some people, especially when Community Forklift is just as convenient and sells similar items for much less (second chance for even less but is a trip). They have nicer large items than Community Forklift, but again, expensive. I wonder what they’ll do with all of that inventory.

    Do people know whether all their items are donated or not? If they are, why exactly do they price things that still need a lot of work to restore them so high? Same holds true for Brass Knob store in Adams Morgan. The brass fixtures they restore are crazy expensive.

    • Most of the stuff I’ve seen an community forklift is complete crap. The stuff at BK is good stuff, but prohibitively expensive.

  • Pop- Off-topic, but is the residential development on Ontario where the OLD Brass Knob Warehouse was being developed, or still just sitting there?

  • I have two resurfaced clawfoot tubs in my home from BKW, among other odds and ends. If it closes, I will certainly mourn its passing.

  • Yeesh. I’m still in the plumbing/wiring phase of my renovation. Wasn’t planning on buying cosmetic stuff until next summer. I guess I’ll have to visit the Brass Knob early and pick some things up.

    Never been to BK, but I’ve always been surprised by how expensive architectural salvage places are. I’ve been to a lot of them, and rarely, if ever run into a ‘deal’.

  • Trader Joe’s, come on….

  • that’s too bad. but honestly i found the pricing pretty high for stuff they mostly seem to get for free.

    i’ve been hitting up community forklift instead. but i still will be very sad to see them go.

  • If you think something is priced too high, offer a lower price. It worked for me.

  • I enthusiastically recommend Black Dog Architectural Salvage. It’s in Roanoke VA – but they have a great website – extremely helpful & responsive staff who will work with you to find just what you need and they will deliver to DC. They are expert smiths as well and can alter or manufacture anything you need.

    I bought a vintage iron gate and had it altered into a stair rail and window bars. We did everything by email and phone – it was very complicated but came out perfect.

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