West Elm Closing to be Replaced by Forever 21

by Prince Of Petworth February 23, 2010 at 4:30 pm 44 Comments


Washington Business Journal had the scoop this morning:

“Store manager Dion Barela confirmed the impending closing Tuesday, saying the store plans to close its doors around March 15, depending on how soon it sells out of its merchandise.”

We judged the building and the store exactly a year ago. Will folks miss West Elm?

The WBJ also has the scoop on the replacement tenant – Forever 21.

I must be totally out of it because I’ve never even heard of Forever 21. Any fans out there?

  • See the movie “Made in LA” (http://www.madeinla.com/) and you’ll go from indifference to hatred of Forever 21.

    • Anonymous

      can you give us a little synopsis?

      • The movie follows the lives of 3 immigrant women fighting sweatshop conditions of Forever 21. One of the women who was quite shy at the beginning becomes quite good at rousting the troops that she went on to do some public speaking. Another woman was so emboldended by her fight she got the strenght to leave her abusive husband. Great movie. Makes me hate those yellow Forever 21 bags with “John 3:16” at the bottom.

  • Stephanie

    Forever 21 is cheap, trendy clothes. You could probably wear them 4 times before they self-destruct.

    • Anonymous

      Plus.. you are not 21 anymore… you are 32 and still single trying to desperately clinging to whatever youth you still might have by buying clothes that old guys in an office have decided represent youth.

  • Fortunately, PoP, you don’t have a teenage girl. If you did, you certainly would have heard of Forever 21, a midmarket mall staple which sells nothing of interest to you or most PoP readers.

    West Elm was a handsome store to browse through, but I never found anything there compelling enough, or at a sufficiently attractive price point, to buy. I gather that the store had far more browsers than shoppers — not a good thing in a high-rent location.

    • As a man (admittedly a gay man that lives in NY), I find things at F21 all the time that are perfectly wearable. It’s a little on the SoCal side of design, so I prefer Uniqlo or H&M, but still acceptable.

      • DF

        Oh boy. I would love a Uniqlo in DC.

  • Danielle

    If you are not a woman b/w the ages of 16 – 29, size 8 or smaller who likes buying cheap (in all terms) things then Forever 21 should mean as much to you as INTUBO- Mahjtik’el salaway….ie; NOTHING!!!! You are NOT out of it!!! Well…if you are, it’s for other reasons ;-)

  • I like West Elm however that location was not exactly suitable for the type of merchandise they carry. If you purchased a nice table lamp or chair you couldn’t exactly lug it around as you shopped other stores in the area. It wasn’t easy carrying the stuff on the metro either. Bringing your car down there to pick up your big purchases was a pain. I know first hand.

    • PetworthRes

      I agree exactly…not a furniture store neighborhood. I think West Elm would have done well in many other areas of the city.

      And, sigh, I also agree with Danielle. I think I need to find a store called Forever 35. S I G H.

      • Anonymous

        HA! Love it.

    • John

      Richard Layman had a great analysis of this on his blog http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2010/02/west-elm-is-closing-their-downtown-dc.html

      He’s right – it would have done well on 14th street probably, as part of the emerging “furniture/design” district. Forever 21 will do much better there, with the draw of Macys.

      Anyone know if they’re putting stuff on clearance??!!??

      • E

        not far from H&M, either, is it? Maybe 14th street can be the home district, and metro center can be the sweat shop district.

  • Nick

    The space and building themselves are absolutely beautiful. West Elm the store, however, was full of crummy furniture of Ikea quality at twice the price. It’s no wonder that this place went out of business.

  • Mal

    Forever 21 is good for those cheap party clothes you know you’ll only wear once… Like new years outfits. New Year’s Eve is pretty much the only time I shop there.

    As for West Elm, I’ve admired the window sets, but never ventured in. Sad that a high end store will be replaced with trashy clothes (I have nothing against trashy clothes!), but I do agree with farragutst – hard to lug around a lamp while window shopping.

  • Scott

    West Elm! Move to 14th Street, aka Overpriced Furniture Row!

  • grumpy

    Well since binklesworth brought up how awful they are, Forever 21 was also the final nail in the coffin for a great community garden in South Central L.A. (they wanted to build/lease a warehouse on top of the land – I don’t know if they ever did). The documentary based on the garden’s story is really good (and available on Netflix): http://www.thegardenmovie.com/

    • Yeah, The Garden was an excellent movie, too, though sad.

  • basque

    West Elm’s poor quality must finally be catching up to them. I bought my couch there a year ago, and it’s already falling apart… If you’re looking for cheap modern furniture go with CB2. I’ve been way more impressed with their quality. On that note; aren’t we supposed to get a CB2 on 14th street???

    • Eli

      There are rumors that the CB2 isn’t materializing because the current tenants (a homeless shelter?) won’t vacate, or something like that.

      • anothermous

        The city found another place for The Mission (the Gale School I think) but other groups demanded that the city at least allow them, the other groups, to compete for the space.

        • ReneeB

          Wait a second! CB2 already began construction on a site across the street from the Central Mission. Is this construction on hold?

          • Anonymous

            thats room and bored… er .. board.

  • Crueg

    I hope they carry the Heritage line for men!

  • Andy(2)

    I’ve never bought West Elm furniture but bought other things there and really like it.
    I think it is less about this location and more that Pottery Barn (parent company of West Elm) is going to a catalog only business. The Georgetown location is closing soon. I hope there will be a super sale soon.

    • Eric in Ledroiit

      you are completely wrong. williams sonoma is the parent company of both and is not going “catalog only.”

  • saf

    I miss Woodies.

  • Amsterdam

    For all those annoyed by all the teenagers in Chinatown, this is going to bring those same annoying teenagers the short walk downtown.

    I don’t mind Forever21, some of the clothes are decent and it is incredibly cheap. But they have an incredibly obnoxious clientele.

  • MK

    Good God, they’ll probably open a Hot Topic next. I’m going to open a clothing store called For Real Women. The sizes will start at 12 and go up.

  • fz

    Real women come in all sizes

  • Sully

    That is an awesome building and would make a great space for a gallery or possibly broke up in individual small stores, coffee, home novelties, framing, somthing like what Union Station has.

  • What a waste! DC governement gave West Elm $4.9 million in tax increment financing (TIF) to help them cover build-out costs. It is take the money and run for the hills! Another great benefit given away at our expense.

    • Anonymous

      i think jamal is responsible for that money based on the deal.

  • Kamantha

    F21 is good for club clothes that’s about it.

  • Me

    the money for the build out will still be used as most of the build out will still be used

  • I’ll really miss West Elm. I have quite a few things from there – carryout stuff like bathmats and throw pillows, as well as larger items I had to pick up, like my desk. I always had great customer service there, including for pickup of big items. I guess now I’ll just have to hope they have a big sale!

  • Bob

    “Liz, you don’t understand! People look at me differently now! Jack! The writers! The manager at Forever 21!”

  • Drew

    I have no idea what Forever 21 is, but from the comments it sounds like more H&M.

    West Elm won’t be missed because it was simply overpriced Ikea stuff.

  • How about they add a Claire’s and Nine West while they’re at it? Oh, and an Annie’s Pretzel too (oops, the movie theater alley already snatched them up). Don’t understand why the DC Downtown has to be the equivalent of an outdoor mid to low level mall catered to tourists when the office buildings are swarming with high salaried lawyers that are able and willing to pay for quality (which West Elm is not. Cowgirl Creamery seems to do just fine.

  • Anonymous

    West Elm’s quality and design are worlds better than Ikea’s. A better comparator is Bo Conept, which is comparable for price and a notch better in quality IMHO.

    West Elm is shuttering stores in other states as well. Someone mentioned that they’re going mail order, and while I don’t know if that’s true, I’ve seen California stores promoting closeout sales as well.

    F21 blows. Not even in the same league as H&M, which really doesn’t say much.

  • Im not sure what haute couture designers the posters of this blog wear but this incredible disdain that some have for Forever21 is puzzling…

    Sweatshop conditions…check
    Accompanying questionable quality… double check

    However, for those with limited budgets and limited options (i.e its incredibly obnoxious clientele (me?)) Forever21 does what its supposed to do. Here’s an idea, organize a protest and form a picket line in front of the store’s building on opening day OR walk the heck on when you see it and try not to vomit in your mouth.

  • KR

    Forever 21 is a misnomer because I’m pretty sure the age cutoff for those clothes is around 18. Cheap and trashy. /elitist snob.


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