Even as we begin to see the end of the Delta spike, the pandemic has continued to lay waste to small businesses. The closure of beloved regional institutions is no longer a surprising disappointment, but something we’ve gotten accustomed to, a backbeat all the more sinister for how obscured it is by the drone of daily pandemic life.
That’s why it’s at least slightly uplifting that this particular closing comes with a dash of optimism. Because this Alexandria storefront is not only going out on its own terms, but is searching for a new way to do business in an era when foot traffic just isn’t what it used to be, and may never be again.
Acme Mid-Century Modern has been a fixture of Alexandria lifestyle shopping, stocked with simultaneously trendy and timeless 20th century finds, as the midcentury style has taken off in the past decade. But during the pandemic, even popular institutions have had trouble.
“I just found it stressful to make overhead,” says Pierre Paret, owner of Acme Mid-Century Modern and the driving force behind the shop.
Paret is careful to make clear that this is not a forced COVID closing. Acme Mid-Century got financial support from the city and state and had a good working relationship with their landlord. They made it through the peak of the pandemic intact.
But COVID’s effect isn’t always so black and white. Foot traffic has not come back to the degree prior to the pandemic, and Paret, not unlike many who, faced with working in pandemic conditions, chose to pursue a new path through early retirement or self employment, is simply finding a new way to live and work in the pandemic era.
Thus, for the month of October, Mid-Century Modern will be selling off its stock at increasing clearance discounts as Paret takes the business online. Prices are already at 50 percent, and will continue to drop through the month until pieces are put up for the best offer. Potential customers can subscribe to their newsletter or follow them on social to find out more.
After October, the business will be taking on what Paret describes as a hybrid model.
“We’re definitely down-sizing, but the ability to go online will make it a lot more stress-free,” Paret says. “We’ll still be able to offer nice items at reasonable prices.” Paret will operate online out of his Maryland home, delivering furniture throughout the DMV. The bulk of his business has always been high-end, large pieces sold to a devoted fanbase, so he plans to devote his attention fully to that aspect of the business. Customers will also still get some of the in-store experience, as Paret will deliver items with the opportunity to sit in the furniture before its offloaded.
“Right now, it’s sort of like big box or online only,” Paret says. “We’re trying to sort of bridge that for the local market, at least for the folks in the DC Metro area.”
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