Had George Washington University graduate student Christian Williams, B.A. ’23, been woken from a dream and asked where he was standing on Friday afternoon, his first instinct may have been to say the Macy’s Herald Square Department Store or Gap Store in New York City.
Except the clothing, tableware and jewelry inside were GW themed. And instead of Fifth Avenue or Times Square in Midtown Manhattan, he was inside the brand-new GW Campus Store at the corner of 21st and I streets in downtown Washington, D.C., on GW’s “main street” that runs through the north side of the Foggy Bottom Campus.
Standing on the bottom of two floors yet still soaked in daylight as the sun peeked through the glass windows at 2125 I St. NW, Williams joined the rest of the GW community in celebrating the store’s ribbon cutting on Friday afternoon to mark its official opening after moving across the street from its old location in the basement of the University Student Center.
“It’s just so beautiful,” said Williams, who was one of many students waiting lined up to receive a small “swag bag” at the store’s grand opening. In fact, the line snaked around the entire lower floor.
“The old store will always be special to me, but this is really just amazing,” Williams said. “I didn’t expect it to be so big, and then there’s all the lighting and the escalators. It’s all a really nice touch. Definitely some large and really good vibes.”
The new store is the retail anchor tenant of Boston Properties' newly constructed trophy case building at 2100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, and inside, the more than 16,000-square foot GW Campus Store shines brightly through the windows for downtown D.C. to see. It is nearly double the size of the old Campus Store.
Visible from the outside and even more striking on the inside is the 25- by 15-foot television screen that runs hours-worth of GW imagery and videos ranging from athletics highlights to campus documentaries to university announcements, all in a crystal clear 4K resolution picture.
The natural light outside and the hexagon lights inside the clear-glass building illuminate the buff and blue tints inside--“Honestly, this reminds me of a mall store with the double floors and windows,” sophomore political science major Ana Argueta noted—and makes clear to all passersby exactly where they are in the nation’s capital.
“This new state-of-the-art store is now a landmark that says to residents and visitors ‘You have arrived on GW’s campus, and we are happy you are visiting us!’” Associate Vice President of Business Services Seth Weinshel said.
As people enter the front doors on I Street and peruse the ground floor, they will see showcase displays of chic brand GW clothing and jewelry, a local D.C. collection that includes GW cherry blossom merchandise, a new inventory of GW Revolutionaries attire, Stanley tumblers—yes, those Stanley tumblers—and a children’s book section in the back that also includes GW-themed stuffed animals.
Then, reminiscent of a large department store, escalators take shoppers down to the lower level to even more merchandise, some new and some carried over from the old store in the USC.
“The merch is so cute, you know?” said sophomore biology major Maria Rivera, who rooms with Argueta in District House. “There is a lot more compared to the other one, and we just love anything with the GW logo on it.”
Aside from the merchandise, the lower level is where students can receive their online book orders—the same system of textbook ordering as before—as well as get school supplies and even computer help. The Information Technology help desk will be on the lower level, and so too are Dell and Apple service products. Also on the lower level is an open space to host book talks and small events, and there are even bookshelves selling trending literature and bestsellers, including from GW faculty.
“We are excited about what we will be able to offer at this new location–expanded merchandise featuring GW and GW Revs branding, Apple and other computer products, and additional space where soon we will host book talks that will engage and connect our faculty, staff and students with alumni coming back to visit and our neighboring community,” Weinshel said.
Friday’s grand opening was the culmination of a vision more than a year in the making, as the university first announced its plan to move the GW Campus Store in January 2023. Members of the GW community who attended seemed elated and impressed with the new store as trustees and administrators, including Provost Christopher Alan Bracey, basked in the jovial mood.
"The revitalized and reimagined GW Campus Store represents and reflects the spirit of the GW community,” said GW Campus Store Director Janet Uzzell. “We are thankful for the great partnership and support of all who contributed to making this great anchor, situated at its new premier location that is highly visible on GW's main street, for the campus."
The new state-of-the-art store infuses an energy and vibrancy to the I Street retail strip and screams the GW brand for all neighborhood visitors to hear—and see.
“I think there is just immense pride being able to feel the GW community come together to buy some things that are GW related,” Williams said. “To be able to come here knowing that this is our school, I think, is a really powerful thing.”