“We don’t have jockstraps, we don’t have ass-less underwear. You won’t see guys in Speedos in our front window,” Scott Wallis says about his new men’s store Avenue Jack. “But you know,” he adds with a laugh, “we like all that stuff.”
Wallis is best known from his work co-hosting Swish Edition, the locally produced gay comedy podcast series that ran from 2010 to 2013. After a year of planning, he opened Avenue Jack in spring 2015 with a team that includes his partner Dennis Black and his podcast co-host Dale Blades, who serves as manager of the store, located a block south of Dupont Circle on Connecticut Avenue.
“I would describe it generally as upscale casual,” he says, “with a very tightly curated line of products.” In addition to popular apparel brands such as Original Penguin, Diesel, Levi’s, Ben Sherman and 7 for All Mankind, many products Avenue Jack carries are local, such as Trashed and Conscious, a Georgetown-based manufacturer of clothing made completely out of recycled plastic bottles. And many brands carried by the store can’t be found elsewhere in the area, including Timbuk2, a line of messenger bags and backpacks, and Bluebuck, men’s underwear made out of soft, organic cotton that Wallis says “was the first thing I decided I wanted to carry in the store.”
Wallis opted against carrying risque clothing in part because “we didn’t want to scare away the straight guys,” particularly those working in Avenue Jack’s downtown neighborhood. Certainly, the store is an attractive place to shop no matter gender or orientation. It was designed to resemble a kind of urban lodge, with rustic touches, including floors of stained hardwood and “faux-leather concrete,” a faux-tin ceiling, reclaimed wood accents from a 150-year-old barn in southwest Virginia and wood furnishings from Miss Pixie’s on 14th Street. Hanging high up front is that centerpiece of any good lodge, a mounted moose head — in this case another “faux” accent: A sculpture made from re-purposed weathered steel by the small Pennsylvania-based Gatski Metal.
In its months since opening, Avenue Jack has expanded its offerings to include non-apparel goods such as Burly Stone soaps and grooming products, Moleskine notebooks, whimsical, handmade greeting cards from the local BrandDave, and a few bar-ware essentials, most notably a bottle opener made by a man in D.C. out of 100-year-old railroad spikes.
“We didn’t anticipate as many gift-y type things being wanted by people,” Wallis says. But now, Avenue Jack is the perfect place to buy a gift for any trendy, urbane man.
Avenue Jack is at 1301 Connecticut Ave. NW and is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays; closed on Mondays during the summer. Call 202-887-5225 or visit avenuejack.com.
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