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Kennedy St. getting a kitchen and bath showroom (again)

The showroom at Mirror Image Builders is set up much like a typical rowhome kitchen, because it is one

November 3 is Pierre Johnson’s target date for the re-opening of his Brightwood kitchen and bath showroom, which closed in 2010 due to slow sales – but which he says he’s paid rent on ever since.
The DC native, who grew up “right down the street” from Mirror Image Builders Kitchen & Bath Showroom, at 307 Kennedy St. NW, says he hopes to offer the amenities big-box stores have with the personal service of a neighborhood shop.
Johnson has been a store manager since age 18, for a time serving as the manager of the late, great Hechinger’s kitchen and bath department.  “I did so many kitchens out of that store, I did the same kitchen twice” in at least one instance.
Constrained by the narrow lines of the rowhouses they occupy, District kitchens and baths are not exactly known for their spaciousness. Johnson is intimately familiar with these limitations.
“I have negotiated pricing with cabinet, granite and Corian manufacturers which will allow me to offer” lower pricing on typical DC kitchens, which may come with as little as 18 square feet of countertop and only seven or eight cabinets, says Johnson, 57.
More workspace and storage is indeed possible, at a fair price. “Depending on the cabinet line, independent kitchen outlets [like Mirror Image] can be very competitive in pricing.”
When they first enter Johnson’s showroom, future patrons may find themselves gazing at a kitchen very much like the one in their homes.
The working rowhouse kitchen that’s a focal point of Mirror Image’s showroom resembles that of “80 percent of the kitchens surrounding” Johnson’s storefront. “I even installed a closet in my working display where to the door to the basement next to the refrigerator usually is located.”
Johnson, a former Lowe’s employee, is gracious when asked to comment on what will set him apart from the home-improvement giants.
“Lowe’s and Home Depot have very capable people,” he says. “But I can walk into a blank space and see the [future] kitchen” in a way most people can’t.” He’ll also be using the same software program the big guys use to design and build his customers’ kitchens.
“Our motto is, ‘Bringing Suburban Shopping Back to the Neighborhood,’” Johnson adds. “Residents want to shop near their homes,” and to be able to choose among environmentally sound products, custom faucets and the like. Going forward, Johnson plans to grow his inventory to meet this demand.

Read more articles by Amy Rogers Nazarov.

Amy Rogers Nazarov is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist with more than 25 years experience as a staff reporter and a freelance writer, covering technology, adoption, real estate, and lifestyle topics from food & drink to home organizing. Her byline has appeared in Cooking Light, The Washington Post, Slate, Washingtonian, The Writer, Smithsonian, The Washington Post Express, The Baltimore Examiner, The Sacramento Bee, Cure, The Washington Times, Museum, and many other outlets. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors and tweets at @WordKitchenDC.
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