Near the foot of Broadway in Fells Point, a slice of high-tech chic has surfaced.
Capitolmac, an independent Apple computer store, is selling dozens of iPads, iMacs and most other products made by the company inside a charming, narrow brick row house.
“At first, we thought it was a little bit overlooked,” said Dheeraj Vasishta, owner of Capitolmac, of the location in one of the city’s historic districts near the waterfront and dozens of bars and restaurants. “But we realized it is extremely central.”
While most Apple stores are glossy and sleek, located in malls or tony real estate spots like the glass cube on 5th Avenue in New York, the tiny Capitolmac is an 1,100-square-foot utilitarian shop that offers a sales and service respite from busy shopping centers.
And it appears to be another sprig of hope along a fledgling retail row in Fells Point, adding Apple computer sales to the lineup of fancy shoes, clothing, jewelry, art and accessory stores already there.
Capitolmac opened in November, even though plans to launch a $56 million renovation of the Broadway Market across the street remain stalled.
“I have this gut feeling that retail is the next thing here,” Vasishta said. “I sense there will be mostly smaller businesses and boutiques coming here — even with the Marketplace.”
Developers David Holmes and Daniel Winner have been pursuing financing for the redevelopment of the Broadway Market buildings for years. They have spent $15 million purchasing buildings along Broadway as part of the project, where they plan to build a mixed-use development with 155 rental units and 35,000 square feet of retail space.
Holmes and Winner did not return repeated calls for comment on the retail developments near their planned project.
Vasishta said the redevelopment, called Marketplace at Fells Point, will only enhance his Apple computer store. He sells the brand’s unique computers and laptops and offers personal instruction and training if needed.
“Our traffic is still fairly light, but we’re building, and that’s reassuring,” he said. “We’ve got Harbor East on one side and Canton on the other … we’re off to a respectable start.”
With a staff of four, Capitolmac offers sales and on-the-spot service — with no “Genius bar” reservations needed — to Apple and other computer brand users.
“You can literally walk in and talk to somebody,” he said, of the convenience.
Nearby, Christine Corrigan, a sales clerk at the shop Party Dress, said the ease of working with the Capitolmac staff helped her out during the recent busy holiday shopping season.
“I went over there and didn’t have to go to the mall,” she said. “I was so happy.”
Corrigan, 24, said business near the waterfront on Broadway is steady, despite near total vacancies in the Broadway Market, where stalls of fast food, flowers, and fresh produce, fish and meats used to overflow and attract hundreds of shoppers to the area for household staples.
“People come here to get away from the boutiques in Harbor East,” she said. “They come here to have fun and to be able to do more with their money.”
Hundreds of fancy and casual dresses line the walls and racks in Corrigan’s shop. Across the street, at Poppy and Stella, shoppers can pick up a pair of shoes to complete an outfit.
“It’s a historic area and as far as I know, it’s definitely turning around,” said Laurie Manning, 23, a sales clerk at Poppy and Stella, of the area’s small, independent start-up retail pioneers.
The addition of Capitolmac to the mix, she said, has helped to boost foot traffic.
“I feel like it is progress,” she said. “I am leaving Howard County and moving here. I’ve grown to love the area.”