This year marks Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams’ 25th year in business, and by the end of this year, they will have opened (fittingly) 25 stores around the country. Last week, they were at Tysons Galleria to open #21—pretty sweet, huh?
I got the chance to sit down with them for a chat before their grand-opening party.
They are just as nice as they look in the picture. These are the kind of people who would treat a stranger as a cherished friend. As they like to say, “We don’t like mean people.”
That’s one of the 25 mantras listed on THE SIGN. Look in any MGBW store, and you’ll find a sign titled “Who We Are,” which is also the title of their 25th-anniversary book illustrating and expounding on each statement.
Mitchell and Bob got the inspiration for the sign several years ago, when they saw a similar “who we are” statement in the window of a London shoe store. That sign got them thinking about “putting into words what we are about,” Mitchell says.
Nowadays, he adds, “people will come in and stand and read the whole thing. You can see it in people’s faces—they’re reading and nodding.”
Both men agree that the “we don’t like mean people” chapter was the hardest of all of them to write. But it says a lot about where they come from and where they want to go.
“Being two gay men and, in Mitchell’s case, Jewish, believe us when we say: We’ve met our fair share of bullies. And if those bullies taught us one thing, it’s that we’d rather be nice guys.
“We genuinely believe that being nice goes a long way. So from the moment we started our company, we made ‘nice’ a top priority. We go out of our way to hire individuals who are patient, courteous and kind.”
The easiest chapter to write for them was “We never miss a meal. Ever.” Sort of self explanatory there. The book includes some of their favorite recipes prepared by in-house chef Sean Robinson—lobster mashed potatoes, anyone? Or maybe French toast made with hot-dog buns with berries and vanilla-bean cream, mmm.
But I digress. Let’s get back to the new store, which is on the top floor of the Galleria, right next to Macy’s.
“Getting a space here was like getting a spot in an Ivy League school,” Mitchell says. And they’ve clearly made themselves at home in the mall since taking possession in January, filling their closets with new purchases from Saks, Ferragamo, Zegna, and Hugo Boss.
They’ve also made themselves at home in DC—literally. A few years ago, Mitchell and his husband, Tim Gold, purchased a condo in Meridian Hill (see Jura Koncius’ story on it in the Washington Post.) Bob recently followed suit with his own condo on 15th Street, which he shares with his husband, Stephen Heavner—I’m told Jura will also have a story on that one in the coming weeks. They both live within walking distance of their first DC store, which opened on 14th Street in 2007.
Outside of their homes in North Carolina, they are in DC every 5-6 weeks, where they gravitate toward Le Diplomate or The Palm for dinner, and B Too for brunch.
All four men are inextricably linked: Mitchell and Bob, of course, form a single brand (not to mention they used to be life partners), while Tim and Stephen are both working to open a national LGBT museum in the district (Tim is CEO of the Velvet Foundation, the group behind the concept). Bob says that when they are all out at dinner, he and Mitchell talk shop while Tim and Stephen do the same thing across the table.
Looking back on 25 years, Bob says, “I don’t think either of us dreamt it would get this big.”
Congratulations, you two. Now, let’s take a tour of the new Tysons store, where you’ll notice a lot of curved sofas (better to encourage conversation), shiny metal accents, and silver—in honor of that silver anniversary.