Capital Buzz: Rockville designer looks to spruce up the dorms

Karen Zuckerman, founder of Rockville-based design firm HZDG, is going back to college — sort of.

Last week Zuckerman launched Dormify.com, which is a “one-stop shop” online retailer aimed at college students who want to decorate their dorm room, whether it’s bedding or posters.

Zuckerman got the idea when she took her daughter Amanda to Washington University in St. Louis in 2009.

The company has a storage center in Pennsylvania, and has offices in Rockville and New York City.

Local tech investor David Steinberg is advising. Steinberg is chief executive of SnappCloud, a D.C. company that sells services connecting app developers to distributors.

Singing his way to the bank

Silver Spring songwriter Barry Louis Polisar, whose 30-year career includes such children’s diddies as “Don’t Put Your Finger Up Your Nose” and “My Brother Thinks He’s a Banana,” hit a home run with Honda.

The Japanese carmaker is using his 1977 song “All I Want Is You,” made famous as the opening for the Oscar-winning film “ Juno,” for its new Honda Civic television commercial called “Date With a Woodsman.”

Depending on whether the commercial gets picked up in Canada and worldwide, and how long it plays, the royalties could put $50,000 to $70,000 extra in the songwriter’s pocket over time.

“Here’s a song that made no money for 30 years,” said the 56-year-old Polisar. “So it’s ironic, 35 years later, the song has paid off a lifetime of dividends.”

More MOMS

MOM’s Organic Market has signed leases to open stores this year in Timonium near Baltimore, Waldorf and Herndon, the company’s seventh, eighth and ninth stores, respectively.

Timonium opens May 28.

The Herndon store will be located at Herndon Center III at 428 Elden St., which is owned by A.J. Dwoskin Real Estate. The store will be 10,100 square feet and open this fall.

The 11,200-square-foot Waldorf Mom’s will open next spring at 3307 Crain Highway, owned by W.R. Blair Inc.

The markets, founded by Scott Nash in 1987 with a $100 investment, sell organic food and enjoy a cult following in the region.

The other locations include Bowie, Rockville, College Park, Jessup and Frederick in Maryland, and Alexandria.

No bid

Usually, the annual meeting of the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement Distric t offers a moment for the city’s grand pooh-bahs of real estate to bask in stories and statistics showing the strength of the central business district. There is speechmaking, breakfast and much applause.

Not so much this year, says our colleague Jonathan O’Connell. The BID canceled its annual “State of Downtown” gathering last week after getting word that the machinists union planned to protest outside the event, scheduled to be held at the Newseum. The BID employs more than 100 Safety/Hospitality and Maintenance employees, known as SAMs, who don red uniforms and man the downtown area, cleaning and giving visitors directions, and the SAMs voted in 2009 to organize with the machinists union. The union claims the vote should be recognized, while the BID said voters were intimidated and there ought to be a new vote. The labor vs. management saga is likely to continue but at least the Newseum was spared; instead of protesting there the union held a rally at the BID headquarters the next day.

The Buzz hears . . .

First Watch, a breakfast, brunch and lunch restaurant based in Bradenton, Fla., with locations in Rockville and Pikesville, may expand to Columbia, Timonium and Reston.

•Forbes Media Chairman Steve Forbes makes a stop in D.C. with Northwestern Mutual chairman and chief executive John Schlifske this Thursday (May 5) to address several hundred business and community leaders at the Ronald Reagan Building.

Carlyle Watch:

The Great Recession certainly seems to have receded for District-based Carlyle Group. In the first quarter of 2011 the firm sent $6.4 billion in cash to its investors, the best quarter in its 24-year history. That’s nearly as much as the $7.5 billion Carlyle returned to investors in all of 2010.

In an April letter to investors, the firm noted how its private equity portfolio has appreciated by 46 percent in the past year. The letter said now is an “opportune time” to invest. Last week Carlyle co-founder David M. Rubenstein said at an industry conference that China is still a big draw for the firm, where they are sitting on huge profits in China Pacific, an insurance company.

Recession? What recession?

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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