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New menswear shop now ashore in Rehoboth Beach

Youthful new retail entrepreneur helms his lifelong destiny M.G.T. & Co.



Michael Gabriel Thanner, gay news, Washington Blade

Michael Gabriel Thanner and Gracie inside the newly opened M.G.T. & Co. Mens Toggery Shop in Rehoboth Beach. (Photo courtesy Thanner)

Two summers ago, following a July 4th celebratory evening out at various Rehoboth Beach, Del., eateries and drinkeries, gay entrepreneur Michael Gabriel Thanner found himself a bit sozzled and languishing late-night with a long-time female friend on the stoop in front of 39 Baltimore Avenue, a block from the residential town and resort destination boardwalk.

“I’m going to have this store some day,” the visiting Maryland native declared. The casual comment was emblematic of Thanner’s easygoing manner and light-hearted, engaging disposition, as energetically adventurous as it is engagingly confident.

(Photo courtesy of Thanner)

Early in October, Thanner’s ambitious assertion became an abstemious reality with the opening of M.G.T. & Co. Mens Toggery Shop on the high-profile street.

The prominent commercial spot is anchored by surrounding and nearby retail businesses and restaurant venues. The former residential home and prior commercial storefront is adjacent to local landmarks the Blue Moon restaurant-bar and the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center.

This fall, alongside his one-year-old golden retriever and in-store companion Gracie, Thanner launched his men’s specialty clothing shop on his 27th birthday. The Oct. 10 birthday commencement of the retail enterprise is also symbolized in the easy-to-remember mnemonic time he opens the door each day, at 10:10 a.m. “It also ensures that I’m never late,” Thanner jokes.

(Photo courtesy of Thanner)

The shop is currently open seven days a week until 7 p.m., to both acquaint local residents and off-season visitors with Rehoboth’s newest addition to community enterprise and accommodate holiday shopping.

The free-spirited nature of new-proprietor Thanner is captured in the use of the informal, humorous, and British term “toggery” in the shop’s branding. A more casual expression for “haberdashery,” this off-kilter marquee nomenclature is a fitting reflection of the owner’s personality.

(Photo courtesy of Thanner)

The tagline additionally serves to convey the “British-inspired flavor of the shop’s offerings,” explains Thannery, noting that European labels from France, Germany, the Netherlands, and other international locales are also featured alongside American brands. “I carry lines with which people may not be familiar,” he says, “but I strive to always value quality over quantity” in curating the selection of items that will seasonally evolve.

“I specialize in providing an ‘old school’ foundation with a modern and youthful perspective,” says Thanner, “in a range of sizing and with something for everyone. The shop has a casual and personable environment,” he notes, describing the warm interior and attractive displays featuring a full range of merchandise, including everything from resort wear to blazers, scarves, boots, plush cashmere and more.

“I’m selling a lifestyle, not just an item or two,” asserts Thanner, “quality personal items are the foundation of a gentleman.”

Unique and distinctive labels include American purveyors Mizzen+Main dress shirts, Strong Boalt, Castaway, needlepoint belts and wallets from Smather and Branson, F.H. Wadsworth belts, handmade leather loafers by Jay Butler, Southern Proper, as well as Barbour from the United Kingdom, Hommard cashmere from the Netherlands, Armor Lux of France, Seaward and Stearn ties from the U.K., and New Zealand’s Rodd & Gunn.

Frequent solo travels when young and studying at Aix-en-Provence in the south of France influenced Thanner’s appreciation for European style and “knowing how to dress” as a practical part of one’s life. “You never know whom you’re going to run into, or where you’ll end up,” explains Thanner.

“If you look good, you feel good, and can have either $2 or $2 million in your pocket, no one would ever know.” Thanner credits his supportive parents, who encouraged their only child to travel and explore different cultures, for such insights. Growing up around his mother’s multiple retail shops specializing in gifts, accessories and home furnishings, also served as inspiration.

(Photo courtesy of Thanner)

Whether domestic or international, the shop’s clothing is “not tailored,” notes Thanner, “it’s more traditional but with a twist.” While representing the higher-end of the marketplace, pricing is consumer accessible with a range of price points. Thanner characterizes the shop’s focus as “America’s Ralph Lauren meets London’s Savile Row.”

(Photo courtesy of Thanner)

Hand-produced and bench-made products dominate, the result of a distinctly personal process of acquisition. “I was always well-dressed as a kid, originating with my own inspiration,” explains Thanner. Noted for his distinctive sense of style and attention to detail from a young age “led to requests to assist others with their personal shopping,” he recalls.

It was personal familiarity with noteworthy attire that forged the path for stocking his store. “I simply opened my own closet,” Thanner says, “and began cold-calling companies among the labels in my collection, asking to speak with a wholesale representative.”

“I knew early on that I could never have a standard 9-to-5 job,” Thanner admits, “I simply don’t have the attention span for it. Working for myself has always been in my blood, and I always knew I would have a shop of my own.”

“None of my friends were surprised at all,” says Thanner of his decision to open the shop. “I told several people over dinner one night, and signed a lease two days later. Of course, they think I’m ‘nuts’ for entering storefront retail, but you have to be willing to take risks to achieve success.”

“Opening in retail today is a risk,” acknowledges Thanner, “but you can’t focus on that. You have to jump right in and give it all you’ve got. The market is still there, especially in destination locations like Rehoboth where there is opportunity for specialty commerce.” He credits Murray Archibald, Steve Elkins, and everyone at CAMP Rehoboth for being supportive, and the welcoming attitude from other business owners and local residents.

(Photo courtesy of Thanner)

“I love Rehoboth, the sense of community, the energy, the vibe,” says Thanner, “and the small town charm and progressive environment. It’s a place entering a new era of enterprise, with an influx of new businesses and innovative approaches complementing an existing strong mix of retail.”

Thanner is inviting patrons and the public to an in-store holiday party on Dec. 9 to celebrate the shop’s opening and to “thank the community for their encouragement during the best time of the year to bring people together.”

M.G.T. & Co. Mens Toggery Shop is located in Rehoboth Beach, Del., at 39 Baltimore Ave. The shop is currently open each day of the week from 10:10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more info, visit M.G.T. & Co. on Facebook and Instagram (the shop’s website is in development).


Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at [email protected].


Real Estate

Boosting your rental property’s curb appeal

Affordable upgrades to attract and keep tenants happy



Spruce up your curb appeal with new plants and trees.

In the District of Columbia, the rental market tends to open up significantly during the springtime for several reasons. First, spring brings about a sense of renewal and change, prompting many individuals and families to seek new living arrangements or embark on relocations. Additionally, the warmer weather and longer daylight hours make it more conducive for people to explore housing options, attend viewings, and make decisions about moving. Furthermore, spring often coincides with the end of academic terms, leading to an influx of students and young professionals entering the rental market. 

Landlords and property managers also tend to schedule lease renewals or list new vacancies during this time, capitalizing on the increased demand and ensuring a steady turnover of tenants. In the competitive world of rental properties, attracting and retaining quality tenants can be challenging. However, with some strategic upgrades, property owners can significantly enhance their units’ appeal without breaking the bank. From enhancing curb appeal to interior upgrades, here are some practical and cost-effective ideas to make your rental property stand out in the market.

Curb appeal

First impressions matter, and curb appeal plays a crucial role in attracting potential tenants. Simple enhancements like freshening up the exterior paint, adding potted plants or flowers, and ensuring a well-maintained lawn can instantly elevate the property’s appearance. Installing outdoor lighting not only adds charm but also enhances safety and security.

Interior upgrades

Upgrade the kitchen and bathroom fixtures to modern, energy-efficient options. Consider replacing outdated appliances with newer models, which not only appeal to tenants but also contribute to energy savings. Fresh paint and updated flooring can transform the look of a space without a hefty investment. Additionally, replacing worn-out carpets with hardwood or laminate flooring can make the unit more attractive and easier to maintain.

Enhance storage

Maximize storage options by installing built-in shelves, cabinets, or closet organizers. Tenants appreciate ample storage space to keep their belongings organized, contributing to a clutter-free living environment.

Improve lighting

Brighten up the interiors by adding more lighting fixtures or replacing old bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights. Well-lit spaces appear more inviting and spacious, enhancing the overall ambiance of the rental unit.

Upgrade window treatments

Replace outdated curtains or blinds with modern window treatments that allow natural light to filter in while offering privacy. Opt for neutral colors and versatile styles that appeal to a wide range of tastes.

Focus on security

Invest in security features such as deadbolts, window locks, and a reliable alarm system to ensure the safety of your tenants. Feeling secure in their home is a top priority for renters, and these upgrades can provide meaningful, genuine peace of mind.

Enhance outdoor spaces

If your rental property includes outdoor areas like a patio or balcony, consider sprucing them up with comfortable seating, outdoor rugs, and potted plants. Creating inviting outdoor spaces expands the living area and adds value to the rental property.

As landlords, investing in the enhancement of your rental properties is not merely about improving aesthetics; it’s about investing in the satisfaction and well-being of your tenants, and ultimately, in the success of your investment. By implementing these practical and affordable upgrades, you’re not only increasing the desirability of your units but also demonstrating your commitment to providing a high-quality living experience. 

These efforts translate into higher tenant retention rates, reduced vacancy periods, and ultimately, a healthier bottom line. Moreover, by prioritizing the comfort, safety, and happiness of your tenants, you’re fostering a sense of community and trust that can lead to long-term relationships and positive referrals. So, let’s embark on this journey of transformation together, turning rental properties into cherished homes and landlords into valued partners in creating exceptional living spaces.

Scott Bloom is owner and Senior Property Manager of Columbia Property Management. For more information and resources, visit

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Real Estate

Real estate agents work hard for that commission

Despite recent headlines, buyers and sellers benefit from our expertise



Realtors work hard for that rare six percent commission.

With there being a lot of noise in the media lately as I am sure you have read and heard headlines like “Gone are the days of the 6% commission” and “End of the good days of Realtors,” etc., I wanted to re-run a very short article of the long laundry list of things that well versed real estate agents bring to the table to earn that seldom 6% commission. It’s typically split in half and it has always been negotiable).

As a real estate professional you will go on listing appointments and buyer meetings to not only attempt to gain business but in doing so you also educate the general public on what it is that we as real estate professionals do. I know what you’re thinking – and if you’ve seen my photo before you wouldn’t be wrong to assume that I am cast in “Selling DC” as the lead villain. I am just waiting for that phone call! But in all seriousness, when I sit down to come up with a list of things to prove to prospective clients the value in working with me as their real estate professional, I am pretty blown away at the items and qualities that a trusted professional representing you in a real estate transaction is responsible for managing a myriad of tasks, including but not limiting to the following:

• Have a pulse on the marketplace to truly understand exactly what is happening from a buying and selling standpoint while also understanding the economic side of things – not just looking at interest rates. Why are rates where they are? What employers are laying off and could cause an influx of inventory? What are the trends for individuals moving IN or OUT of an area looking like? Forecasting the marketplace of all things that truly affect real estate is vital.

• Soft Skills – these are the skills often considered as customer service skills. The ability to be approachable by all types of people and ensure that you are open to receive information. Also – when telling you bad news – it’s important to ensure that it is done in a manner in which you, the receiver, will be pleasantly receptive.

• Pre-market vendors – not only are real estate professionals expected to market your home for sale or locate a home for you to purchase, we are also expected to have a list of pre-market vendors to which you can use for your lending needs, home inspection, title work, any fluffing and buffing needed pre market for the sale of your home such as a contractor, painter, landscaper etc. We have a book of extremely well vetted vendors that either I personally have used or past clients have used that can assist with your needs. This beats Googling for hours and accidentally choosing the wrong contractor. Section A of the pre-market vendor list includes those in which we real estate professionals use for marketing materials for your property – we will use the best photographers, have floor plans drawn for your property, video, staging, catering for brokers opens and the list goes on. Again – this is a well vetted list that we have worked on for years and done all of the heavy lifting and had those uncomfortable conversations when things are not properly executed – so you don’t have to.

• On Market Tasks – these are the tasks that most clients are unaware that we do. Oftentimes when a listing is on market – folks think that I am just cruising around in my convertible buying nice things. However I am in fact going around checking each listing on market to ensure that they are clean, the booties are replaced, marketing materials are stocked, light bulbs are all working, staging looks crisp and the list truly goes on. That of course, doesn’t include the tasks we do to properly market the property such as weekly email blasts, reaching out several times to follow up with showing agents to get their feedback, check the market to see what our competition looks like, what’s under contract and why, and again…..I could go on. Needless to say the most important and time consuming tasks are those that are done when the property is on market.

• “Contract to close” management – the term contract to close is pretty much what it sounds like – it’s what happens from the time we go under contract until we reach the closing finish line and you have those keys. Once a trusted real estate professional has fiercely negotiated on your behalf as a buyer, the fun starts. Again pops up this vendor list – helping guide you though selection of a home inspector, termite inspector, etc. for the inspections. A title attorney is needed (depending on your jurisdiction) and any other vendors for quotes like renovations, etc., that you might want done to the property. Once the inspection is completed and we go through possible re-negotiations then we must ensure that the lender has the documents needed from you completed in order to have the appraisal done to prove the value of the home you are under contract for. Now we are getting into the weeds – but once we are on the other side of things and the appraisal comes back at value and the loan is clear to close then we are at the finish line to your new home.

A similar story can be told if you are selling your home. The appraisal is a very important part of the checklist as that is the value in which your home is worth. The appraiser is a third party that neither the buyer, seller, lender or myself have any allegiance to. I do, however, have the duty to educate said appraiser on why I chose the listing price and how I came up with that value. 

• Post-market vendors. As mentioned before, a real estate professional should have a book of well vetted vendors from which to choose. Looking at the list of vendors now that we are on the other side of the table – I can provide a cleaning person, HVAC contractor, someone to repair the sprinkler system, a dog walker, the best caterers and bakery in town. Further down the road I am able to provide a wonderful wealth manager who can tell you what to do with that piece of real estate you purchased some time ago and we could go on for days.

While you are fully entitled to not use a real estate agent during your real estate transaction, I do believe that it is well within the realm of possibilities to say that without one there would be loose ends not completely tied up, things mismanaged and possible delays that could cost real cash. All of that aside, it is also such a truly wonderful experience to work alongside a trusted professional that at the end of the transaction becomes a new friend and family member. Real estate professionals love what they do, they love real estate and people and sheepherding you through the home buying or selling process is what it’s all about to us.

Justin Noble is a Realtor with Sotheby’s international Realty licensed in D.C., Maryland, and Delaware for your DMV and Delaware Beach needs. Specializing in first-time homebuyers, development and new construction as well as estate sales, Justin is a well-versed agent, highly regarded, and provides white glove service at every price point. Reach him at 202-503-4243,  [email protected] or

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Real Estate

Do you need title insurance?

Facilitating smoother and more efficient real estate transactions



A title search is an important part of the home buying process.

A title search is an examination of public records to determine the legal ownership of a property and identify any claims or liens against it. This comprehensive investigation delves into deeds, mortgages, court records, tax records, and other documents related to the property’s history. The objective is to verify that the seller has the legal right to transfer ownership of the property and that there are no undisclosed issues that could cloud the title.

I would surmise that most buyers have never read their title report or policy and I confess that I was one of them until 2005, when I bought a house in San Diego. While I was “in escrow,” my agent presented me with a title report. My first reaction was, “What do I do with this?” He replied, “review it and sign indicating that it is acceptable.” I had no idea what to look for, since I had always had title companies to rely on for interpreting the results. Thankfully, it was a clean report with no liens on it other than the mortgage the seller would be paying off at settlement. 

Here, only if anything is amiss will the title attorney notify the agents and advise what the parties need to do to satisfy any conditions that could prevent them from closing. Otherwise, you won’t see the report up front.

Why are title searches important?

  • They verify the seller’s legal right to transfer ownership of the property, providing assurance to the buyer that they are purchasing a legitimate asset. 
  • They identify any outstanding liens, mortgages, or other encumbrances that could affect the property’s value or the buyer’s ability to obtain financing. 
  • A title insurance policy provides coverage for losses arising from title defects such as disputes, undisclosed easements, forgery, or fraud, offering peace of mind to both buyers and lenders.

The process starts with the retrieval of documents from various sources, including county clerk offices, tax assessor’s offices, and court records. 

The records are then inspected to trace the chain of ownership and identify any potential issues. The title examiner verifies the accuracy of legal descriptions, checks for inconsistencies or errors, and identifies any red flags that may indicate title defects.

If found, resolution of issues or discrepancies, such as unpaid taxes, outstanding liens, or boundary disputes must be addressed before the transaction can proceed. This may involve negotiating with creditors to satisfy outstanding debts, requesting more information from sellers, and resolving legal disputes.

Once complete, the firm will issue a title report on which to base a title policy. The buyers will receive a copy at settlement. The report provides a detailed summary of the property’s ownership history, any encumbrances or defects found during the search, and recommendations for mitigating risks.

Title insurance for the lender is required, but buyers often ask whether they need owner’s title insurance coverage too. I always recommend buying an owner’s policy. If a buyer chooses not to, then only the lender is protected from any claims revealed after the issuance of the title report. For a one-time fee, an owner’s policy protects your interest in the property and that of any heirs from future claims until the house is ultimately sold. 

For example, I attended a settlement with a buyer who was purchasing a rowhouse. A woman who had power of attorney to sign for the seller was also there and, because he was overseas, the actual seller was on speaker phone to address his concerns or ask any questions. 

The closing agent began reading the settlement statement aloud to indicate what was being deducted from the seller’s proceeds. The seller was fine with the amount shown for the remainder of his first mortgage, but when she read out the amount of the second mortgage, the seller, now agitated, asked, “What second mortgage?”

It then became clear that the woman, the owner’s former fiancée, had used her power of attorney to obtain a second mortgage after the title search had been done. Thanks to the title companies’ involvement, the seller was able to post a bond for the missing funds to allow settlement to proceed while he took on a legal battle with his former fiancée. Don’t try this at home, kids.

By uncovering potential issues early in the process, title searches help facilitate smoother and more efficient real estate transactions by resolving issues upfront, ensuring a seamless transfer of property ownership. But nobody knows when great Uncle Bob or your former tenant may show up with a claim to the house. You’ll need your owner’s title policy to have someone on your side.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate / @properties. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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