Ellwood Thompson’s Grocery Store May Still Open in DCUSA Complex in Columbia Heights

The New Columbia Heights blog is reporting that Ellwood Thompson’s grocery store is still trying to get a lease in the DC USA Complex. The blog says that the store “carries a lot of organic and free-range products, buys a lot of its meat and produce from local farmers, and has a lot of standards for their products.”

I strongly support organic and free range products. Having said that I just can’t get excited about this prospect. I’m perfectly happy with the Giant right across the street. I’d be stoked for something new like when we heard about the REI or maybe a Borders books store but I just can’t get too excited about a grocery store opening up right across the street from a new grocery store. Is it just me or am I missing something? Is there great excitement about the possibility of another grocery store in Columbia Heights?

Ed. note: Despite the many recent posts on grocery stores, I swear I am not obsessed by them. I am, however, obsessed with grocery carts but that’s a whole other post.

20 Comment

  • I agree — I love the new Giant. Huge selection, clean, great beer selection, good produce.

  • ET’s excites me. Never been to one but it seems far more along the lines of a Whole Foods than a Giant. Same grocery store format, but different niche. ET’s seems to be truly committed to the fresh and local concept (they carry stuff from that awesome-sounding farm in Omnivore’s Dilemma), plus their website seems to show a lot more prepared food. Giant is (ostensibly) about convenience, selection, and price. They have a very limited selection of the fresh/organic/local food and a lot more Kraft, Coke, etc.. It’s all about what you want to eat, but I can guess 95% of my shopping would move across the street if ET’s took the lease — get the fresh stuff there and the dry goods at Target (which is way cheaper than Giant, anyway.)

    But as with everything DCUSA, it really depends on your consumer preferences. Am I supposed to get jazzed about Mattress Discounters and Lane Bryant? I already have a very nice bed and, well, I’m not a lady. On the other hand, I like fancy sandwiches and pasta salads.

  • I’m gonna have to agree with Anonymous on this one. I’ve been hoping Ellwood Thompson’s would come together for over a year, or however long they’ve been in talks. But then again, I’m an elitist, latte-drinking type.

  • I’m looking forward to ET. I’ll still shop at Giant but probably pick up fresh fruits and veggies from ET. Oh, and probably buy my meat and seafood from ET as well. Giant is like a roller coaster, the quality is up and down some weeks.

  • Ellwood Thompson’s is significantly different from Giant. I shopped there quite frequently when I lived in Richmond. It is sort of like a smaller, cheaper Whole Foods, but with a wider variety of more unique pre-made dishes that you can eat there or take home for reheating. They have a lot of Indian and Asian dishes, as well as a ton of vegetarian options. They carry all the bulk grains, organic fruits and vegetables, funky crunchy people type food, frozen foods, wine, vitamins-pretty much the works.

    Equally as important, the employees are actually friendly and process more than 1 transaction per every 20 minutes. When you go to the deli counter, they WANT to help you.

    Bottom line, the Giant flat out sucks and I feel like I need a stiff drink after every visit. I wouldn’t care if they were giving out food for free the whole experience is just horrible. I stood in the “express” line for 20 minutes Sunday night to purchase 4 crummy items. If I wasn’t trying to cut down on driving, I would totally pack up and go to Silver Spring or somewhere else to do my grocery shopping.

    Bring on Ellwoods, I’ll metro to a bookstore!

  • I am SO looking forward to Ellwood Thompsons, i need a break from the long lines at Giant as well. This neighborhood can definitely support 2 grocery stores. Small towns that have the population of Columbia heights often have like 4 grocery stores.

  • I’m also excited about Ellwood Thompsons – will provide a place to find that special ingredient that Giant doesn’t carry, and serve almost like a 7-days-a-week farmer’s market, where you can get organic, fresh produce and unique prepared food and humanely-treated meat and dairy products.

  • DC is totally lacking in quality grocers. With two grocers in CH, the Giant will probably improve because the number of shoppers will be reduced. That should improve customer service and the issue of running out of products. ET will be good for the neighborhood and good for Giant. Competition will improve the Giant.

    Stockard Channing, you’re completely right about small towns supporting more than once grocer. I’m from a small town and we had four or five gorcers and that doesn’t include the small convenience stores that were on every corner.

  • I still love the Mt. P Farmer’s market! There’s nothing like buying food DIRECTLY FROM THE FARMER. 🙂

  • This would be good news if it comes to fruitition. Even a year ago, before the new major developments within 2-3 blocks of the CH metro opened, the Giant was probably over capacity. If Highland Park, and the new condos nearby, ever actually fill a good chunk of their units, it will shorten the lines. Also, prices at the CH Giant are higher than prices at the O street Giant. Maybe some competition will reduce prices at CH Giant, too.

  • Borders! Borders! Borders!

  • Agreed. This is the one store (other than the gym) coming into DCUSA I am really excited about, very much hope this comes to fruition. Good prepared foods are sorely, sorely lacking around the area, and I would frequent this place several times a week for that, fresh fish if they carry it (the Giant fish section is awful), and other whole foods / trader joe’s type products.

    Giant continues to be iffy. Lots of times they run out of products, the lines take forever (for awhile they seemed to have baggers during peak times, which are badly needed, but that is very spotty and I haven’t seen them as much lately, and the cashiers are like molasses at times …), etc. I agree that a little competition would help them.

    And yes, without another grocery option, I hesitate to imagine how mobbed Giant will be once Highland Park and the new condos above Petworth Metro plus Allegro all fill up … not to mention folks with cars going to Target who want to do one-stop shopping …

  • Keep in mind that the new Harris Teeter isn’t really that far away for those in CH.

    And I get sick of the Giant, yet I shop there frequently. I’d like to have the ET available too. Just don’t go to the Giant around 6pm on Sunday or you are screwed. Sunday and Saturday AM is pretty decent to avoid long lines.

  • As other posters noted I’m excited for the new grocery store for two reasons.

    1) Hopefully less lines and giant mobs of people at giant.

    2) better, fresher fruits and vegetables.

  • What Tmoney said! That’s exactly why I want it. Light a fire under Giant’s butts.

  • loganmo, are prices at the O Street Giant really lower than ours? That is just ridiculous!

    Although I’m still mourning the fact that Trader Joe’s didn’t want to come to DCUSA, I’ll be psyched if ET does! What a perfect stop for some fruit and a little pre-made meal after going to the gym. Yeah!

  • I’m all for a good organic market. We also need to hand some kudos to Panam. It is terribly crowded, and you have to re-set your mindset before wading in, but I love shopping there.

  • Anonymous – ET carries Polyface products?? For real? That would be sweet.

    I’m consistently disappointed in the quality of the fresh foods at Giant (the meat, produce, and ESPECIALLY the fish, which I generally don’t buy because it’s mushy or falling apart). Having ET will be great for the off-season and for finding any of the things they don’t offer at the MP farmer’s market.

  • KKenyon — with the caveat that I’ve never shopped at ET and can’t guarantee that a DC-based store would carry the same products that are in Richmond, the ET’s website shows that they carry Polyface.


    In any case, despite PoP’s general indifference, I think that the comments on this post show a fairly healthy enthusiasm in the neighborhood for ET to come on board at DCUSA, both because they offer different products through a different business model and because, frankly, the Giant isn’t cutting it for many of us. (I’m fairly sure their CEO checks the neighborhood-based message boards, so if he’s reading — we’re waiting to shop here in Columbia Heights!)

  • I think it’s a stretch to say that 13 positive comments constitute “healthy enthusiasm in the neighborhood.” I’m not opposed to the store. Just sayin.

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