Uh Oh – Best Buy Closing in Columbia Heights?

A couple of weeks ago Best Buy announced it would be closing 50 big box stores around the country in 2013. While the list of stores had not been released a reader shares some scuttlebutt that Columbia Heights’ location in DC USA (14th and Irving St, NW) is on the list.

If accurate, do you think this would be a big loss for the DC USA mall or do you do most of your electronics shopping in Target anyway?

At least DSW is still coming…

132 Comment

  • good riddance….only good to physically see/touch an item before purchasing cheaper online

  • I do my electronics shopping online, mostly because I don’t need some idiot trying to sell me a 10-year warranty and a People Magazine subscription when I’m trying to buy an iPod charger.

  • their sales staff was always incredibly unhelpful

  • I think this is more about problems with Best Buy than Columbia Heights.

    • Mr. Dobolina, Mr. Bob Dobolina…so after all of this time, why did I just find out that Del the Funky Homosapien sampled that from The Monkees? I guess you learn something new everyday.

  • Bob Dobolina: “I think this is more about problems with Best Buy than Columbia Heights.”

    True, but that’s a big space to fill…and a bunch of jobs.

    • Good point about the jobs, it will be a pretty big loss to the neighborhood in that respect. Maybe they can farm people out to other locations in the metro area.

      • It’s not exactly a deep talent pool to draw from. I don’t know what the methodology was for closing these stores, but the staff certainly didn’t help their own cause here.

  • Well, not a huge loss, most of my electronics/media shopping is online anyway. Since there’s a big space opening up, maybe they can get an organic grocery store to open in its place, I hear there’s a great one down in Richmond that has been looking at locations in DC [/s].

  • Given the scale of the company’s problems, I’m not at all surprised. Best Buy today is more often used as a place to “test-drive” electronic devices before purchasing at cheaper stores or online. This location has absolutely nothing to recommend it over Amazon or even Target–no Magnolia department; limited selection of just about every item type; staff that (for the most part) have little to no knowledge about what it is they are selling; hell, the store is filthy, loud and generally just unpleasant to visit, so it even fails as a decent place to check out products you’d probably end up buying online.

    I feel badly for the people that will end up losing their jobs, but Best Buy as a whole is probably a dead man walking, and I think it’s likely to follow Circuit City to the grave in the not-so-distant future.

    • saf

      Bit by their own business practices. For so many years people went to better places to look at and learn about the stuff, then bought from Best Buy. And now it comes around on Best Buy.

    • The store is filthy? That store looks identical to every Best Buy I’ve ever walked into, you act like you saw hamburger grease dripping from the ceiling. LOL. What in God’s name are you talking about? The service sucked, but the place was clean as any other Best Buy I’ve seen.

  • If this rumor is true, I won’t be surprised. Electronics are still big-ticket items and they have plenty of competition from other deeply discounted stores. As for the possibility of DSW well, no matter the economy, people love their shoes-for-less, their lipsticks and their nail polish (little luxuries).

  • Yeah, their prices are ridiculous. I only bought headphones there because I couldn’t wait the 24 hours it would take to get them from Amazon. Plus it’s hidden.

  • Job loss and CoHi loosing an anchor store are downsides of this news. I for one like to order things online to the BB store so it is an easy return with no shipping hassle.

    • By CoHi, you mean “Columbia Heights,” right? Or do you mean, Circle of Health International, Connecticut Oral Health Initiative, or Center for Hope International? It gets confusing when people make up names for neighborhoods that already have names.

      Also, were we to follow the naming convention of SoHo and NoMa, Columbia Heights would be called something like NoFla for “north of Florida Avenue,” because Florida Ave forms most of the southern border of Columbia Heights.

      • you probably just need to get over this.

        • I gotta agree. If you are going to inject this opinion into every discussion thread, you’ll become a troll quicker than one can say “CoHi” or “AdMo.”

        • +1 on getting over it. Outside of “NoMa”, which is a feeble attempt to copy neighborhoods with actual character like SoHo (NYC) and SoMa (SF), I think it’s largely a result of texting. Columbia Heights =CoHi. It’s about text efficiency.

      • I hate stupid forced neighborhood abbreviations more than anyone and I still think you’re an idiot.

      • JPG – you feel superior now? good. now shut the eff up. you are annoying.

      • Also, please leave SoHo out of your litany. It’s in NY and it rooted and took hold. People don’t argue over the stupidity of the concept. Here, not only do people argue over the concept, it’s not even a novel idea; a bit like the Parisian “love locks” that people want to try in other locations around the world but it doesn’t take well in other places.

  • This space would be perfect for a cupcake shop.

  • I have always hated Best Buy and rarely shop there. Other people seem to, however, and it will be too bad to see the space empty. Hopefully another retailer will step in before too long.

  • I echo other commenters about shopping online primarily and only going there to test drive (which is still kind of important). But there’s plenty of stuff that Target doesn’t always have, the right movie, CD, or video game. Or even a decent simple power strip (not that Best Buy had that great of options/prices) but I needed something right away and BB had it. Maybe Radio Shack would suddenly become relevant?

    But the most concerning item is the empty space if this is true. What could go there? I’d love an organic grocer, but doubt that a tucked in location on the 2nd floor would work. Of course unless they got the the other street presence vacancy on Irving and made it 2 stories? Otherwise what could go there?

  • I would never buy big electronics at Target, I use Best Buy every time, even before I moved to this city. It’ll be hard to fill that space and will suck to have to travel farther to get stuff fixed or have carry it on the metro.

  • i’ve lived in columbia heights (two blocks from DC USA) for nearly two years and have never stepped foot in best buy

  • The future of most retail – electronics & clothing especially – will be smaller brick & mortar stores with knowledgeable staff, where you can see, touch, try-on or try-out a variety of products that you will then buy online.

  • As much as I don’t like the staff, Best Buy is conveniently located and I do shop there. I would miss having this store.

  • I think there are other chains that would be interested where it is of more value to see the item in person. Electronics retail is dying and there was a lot of overlap with Target and Radio Shack anyway. People were once lobbying REI which doesn’t have a DC store. That would be cool but maybe a pipedream since it isn’t groundfloor. Perhaps something entertainment oriented could go in there. A small Dave and Busters or Jeepers. Or a small two screen movie theater?

  • Well they lost a $500 ++ sale from me on monday. i asked the guy how long would it take to schedule them to come and install the LED TV i wanted to buy. they guy literally typed keys on the computer for 1/2 hour. i finally said alright i gotta go. he didn’t seem to care one bit about wasting my time or losing a sale.
    …I am told this is typical experience in other stores too.

  • I always found the service helpful, and it has been great to have them so convenient. I’ve bought a tv, a dvd, phones, a camera for the kids, a dryer, and a dishwasher, none of which I would have ordered on line.

    Most of the technophiles in my circle have been ordering online for decades, and before that they ordered from catalogs. But, BestBuy has been considered a model retailer so its notable to see them fall from grace. Sad for the employees.

  • me

    I, along with others on this board, have always found the staff to be extremely unhelpful, unknowledgeable, and sometimes, downright rude. While I feel bad that so many jobs will be lost, perhaps their lackluster performance on the job contributed to that specific store being on the list of this first major round of closures???

  • The CEO that came up with the plan to shut down the stores 2 weeks ago was fired/resigned yesterday. I would therefore take rumors of a shut down with a grain of salt.

    • me

      Their stock also started tanking yesterday. It wasn’t the CEO’s idea to close the stores and then everyone else in the company disagreed. This is the beginning of the end of them because they just can’t compete anymore. They’re going the way of Circuit City.

      • I had direct contact with the BB founder (Schulze) some years back and his investment folks constantly advised him to diversify out of Best Buy stock (his portfolio consisted of something ridiculous like 60% at the time!) but he was so confident/cocky in the company that he didn’t budge…wonder what he thinks now? Or hopefully he finally came to his senses

  • While Best Buy deserves to go the way of the dinosaur, I have to imagine that it’s a huge loss for the DCUSA project. Given how much trouble they’ve had finding tenants, I have to assume that losing one of its anchor stores is a huge problem.

  • Really glad to hear this is closing. I love buying expensive consumer electronics, and the staff always made it as difficult as possible for me to spend my money. No surprise that Best Buy is facing financial problems. Me and folks like me are literally begging them to take my money, and they won’t take it!

    One time I tried to buy a computer, and they said they only sell them with some mandatory $100 Best Buy ‘optimization’ BS software on it. One time I tried to buy a microphone and nobody there knew where it was. When I tried to buy an HDTV nobody would help.

  • Whenever a chain announces plans to close stores, everyone speculates about their store. Kindof a useless post. I would think the Rockville BB, for example, would be more of a candidate for closing. No one is ever in there. Columbia Heights isn’t as busy as Tenley, but it seems to do a decent a mount of traffic.

  • I fell in love with Best Buy (Pentagon City) when I first came here for school (mid-90′s), I thought it was the best ever. After school and a couple of years in Boston, I moved to MN (home of Best Buy) and continued my love affair with it there. Needless to say, I have spent A LOT of money at Best Buy over the years but with all of that said, times are changing and big box retailers are electronic stores are struggling to compete with online retailers.

    With their current business model they are straight hemorrhaging money and the future isn’t looking to hot if they stay the course. That is why Best Buy is changing their business model and reshaping the big box stores that they don’t close down. Perhaps those people that lose their jobs in the big box BB stores will be rehired with the launch of the new 100 BB mobile stores.

    CNBC (I think it was) recently did a very interesting hour long look at Best Buy and what happened not only here but around the world (they really screwed up). If you get a chance, you should check it out, I found it pretty fascinating and well worth my hour.

  • Now that everyone—myself included—buys their electronics online at Amazon, maybe Amazon should put a big showroom in this space, where you can go check out the flat screen TVs and home theater items, and then go home and order them.

  • Oh and to make matter worse and add another layer or uncertainty for the company (not sure if you all were aware or even care for that matter), BB CEO Brian Dunn left the company yesterday after an investigation was launched for “personal conduct”. I think that means he was a wild boy outside of his professional persona but they are not telling exactly what the deal is.

    I am going to unfortunatley call it first, either the BB in Potomac Yards or Pentagon City isn’t too far behind the Columbia Heights BB. I don’t see how they can have those two stores so close to each other given the circumstances. I could easily see Target expanding and taking over the the Potomac BB space becoming a Super Target.

  • Granted Best Buy is a national chain so much of any profits it makes leave DC but at the same time I find it fascinating that so many comments for this post have people talking about buying online ‘because it is cheaper.’ While it is true that online stores tend to carry products with lower prices it seems that many consumers don’t recognize the impact that online purchasing has in their own communities. I.E. a large retail space in their neighborhood being vacant.

    It seems as though many individuals have little concern over their local economies so long as things are ‘cheaper to buy online.’ Granted in cases like Best Buy the service may have been lacking but the same cannot always be said for other independent stores around town. When those stores close their doors don’t worry about the impact of an empty store front has on development because you can purchase your goods from an online retailer that you makes you feel good because of the ‘savings.’

    • I sort of agree. If we’re talking about small local businesses suffering from people who come in, browse the wares, and then leave to purchase online, then this can be a definite problem. Most of those stores have already closed their doors – e.g. vacuum cleaner shops and other small electrics stores, main street department stores, etc.

      But in this case we’re talking about a national chain that is driven by the bottom line. Best Buy very well knew the retail environment for consumer electronics when they decided to open the Columbia Heights location. So I don’t feel too bad if their decision is now to pull out.

      And I’m not going to feel guilty about saving hundreds of dollars per year on electronics by purchasing through the Internet. The market is what it is.

  • I think the “big box store” is a dying concept in general, which is too bad for a retail center like DC USA that was designed to have several as anchors.

    Not sure what exactly could take its place–I suppose I could see another discount store like Forever 21 making a killing there (although it would be mayhem inside).

  • ledroittiger

    I like to get my stuff as soon as I want it. And if that means spending a little bit more, I don’t mind. Oh well, at least I have a reason to never go to Columbia Heights again. Never heading west of 11th St…Maybe I can get Pete’s to deliver to the corner of NJ and FLA.

    • Tenleytown has a Best Buy and a Pete’s within a few blocks of each other. Stop by for a slice and a new camera. Marvel at the bustling, dynamic corner of Wisconsin and Albemarle.

  • Aside from best buy, they should not have built an indoor mall in the middle of what is a natural pedestrian area. Even pre DC USA you could tell this was a horrible idea.

  • DCUSA needs a Trader Joes! 10000x more useful for people than a crappy big box electronics store.

  • Prediction on what will go in there in it’s place:

    TJ Max or similar store.
    Will sit empty for several years
    Fast food joint

    Simply not enough disposable income in this immediate area for the things people are hoping for in these comments. Economic realities are what they are.

    • Isn’t there already a Marshall’s in DCUSA?

      I don’t think a single shopping center could support both a Marshall’s and a TJ Maxx, but who knows.

      • Allison

        I’ve seen plenty of strip malls in other states (namely Texas) where Marshalls and TJ Maxx co-exist happily. Almost symbiotically, actually, by drawing in a certain demographic but not carrying the exact same products/clothes. With clothes, you can shop both, but with electronics the focus is more “I need one and one only” and it’s a utilitarian choice between the black power strip at Best Buy or the black power strip at Target.

        • Really? I’m not doubting you, I just find it odd considering TJ Maxx owns Marshalls. Why would they open two stores in the same small shopping complex?

          • Actually I do agree with Allison’s point – symbiosis. The 2 stores are not direct competitors; they are different species and their long-term relationship feeds one another.

          • Fair enough. I just don’t see it. Blindfold me, and drop me into one or the other, and there is no way I could tell the difference. They’re carbon copies of each other, if you ask me. Like Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s — same joint, different name. I guess that’s just me. Maybe this is why I wasn’t a business major?

          • The thing about TJ Maxx versus Marhsalls is that while they have similar concepts from the outside (discounted, one-stop shop {clothing, housewares}, etc.) the quality does differ. We’re not talking top-of-the line for either but TJ Maxx has some better-quality items, though you probably have to dig or go often to find them and a little more variety. That said, though, I would say that the quality of the stores vary from state-to-state and even city-to-city. For example, the TJ Maxx stores in FL seem to be so much better than in DC (heaven knows why).

          • Good to know. Thanks for the reply.

    • “[N]ot enough disposable income in the immdiate area”? Have you seen real estate values and rents lately? It’s true that those high monthly costs cut into disposabel income, but mortgage companies and landlords (especially the former) look at the ratio of houising payment to income. That leaves a LOT of disposable income (ecpecially if you include the neighboorhoods directly to the south and west).

      • Sorry for all of the typos. They may be a sign that I’m past the point of “disposable brain cells.”

      • For every overpriced home on the block, there are two or three that haven’t changed hands in many years and likely won’t for many years. Sure, the area is way more wealthy than it was even ten years ago, but it’s not to the point where any big retailer than caters to higher disposable income is going to take a chance there. Look at the existing retail, fast food, marshalls, target, discount shoe stores, etc. Look at the retailers that said “no thanks”, wholefoods, ellwood thompson, etc.

        • Look at all the (non-chain) bars and restaurants that have opened or announced plans to open in the last three years alone. Nothing says “disposable income” like pricey beer and diner food.

          • The business model for a small bar or restaurant is different than a big box retailer that needs high sales volume every day. REI or something similar would fail almost immediately here based on current economics.

          • Your bold, uninformed pronouncements do not convince me. Do you have any clue how much income is within 2 miles of DC USA? I will admit that I don’t. But it’s got to be in the 99th percentile compared to other 2-mile radii around the country. Too bad you will almost certainly never read this.

  • I’ve always had a good customer service experience here. I bought a DSLR one time and recently assisted my girlfriend when she bought her laptop. Both times the associates were very helpful and knew their stuff.

    However, I bought my own laptop at the newer Best Buy out in Lanham. I chose that one because I didn’t want to carry a brand new laptop box across town via Metro and I hate driving to DC USA due to the congestion. It was much quicker to drive out to Lanham from Captiol Hill (plus as a bonus there’s a Wegmans!).

  • Worst Buy has been a joke for a long time. The only reason to buy anything from them is a last minute need for something urgent– can’t wait another week for a flatscreen to arrive from Amazon? How often does that happen?

    The worst was the service. Those blue shirted know-nothings spew the same talking points over and over; I’m no tech genious but two hours of internet research prior to walking in the store gave me much more information than they could. The biggest thing for me was finding a TV that avoided the “soap opera effect”, and they couldn’t tell me anything about that. Difference between plasma and lcd? Nope. Finally got them to give me control of a plasma and LCD side by side, then used my iphone to compare prices on the same model of plasma I wanted, and it was $200 less from Amazon. I offered to buy from them if they could match the Amazon price, but they couldn’t, so I thanked them for their time and ordered the tv online. It arrived the next morning.

    Oh, and no: I don’t need your $30 HDMI cable. They’re $2.99 on Amazon.

  • I haven’t gone into this store all that much, but I’ve definitely gone there for some things (and visiting family members were happy to have an electronics place so close by).

    Sure, Target has a lot of electronics… but it doesn’t have appliances, and lacks some of the more specialized kinds of electronics.

    I tend to do my appliance browsing online these days, and a lot of models are online-only. However, I discovered recently when trying to buy a dishwasher that you can order the machine online, but if you want to order installation too, you have to do it at the store in person. So there definitely _are_ advantages to having a brick-and-mortar store close by.

    I hope this scuttlebutt will turn out to be inaccurate. Hasn’t DCUSA been having a difficult time filling its existing spaces?

    • By “online,” I meant on the websites of places that have brick-and-mortar stores, like Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowe’s.

      In my experience, those have always been priced competitively in relation to whatever was on Amazon.com. They also offer haul-away of old appliances, and usually have some kind of free delivery deal.

      I would be hesitant to buy an appliance from a random Amazon Marketplace merchant I’d never heard of — too many potential hassles as far as having to move the thing myself, connect it myself, etc., etc.

  • I too buy most of my electronics online, as I bet most people who post on this site (assuming this website’s audience uses the web more than the majority of the population). Still – how can this store leaving (purely speculative) be good for the neighborhood?

    Let’s hope this store stays. I’d like to imagine that the stores in big population centers like DC are the last to go.

  • Generally bad for Columbia Heights, but overall better for DC.

    In the end it was between this location and the one in Tenley Town. All things equal, it would have been pretty bad for Tenley to have it close as it is pretty much “the” retailer there and its foot traffic is the only reason the Ace Hardware Store and the Container Store are there. If that BB were to go, those two wouldn’t be far behind.

    However, things aren’t equal. BB is paying a higher lease premium in Columbia Heights than Tenley and with American University right there, its per sq/ft sales are better.

    If they did close, I wouldn’t be surprised if Target takes their space. That Target does gangbusters business.

  • Here’s a thought: why not just move Washington Sports Club down there? They’ve already got capacity problems upstairs…

  • The company’s CEO just resigned……

    Loosing a lot of their business to on-line markets. Unfortunately if they do close that is a big hole to fill and big space tenants are harder to find.

  • Too bad if indeed it doesn’t work out for them there. I guess this means even more of the mandated parking space will be empty.
    For replacement, how about splitting that space up and attract a number of smaller clothing stores to have a proper ‘mall’ atmosphere?

    Alternatively, since CH probably will never get a bookstore, how about moving a library in there if no business will take it? That might generate traffic for the other stores.

  • i’d echo from above that wsc or target moving into the space seems the most likely if there isn’t someone taking it up right away.

  • This news blows. It’s pretty obvious that it will be replaced by another national chain. This landlord leases to nothing else.

  • I’ve never had any issues with customer service there. Besides, I always take the complaints of the commenters here with a grain of salt. Too much negativity. If you got bad service, I bet you were a douche.

    • Allison

      Re: “If you got bad service, I bet you were a douche.”

      Former customer service representative at various electronics and entertainment stores says YES. This is correct. Teehee, I remember my manager purposefully making the lady we all hated wait an extra ten minutes while he checked the back room for stock just because she was mean. It kind of became a game to watch her get all red and twitchy.

      • HAHA! I bet that was funny. I see people being shitty all the time around here b/c they think they’re smarter than the person behind the counter. I guess I worked my way to where I am and have more respect for them.

        • Allison

          Indeed. I can always tell immediately whether someone has ever worked a significant period in the restaurant or customer service industry by the way they treat the people working there after they’ve climbed up the ladder.

  • brookland_rez

    That would be a perfect space for another Forman Mills.

  • For all you Amazon users, that low price comes with a high cost:

    Long but very entertaining read: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/12/in-the-wake-of-protest-one-womans-attempt-to-unionize-amazon/249853/

  • A non Lucky Strikes DC bowling alley would be ideal for this location. This, Eataly or a movie theater (like E Street) is all I will accept.

  • How about a mega church minus the sketchy preacher?

    • hispanicandproud, I hope you are kidding about a Mega Church with a jack leg pimp preacher. LOL

      However, I’ve been shopping at Best Buy for years in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and in D.C. The only problem I have with the Columbia Heights location is the congestion and the parking. I prefer to patronize the Wisconsin Avenue, NW Best Buy in Tennlytown or Anne Arundel Mills. I brought one of my flat screen televisions at Sears in White Oak.

  • How about an Old Navy!

    • Allison

      +1! I was just thinking the other night about how I hate to haul myself up to Prince George’s Plaza every time I want to buy a pair of cheapo jeans.

  • WHAT! I need a new tv and NO not buying from Target! UGH! What a loss for DC!!!

  • the perfect place to set up a money order/check cashing/wings & mambo sauce/campaign headquarters for our next mayor.

  • I rarely complain, but complained to the national headquarters when the manager in-charge yelled at me for asking for some help. The staff there was among the worst I have ever seen. You could stand there and just watch them skate around the store, pretending to be busy and avoiding eye contacte with any customers. It was as if they were in a competition to see who could do the least to further the sales of their employer.

    Now that they are going to be out of a job, I am sure these worthless peeps are going to be whining about how unfair and how descriminatory it is.

  • Not that we needed facts before getting all worked up…Best Buy announced the stores to close and CoHi isn’t among them. Closest one slated to close is @ Landmark mall in Alexandria.
    More here:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304444604577343884165564936.html

  • thebear

    I haven’t set foot in a BB since I bought my last VCR from the one at Pentagon Row in 1995. The unit I bought was on sale for something like $129. At the checkout, they asked me if I wanted an extended warranty for only $79.95. I told the gal no. She continued to try upselling me on it and I finally had it and asked her “What part of NO, I DO NOT WANT AN EXTENDED WARRANTY are you unable to comprehend?” She wouldn’t stop. Manager came over and went on about what a great value it is. Finally got them to shut up and ring-out. Fast forward a few weeks to when my credit card bill arrived: There was a second charge for the $79.95 anyway! They refused to refund it telling me it was a final sale even though “you may not have agreed to it at checkout, we are are required to sell it to you.” They refused to put anything in writing as to why, or by whose authority, it was “required.” Callled CC, told them it was unauthorized and they reversed it. BB had the f*ing gall to try threatening me with legal action for doing that! (Remarkably, that VCR still works fine even, without the extended warranty.)

    So, BB never got anything but bad WOM from me since. I have heard quite a few other folks over the years recount similar experiences with them. A far as I’m concerned, BB should go out of business completely just like Circuit City. They are completely unnecessary, even as a showroom. Maybe some local shops might start springing-up again that actually have a clue about what people want and provide actual service that would justify their being in business.

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