Dear PoPville – Can a Harris Teeter and a “big grocery store” Coexist a Few Blocks from Each Other?


Potential future home of a Harris Teeter at southern end of Sherman Ave, NW

Dear PoP,

So, I’m confused.  A little while ago, you reported that Harris Teeter will be coming to the area just north of the 9:30 Club.  Now I hear that the DC government is considering a tax break so Howard Town Center (including a big grocery store) can be built just blocks away.  Are these both happening?  Can they co-exist?  I’m all for more retail and grocery store competition in the neighborhood, but this seems like overkill.  What exactly is going on here?

Anyone think a Harris Teeter and a large grocery store can coexist just a few blocks away from each other?

30 Comment

  • We have a Safeway and a Harris Teeter within a few blocks of each other in SE Capitol Hill (plus a Yes! Organic and Eastern Market a little further west). They all seem to be doing well.

    • All three stores are different enough (location, selection, service) that they can coexist without really competing with each other. I expect that SE also benefits from a lot of costumers coming in from Anacostia since there aren’t real grocery options there.

  • In Columbia Heights/Adams Morgan there is a Harris Teeter within two blocks of the Safeway, which is in turn about 3 blocks from Target (with grocery section) and Giant. And the neighborhood is still underserved in terms of grocery store capacity, as evidenced by the long checkout lines and empty shelves that often plague all but HT. HT targets a higher end segment of the market than these other places, anyway.

    • The coming of the Harris Teeter really forced the Columbia Road Safeway to up its game. I don’t think that renovation would have happened if the Safeway hadn’t found itself with competition.

  • Grocery stores survive close to one another in many places that are less dense than Shaw. In areas that are less dense, they might be 1/2 mile apart instead of a quarter of a mile, but in order to get the same number of customers as you can get in shaw, they have a radius of a few miles, rather than a few blocks.

    So, yes, I think 2 grocery stores can survive near each other.

  • H Street’s about to have a Giant quite close to NoMa’s Teeter…it probably would’ve done more good further down the road, but what can you do.

  • Howard Town Centre will never actually happen. So, no need to worry!

    • Yeah…if there are in fact two different grocery stores slated for that area, then I give the Harris Teeter a 90% chance of happening and the Howard Town Center grocery store a 10% chance of happening. So no need to worry…haha.

  • From what I have been told, the Harris Teeter IS the big grocery store that is going there. No other grocery stores will be in the development.

  • I’d say yes – the new Mega-Giant at the City Market at O site is just a few blocks west and north of the existing Safeway at City Vista. Grocery stores are weird animals – some people go wherever based on what’s convenient – this one is on the way home, that one is near work, etc. Other people have a brand loyalty and will walk past three grocery stores to get to the one that has the product they need, has a cheaper price on milk, has a better store layout, has “fresher” produce, or whatever.

    I go to a few different stores, and I’m not loyal to anybody. I’ll go to the Columbia Heights Giant if I’m already running errands in that neighborhood, to the City Vista Safeway because it’s convenient and has free garage parking, or to a Harris Teeter if I’m out of a particular frozen dish I like that only they carry. But I know that makes me an outlier in some cases to the people who will only shop at one store ever.

    So, as long as it’s not two Harris Teeters a few blocks apart, I don’t see the problem. But even then, Starbucks might beg to differ with me that you need second locations of the same business more than 100 feet away from each other!

  • Howard Town Center? Yeah, I expect delivery date to be in the 2035 time frame.

  • Harris Teeter is a union buster. Safeway and Giant are not. I’ll walk a few blocks past the HT to give my dollars to a store that gives a flying f about their employees.

    • So that explains why Harris Teeter is so much better.

    • You should do your research before making such statements about Safeway….Especially since you want to vote with your pocketbook. It would suck to support a Union Buster like Safeway when you didn’t bother to check your sources….

    • Clearly this person has never been to the Safeway on 17th or the HT in Adams Morgan. There is an obvious difference in the level of customer service the employees provide. The HT employees actually appreciate your business as a customer whereas the Safeway employees act as if they could care less whether you shop there or not.

      • I’m not sure what Safeway being union or not has to do with its customer service vs. Harris Teeters. I’d blame the management culture at Safeway, not the union workers. It’s about the training.

        • no its about people who can’t be fired because of union rules.

          • B.S. Anyone, union or not, can be fired for not doing their job correctly, up to and including customer service (which is most definitely part of the job). The employer just has to do it right, warn them the first time, have reasonable work rules, apply them evenhandedly. You know, be fair. But if a checkout clerk doesn’t do the job, they can and will be fired.

    • Whole Foods isn’t unionized, and their customer service is superb. Employee pay and benefits, from what I understand, is the best in the business. Heck, I have thought about applying to work at Whole Foods (and I’m a Ph.D.!)

      • You’re misinformed. Wholefoods forces their employees into part time gigs to avoid having to pay health care or any other benefits, or decent wages, and the CEO was one of the biggest most vocal opponents of Obamacare because he doesn’t want to contribute to health care costs for his employees.

    • I’m generally a union gal – but Harris Teeter employees (Kalorama store) have been there forever, are helpful, sweet, personable, kind and seem pretty happy – I’d give them a 100% satisfaction.

      I go to Giant in CH much less often, but find it is very hit or miss – yes, bigger store – so bigger issues. Some very good helpful people – and some surly cashiers – I’ll give them an 80%.

  • I used to be fairly pro-union, but after being in D.C. for more than a decade, I’m not so sure any more.

    In the case of WMATA and the unionized grocery stores, it seems like unions protect their members from getting anything more than a slap on the wrist, even when their actions are egregious (e.g., Metrorail drivers sleeping and texting while driving, etc.).

    Obviously the management culture at Safeway/Giant is at fault too, but I have a feeling that the management would shrug and say that union protections mean that employees don’t feel any obligation to provide good customer service, etc.

  • Based on the lines at the Giant since the Petworth Safeway shut down, Id say yes they could. Not our problem, anyway, right? After years of underservice, to the winner goes the spoils!

  • I live in proximity to two HTs, Potomac Ave & First St., and Safeway @ Kentucky Ave. I go to all three plus Whole Foods on P (they really need a WF east of 14 St.)

    I generally go to Potomac Ave HT for produce and crab meat since they have it for $12.99 and I make crab often. Also, for toiletries.

    I generally go to Kentucky Ave. Safeway for immediate needs for food and because I appreciate that their employees generally do better as far as pay, benefits (I am pro-Union) etc. Plus I have a lingering affection for Safeway since it’s more historically “D.C.”

    I do the HT @ First NE (or the SW @ Waterfront Mall) if I happen to be in the area headed home and don’t feel like going past my apartment in NE Capitol Hi to SE Capitol Hill for groceries.

    I do Whole Foods if I want excellent quality food which is somewhat often. In addition, I’ll cross-town for Trader Joes if I need the cheap wine (better than Whole Foods’ cheap wine) or its excellent Indian microwaveable dinners.

  • Anyone have any data on grocery stores per capita in DC?
    Right now it feels like we are on the low end of the spectrum.
    More stores means more competition which means lower prices for us.

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