Best Cellars in Dupont Closing Feb. 13th

by Prince Of Petworth February 2, 2010 at 4:30 pm 41 Comments

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Best Cellars is located at 1643 Connecticut Avenue, NW.

“Dear PoP,

I was in the Dupont Best Cellars wine store yesterday and noticed that everything is 20-25% off. When I asked what the occasion was, they told me they are closing. Why? Because the rent is too high. They also told me the space they are in will be taken over by a cell phone store.

So to sum up, the neighborhood is losing a great little wine store and is “gaining” a cell phone store that I’m guessing most of us would gladly do without. I don’t know who the owners of that building are but thanks for absolutely nothing. Way to put lining your pockets ahead of what’s best for the neighborhood.

Depressed in Dupont”

I also called to confirm that they were closing and it is indeed the case. The last day in their current location will be Feb. 13th however they are looking for new retail space. When they find a new location I’ll be sure to update.

  • Michael

    While this is a shame, I wouldn’t blame the owner of the building – can you honestly expect them to turn down the larger amount of money that the cell phone store is willing to pay? Instead I would blame the people who buy things at cell phone stores and make them so profitable. If you don’t want more cell phone stores then organize people to stop patronizing them.

    • ah

      Is this the model, though? I assumed they’re like bank ATMs, with the bank buying the storefronts primarily as advertising with the added bonus of occasionally making a sale. Whether it’s ATT, Verizon, TMobile, or someone else, I can’t believe that we’re somehow underserved by their stores. It has to be something else driving it.

  • pop-up owner

    I hear a cricket chirping…

  • I think over the last few years DC has gained more wine stores than it has lost.

  • God, does DC need another cellphone stores? I live in Adams Morgan – it seems like all we can attract are cellphone stores and CVS. I’d much rather have a wine shop.

  • Ryu

    “Way to put lining your pockets ahead of what’s best for the neighborhood.” – Seriously? Wow.

    • Anonymous

      Ditto that. The cell store wouldn’t make my life better, but it’s really hard for me to expect the building owner to operate part of his business as a charity for wine-lovers in DuPont. Not like he’d get a tax write-off for the lost rent.

      • Right right, and there’s really no reason to expect your neighbor not to bulldoze his place and put up a 8 story building. He’s just leaving money on the table!

        It’s called zoning, honey. And retail is zoned just as much like you and your neighbors house. Assuring an appropriate retail mix is part of that.

        • Anonymous

          And your point? One retail joint is going in for another retail joint. Try keeping things in their given context.

          The fundamental issue here is that the letter-writer would rather have one type of retail over another, and would prefer to do it at the building owner’s expense under the guise of “what’s best for the neighborhood” (translation: “what I prefer”).

          • new hampy

            couldn’t have said it better anon 10:51!

  • Katie

    What a shame! Best Cellars will definitely be missed. I’m sure they’re putting in a Verizon store to compete with the AT&T store across the street.

  • Is that property owned or managed by the same people as the Cafe Midi->Potbelly space? I was very sad when Cafe Midi shut down (which was also due to high rent — I had the understanding they were intentionally priced out of existence, although that might have been speculation). They had the best eggs in town.

  • RD

    it is unbelievable the number of cell phone stores in this one town. do people not know you can buy them on the internet? for a store that sells a product that people buy every 1 or 2 years, i can’t understand why there needs to be a store on every block.

  • bcb

    Supply and demand – maybe. Put down the cell phones. Pick up more glasses of wine.

  • dcdirewolf

    Cell phones are much more useful and needed by more people than bottles of wine. Makes sense.

  • MtP

    I only shop for cell phones in store fronts I find unattractive. True story!

  • H

    I blame cell phones for this whole predicament.

  • DCster

    Maybe they shouldn’t have had so many free wine tastings -just kidding – I’m sure that’s what made them so beloved by their customer base. Sad to see so much turnover on that stretch of Connecticut Ave (the international bookstore, Lambda, this)

  • KStreetQB

    Never liked the wine they stocked, but loved the wine tasting. Move to Shaw!

  • KK

    High rent also caused the closure of the dance studio above Best Cellars. As much as I love wine, I think this is more of a tragedy. There aren’t any other dance studios in the dupont area. Replacing a great wine shop and a dance studio with a cell phone store frankly sucks.

  • mtumba djibouti

    Well, it really is a shame the way Dupont Circle neighborhood stores have relentlessly disappeared over the past 5-8 years, but Best Cellars really is a sadly crappy wine store that somehow almost always had crappy wine at virtually every price point. They were convenient as a total last ditch place to grab a bottle when you were desperate and hadn’t planned ahead, and it really was a great location for a good wine store, and I AM sad to see another neighborhood business leave because of high rents, but they really did suck, too…

  • Irving Streete

    Those bemoaning the loss of Best Cellars — which confess I never liked — should wander a couple of blocks down to Connecticut Ave Wines and Liquors, at Ct and Q. Doesn’t look like much on the outside but they have much more and — to my palate — better wine than BC ever did. It’s not pretty, or simple (no condescending tasting notes). It’s just good.

  • We only have ourselves to blame. If booze-shops are becoming cellphone shops, clearly we need to stop all this inane conversational crap and start drinking. It’s the only way. Talking is for bastards anyway.

  • Matt G

    To me, this is a further (albeit small) indication that the red line neighborhoods of Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Woodley Park, and Cleveland Park are experiencing a bit of a dip in form. Growth seems to be shifting eastward towards the green line neighborhoods of U Street, Columbia Heights, and Petworth.

  • DancingQueen

    I think the owner of that building raised the rent like 4x or 5x what they had been previously. So it’s not that Best Cellars was failing at that location – it’s probably that the landlord just wants more money than he/it was getting without regard for the makeup of the retail and office space in the area. I do not think it’s a good thing when the building owner cares only for its bottom line and isn’t invested in the community. But that’s just me.

    Joy of Motion, a non-profit that had a dance studio in that building for 29 years, moved out at the end of December because they could not afford the new, much higher rent the owner was asking. It is a shame to lose both of these local businesses that added to the community.

  • Jim

    Lots of ridiculous statements about “crappy wine” here. I regularly found decent wines at decent prices every time I was in there. The staff was knowledgeable and friendly. Maybe the rents in Petworth are more reasonable…

    • Heather

      well said Jim. I would be honored to have BC move to petworth. Imagine! A less shady place within walking distance to buy your beer and wine! What a lovely thought. We’re already getting a Thai restaurant, it’s only uphill from here :-)

  • Columbia Heights Boy

    Go to D’vines in Columbia Heights. They are always super nice when I stop in and help me out. Course Best Cellars was great to have when in the area, but isn’t there a liquor store just a few blocks down on Q?

  • Anonymous

    Even though I only go into a cell phone store every 2-3 years, I appreciate the physical location because I like to go inside and look at and feel the actual phones and talk to a real sales rep, rather than buying them over the internet. Nevertheless, I do feel that a lot of great businesses are being pushed out of the Dupont area because of high rents. So I would gladly take the trip to one of the other less convenient verizon stores in DC once every three years, if it meant saving another unique business.

  • Isn’t D’vines owned by the same people as the wine store at 18th and Florida (I think it’s called D’Vino). If so, I must ask if they carry the same selection at the same prices, because although I used to walk past D’Vino everyday, and often bought beer there, I almost never bought wine there. Why? Because they never had any wine for less than $10. Actually, most of it wasn’t anywhere near $10.

    I don’t care how fancy a wine store you are…you still need to offer at least a token cheap wine for people like me. Best Cellars always had a few wines for $7 or $8, so I gave them my business. The same goes for Whole Foods.

  • Denise

    Closing, eh?

    I visited once and the clerk was rude and condescending.


  • Heather

    I am sad to see Best Cellers go. I worked for them a long while ago and really love the business model and they do have loyal customers, and I’ve purchased many a great and affordable bottle from them. I don’t think that it’s fair that this should be an argument on who is more worthy to have the space, or if BC is the best wine store in the city.

    What’s interesting here, to me anyhow, is the surging rise in the market for square footage. The cost of living in this city is sky rocketing, which will move the quaintness into the smaller areas and allow only the larger companies to survive in the big retail markets.

  • Victoria

    D’vines always has a huge display in the center of the store of at least 15 different wines priced at 2 for $20.00 (that’s $10.00 a bottle) I’ve found some great ones here. They also have 3-4 near the counter at 2 for $15.00.

    As for cell phone stores – the physical stores in high-traffic places are loss-leaders, essentially just advertising. So maybe the small businesses that we really want should all just offer “naming rights,” – just plaster the windows the f**king Cricket and ATT advertisements then offer the diverse goods and services a city really needs inside.

  • AdMo

    I can’t believe anyone would bemoan the closing of a Best Cellars, it’s a crappy chain that has a limited selection and charges a substantial markup with the only value added being their weird categorization system. I’ve never understood why people need that, we’ve all consumed wine hundreds of times and yet some people can’t seem to remember how 6 or 7 basic varieties generally taste. The entire US population could easily tell you whether Sprite has more of a citrus flavor than Mountain Dew, but change the question to sauvignon blanc versus chardonnay and suddenly everyone needs a cheat sheet.

    Do we need another cell phone store on CT? Hell no, but we don’t need another overpriced faux-ethnic restaurant, chain coffee shop, hair salon, or drug store on that strip either, it’s not like somebody came along and plucked the lone flower in that ugly mile.

    • Irving Streete

      I can’t quite work up the kind of venom you seem to have channeled. Nonetheless, well put.

  • Well, there seems to be plenty of open retail space in the new building at the GA. Ave- Petworth Metro stop. Maybe Best Cellars can open a new branch there. Right now, the only wine option is the bulletproof liquor store a couple of blocks south.
    I don’t begrudge building owners getting as much money from their tenants as they can. That’s the way capitalism works. Clearly, if they were charging too much in rent, they would not be able to find any tenants.
    Niche stores – cupcakes, wine, coffee, books – are difficult to turn a profit on, particularly if what you are offering is available at larger stores at lower prices. A lot of people talk a good game about supporting local retailers but when push comes to shove, they take their money to where it will stretch the farthest – which is completely understandable. Someone posted that Best Cellars always had several wines for $7-8. You have to sell an awful lot of $7-8 wine to pay rent and expenses for a place on DuPont Circle. I don’t begrudge someone not being able to afford wine that costs more than $8 a bottle; but I also don’t begrudge a retailer who can’t afford to sell $8 a bottle wine.

    My captcha is “moochers that”

  • Best Cellars Manager

    Manager of the closing Best Cellars here. I am not here to defend or bash our system, wines or employees. However, thanks for those of you who say you will miss us. We will miss being in Dupont. We’ve been here for over 8 years, and seen a lot of change. Thanks to all of those who made it fun. As PoP mentioned, I will gladly update on a new location, though sadly, Petworth isn’t likely a viable option since we rely so much on foot traffic. For those of you who do bemoan our selection or have other complaints, please let us know (bcdupont@aptea.com). If we are opening a new place, we might as well make it something you might actually enjoy too. Thanks.

  • BCCustomer

    I will miss Best Cellars. they were always helpful and noncondescending. I, for one, will NOT frequent D’Vino instead. The one time I went to D’vino they had a sign up saying some of the wine was 20% off. When I asked the clerk whether the price listed on the wine bottles the sign indicated was the already reduced price. He acted like I was an idiot, told me it wasn’t, then with a HUGE sigh proceeded to walk over with a sticker gun and relabel the wine — like I didn’t understand his verbal explanation. I walked out without buying a bottle and will never go back.

    On the other hand, I’ve heard Cashion’s owners are opening a wine and cheese store at the corner of 18th and Wyoming. I think it is called AM? I’m hoping they will stock reasonably priced wines. Cross your fingers.

  • Eli

    I went to Best Cellars the other week after getting a Living Social deal. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The staff was helpful, and they had a nice liqueur tasting. I had certainly planned to return. Ah well.

  • AdMo

    I can’t believe anyone would want to open a wine and cheese shop across the street from DeVino’s, but so goes 18th street.

    Agreed that DeVino’s staff can be hit or miss on attitude and that they don’t carry enough stuff that is soft on the weeknight budget, but in terms of actual wine knowledge the staff is pretty good for a store that straddles specialty and OMGLATEFORDINNERPARTYNEEDREDNOTMERLOTHERES12DOLLARSBYE trade.

    I will say that as someone who enjoys whiskey and rum I sing a little song every time a wine shop closes, as that’s more trade that can help prop up the few stores with any selection and fair prices that do carry hard stuff. The margins are better on wine, and more wine trade usually means more people buying anything besides rotgut and AbsoluCaptiBelveTanqueJack.

  • I understand the free market and the owner wanting to sell to a higher bidder, but I thought Best Cellars was a great addition to the Dupont area. The staff there was always very helpful and friendly, something I can not say about the AT&T staff across the street or the T-Mobile store south of the circle on Connecticut.

    I went in tonight and said goodbye and thanks to Ali, Lindsey, and Larry.


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