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Might Want to Reconsider Their Tagline – Ellwood Thompson’s No longer Coming to Columbia Heights

by Prince Of Petworth November 19, 2010 at 11:42 am 66 Comments

Well, most of us suspected this for months now but it’s finally official. Makes me laugh when I see their tagline “Real. Honest. Food.” Ah, that still crack me up. Ok, sorry. Lydia DePillis from the City Paper has the word from CM Jim Graham:

“Little did I know how conservative, really timid, they would be come…they’re going to pay for this very bad decision.”

Graham expressed confidence that another organic grocer could be found to occupy the space; discussions are already underway with “a whole group of them.”

Wow, I wonder what “they’re going to pay for this very bad decision” means.

But of far greater interest – who are the other organic grocers that could come?

  • HM

    Gee, that’s a real shocker.

  • hungeegirl

    the city paper article says exactly how they are going to pay…..one million dollars for breaking their agreements.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Ah yes it does. Wow, that is a serious repercussion.

    • anan

      Wow. Genius business decision. Had they opened in that location when they said, they would have MADE 1 million by now. Instead they are out a Mil? Remind me not to buy any stock in Ellwood Thompsons.

      • Kev29

        Or they could have opened and lost 3 million dollars

        • anan

          Not very likely. But I suppose if anyone could pull that off. It would be Ellwoods.

  • The Situation

    It means… “and will lose about a million dollars in breaking its agreements”

  • The CP post mentions that they will have to pay $1M to back out of the agreements. Maybe that’s what he means. Or maybe he’s going to go down to Richmond and beat them over the head with an oversize heirloom organic zucchini (when they’re in season, of course)

  • joe

    A Trader Joe’s would be awesome

  • 14th Street Resident

    Kite Store emporium

  • Anonymous

    +1 million

  • Mary

    Yes, Trader Joe’s – PLEASE!!!!

  • schweeney

    With the “fresh” food section in the Target and the Giant both within a 1 block radius, I’m not at all surprised they decided to back out.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly my thoughts. You don’t locate a specialty grocer immediately next door to a mega-retailer that just expanded to a semi-full grocery offering, especially when there’s a 45000 sq ft grocery store right across the street and a handful of Yes organic markets within half a mile. Honestly, I was all about Ellwood when this first came up like 5-6 years ago, writing letters and the like, but it hasn’t seemed like a good proposition for a long while. When a business that size elects to take a $1M hit (or take on the legal bills to fight taking that hit), it’s a considered business decision.

    • anan

      I dont think Ellwoods was going for the same demographic as people that buy food at target and giant. Just throwing that little bit of Obvious out there. Ellwoods and Whole Foods would have killed there. I and many others live here and go out of our way to get our groceries at Whole Foods in other neighborhoods. It would be nice to have one here.

      • Anonymous

        Given your number of posts here, anan, I’m more than sure that you really, really wanted Ellwoods in your neighborhood retail mix. But even grocery stores that market to a different demographic consider their competitors — all of them — before committing to a site. Just throwing that little bit of Obvious back at ya.

        • anan

          I guess. Kinda like saying Commonwealth Gastropub would take into account if there was a mcdonalds near by. Not Likely. But ok.

  • cookietime420

    Ellwood Thompsons has kept that corner dark and empty for how many years? What lame-o’s. They’re through in DC, at least for the next decade. I can’t imagine anyone taking them seriously after this debacle. Bring on Yes! Hell, I’d take another IHOP. How about a mini-Wall Mart?
    Whatever. I’m tired of vacant store fronts in brand-new buildings.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    Well, if a company decides that it would rather pay $1m to back out of an agreement than to proceed, it must have decided that it would lose a whole lot more than $1m if it went through with the project.
    I don’t get PoP questioning the company’s tagline. I assume the focus is on the “honest” part. What did this company do that was dishonest? They got cold feet and exercised a contractual right to back out of what they decided was a bad deal. There is nothing dishonest about that. It would be more helpful to know exactly what it was about this deal that caused the company to become so “timid.”

    • anan

      The Dishonest part is that they continued to string us along. It’s been literally YEARS now. had they backed out long ago the space might be filled by now. The worst part though was that after a couple years of pussy footing around they went to a community meeting and told us all they were officially breaking ground in a matter of weeks. Then once again. No action, and now they back out. At the very least it’s unprofessional. But then they managed to grow their brand by zero stores during the organic boom so clearly they don’t have the sharpest minds in the biz.

      • Anonymous

        They don’t owe you anything. The idea that the strung you along is just ridiculous. Are you a partner? A stockholder? A relative to the owners? No. You’re just a resident hoping they would open up here. They don’t owe you anything and if you felt strung along, that’s your issue, not theirs. They’re a business. They make business decisions, not decisions based on how bad you or anyone else wanted a store in your neighborhood.

        Jeez, you folks act like your girlfriend or boyfriend just dumped you. It’s a freakin’ grocery store for crying out loud. Get over yourself.

        • anan

          Yr an idiot. I don’t recall saying they owed me anything. Just that their constant posturing over the last years hasn’t been honest. How can you possibly suggest they didn’t string us along when they have claimed to be breaking ground in “2 weeks” on about 5 separate occasions. The very reason this is news on every blog in DC is BECAUSE they’ve been stringing us along. If they had been honest they would have said “Yeah. It’s gonna take us YEARS to get the ball rolling here. We don’t have funding in place and don’t have a clue what we are doing”

  • I knew this was gonna happen! I saw it coming. Trader Joes would be nice.

    • So, Just Sayin’

      Hell to the yeah. Trader Joe’s would KILL.

  • andy

    maybe Target could expand into organic produce.

  • KenyonDweller

    Trader Joe’s isn’t organic. Having one would be nice, but I would rather have organic produce, dairy, and meat in the neighborhood.

    • dreas

      There’s a Yes! Organic Market at Georgia and Taylor and another one at 14th and W…

      And Trader Joe’s does have some organic meats, produce, and dairy. Not all, but some. Given how crowded the Foggy Bottom TJ’s is at pretty much every minute of the day, I think they’d make a killing in CH – or almost anywhere else in this city.

      • anan

        So tired of people trying to equate Yes! With Whole Foods. You must be kidding. Yes is not a full service grocer. It is an organic market. CH is not really walking distance to Taylor and Georgia. DCusa sits at a dense population center. One where the residents have been begging for a full service organic grocer. Telling them to walk to upper Georgia Ave to a Yes Market is idiocy. I’d be ok with a Trader Joes but what the people are after is full-service organic. That means seafood and butcher and hot bar. organic. Trader Joes with their seran wrapped veggies isnt really cutting it.

        • dreas

          And you must have reading comprehension problems. The comment I replied to was complaining about a lack of organic meat, dairy, and produce in the neighborhood. I pointed out that CH is sandwiched between two Yes! Organic Markets – and don’t forget that Giant has organic offerings as well. And since CH extends up to Spring Rd, I don’t think that walking to Georgia and Taylor from CH is “idiocy.” In fact, we do that walk at least twice a week to pick up odds and ends at Yes!.

          What I do think is that you’re a self-entitled, lazy little complainer. If having a Whole Foods within walking distance is so important to you, why didn’t you move to Logan Circle? Or Glover Park? CH has two major grocery stores now plus two smaller organic markets on either side of it. What the heck more do you want?

          • djdc

            Thank you, dreas, for that response. I’d also like to suggest to anan that the intersection with Taylor is hardly ‘uppper Georgia Avenue.’
            Good day.

          • anan

            I stand corrected. if you live on the northeastern most border of CH then walking to Georgia and Taylor isn’t a great distance. From CH Metro however it is over 1.25 miles. Indeed a pain. My “lazy” ass will keep going three neighborhoods out of my way in search of what I consider actual food. Guess I’m just a snob like that.

          • dreas

            Yeah, and the Yes! at 14th and W is 0.7 miles away from DCUSA. But wait, that’s uphill coming home and god forbid a snob like you take the bus with all the commoners.

            And, anan, when did you move to CH? Do you remember when we didn’t even have one full-service grocery store? Much less two right in the neighborhood, plus a Harris Teeter a few blocks further away? And then two more organic markets and a weekly farmer’s market? Columbia Heights isn’t exactly a food desert anymore. Whining about the lack of a Whole Foods, given all of those options, is pretty unbelievable.

          • anan

            To be honest. I live in MTP. And I think the closest Yes to me is in Adams Morgan. Either way the snob in me is still lookin for the real deal. I know CH used to be a lot worse off. But come on man. You deserve better. Don’t sell yourself short.

      • Lester

        Trader Joe’s is a nice idea. Yes! runs a mean little store on Georgia. I love going there and I’m impressed with what they’ve done. Their concept is small spaces, but I wonder what they could do with a larger space like the CH spot. I like to see competition, but I also like to see businesses that have served the neighborhood well get a shot at good expansion.

  • Anonymous

    Ellwood Thompason’s is not a large operation in Richmond. They will indeed pay, as these financial penalties combined with the money already wasted on this investment could jeopardize the future of their current store.

  • BS

    I was really looking forward to that as well. dammit. I have to admit a Trader Joe would be convenient/cool…but I was looking forward to the something new/different that Ellwood’s might have brought to the table. Oh well…it would still be very nice to have something local fill that spot. I dont know that there is enough market for ANOTHER YES! to take over, but I would be ok with it if they did!

  • Eat more

    I wish them (HT) only the worst possible fate. Let them and their organic goodness burn in hell.

  • Fred “The Dorf” Dorfman

    May the Supreme Diety smite Ellwood Thompson’s for making this calculated business decision during a terrible economy. Fire and brimstone and sisyphean whatnots.

    I hate them for their rationality and acumen. But perhaps I can get a small chunk of that million bucks?

  • mark

    “But of far greater interest – who are the other organic grocers that could come?”

    REI. I mean it.

  • David

    WTF is up with this organic-food fetish in DC? I mean, seriously. Even poncey-ass NYers are content to go to Key Food. There’s a small farmer’s market in CH every week, there’s another one at 18th/Columbia (a 15-minute walk away), and then there’s a big one at Dupont. It’s perhaps a 10-minute stroll down 14th from the CH Metro to the Yes! – why are people always whining?

    Seriously, why is it that upscale urbanites in any of America’s douchier meccas are content to go to middle-of-the-road chain supermarkets, while DC people get hysterical over the lack of organic eggs within a 2-minute stroll from their door.

    Get over yourselves.

    • caballero


    • Dan

      1. Farmers Market ends next week.

      2. Giant has terrible, expensive produce, and 98% of the “food” sold in supermarkets these days is garbage made of chemicals by multi-national corporations.

      3. Dupont is hardly walking distance from CH, especially if you live any distance north or east of the metro. And as long as you’re taking 2 busses or 2 metros to go grocery shopping, may as well head to the suburbs.

      I bike almost anywhere, so it is not a big deal for me. But I can certainly sympathize with wanting an alternative to buying food from Giant or Target… especially when you have to wait in a checkout line for 30 minutes during peak hours.

    • Anonymous

      why the attitude david? people want to eat what they want to eat. no one is hysterical. and if you think wanting to eat foods that are chemical and pesticide free is douchey, i think you should get over your own self righteous self.

  • Green and Grumpy

    Yeah, DC will collect that $1 million, just like all the millions it loses in Federal dollars each year due to program mismanagement.

  • anan

    I don’t see why they couldn’t lure Whole Foods back. They saw the value in the location and left because DCusa didnt give them designated parking. It’s been demonstrated that the parking lot is half empty most of the time so Whole Foods may be willing to consider coming back now that they know there is plenty of parking.

  • 11th

    i’d like to see the world’s largest lids move in. or kaiser permenente. or an embassy.

  • I don’t begrudge a rational business decision, but it is annoying that they constantly promised to start construction in a month or two, then never delivered, all the while taking up space that could have been occupied by something else by now, spurring further development in DCUSA. And I still believe they would have made a killing there, and that the risk would be worth it, especially measured against the million (plus all the rent they’ve lost) in penalties they will DEFINITELY accrue. Fortune favors the bold, and E.T. is nothing if not timid. I’m happy for the closure and look forward to a retailer with a sincere interest in the neighborhood.

  • Loud Puerto Rican

    Trader José’s

  • IHOP

    Folks remember we are all hearing only one side–how many times have we read posts here about how hard it is to work with the city to start a business?

  • Timmy

    TBD has an article quoting the head of Ellwood Thompson. Sounds like Graham jumped the gun here with his quote.

  • Anonymous

    Something with an awesome fresh seafood selection, produce that’s fresh in great variety, and grassfed beef/meat section please! Give me those and I will shop there daily.

  • For completely selfish reasons I would LOVE a DSW and/or Michaels in DCUSA. I would love it if a Trader Joes or something like Ellwood could go in just a few blocks north where its more residential and slightly less congested. A. few blocks north could use that attention and B. at DCUSA I can’t imagine how the shopping carts and all of us with groceries would add to the congestion.

  • Derek

    Why the rush to believe Graham and declare this Ellwood’s fault? In case people haven’t noticed, the ONLY retailers that have opened at DC USA are big national chains. Maybe the landlord has something to do with a smaller-scale tenant not being able to make it work…

  • Anonymous

    Circuit City would make a great addition to DCUSA. Oh wait.

    • Anonymous

      Or maybe a CompUSA.

      • Anonymous

        apple store.

  • Anon

    A good part of their (Ellwood Thompson’s) management now works for Yes! Organic Market… Something to think about.

  • Pru

    Trader Joe’s Trader Joe’s!!!


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