Blockbuster Video on Barracks Row was an Erol’s and will Become a Jos A Bank?

by Prince Of Petworth July 19, 2011 at 10:30 am 74 Comments

“Dear PoP,

Blockbuster closed its doors this weekend on Barracks Row. They promptly dismantled their sign, but look what was underneath! I grew up picking out movies at Erol’s. Pretty awesome!”

Anyone else ever got to an Erol’s? I never heard of it. Pretty sweet. And word has hit the street about some scuttlebutt (I heard the rumor from 2 sources so it’s very likely negotiations are ongoing) that’s been swirling about a replacement tenant for 514 8th Street, SE.

Jos A Bank ‘The Expert in Men’s Apparel’. Good fit (no pun intended) for Barracks Row?

  • Rock

    Horrible fit, literally and figuratively.

  • Veronika

    there used to be an Erol’s in Silver Spring… before it too became Blockbuster… i’m pretty sure a few people still have the red foam filled boxes they’d rent the VHS tapes in… good times.

    • n

      I would go to that one all the time!!! Memories.

  • Eastern Market

    My partner and I, being women, have no use for Jos A Bank, but we’d be happy to have it come to this space. I think it would do well, and hopefully its success would encourage more retailers to come to Barracks Row.

  • Anonymous

    I loved Erols!!! I used to have their internet (the cheapest around, but far) back in the 90’s. Way better than AOL. Their video stores were awesome too, until evil Blockbuster bought them out and jacked up the prices.

    As for Jos. A Banks, I pretty much do all of my shopping for drab work clothes there, so I’m happy.

    • Anonymous

      Yup, my first internet access. Good times. Now I’m all nostalgic comparing my Erol’s dial-up to Comcast. I think I’ll go with Erol’s.

      • I remember going to Erols video BITD.

        But more importantly they were the first internet service provide that I had at a whooping 28.8 dial up speed. I had them until I moved to Georgetown and got Bell Atlantic DSL, that was before they turned to the abomination that is Verizon.

        • saf

          Bell Atlantic? Not C&P?

  • GDopplerXT

    Yeah, I used to rent videos from an Erol’s out in Silver Spring back in the day. Ah, memories.

  • J.H.

    Jos A bank… good fit for retail… but kiss the location in Union Station good bye.

  • CPT_Doom

    I too remember Erol’s – in fact, in 1990, when I was held up at gunpoint near Logan Circle (actually on P ST in front of what is now the CVS) the robber used a bright yello Erol’s Video plastic bag to hide the gun. I was not the only victim to remember the bag, and it was that bag that got him arrested and sent to Lorton (and knowing about Lorton really makes me an old timer).

  • Jason

    Anyone who grew up in the DC metro area and is at least in their 30s remembers Erols fondly. I spent many a day staring in splendor at the betamax horror section at their Rockville pike location.

    • Anon

      30s? try 20s

      • Jason

        Perhaps during the tail end of the company’s run. They were far more ubiquitous in the 80s.

        • Anonymous

          You know that people in their 20s were most certainly alive in the 80’s, right? I am 25 but I definitely remember renting Star Trek TNG the animated series from the Erol’s at Chevy Chase Circle.

          Believe it or not, some of us 20somethigns also remember People’s, Little Tavern, and Hot Shoppes.

          • DJ

            Totally. I’m 25 and I was so happy when I bought a Captain Planet VHS from their used videos bin.

            My first email address in middle school was “@erols.com” too.

    • oneal

      Ah yes… Erols Video and Peoples drug were staples along the D.C. landscape before the big businesses of CVS and Blockbuster laid waste the once prominent institutions. Oddley enough, I do still have the red foam boxe for “gremlins 2: the new batch” on VHS from Erols grand closing sale. And now, some 11 to 12 years later, I have again purhcased “Gremlins 2: the new batch” DVD in the signature white and blue blockbuster box from their grand closing sale. Formats change but the circle of life continues…. BTW if you havn’t seen “Gremlins 2: the new batch,” Check it out hi-larious

      • DJ

        Don’t forget Magruder’s grocery store!

        • Anonymous

          Isn’t there still a Magruder’s on Connecticut ave?

        • Anonymous

          And Dart Drug.

    • anon

      I wonder if teens and 20 somethings watching Clerks today would understand the video store scenes.

    • gk

      exactly! clearly PoP didn’t live DC in the 80s.

  • ColHei

    Wow- that sign takes me back. I spent a lot of my childhood at the Erols in Rolling Valley Mall in Burke. My family was a last hold out on Betamax so I remember that it was a big deal when we switched from the Beta black foam boxes to the VHS red ones.

    • Christina

      OMG! Another Burkian here! Lake Braddock?

      • Christina

        Also, my family had a VHS and a Betamax. We hedged our bets. :)

      • ColHei

        Go Bruins!

        • Christina

          How cool! Nice to “meet” you. If you went to White Oaks too, I’m gonna fall out.

  • Anon

    Don’t think many of the young urbanites in that area of the Hill will be buying clothes from Jos A Bank as it’s more of your dad’s or grandpa’s type of store. Also it’s not really a store that tourists or suburbanites visiting the market on the weekend will casually pop in to. If it does open, I give it 18 months tops before shuttering.

    • Kev29

      The “young urbanites” around that portion of the Hill are more conservative than most areas of DC – I bet they’ll use that Jos. A. Bank. Their stuff isn’t the best, but comes in handy when you want to buy a cheap pair of pants or a shirt in a pinch – or 5 suits for the price of 2.

      • ET

        Considering the crowd coming out the new church for the National Community Church on 8th at the old Meader’s Theater I agree.

        To the original commenter, since when does what happen on 8th retail-wise depend completely on Saturday and Sunday traffic? There are 7 days to the week.

    • There are lots of young hill staffers living in that area who wear suits every day, just like Dad and Grandpa did. They’ll shop there.

  • Kev29

    Erol’s! Now there’s a good litmus test for native or transplant — have you ever heard of Erol’s?

    • anon

      Or Joon Rhee Delf-Defense!

      • saf

        Nobody bodders me!

        (Or Mr Ray’s!)

        • Nobody bothers me either!

          • Veronika


        • anon

          Theater Vision! (with Joe Jacoby)

        • Veronika

          omg, Mr Ray’s HAIRWEAVE!!! I haven’t thought about that in AGES. thank you, that made my Friday

  • GM

    Ah, Erol’s Video! Those were the good ol’ days. My parents would take my sisters and I to the Erol’s in Vienna and rent Betamax tapes that came in those big, oversized container with a “U” of styrofoam to hold the tapes in place. Wasn’t until years later that I realized that if you bought a video, it didn’t come in something that size.

    Amusingly, I was updating my CVS card yesterday and discovered that I still had an @erols.com e-mail address attached to it. Haven’t had one of those in well over a decade, now…

  • Me

    uh Erols became AOL which bought Time Warner.

    Pretty freaking amazing if you ask me.

    Ever wonder why AOL’s headquarters were in Northern Virginia???

    • Erols Internet was sold to Starpower, which became RCN. And the video rental side was sold to Blockbuster.

      • And I believe Erol’s Internet didn’t get created until after Erol’s Video was sold to Blockbuster, but I could be mistaken. I worked the help desk at Erol’s Internet when I was in high school.

        • Jessica

          Over by the Ravensworth shopping center?

          • Yes, I believe that is where it was. 10-15 years ago is pretty fuzzy at this point. :) (More that I don’t spend much time in Springfield anymore and can’t remember the shopping center names).

  • P’worth

    someone tell wonderland, there’s a sign to be had…

  • I’m not sure which is more anachronistic, a video rental store, or a Joseph A. Banks …

    Speaking of clothing stores, a Century 21 would KILL IT in D.C.

    • Jim

      +1 Or a Uniqlo

  • PG

    We used to rent Betamax tapes from Erols in Laurel.

  • Jim

    Joseph A. Bank – For middle-aged middle managers whose wives shop for them

    • Anonymous

      Where do you shop? Besides Old Navy.

  • Jim Ed

    I feel bad for the employees there. We were in last week to get caught up on Harry Potter movies, and I asked the workers when they expected to close. Their answers were along the lines of “no one has told us anything, how come people keep asking us when we’re closing?”

    I’m not super excited about Jos. A Banks, but at least its retail, and as a bonus it means not having to deal with the total incompetency of the employees at the Union Station store.

    • Anonymous

      What makes you think the employees won’t be transferred here?

  • NE from Philly

    We had Erol’s in the Philly suburbs in the 80s.

  • cricketagee

    I agree with the posters that say its a good entry into the retail market for the block. Is it the hippest and coolest store around, no. Are te clothes the best, no. But for the thousands of hill staffers and other business types we will use this store. Going to the Union Station one is a nightmare. I don’t know why we can’t all be honest with ourselves and lets find a way to close down the 7-11. Thats one of the few reamining businesses that bring down the street.

    • Anonymous

      Eh, I never go in the 7-11 but I’d rather see the China Wall go, or the crappy Dollar store that hardly has anything in it, or the other video rental place.

      • Anonymous

        Dollar store is already being replaced with a Chipotle. The building permits are already pulled.

        Suburban strip mall here we come!

        • Anonymous

          Oh, I knew ANC 6B approved the Chipotle application but I didn’t know they had settled on a location. I’m guessing it will get a lot of lunch business from people who work in the area, but us locals will remain loyal to Tortilla Grill.

          • Chipotle will occupy half of the bldg, currently occupied by China Wall and the Dollar Store. The other half will be leased out, so both of the existing businesses are leaving.

            This local has room in her heart for Chipotle, Tortilla Cafe and Chicken Tortilla! (I’m not sure what/where Tortilla Grill is… )

          • Anonymous

            Cafe. You know what I meant…

  • Lolly716

    My parents PAID for their Erols membership back in the 80s, when yes there were Beta and VHS tapes on the shelves. And we’d hang around by the drop box, hoping for a copy of Nightmare on Elm Street to be returned, just in time for the slumber party…

  • anon

    Joseph Banks?

    why not just turn BR into an outlet mall?

    • Anonymous

      Because of one store? Though I’ll admit it’s refreshing to hear this instead of the usual complaints about there being too many restaurants.

      • anon

        There are too many restaurants, but that’s besides the point. This is the kind of place to buy fat pants after you’ve frequented the BR restaurants too often.

        • Anonymous

          So what do you think belongs here, if not retail or restuarants?

  • anon

    ftr — I’d rather see nothing go into that space than Jos Banks

  • Anonymous

    ERol’s was East Coast (mainly) mid atlantic video store locations all over the place! brings back memories. you can tell the people who arent from DC when they never heard of that store!!

  • Richko

    I’ve had my erols.com e-mail account for about 13 years now — fortunately RCN still keeps that domain active.

  • Lars V.

    Erol’s, my first video store. The enduring memory I have is when Erol’s first opened. Videos were behind a counter/barrier and they had opera glasses hanging on a string from the ceiling that you would use to read the titles on the shelves.

  • tmd7d

    I absolutely remember that store. I went to high school with Erol’s grandson, also named Erol.

  • Anon

    Erols, Woodies, Peoples, Raleigh’s, Hechts, Riggs, Garfinkels.

    The mid to early 90s were not kind to most of the brands. I think all of them went under in that time period, Hechts and Riggs went a few years later.

    What were some of the others?

    • J

      Waxie Maxie’s, Crown Books, GC Murphy, High’s Dairy, Luskin’s…

      • Anon

        Great ones, I forgot all about High’s and Waxie Maxie’s.

        In fact, until you said High’s, I forgot that the 7-11 down the street from my childhood home used to be a High’s.

    • Nat

      So awesome. I can now bond with my mom through PoP. She still tells stories of Garfinkels and my Christmas dresses from Woodies. And no I am not 30…yet

    • Veronika

      I Magnin


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