Friday, November 19, 2010

Ellwood Thompson's gives up on DCUSA; or do they?

The latest in the Ellwood Thompson's saga: Jim Graham says they've given up on DCUSA, while the store, as usual, says they're still coming. To recap, Ellwood's is a Richmond-based organic grocery store that's been saying they're coming to DCUSA for years.

Graham told the City Paper that they're not coming, they're breaking their agreement and will lose $1 million. Graham sounds less than pleased:
"I was the one who sent them there," said Graham, noting that they'd first asked him about the 14th Street location now occupied by Yes! Organic. "Little did I know how conservative, really timid, they would be come...they’re going to pay for this very bad decision."
He also said they're looking for other tenants.

And as they usually do, the store denies it, saying they're still coming. Owner Rick Hood issued a statement that he doesn't know where Graham is coming from.

"I don't know why Jim Graham is saying this. We are not in default. We continue to work with the landlord to make this happen," Hood said.

Here's my opinion: Ellwood Thompson's will never open. I hope I'm wrong, but every time I hear something new, it's that they're almost there, or they're still close, or they're working with the landlord. If it takes 2 years to work out a lease, I doubt it's ever going to happen. It seems to me that there's some bigger problem somewhere that's preventing this.

The weird thing is, are they paying rent now? Because if they do open (and haven't managed to piss off everyone in Columbia Heights with their extremely slow and annoying crap) they'd probably make lots of money and pay off that rent. But considering it's been so long, maybe they aren't. It seems like there's no urgency.

I'm not holding my breath.

4 comments:

Gup said...

i'm so tired of ET...build it or get out of the way so they can try to attract another grocer like trader joes or the like. ...but for the love god do something.
i feel like they are just holding the space hostage at this point.

Anonymous said...

I hope Ellwoods does not come ... they do not have the courage, will, or desire to come to our community .... lets try again for a new grocery .... kick out Ellwoods and lets get someone who really wants to be here

DC Raconteur said...

I'm fairly certain they are paying rent, because it's been reported that Ellwood Thompson's would be paying almost $1 million to vacate the premises...which, I'm assuming, is the penalty for breaking their lease at DCUSA. Also, I doubt DCUSA would permit them to advertise their pending presence via signage if they weren't paying rent.

I'm originally from Richmond, and Ellwood's is a pretty small local grocery store. I was admittedly surprised when I learned they were moving into Columbia Heights...definitely a bold move for a business that could have more easily moved into Charlottesville, Williamsburg or another VA city. I have to wonder how well they understand the DC market.

I have no personal knowledge of their situation, but I'd bet they've gotten in over their heads, financially-speaking, and may be getting cold feet now that there is more grocery competition in the area.

Unfortunately, it may be cheaper at this point for ET to wait out their lease and not build anything, than to throw money into renovating a money-pit in an area where their market share has already been greatly reduced by Target and Giant.

If DCUSA were smart, they'd reduce ET's fees for breaking their lease, in exchange for ET vacating the property promptly. Some comments ET's owner recently made seem to imply they're still working with the DCUSA management to open...but I can't say I feel optimistic about that.

As a side note about Jim Graham, seeing as he "broke the story" with his comments...I saw a tweet that stated "Jim Graham is the best source of news about Jim Graham." Pretty neatly summarizes the situation, if you ask me.

Andrew said...

Thanks DC Raconteur, good points. Would be a real shame for them to just wait it out, let's hope that's not the case.