Molt Be Blog

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Powell Auto Parts
After living in my neighborhood for almost four years now, I'm inclined to start complaining about gentrification, which, as you'll see from the link, has a lot of varying definitions. All of them are negative, so I guess that means I'm allowed to complain.
What really sparks the rant is the fact that two of the stores I tried to visit this week have closed shop in the last few months. It appears that we're not only pushing out the former residents of Logan Circle, but also pushing out the previous businesses.

Powell Auto Parts is now shuttered and only the service center next door is open. I went in to get some 10W-40 for the scooter and was told that the store had closed and that they didn't sell oil at the service center. After asking if they had any suggestions, I ended up going to 7-eleven to get it. I had never noticed that the 7-eleven carried oil, but there it was as soon as I walked in the door, right next to the newspapers and road maps. Stores like 7-eleven and CVS kind of freak me out in that they have everything under one roof. I know I'll never need to buy motor oil, cheetos, milk and paperclips all at once. But I've definitely purchased all of those things at a 7-eleven separately. How do they know?!?

I'd never been to Powell Auto Parts, so can't say that I didn't aid in their downfall. In fact, the only person I know who's every been there is CFab when I ran into her buying "The Club" one weekend afternoon as I was wandering around taking pictures. I'm sure if I dig through flickr, I could figure out which pictures I took that afternoon and bring things full circle, but I just don't feel like taking the 30 seconds out of my not-so-busy schedule.
Companions Pets

I also found Companion Pets closed earlier this week when I went there to pick up Frontline. I'd been there once before and found the place to be poorly kept, smelly and expensive. But it was family owned and not a chain, so I was following the progressive/adbusters code of supporting small individual businesses. Thinking back, though, I'm reminded of a South Park episode where a Starbucks moves in next to Tweek's Dad's coffee shop and the town rallies around the small business only to discover that Tweak's coffee tastes like sewage and that Starbucks' tastes pretty good. The libertarian moral of the story being that sometimes there's a good reason that businesses become huge successful chains. In the case of Starbucks, it's not just that they move in next to existing independent coffee shops and offer up a familiar menu so that you always know whatever you're getting will taste the same in any location, it's also that their coffee doesn't taste like crap. Except that Sumatra blend. Ick.

It's a shame to see shuttered businesses in the neighborhood. And it's a shame to think that the reason they're closed is the same reason that one bedroom condos in the neighborhood cost more than buying a mansion in VA. Of course, the businesses could also be closing because they're terrible. Maybe their pet food tasted like sewage. Maybe The Club that Powell sold CFab was defective and ended up making her car explode in a ball of fire (though, I think I would have heard about this). Maybe there's a low demand now for businesses that haven't washed their windows or stocked their inventory in 6 months and treat customers like impostors.

In any case, the neighborhood was changing when we moved in and continues to change while we're here. We're definitely not leaving any time soon... unless, of course, we get gentrified right out of it.

1 comment:

bad apologies said...

Yeah. After living a block from Powells for about two years, I suddenly needed a headlight bulb two weeks ago. Funny part was, it was always dark when I needed one and whenever I drove with one headlight I got pulled over. Catch 22. Had to wait for a Thursday morning and drive way out New York Avenue.

FYI, though--Powell's didn't close, it just moved (way up Georgia Ave). Like Duron paint moved up to Columbia Heights to make room for a gi-normous new condo (Metropole). When you look around 14th street, there are a lot of parking lots (or even abandoned lots) that have been just sitting around taking up space since the race riots. Yeah, sometimes along came business to fill in the void during the hard times, and it sucks they they need to move now. But then again, the neighborhood doesn't have as big a need for autoparts anymore (other than those sold at 7-11).

Still, I'm not very optimistic. I know they will keep that facade and build a gorgeous building ontop of it, but that the store front space on the first floor will only turn out to be the 5th (6th?) store front in the neighborhood that just advertises more condos.

Can we get some retail already!?

Wow. I had a lot to say.