Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Anacostia Warehouse Supermarket vs. Yes! Organic Market

Art of War Concept: Those who use the military skillfully do not raise troops twice and do not provide food three times.

If you haven't heard by now the Anacostia Warehouse Supermarket has closed and Yes! Organic Market is soon to follow by closing at the end of the year.

Though there has been a lot of press about both, most of the attention has been focused on Yes! because it is the newer business and received financial help from the District Government to open East of the River. The news has led many to believe that the closure is because the community is either not interested in organic food products or its just too expensive.

A couple of weekends ago, I put on my Mike Debonis/Tim Craig hat and did some investigative reporting. I wanted to compare the prices of food products from Yes! Organic to those at the Anacostia Warehouse.

The Anacostia Warehouse Supermarket is located on Good Hope Rd and has been in operation for a number of years. I’ve been told that it has done well financially so I was assuming that prices must be cheaper. I was never a regular shopper at the Anacostia Warehouse. I’ve been in one time and left quick. Needless to say, the facility was hideous and I cannot understand for the life of me why the District did not shut this place down years ago. I am sure it had hundreds of health code violations.

But let’s put that on pause and compare prices between the two. Again, keep in mind, this is supposed to be my version of an undercover sting operation so the pics might not be the best.


                                                    AWS                                         Yes!
                                           .89 cents per lb                          .79 cents per lb


                                                        AWS                                          Yes!
                                                 $4.59 per gallon                       $4.49 per gallon


                                                     AWS                                            Yes!
                                             $3.59 per carton                          $3.99 per carton


                                                    AWS                                         Yes!
                                                   $3.59                                         $3.59


                                                     AWS                                      Yes!
                                                    $5.29                                      $3.99


                                                          AWS                                         Yes!
                                                          $4.59                                        $3.00


                                                      AWS                                       Yes!
                                                $3.14 per lb                            $2.42 per lb


                                                  AWS                                        Yes!
                                            $1.89 per lb                               $1.89 per lb


                                                   AWS                                        Yes!
                                                   $1.39                                       $1.49


                                                    AWS                                        Yes!
                                           .79 cents per lb                            $1.49 per lb


                                                      AWS                                     Yes!
                                                   .99 cents                               .99 cents


                                                           AWS                                            Yes!
                                                           $5.19                                           $2.99

So here is what I learned doing this exercise:
1. Anacostia Warehouse Supermarket was charging some outrageous prices for some of its products.
2. Though its prices were high, it was supported by residents in part because it was convenient to get to and they were familiar with its food products.
3. There is a mental barrier when people think of organic food. I think many assume that organic food is different and more expensive.
4. Yes! Organic most likely is going out of business because they were not aggressive in introducing residents to it food products.
5.  Organic manufactures should rebrand there packaging to make it more appealing to customers. If packaging looks bland, I think people think the food is tasteless.
6. Location, Location, Location is important in real estate. Though many wanted to support the store, it was a hassle to get in and out of the building.
7. The City needs to step in and work with the new owner of the AWS Building to get a full service grocery story in this location.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Anacostia Heritage Trail In the Making

Art of War Concept: We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.
Many like to talk about the future of Anacostia, but as a community we had an opportunity to step back in time and learn a little bit about our past. The Historic Anacostia Block Association and Anacostia Coordinating Council has partnered with Cultural Tourism DC in putting together the Anacostia Heritage Trail. As you may know, Cultural Tourism DC's Neighborhood Heritage Trails are the official walking trails of the District. The Trail allows the reader to take a stroll through DC history as they follow the self-guided walking trails to learn more about the surrounding neighborhood. Each trail sign combines stories, historic photos, and maps.

I’m sure you have seen the signs downtown, but it is exciting to learn that we are inching closer to making it a reality in Anacostia. The project has been several years in the making. This experience has been one of my favorites because it brings out many of the seniors in the community to talk about how the neighborhood was back in the olden days and allows the newer residents to gain an appreciation for the neighborhoods history. Enjoy some of the pics below…

Listening to the presentation from Cultural Tourism DC

Danae, the Anacostia dog walker and the Bacon family

Everyone taking a closer look

Learning something new everyday

Neighbors on W St and Scott Kratz from the11th Street Park Bridge Project.

We hope to have a sign placed at the foot of the new 11th Street Bridge.

Pics creating conversation

Robert checking out the pics

Ms. Diane Dale, Anacostia/Hillsdale Historian!

ANC Commissioner-Elect Kendall Graham

Melanie, Bruce and Jessica

ANC Commissioner Greta Fuller

This by far is the most interesting pic to me.
MLK Ave was once known at Nichols Ave; named after the former superintendent of St Elizabeth’s. This picture signifies the change in demographics in the greater Anacostia community. I wonder "IF" the demographics change again will there be an effort to rename MLK Ave to something else...hey, hey, calm down i’m just sayin.

Did you know that back in the day Anacostia had streetcars?

The pic in the far left is the old Uniontown Bar & Grill building

Back Then -- Capital Imports Cars...

Today -- Carryout :-(

Then - Clothing stores and a pharmacy on Good Hope Rd


Now -- looking forward to the future of Good Hope Rd

Then - looking down MLK/Nichols Ave. Once a bustling
commercial corridor

Today -- good things are coming

Are there babies in those strollers!?

This pic was a real eye-opener for some. Students at Anacostia High School.
Yes, at one time Anacostia was majority white.

This is the old Anacostia Firestation. It was torn down a couple years before
Anacostia was designated a historic district.

Today --Firestation. I wish they would have kept the old one.

Graduating class from St. Theresa's

Wow, Steve Wonder was in the Annual MLK Day Parade!

Another Wow, Muhammad Ali signing autographs on MLK Ave

Today -- I'll now look at this corner differently, knowing The Greatest of All Time
once stood here!

The old Carver Theatre. I hope this comes back one day!

Today -- Charter School

Students marching against the desegration of schools.
Yes, Anacostia has an ugly history of segration


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Is Anacostia the Next H St?

Art of War Concept: Generally in war the best policy is to take a state intact; to ruin it is inferior to this.

Is Anacostia the next H Street? I have heard the reference to H Street a couple of times and it makes me ask the question, What is the vision for the greater Anacostia community? What does the future hold?  There are a lot of opinions but no consensus.

To be clear, there is no right answer to the question. There will always be different perspectives from the residents, developers, business owners and the government. There will be differences in opinions from residents who view Anacostia as home versus those who see it as an investment. We need to have a thoughtful conversation among the current stakeholders to ensure there is a shared vision on how to move forward.

Why do I keep hearing talk about H Street? Is it the restaurants, streetcars, streetscape or the demographics that create the envy? Are we not happy with being Anacostia? Don’t get me wrong. I like going to eat and hang out on H Street, but there are some things that I appreciate about living in Anacostia. We have much more to offer and should capitalize on what makes us unique: the historic character of the neighborhood, great views, proximity to the Anacostia River and quick access to I-295/395.

What really sets us apart is the people. If we capitalize on the talent of residents and have a conversation asking for their ideas and energy, we can surpass other neighborhoods of the city. I do not sense that our residents have a true appreciation and faith to move us forward. I wonder if that is the reason why there has not been a candid conversation about how we see the future of our community.

When I heard of my neighbors getting together to promote our “We Are Anacostia” neighborhood campaign, I immediately jumped on board. A significant part of the campaign is to encourage Busboys & Poets to open its fifth location in Anacostia. But it means so much more than that. It is saying that being in Anacostia is okay and there is no need to compare ourselves or want to be like another neighborhood. It means we are a unique community with a ton of talent.

We should plan everything in a way that focuses on families, strengthening families and creating an environment where residents want to raise their families. That means cleaner neighborhoods, community safety, addressing blighted property, refurbishing our parks, planting trees and being able to walk your kids down to the neighborhood school and knowing they are going to receive a quality education.

If you forced me to pick a neighborhood, I would pick Old Town Alexandria as a model. Unfortunately, when DC focuses on building neighborhoods, they focus on the young 20-something’s, who enjoy the late night bar and party scene. Old Town Alexandria is mostly free of bars but provides a family-friendly restaurant and retail environment along its commercial corridor. Even the homes in Anacostia and Alexandria provide a more suburban environment than living in the city.

People who have lived here for some time and those who have recently moved here tell me that the main reason they are here and choose to stay is because of the feel of the neighborhood. That is why it so important for residents help lead the discussion on where we go. If the feel of the neighborhood changes, the people who make this neighborhood so special may choose to move.

Let us have this important conversation. We may find that we all want the same things, although differing on how to get there, but we will realize it is in our best interest.