Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Local Grocer to Open Second Location, in Rockville Town Square

Ellwood Thompson's, a grassroots grocer out of Richmond, Va., is opening a second location in Rockville Town Square next spring - a 15,000 s.f. grocery store offering organic and locally sourced products, to be called Dawson's Market.

The recently secured deal was announced yesterday by Federal Realty. Ellwood Thompson's had planned to open a second store in DC USA - the 500,000 s.f., big-box shopping center in Columbia Heights - in 2007, but backed out in 2010 after negotiations fell flat.

Ellwood Thompson's was then approached by Federal Realty for the Rockville Town Square location; the leasing management company had previously signed (also in 2007) the financially doomed A&P for the Rockville site, as was reported by Rockville Patch, but A&P backed out of its lease last year, clearly for different reasons.

Ellwood Thompson's seems to be a likable operation: a local independent market with "a strong commitment to the farm to table movement," sourcing product within a 100-mile radius, and partnering with "small family-owned farms in [the surrounding] community." ET is the largest independent organic market in Virginia, with nearly 30 years in business, after growing from one (Eric Walters) to 120 employees.

Specifics of the new location are currently being fleshed out, such as which local farms will become partners, whether a bakeshop or cafe will be incorporated, etc. Paige Bishop, director of marketing for Ellwood Thompson's said that because the lease has just been signed, "We'll know more details at the beginning of February." And, although the goal is for an April opening, much will depend on what kind of winter descends on the area between now and then.

With strict standards for offering only organic and natural products with the underlying mission stated as being "to help people discover and celebrate a healthy relationship with food," managing the birth of the Rockville operation is a high priority and further expansion isn't in the cards, or on the table, confirmed Bishop, "We have no other expansion plans."

Although its easy to figure that a charismatic local character named Mr. Ellwood Thompson opened the store back in the '80s, an assumption that would be wrong - the market is named after the streets that intersect at its location: Ellwood Avenue and Thompson Street.

Rockville Town Square was completed in 2007, and Jill Powell, senior marking specialist for Federal Realty confirms there are "some small shop leasing opportunities [still] available at Rockville Town Square."

Maryland real estate development news


Anonymous said...

elwood thompson sucks -- glad that never came to DCUSA -- you can have them Rockville

Anonymous said...

Bitter much?

Anonymous said...

Anon 1 has a point though, by backing out of DCUSA (for whatever the reason), Ellwood's left a real bitter taste behind for residents of the area. They may be a "likeable" operation, but their wishy-washy attitude and opaqueness re: the DCUSA deal has made them extremely disliked by many DC residents.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure MoCo won't mind having them. Pretty big win for Rockville. Bummer about the CH fiasco.

Andrew NCH on Sep 14, 2011, 10:54:00 PM said...

What anon #1 said.

I write the New Columbia Heights blog and had the misfortune of covering this disaster. From 2007 to 2010, they said they were "very close," that a deal was signed, things were "looking good," they were "opening in January," things were "moving as scheduled," they were "working with the landlord" and were planning a meet and greet -- and then they canceled their lease.

So many people in the neighborhood wanted them to open, and doing that crap over and over is ridiculous. I'm guessing it's some combination of having no idea how to do press, having terrible internal communications, and just being generally bad at business. I'm angry at myself that I wasted so much time covering their nonsense.

And for what it's worth, they had a second location before, in Chesterfield County, and that closed after 8 months, so we'll see.

If you want to relive the futility, here's the post I wrote when they canceled their lease, which also links to all the previous ones.

Anonymous said...

gee couldn't it just be that the district sucks as a place to open a new business, especially in a location where half your inventory will just walk off?

Andrew NCH on Sep 15, 2011, 10:17:00 PM said...

Right, that's why there's a Target, Best Buy, Modell's, Bed Bath and Beyond, Sports Zone, Payless, Marshall's, Office Depot, Children's Place and Vitamin Shoppe in the same shopping center. Terrible place for a business to go.

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