Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Retail Ghost Town

Will this bloodshed never end? I didn't think I'd ever be doing two posts about stores closing in DTSS on the same day, but unfortunately that is indeed the case. The Golf, Etc. on Fenton Street is presently in the process of packing up and moving to Rockville. First The Man is closes our local golf course, now this.

Interestingly, the two retailers we lost this week were probably the two highest end of the bunch. Some people might be happy about this retail regression, but frankly it kind of sucks.

Also going bye bye for good? Ritz Camera. Their downtown store liquidated earlier this year, but the location in Burnt Mills lived on to fight another day. At least until now, that is. The entire chain is now liquidating.

So who's the present #1 in the Silver Spring Retail Dead Pool? My bet is on Pier 1, which is doing better than expected, but still plans to close 50 stores by the end of the year.

And now, once again, the official Silver Spring Retail Fail theme song:


Anonymous said...


Silver Spring is not a good market for high-end retailers anyway. I mean, Hello, the income per capita is much higher in Bethesda or Rockville.

Anyway, I am just thrilled that the real estate developers have empty store rooms. Empty $2,500 one-bedroom condos with the "trendy" granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Empty profits. And empty credit lines to Wall Street banks. Gentrification of Silver Spring=Epic Failure.

Get a few more pawn shops and liquor stores at bottom bargain rents and I will welcome the old Silver Spring back! Dark, empty, scary and affordable!


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the previous poster.

I work in Silver Spring now and I wish I had worked in this area 14 years ago instead, when the mall's AMC complex was relatively new; when Vinyl Ink and Compact Discovery still existed; when there were two good used bookstores on Bonifant and one on Sligo!; when there were a few interesting pawn shops and the Hadassah thrift store.

SS was fun then and not really that dangerous!

Sure, no Mandalay Restaurant but also no gentrification either. I'm sick of franchises in this area! I'm sick of my coworkers hitting the same 4 chain stores every day at lunch.

Whoever's in charge of this city is pumping all their money into one block between Ellsworth and AFI while the rest of the city goes down the toilet.

God bless the Greek cafe(s) for at least drawing a few people past the block of franchises!

Just look at Bethesda to see your future: No more Second Story Books but a lot of overpriced chain stores!

brentgilroy said...

I wonder whether the great PR Silver Spring got from the violent outburst on March 7 is helping drive merchants' decisions about whether to come/stay. Have to think it's not helping -- but of course, nobody will ever admit that, or address the issue.

Mike said...

It's not just here, it's everywhere. A Wall Street Journal story today looked at the retailers who are invoking "cotenancy" clauses in their leases to either negotiate lower rents or actually vacate their spaces penalty-free.

What the clause says is that once the vacancy rate in a mall or shopping center hits a certain point, the tenant can exercise these rights. Chico's, for example (not exactly high end), which has 50-odd stores around the country, has cut nearly $2 million so far that way.

Don't know at what point that would happen in DTSS, but it's hard to imagine the stores that are here would have signed leases without a cotenancy clause.

CoronaSS said...

No offensive to anyone who plays golf or enjoys $50 a yard fabric, or for that matter enjoyed $70 t shirts from that Pieces of Silver Spring store, but really all we are seeing right now is the exodus of stores who placed a bad bet on Silver Spring becoming the next Bethesda.

It started with the high end condo developers, and now its speeding up with the high end niche retailers. Seriously, how does that stuff fit the diverse demographics of Silver Spring. Yes, people do play golf around here, but there are not tons of executive living on the greens on Fridays crusing around in DTSS. Sorry, not the best business decision.

It's not like Whole Foods, or Strosniders, or the cute Painting store, or the awesome Living Ruff pet store are closing up. Stuff that people actually buy and use in their lives on a regular basis is doing fine. High end stuff that caters to the affluent is not - especially not in such a quasi-working class non-elitest town.

I'm actually thrilled that Nicaro is being re-imagined in the old hut place. It sounds like an awesome, large resturant that will have a great presence it an ridiculously great location. I mean, the benefits of having so much foot traffic right next to the metro is going to do wonders for crime and safety.

Take notice -shady McDonalds!

Anonymous said...

@IHATEYUPPIES I don't see why you don't just head over to PG or DC rather than continuously bitch on the blogs.

Give me a break guys - why would anyone want to have empty store fronts or third rate stores in their community. The gentrification that some folks bitch about is what brought stores like Strosniders, Whole Foods, Borders into the community. News flash! No one wanted to come live in Silver Spring 10+ years ago, if they could afford to live elsewhere! For the life of me I don't understand the negative stigma associated with Silver Spring attempting to become more like Bethesda, which in IMO is a success story.

For one, we are still a chain hell with crappy food chains (probably more than Bethesda! Can claim a Red Lobster of their own?) and stores and the independents are hardly worth going to. When's the last time you went into Shitty Place Mall to throw down some cash? Bethesda on the other hand I'd be hard pressed to make it down one side of Elmo without making a purchase. Not to mention grab some food, drinks and not have to deal with some foul mouthed assholes screaming across the street.

Merimekko just had ridiculous clothing styles, who's going to throw down $300 for a printed mumu. I did love Pieces and thought if they were closer to Downtown maybe they might have done better. As for Living Rough and Whole Foods they are doing well and but they aren't exactly cheap are they?

ForestGlen said...

I hope Cakelove is next to go

Anonymous said...

This "hatred" of gentrification never seems to come from people who don't romanticize dark and empty downtowns. Last time I checked there are many affordable places to live in DDSS, just not the nice bulgalow two blocks off of Georgia Avenue. So stop whinning and move to PG if "keeping it real" is your version of teenage angst. What's happening in DTSS is no different than what's happening all over the country, just not as bad thankfully.

Springvale Roader said...

I'm not sorry to see Merrimekko go, but then, I never shopped there. Perhaps people who did, and who desired high end fabrics, are upset, and why blame them?

Silver Spring is big enough to accomodate low-end, middle-end, and high-end stores. The fact that high-end stores are closing is not a good sign, because it shows, at least in part, a decline in our town's wealth.

I add my voice to those who advise the anti-gentrifiers to move or shut up. There are plenty of areas in and around D.C. where you will find cheap rent and cheap stores and trash-strewn streets and enough crime and social dysfunction to make your life "real." So what's stopping you?

Tina & Drew said...

Why would you hope Cakelove is the next place to go? Moron, what gives with the angst.

It's a decent enough place, the cupcakes are good, the cakes are better and hey it does fit into locally owned independant right?

Go have some cake, maybe it'll cheer you up some.

Anonymous said...

I worked in downtown Silver Spring years ago, and the lack of interesting lunch places more than made up for the wonders of a few good used book and record stores. It was grim.

I'm much happier with what we have now, though I'd gladly sacrifice Cakelove for a real bakery with edible cupcakes.

Thomas Hardman said...

Guys, get used to these closings.

See my posting on "Other Shoe About to Drop: Commercial Real-Estate, etc.". Just page down past the personal moping and see the facts and links about what's going on in Commercial Real Estate around the country. Chicago suburban commercial real-estate -- which includes storefronts as well as professional offices -- is at a 25-percent vacancy rate, DC Metro Suburban Maryland is actually doing well in comparison, a mere 14-percent vacancy rate.

Of course, it's going to rise. A lot of the "DRSS revitalization and rebirth" were mere symptoms of various economic bubbles, first the Dot-Com and then the Real-Estate/Housing market bubbles.

So you are likely to have a lot of Einsterzende Neubauten or "brand new ruins" down there. Shiny, Vacant, and Attractive Nuisances. But you're better off than places like Burtonsville Crossing. Talk about Speculation! Lots of people are about to lose their @$$ who never thought it could happen to them. Want a clue what's coming? Look at Moscow and St Petersburg Russia. Half of those towns are new skyscrapers abandoned at the half-constructed point.

Want some clue about how to avoid even more Epic Fail than you already see?

Don't start any new projects.

That would be not just Epic Fail, but Gargantuan Stupidity.

Sort of like "we have no oil so let's do a sneak attack bombing of Pearl Harbor". Nothing at the end of that road but Doom and More Doom.

I have spoken, and as the Astute Reader already knows, I am in fact and without question always right.

So tuck your tail between your legs before City Place falls on it.

Anonymous said...

There is no reason for City Place to close.

That was a nice mall when it opened and then retailers fled.

The AMC complex in there was one of the nicest in the area for the first 3 or 4 years that it was opened.

I don't understand why that mall went downhill so fast given the time and money poured into it.

I'd rather eat at McDonald's and still have 3 good used books (instead of one) and Vinyl Ink back. I love Mandalay but the rest of the places in this area are average at best.

Terry in Silver Spring said...

"No one wanted to come live in Silver Spring 10+ years ago, if they could afford to live elsewhere!"

That's when I moved to DTSS, the fall of 1999 and I could afford to live elsewhere. I liked the funkiness and there were (and are) a lot of nice people here.