Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Veeeeeeeeeeeee Essssssssssssssss?

Word on the street (Fenton Street) is that an effort is afoot to convert the former Hollywood Video and adjoining stores into a single, large retail store that would house a CVS. The Hollywood space is presently the makeshift home of a nonprofit organization, while the space once occupied by the Upscale Pharmacy, which closed earlier this year, is the most recent location of the ever-shifting ArtSpring. Sandwiched in between the two is Family Dry Cleaners, the proprietors of which claim they are being pressured to vacate, and who have started a petition opposing the CVS plan. (I've never personally used their service, but I was always amused by the fact that this dry cleaners proudly displays a sign in their window touting their "Only in Arlington" award.)

From nearly the beginning of this blog I’ve advocated for a CVS or equivalent in or in close proximity to DTSS. I’ve heard all the complaints about CVS, and a lot of them certainly have merit, but one cannot deny that having a large drugstore located right downtown would be extraordinarily convenient. There are a lot of basic items you can't purchase during a visit to DTSS that would be available at a CVS, such as razors, diapers, school supplies, etc. Another good thing about CVS? Redbox.

Best of all, imagine being able to purchase a box of Junior Mints or Sour Patch Kids across the street before going into a movie at the Majestic. Not that I would ever advocate breaking theater rules regarding outside food or anything. But hey, when you’re dropping $$$ SEVENTEEN MF’N FIFTY PER TICKET $$$ (confirmed price, BTW) to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: The IMAX Experience, your snack budget might be a little tight.

Of course, a huge downside to a CVS being located in that particular spot is that the waking nightmare that is the parking experience in the Whole Foods/Strosnider’s lot could become exponentially worse. For those of you who have been around a little while, remember when the Whole Foods lot had a large garage attached to it? I used to get annoyed if I was forced to park in the garage when I couldn’t find a space in the surface lot. Looking back, I didn't know how easy I had it.



46 comments:

Debbie said...

I dunno, SSS, I just feel like a CVS in that particular location would suck...of course, convenience is awesome, and I can't knock your reasons for wanting one there, but I do use that drycleaners and will always advocate for a small, independent business over a chain.

Sligo said...

I wish they'd put it in City Place.

Alex O said...

Well, you know my feelings. Actually, City Place wouldn't be a bad idea at all for it. You do have some good points, but I still look at the landscape and wish they would do something other than a CVS in that location. First off, there is already a CVS in DTSS, okay maybe not on Hellsworth, but there is one over at East-West and Colesville. Plus, there's a Safeway (with a Pharmacy) not more than a two minute drive or five minute walk from Whole Foods, and it has better parking options than the maddening nightmare that is the Whole Foods lot. In terms of beauty supplies and the like, you can find that stuff in the beauty supply store on Elsworth. I couldn't care less about Redbox - I have Netflix, high-speed internet, and a VGA cable, so I can basically stream tens of thousands of movies instantly onto my TV or watch them on my laptop. My guess is that it will happen, and it's rare for CVS to perform poorly enough to close, which will likely make it a permanent fixture in that space. I hadn't even thought about how much worse it will make the parking lot...that could honestly make one of the worst parking lots in the world even worse. While the new civic space sure looks nice, I too look back fondly on the old parking garage when I'm stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the Whole Foods lot. Is it just me, or do most Whole Foods seem to have really under-sized parking lots in relation to the amount of traffic they bring in?

Anonymous said...

That parking lot is inches away from having validated parking for customers only. Glad I can walk there and not deal with the mess.

Anonymous said...

The Family Dry Cleaner ripped me off once. I asked them to remove a stain from a dress. She charged me extra for the stain, which I didn't mind. When I picked up the dress, she had a big uncertain smile. She took my money, but when I got home as I suspected the stain was still there. I'm all in favor of local businesses, but that doesn't give them license to do a poor job. I'd rather have a CVS.

Indian Springer said...

I don't love it, but it's not a horrible idea. DTSS already has a drug store though... Rite Aid has just about everything CVS does (though I know CVS is better). If it does have to happen, I second Sligo's vote for City Place.

jerry'sdaughter said...

CVS is a customer unfriendly. The fact that it's a chain isn't the problem. Somehow Walgreen's manages to provide great service. If we're going to get a big chain store that will make the parking situation even worse, let it be Walgreen's please.

Anonymous said...

I love these blanket generalizations about chain drug stores. The truth is that everyone's experiences vary depending on the employees with whom they interact and the time of day they go. I know many people who would disagree that Walgreens is better than CVS (after all, SNL itself once joked that the devil trains Walgreens cashiers). My experiences with the Rite Aid and CVS in DTSS have been generally positive.

Susan said...

CVS is indeed customer unfriendly. Man, even though I walk right past the one at C-ville & E-W Hwy almost daily, it's my last choice for most things. They are also nasty to their employees.

No. Don't like it. At all.

As someone else said, there are options within a few minutes walk of that corner storefront. I mean, wow, I have a disability & I can deal with it. So can other people. Plan your Junior Mint expeditions.

Sligo said...

That's not exactly a pleasant walk, even if you do make it across EW Highway alive.

Alex said...

Customer unfriendly? Man, I guess I'm not alone. The CVS in Bethesda seems to have two types of employees: those that are directly unfriendly and those that are so vigilantly indifferent to customers that they exude indirect unfriendliness. I will say however that the nurses who work at the in-store clinic have been very friendly when I've got my flu shot there the last two years.

Sligo said...

To some extent we are talking about a lot of retail workers in this area. They generally appear annoyed that they have to bother with you. I don't notice this phenomenon nearly as much outside the DC area.

Besides, that's what self-checkout is for.

Milt's daughter said...

The CVS in Montgomery Hills on GA Ave. is customer friendly and they stock more / slightly different things than CVS East West Hwy. It's hard to imagine a business that wants 3 stores within 1+ miles of each other.

Clancy said...

I would rather have the CVS go in City Place as well. It seems like a better location, especially if they put it in/around the old location for the Ruby Tuesdays (which doesn't seem to becoming the bank that was once promised for that location).

Speaking of the ever-shifting locations for ArtSpring, I walked by the old location on Georgia today and noticed that the work permit posted in the window seemed to indicate that it was to become an AT&T store. While I'm glad that a business will be going in there, I was sort of hoping that the cell phone stores would occupy the periphery of DTSS rather than the core.

Anonymous said...

I think anything in that space is good, I really don't care what it is. Empty storefronts are bad storefronts.

As for CVS, they really are horrible in customer service. I don't notice the mean service, just incompetent and understaffed. I'm always amazed no matter where I've lived(DC, MD, VA, NJ, NY, MA) CVS is always understaffed at the registers. But I've yet to encounter rudeness.

ForestGlen said...

Meh. I suppose as CVS there would be better than nothing, but I'd much rather prefer a Bed, Bath and Beyond there.

Also, the CVS in Montgomery Hills is walking from me, hope they wouln't close that one if they open one in DTSS.

The Trader Joe's parking lot on Route 29 should get the award for worst parking lot in the world...it's one reason that I avoid going there, even though I love TJs.

Also, any updates on the frozen yogurt place that was rumored a while back to be coming to DTSS?

new laurel resident said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
new laurel resident said...

I frequent the CVS in Burtonsville and its ALWAYS understaffed, the pharmacy line is always stagnant and there is usually always a computer malfunction resulting in delays and sometimes not being able to pick up prescriptions due to faulty computers not being able to properly pull up insurance information.
WALGREENS typically doesn't have the monumental disasters that CVS has on a regular basis. With WALGREENS in expansion mode in the area and the new WALGREENS in White Oak, one would assume they'd want to locate in downtown ss. How about some competition for CVS! CVS is on every corner in DC.

Silverton Resident said...

What about the CVS *and* Rite Aid on E-W? Those are just a few blocks away. Plus, Giant and Safeway have pharmacies too, as well as at least half the same products the drug stores sell.

I don't know if yet another drug store would even be viable, but it would be redundant, and add nothing to the area.

Anonymous said...

As long as that space doesn't turn into another hair salon...those seem to sprout like weeds in DTSS.

Bruce said...

I'm wondering if that space is even big enough for a full blown CVS. Either way, it's a bad idea. Parking is a hilarious adventure and there's a CVS in Four Corners that is far more convenient.

I think a CVS in the Flower/Piney Branch neighborhood would be better but that's just me being a homer.

Anonymous said...

The WF/Strosnider's parking lot should definitely be validation/customers only. Who would argue against that?

Sligo said...

The churchgoers that park there. I watch them come and go, I know it's done, despite claims to the contrary.

Clancy said...

I love it when someone writes that a store in Four Corners is conveniently located. Sure, if you want to hop on a bus for 10-15 minutes, then take another one back. Granted that convenience is a relative concept, but for those living in DTSS (and not south of the tracks) a chain drug store downtown would be very convenient indeed. A CVS anywhere near Ellsworth would do very good business and hardly put a dent in either the Rite Aid on E-W or the CVS at the Blairs.

Anonymous said...

IHATEYUPPIES:

Sligo-"I wish they'd put it[CVS] in City Place".

What Sligo said.

btw...I hope the community non-profit group remains in the former Hollywood Video space for a long time. It would be great if every empty retail spot in DTSS was temporarily taken over by community-based organizations.

Power to the people.

-IHY-

Anonymous said...

Skateboarders! At Veterans Plaza! Tonight at about 8:15. Has the county lightened up on them?

Robert Haynes said...

CVS would make parking MUCH worse IMO

>12 = INSANE for a movie price. I might never see an IMAX movie here and I'm 5 minutes away.

Anonymous said...

They need to turn that lot into a garage....

hippypunk said...

can the church be torn down for a parking lot?

Hometowner said...

NO MORE CHAINS IN SILVER SPRING! They suck the life out of a community and none of the ones we currently have reflected our activism and commitment to social change.

My not e cooperative pharmacy/variety store, modeled on the food co-op we already have? The community would decide what does there,and how any profit are spent (and keep them inside the community).

Anonymous said...

"none of the ones we currently have reflected our activism and commitment to social change."

Don't you mean YOUR activism and commitment to social change. That's nice and all, but good intentions don't pay the rent.

Anonymous said...

If you want a "cooperative pharmacy/variety store," and you think the demand for one actually exists, why not start one yourself?

Anonymous said...

ahh someone has the spirit of the People's Republic of Montgomery County. Some people here are very scary.

Thomas Hardman said...

CVS isn't the only place that seems to operate under a really scary philosophy.

There are a lot of retail stores all over the area that seem to exude the idea that they think they're still in high school and the real powers-that-be are the cliques and their popularity contests. A lot of these places act like it's their g_d-given right to pick and choose which customers they'll welcome (their "buds"), which customers they'll tolerate, and which customers will be given "the bum's rush" no matter at which store or shopping center they try.

It smacks so bad of a really vile cliquishness (almost gangsterism in some ways) that I dubbed places that exhibit this phenomenon as "the Convenience Store Mafia". The all-American thing of taking your business elsewhere doesn't work in such a situation, in any case, they got what they wanted, for you to go away, and there will be plenty of other customers coming down the pike to replace any business you withdraw.

I've noticed that it's pretty bad that way in any Rite-Aid I've ever been to, and in a lot of CVS stores as well. Some Giants are rife with this bad attitude, others are pretty responsive. A lot of these folks seem to have the idea that if they don't like you, you don't just need to find another place to shop, but that you might as well leave town because they will tell all of their friends to be on the lookout and run you out of any other place you might try.

Thank g_d Maryland now has a gang law that adds 20 years Mandatorily Consecutive on the basis of command structure.

To be fair, the national management of CVS is catching on to this problem and seems to be working pretty aggressively to remove anyone subscribing to the pervasive bad attitude of the "Convenience Store Mafia".

PS there is no similarity between the Convenience Store Mafia and Seinfeld's 'Soup Nazi'.

Megan said...

I have been to awesome CVS stores and awful ones. My concern is that the one on E-W Highway is TERRIBLE. Awful pharmacy where I was given expired medication and then given wrong medication (stupid me, giving them another chance). Loads of complaints have been lodged against them, and nothing changes. I am going to guess that these stores are regionally managed, so I have no faith that a store only a few blocks away would be any better. Shiny and new, but still the same old crap.

Anonymous said...

Cliques, gangs, and mafias? At my local CVS, Rite-Aid, and Giant? Am I missing something here? I shop at these stores frequently, and feel like I'm missing something. I find what I need, go to the register, pay, and walk out. Sometimes I encounter employees who are unhelpful, but that is an issue with so many retail employees in this area.

Thomas Hardman said...

There's a homeless man who frequently hangs out in the Aspen Hill Shopping Center (with the Giant and CVS, etc). He also apparently hangs out at other shopping centers more or less up and down Georgia Avenue.

He is my height, about my age, has the same color eyes, and the same hairline. He probably has ancestors from all of the same northwestern European nations as I do. He is also apparently batshit crazy, as in, "voices" and violence.

To make matters worse, as a general rule he dresses exactly the way that I tend to dress when I'm running down to the stores to get a can of coffee or a few bars of soap. Jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, etc.

I know other people who have seen this person and have said "I know he's not you, but you guys look about exactly the same except that he looks seriously mental, talking to invisible friends" etc.

If you were to have a problem with this person, and described them to police, if the police went out to arrest people based on that description to form a line-up, both this guy and myself would end up in the same line-up.

It does not seem unreasonable to me that "merchant associations" of various kinds might circulate grainy and out-of-focus surveillance cameras of this guy. It does not seem unreasonable, either, if I walked into a store and they've seen such a photo, and immediately take me for bad and start in with harassment.

It does not seem unlikely to me that if I were to call a cop, the cop will go talk to the management. It seems reasonable that the management might say in very broken English that they have picture of that man he very bad man I don't want in my store. It seems reasonable to me that the cop is going to come back to tell me "there's nothing I can do". Because, after all, it's just businessmen looking out for each other by sharing their experiences and giving warnings to each other about potential problems. Community policing at its best, dontcha know.

Yet when this constitutes a chain-of-command, and results in second-degree assault (any assault resulting in significant or permanent impairment of physical ability), that is one offense towards prosecution under the Maryland Gang Prosecution Act of 2010.

Sometimes the difference between "merchant association" operating in inappropriate "proactive defense" in a case of mistaken identity, and a gang, is in the eye of the beholder and their position in the situation.

That being said: I once had one pharmacy clerk take one look at me and have her buds come out from the back room to get ready to drag me out of the store. Her excuse? "He was staggering and making faces and acting weird."

How things changed in that store when I contacted management and pointed out that I was picking up antibiotics for a very extreme and incredibly painful and sense-of-balance-affecting infection of both ears.

Basically she decided she didn't like the way I looked and called out the goon squad to not merely deny me my medicine but to manhandle me out of the door.

That's the sort of thing I mean when I say "cliqueish" and "gang-like".

Anonymous said...

Any update on that new sports bar going in on East West Hwy? They claim opening around Thanksgiving in a TBD article, but I'd be shocked if it opened before 2011. Wondering if anyone has heard about progress there.

Anonymous said...

Can I e-mail you about a story in which I think you might be interested?

Thanks,
Samantha Friedman
samantha@rabinowitz-dorf.com

Sligo said...

Sure. My email is on the right side of the page.

repping the SS towers said...

Thomas, you wouldn't by any change be that homeless gentlemen you were talking about?

new laurel resident said...

I heard today that Walgreens is interested in the previous Ruby Tuesday's location.

Anonymous said...

MoCo should allow the new drug store where Hollywood Video was, but with a truth in advertising requirement: They should require it be called DVS.

BTW Alex O, the Whole Foods in Old Town Alexandria seems to always have plenty of parking for the traffic it generates.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have a Walgreens than a CVS. CVS always seems to have bad service, regardless of location. And too bad the Whole Foods doesn't have that parking garage attached to it anymore. I've given up on going to Whole Foods DTSS BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF AMPLE PARKING. Heck, I go to the Whole Foods in Friendship Heights -- it's bigger, and they validate parking for at least 1 hour if you spend $5 (which isn't tough to do at Whole Foods). Plus you can walk from the Metro right to the Whole Foods at Friendship Heights.

I've just had to fight one too many times for parking when going to Whole Foods and Strosnider's in DTSS. It's ridiculous, but I'm glad that DTSS is doing well.
Ditto for Trader Joe's on 29.

Thomas Hardman said...

repping the SS towers said...

Thomas, you wouldn't by any change be that homeless gentlemen you were talking about?


Nope. And you're making the same mistake that's got my butt kicked a few times.

Having discovered this little fact, I have taken pains to distinguish my appearance from his. No details will be forthcoming but let's just say that there's no longer the excuse of "mistaken identity".

Among other things, I have acquiesced to the genuinely sad surrender and capitulation of paying with debit card rather than with cash. As pathetic as that is -- recording my time and place of purchasing a known carcinogen -- at least I'm not running up my credit-card bill. I don't use credit for any reason, which is probably enough for the anonymous Yuppies to loathe me. Remember, the Yuppie definition of "poor white trash" is "they have no debt".

All of this being said: CVS is CVS, some would say, but actually it's not.

If I go to a CVS downtown, most if not all of the clerk staff are black people and I give respect, I get respect. The CVS stores near to where I live are mostly staffed by American-hating foreign racists and they let me know that I'm not welcome. Rite-Aid has something wrong with it to the core, I've most of them within driving distance and it doesn't matter what is the ethnicity of the staff or the customer, they just hate everyone. That might explain why they are almost always nearly devoid of customers and that's because as bad as CVS can be, it's way better than Rite-Aid.

I'm looking forward to WalMart and any other alternatives to the existing widely-distributed chains of CVS and Rite-Aid. Simply said, if you want good service, do your shopping at the stores where they actually want new customers and repeat customers. CVS and Rite-Aid think of themselves as being the sole alternatives and thus think that their customers are a captive audience. Sadly, the majority of CVS and Rite-Aid that aren't in this region are able to serve their customers and keep them happy, and can thus fund the loss-leader tax write-offs that are the widely-despised CVS and Rite-Aid locations here in "under-optioned" Montgomery County.

If the new SS CVS is staffed mostly by Americans, whatever their ethnicity or origins, maybe I will shop there and be a good and recurrent customer. But I am doing my best to never do business with American-hating foreign racists.

Dragon said...

Found this link via your recent post on Pier 1's pending closure.

Perhaps you could do a story on how the other CVS is located right next to another pharmacy -- the one at Giant. As you enter the plaza from EWH, you can see the signs for both Giant and CVS. Both has "Pharmacy" on it. Rite Aid is also nearby. With CVS opening on Fenton, it would be good to close this one and replace it with something useful.