Big News or Big Let Down

According to this snippet from DCMud, Big Lots has been announced for the Forman Mills shopping center.

Big Lots, the close out/overstock retailer, is coming to Brookland.  Construction is starting shortly on a 37,000 s.f. shell located at 514 Rhode Island, Ave., NE.

Back in January, the Insider reported that Save-A-Lot was moving into the space. No word yet if this is in addition or to replace.

Until then, what do you think? Big news? Or a big let down for our area?


20 thoughts on “Big News or Big Let Down

  1. It’s good news! Glad to see more stores coming. We need them. Of course, I would prefer a Trader Joe’s which I heard sells the cheapest bananas compared to Whole Foods, Giant, Safeway, etc.

    I’ll check out Big Lots when it comes. I go maybe once or twice a year to buy something at Forman Mills. I’ve gone once or twice to T.J. Maxx at RIA and Friendship Heights, but haven’t bought anything from them.

    I think of all the stores on that end of RIA, I go to Home Depot the most, followed by Giant. And basically, that’s it! 😦

    1. I think it’s good. It’s not a high end retailer, sure. But, it’s a respectable company. I actually used to work for them back when I was an undergrad. In my opinion, any store is better than an empty shell (well, there’s a few exceptions to that, but I don’t think Big Lots qualifies as one). The more retailers and companies that can be seen to turn a profit in our neighborhood will only help in recruiting more (and potentially better) ones later. An empty storefront just lets investors know that their investment may not be worth it.

  2. Big Lots is the best! If we’re to turn into suburban-lite, which is the only vision possible from the elected and appointed dopes downtown, I’m somewhat mollified by getting a convenient Big Lots.

    1. My thought exactly. I have no personal experience of them. I’m digging that swimming pool on page 2 of its website though.

  3. I can’t say I’m all that excited. But the other posters are right: it beats an empty store front.

  4. Big Lots is similar to K Mart / Wal-Mart but smaller mainly selling household items & some furniture (if the store is large enough) but very little clothing. They sell refurbished high end electronics such as Cuisinart & Rowenta along with other brands of electronic household items.

    It’s great for inexpensive childrens things like books, arts & crafts toys but keep in mind that the store is not large so don’t go with the intentions of finding huge sections of Barbie or Lego etc. and if you see something you want then get it because there is no guarantee it will be there when you go back due largely to limited quantities. I went there for childrens Christmas peresnts and got these board games – Life, Battleship, Monopoly, & Jenga for $3.88 each during a special 5 hour sale and yes they were brand new in sealed plastic wrap.

    Overall, I don’t think that the newbies to the neighborhood will rave about Big Lots simply because it is not a high end store and I too have mixed feelings because I wish that Trader Joe’s was coming instead ( I love that store and it’s Hawaiian shirt wearing staff).

    1. Trader Joes would rock in our neighborhood. since the closest one is in Arlington it would bring all the DC consumers….especially with it being within walking distance of the red line.

      1. Thing is, though, that that shopping center on the north side of RIA isn’t really walking distance to the metro- not a short walk, anyhow. You can do it, but it takes a convoluted walk down the entrance ramp from the shopping center to the street (where there is no sidewalk), down under the overpass, then up the walk ramp over RIA to the metro. The whole trip from the shopping center across to the metro probably takes 10 minutes on foot- not really what a big retailer like Trader Joes would be looking for when wanting to be “walking distance” from transportation…

        The city is planning a pedestrian bridge from the MBT trail over the CSX tracks to the metro, which will make that walk much more walkable. But that’s probably still a year or two in coming, I’d guess.

      2. Hey Mark,

        FYI…the closest Trader Joes is actually in DC (Penn Ave and N. L St.).

  5. Big let down. I wish they would tear up that massive parking lot and put in some mixed-use development and increase the walkability of that area. If I wanted to live in the suburbs, I’d move to Silver Spring.

    1. Katy:
      I really agree with you. Make it walkable. And enjoyable. Right now it is ugly and not useful. it doesnt add anything to the neighborhood. And after going to a wal mart on a Saturday and seeing the traffic and its parking lot, I dont want to be anywhere near big lots.

  6. So where is this Big Lots going? In that empty lot behind the Mcdonalds/BP where the mixed use apartment building was supposed to go?

    Ive never been to a Big Lots, but from what i understand its not going to bring in the same crowd that i was hoping something like a Trader Joes would. Oh Well. Guess i wont have to travel far now to get my inflatable pools and fauz suede couches.

  7. Yes, it’s a let down, but Trader Joe’s has already said they’re not interested, so we have to get over it and move on. And while one crowd will be pleased and another won’t, it’s called gentrification. And since we’re talking about ugly spaces and walkability, where was everyone when they created the Home Depot/Giant Plaza? And who thought the ingress/egress made sense? Vincent Orange? How much did he get out of the deal? That plaza has turned out to be nothing more than a cut-through for Maryland commuters to get from RI Ave to South Dakota. The Giant is rodent infested and nobody at Home Depot knows anything about home improvement; they only want to see your receipt after they’ve witnessed you checking out at the register.

    TJ Maxx is a joke – TJ Maxx in the suburbs doesn’t dare put a theft sensor on a $29.99 bag; our TJM doesn’t even carry high end handbags and then charges for a shopping bag because they sell food products.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my city, but sometimes Ward 5 seems to just get screwed. Big Lots is way cool in the ‘burbs, but if the Brentwood Plaza is any indication, our Big Lots will sell things suburban Big Lots wouldn’t even entertain – – their seconds, at best. So I guess the question now is – – how do we demand quality products and better customer service? Otherwise, we’ll have RI Row, Brentwood Plaza and 4th & RI selling us substandard merchandise and shabby customer service for years to come.

  8. If you want quality merchandise and clean stores and good customer service in our area, befriend the store managers and tell them what you like and what you think needs improvement in their stores. Talk to them — they need to know what their customers want, rather than simply hearing complaints all the time. And keep in mind that not everybody wants what you want. Be positive! (I used to run a retail co-op.)

    As for those yearning for a Trader Joe’s, I’m really not a fan of Trader Joe’s. I think they are geared too much toward wealthier folks who don’t really like to cook very much, and I think they are too expensive for a lot of basic things (though they don’t even sell enough basics). Trader Joe’s is the only nearby option (except for mainstream chain grocers) I have for shopping for vegetarian/natural foods when we visit my mother-in-law in the suburban Cleveland area, and I simply can’t do very much shopping there because they don’t sell a lot of the ingredients I need for cooking from scratch!

    If you’re disappointed that a Trader Joe’s isn’t here, have you tried talking to the managers at Yes! on 12th Street about stocking some of the things that you might otherwise buy at a Trader Joe’s?

  9. I’ll agree with Kathy that Trader Joe’s is for higher end people who don’t cook. I recall visiting the Georgetown store and being miffed that the nice clean store with pretty decent prices is always in a high end neighborhood. I don’t see Trader’s trying to give the same nice stuff to residents in Wards 7 & 8. So I don’t shop there. As for Big Lots, I’m on the fence. I’ve only shopped at one in California and it was pretty neat but nothing I’m super excited about. As for those who are moaning about getting a Big Lots, you’re more than welcome to move to a neighborhood that doesn’t have one. I happen to live in Ward 3 (born & raised in 5) and there are plenty of apartments and homes for sale. You knew what you were getting into when you moved to Ward 5, so either shut it or move. Simple as that.

    1. Wow, seems a little harsh.

      Having spent considerable time in Shaw (late 1980’s – early 2000’s) before moving to Ward 5, I can attest to the fact that neighborhoods change. And those changes almost always start with a rather small group of activist neighbors.

      Whether you like the changes or not gets into a much larger discussion. But the choices are not limited to “shut it or move.” Just sayin’

    2. Uhhhh…yeah I’ve gotta agree with Bill on this one. Shut it or move? Because we want our neighborhood to be a more walkable, friendlier place? Adding a big lots does nothing but create more traffic on an already traffic-esque fourth street. I was born and raised on Capitol HIll and moved to ward 5 because it was all I could afford but refused to leave my beloved city. So I should shut up and move because I am urging nice retailers to move here?? That seems ridiculous and TOTALLY negates the purpose of this blog, which is to hear people’s opinions and talk about things happening in our neighborhood. Don’t bring that negativity over here please.
      I’m sure the residents of U street and H street both had a lot to say about the changes in their neighborhoods. But it started somewhere, right??

  10. Ideally (and in the long-run), it would be best for that shopping center to be razed and new multi-story buildings built instead. I have a feeling that the mall management are only signing short-term leases until plans to redevelop that plot are devised. When DDOT completes the pedestrian bridge to the center, I’m sure it will serve as a catalyst for new development at that site and in Edgewood in general.

    Big Lots will be a good addition to RI Ave in my opinion – they’re no Trader Joe’s, but they have a good selection of discounted brand-name merchandise that will provide jobs and more shopping options for local residents. Forman Mills has a gawd-awful selection of items and the lines at check-out are the absolute worst I’ve seen.

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