City Desk

Will Target Target Local Merchants?


Todd Pfeiffer, owner of Pfeiffer's Hardware, surprised me when he said he isn't too nervous about the new Target and the DC USA shopping bonanza just down the street at 14th and Irving.

He said most of his business comes from contractors looking for building materials and tools that Target just doesn't have. Besides that, he said, "We have a huge, loyal clientele of people who love knowing the guy behind the counter and knowing that he'll say hi to your children and your dog."

The Mt. Pleasant Business Association met this morning, as shoppers from all over the city invaded the brand-spanking-new Target in Columbia Heights. They've received a $106,000 grant from the city as some kind of consolation prize, since the Target's new underground parking lot got a sweet subsidy to the tune of $46 million from the National Capital Revitalization Corporation (NCRC), which was semi-private at the time and is now part of a D.C. city agency.

The Mt. Pleasant Business Association is planning to use the money to spruce up their facades and otherwise plot to lure people in to the neighborhood. Pfeiffer says it would be a shame if people "come out of the metro and go to Target and not even know we're two blocks away." They'd like to change the metro station's name to "Columbia Heights / Mt. Pleasant" to remind people of the neighborhood business district.

"People may not understand the consequences of shopping over there [at the DC USA shopping center] as opposed to at Mt. Pleasant businesses, and that it may mean that these businesses fail," said Pfeiffer. "It's all well and good to say that you love local shopping, but spending money there instead of here could lead to these businesses' demise."

Yoli's Boutique closed a couple months ago, apparently an early casualty of the DC USA. Pfeiffer said the owner was afraid of the impact the DC USA would have.

Pfeiffer and I agreed that most businesses on the street were probably safe – Target doesn't have a pupusería yet, for example, and the bodegas in the 'hood aren't about to lose their business to Target – but there is some apprehension about how they will be affected.

When I tried to look at the bright side of the new shopping center, saying, well at least we'll have a place to get things like vacuum cleaners that you never used to be able to get around here, Pfeiffer reminded me that I can get a vacuum cleaner at Brothers Sew & Vac in Cleveland Park, or he could have special-ordered me one.

It made the bright side a little less bright. I have to admit, I'm more likely to go to Target than Brothers Sew & Vac.–Tanya Snyder

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  • Arjewtino

    Who are your headline writers? How long did they wait to unleash this one?

  • Amanda Hess

    Like all blog posts, this one's been stuck in edit for weeks. Hey, where was your copy editor when you wrote this one?

  • CreativeGluttony

    A vacuum from Brothers will most likely outlast any vacuum Target sells. Keep that in mind to justify the price of a vacuum from Brothers.

  • anna

    Market forces will reshape the business environment of this part of town and i think that is awesome.

    I like local retail, but only if it is good quality. Unfortunately that cannot be said of ANY store in MtP St. and while i think that it is very nice to have people greeting dogs, i think it is much nicer to be able to find variety and QUALITY at a good price. if that means a target and no no small assorted retail, then be it.

    I live in MtP and am now a total fan of Columbia Heights and find myself doing ALL of my shopping there nowadays, including my tools. who on earth is going to take the metro to shop in MtP? Pleeeease...

  • Don

    Anna, no way is Target higher quality than Pfeiffers and no way can you find better baked goods at that price point than Hellers. Sorry, you don't know what you're talking about because your post makes no sense.

  • Jamie

    Anna does say one thing that's true: Who's going to take metro to shop in Mt. Pleasant? Do most people who LIVE in Mt. Pleasant even shop there?

    Lets face it, the majority of the businesses on Mt. Pleasant Street sell junk, or esoteric stuff that you don't buy that often. Pfieffer's is the exception. I live in CH and go to Mt. P specifically for Pfieffer's.

    Target will not be responsible for the strange boutiques and junk stores going out of business. I'm not really even sure there will be any effect -- they don't sell the same things! Those places sell awful quality stuff. It's not the price that will drive people to Target, it's the fact that they actually have products of reasonably good quality. Anyone who prefers, for example, a really crappy potato peeler to one that can be used more than once, won't be able to get that crappy one at Target.

  • anna

    no...mount pleasant people go to CH!!!

    i dont like pfeiffers in the least byt i admit i go there on emergencies. it is outrageously priced compared to home depot and given how small the place is, choice is way limited. not to metion this is one place you cannot wait to get away from given the small cramped alleys.

    i dont like hellers in the least either. their service is beyond bad...people there are rude and cranky. coffee is bad, and except for bagels...please. if that is what you call quality baked goods, i really feel for you... you have missed out in life! quality only for lovers of food coloring and other artificial low quality ingredients.

    i cannot wait for the organic market to open in CH. the folks there have some sense as to what is economic development. unfortunately mtp business orgs. are cluelss...