The announcement by Walmart officials that the H Street NW location will close at the end of March has some District residents concerned about where they will shop for their groceries in addition to the economic well-being of the immediate neighborhood.
Terry Lynch, the executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, said many people shop at that Walmart because its prices are affordable for those who work, live or worship in the area. He said the store’s closure will have a profound effect on the neighborhood and its residents.
“This will leave a big economic hole and is yet another nail in the coffin on why working-class residents can’t afford to remain in the city,” Lynch said.
The H Street store closure comes as Walmart announced last month that it will shutter eight other stores in states such as Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Oregon and Arkansas. Company officials said the closing stores failed to meet financial expectations. Regarding the shuttering District store,
Felicia McCranie, the communications director for the company’s North and East U.S. divisions, issued a statement “we are grateful to the customers who have given us the privilege of serving them at our H Street store.”
“We look forward to serving them at our other stores in the surrounding communities and on Walmart.com,” she added.
The store’s pharmacy will close on March 17, with the whole facility discontinuing operations on March 31. Company officials said H Street employees will be able to transfer to one of three stores within a seven-mile radius.
Residents Question H Street Closing
The Rev. Cheryl Sanders, pastor of the Third Street Church of God in Northwest, said the store’s closure makes her feel uneasy.
“My question is what were they expecting to happen in the first place,” she said. “The store was a lot to invest in and not give it time to grow.”
Sanders said when her church used to visit a campground in western Pennsylvania, they would shop at the Super Walmart there.
“When there I would think, we don’t have anything like this at home,” she said. “Then they built two Walmarts in my neighborhood on Riggs Road and Georgia Avenue about the same time the H Street store opened. You go from nothing to too many. My question is what were they expecting to happen.”
Alicia Harris, 25, works as a network television producer who resides in the neighborhood surrounding Capitol Hill. She said the closing of the Walmart “is so tragic.”
“Walmart is a staple for affordable groceries, and much of the middle class,” Harris said. “By eliminating Walmart, the option for people is Giant and that isn’t really a good comparison. This was a Super Walmart that had groceries and household items.”
Harris said she looked forward to getting her fresh produce at an affordable price at Walmart.
“The next Super Walmart is five miles away,” she said. “Once again, the District is a food desert for many young professionals who want quality at affordable prices.”
Denise Reed said she liked to order her items online from Walmart’s website and pick them up at the H Street store.
“My building is located at the other end of H Street and I would order things and pick it up at that store,” Reed said. “Walmart is closing stores all over the country, so it’s not necessarily against the District. It was limited in selections and Walmart is a business. I often saw the police there because of thefts.”
Reed said the store was sufficient for her shopping needs even though she lamented that it didn’t have the space “to really be a Super Walmart.”