Washington DC History Resources

Matthew B. Gilmore

Supermarkets in the District of Columbia – 2015

Supermarkets in the District of Columbia

(Update of a post from 2014) In Washington DC understanding the locations of supermarkets is severely hampered by the business licensing structure; major chain supermarkets did not get grocery store licenses until recently. Rather they were required to get licenses for their other activities and products such as cigarettes and deli. Safeway now has grocery store licenses for its locations, as do Trader Joe’s and Wal-mart; Whole Foods and Giant have a few but mostly not. There is no distinction in licensing between a small mom-and-pop grocery and a major chain–supermarket is not a license category. (And here it is major chains that I am including, excluding the smaller grocery stores.)

Some supermarkets or equivalents are housed in chain stores offering a larger variety of items–Target and Wal-mart (recent entrants into the DC retail market). The only way to know DC’s supermarkets is to know them. A handy tool for lookups: Basic Business License Verification — only lists current licensees.

For much of the 20th century the only supermarkets were Giant and Safeway.
See: Giant (from Groceteria)
See: Safeway (from Groceteria)
Recently Whole Foods, then Trader Joe’s, then Harris Teeter (and Aldi) entered the market.

As far as locations, previously major supermarkets were built as stand-alone structures; of late a dramtic shift has taken place and they’ve been part of mixed-use residential commercial structures (however, still located along commercial corridors-highlighted in pale orange on the map).

Several new supermarkets are in the pipeline. Tenleytown Safeway is scheduled to be replaced by a mixed-use development, date TBD.

Supermarkets in DC 2015

Supermarkets in Washington DC 2015

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