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Congress Market Closing

Another convenience store, Congress Market (421 E Capitol St. SE), is closing at the end of this week. The store is currently having an ‘everything must go’ sale where items range from 30 to 70 percent off.

Regular customers say the owner, Mr. Kim, is set to retire. But there’s no word on what will happen at the site.

Congress Market joins several other Capitol Hill grocery and convenience stores to close their doors this year. In January, Roland’s Deli (333 Pennsylvania Ave SE) closed its doors; Mott’s Market (233 12th St SE) closed in early March. (There’s currently an effort underway by neighbors to buy the former Mott’s property and reopen a store on site).

A customer sits outside Congress Market. “They work very hard,” he said. Photo: E. O’Gorek/CCN.

Reactions of those who frequent Congress Market echoed comments from customers of Roland’s and Mott’s: heartache. “Oh no that’s awful news,” one Twitter user wrote in response to the closure. “The store was such an important part of the neighborhood.”

While Congress Market declined to comment, owner of 7-River Mart (250 11th St. NE) Mr. Sam Ko spoke about some of the challenges he has faced while operating his store for nearly 10 years in the neighborhood.

Ko said business fluctuates day to day, but that customers, overall, are looking for the lowest price when they shop.

“Customers are looking for the cheapest price,” Ko said. “They are going to the (bigger) stores.”

Ko said he cannot offer competitive prices with large retailers due to the price of items from the vendors. He said that vendors in the Capital region of DC, northern Virginia and parts of Maryland have steep prices for smaller stores that are not able to order large quantities of inventory.

Ko said some of the items he sells in his store are more expensive to buy from the vendor than as a customer at a larger grocery or convenience store.

“Big stores have a price lower than what I pay (the vendors),” Ko said. “The vendors give the bigger stores a lower price because they are buying in bulk. They need to make a profit…they make it from the small stores.”

Ko expressed gratitude and appreciation for his customers but said the lower prices at chain retailers will continue to attract neighbors.

“I thank my neighbors for coming here,” Ko said. “I can’t say keep buying more, I cannot say that, because all the customers are just like me, I’m trying to get the low prices.”

Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com

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