Businesses struggle near now-shut Walter Reed

Andrew Mollenbeck,

WASHINGTON – Small businesses around the now-shut Walter Reed Army Medical Center have moved to plans C, D and E.

“We really don’t know what to do, what not to do, because the customers are gone out of this market,” says Kate Singh, owner of Mayfair Liquors on Georgia Avenue.

While a full assessment of the closure’s impact may be difficult, many businesses say they’ve lost at least 20 percent of their customers. Some report much higher losses.

“I’m on anxiety medicine because day to day the stress – like things are out you can’t afford,” Singh says.

At Geranium Market up the block, owner Yeshi Shawle has tried tweaking her inventory.

“I’m trying to change things we had before,” she says. “We have to change some places, bring some new things. We are trying so many things.”

Still, its success has been limited.

Angelico’s Pizzeria has tried to reach new customers with emails and advertising in local papers.

“But still it does not replace the revenue,” says Shahiar Benchiekh, the manager.

“We are barely making ends meet because of [the shut down], but it’s not something that we are going to take as an excuse for closing,” he says.

The bottom line is the unsettling part for local businesses, but there is a missing human element, too.

“We miss the veterans because we had an interaction with them once in a while,” Benchiekh says. “They’re pretty good people.”

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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