Update: Incidentally, now the convenience story appears to be on its last legs, fresh signs proclaiming that everything is 75 percent off. Perhaps the owner is taking her profits and hitting the lamb; i.e. it was good while it lasted. I predict more chain dining, with better punctuated signs.
The Arlington office building I work in draws hundreds of tourists a month — mostly of Asian descent but not always. I often wonder: Are they here for the chain eateries or the CVS?
Neither of course. The building in which I toil instead lies in the middle of a much-traveled charter bus route, ferrying tourists between Georgetown and Arlington National Cemetery. And an enterprising shop keeper is cleaning up because of it.
Her store is nondescript, boasting a generic name which I cannot even recall and is meaningless to her success. Her convenience store wares, around which one might think the store is focused, are also pedestrian: Sodas, lottery tickets, bruised bananas and candy bars — products which are probably cheaper at any number of surrounding businesses. But it’s the other merchandise that reels them in: Pictures of D.C., cheaply-made tourist trinkets and the like, purchased by dozens of hapless tourists each day.
It’s true that I don’t understand why anyone visiting D.C. would buy such fare, even if “Every things on sale now” as the above photo claims. I also cannot understand why groups would allow a bus driver to stop at this soulless place, the lobby of a skyscraper in the barren wasteland of Rosslyn, filled with honking cars and pedestrian roads.
But I do understand one thing: This lady’s store is making a lot of money selling cheaply made crap, because by happenstance her convenience store lies at the absolute most convenient place for a tour bus driver to catch a breather and unload his cargo for a few minutes. It’s funny how this event has become such a common occurrence, and I am no longer surprised by 60 badly-dressed elderly Japanese men milling about my building, a stunned look painted on their faces.
Two storefronts down is another store, this one the purveyor of jewelry. It shares similarities with the convenience store: Location, generic look and name, and from the looks of it, generic product. Yet one store is still in business and the other is closing. The jewelry store never exploited the odd intersection of happenstance that brings people ready to part with their money to Rosslyn every day. As a result, this is the sign it hangs outside its window: