BY ALLAN WALTERS — Visitors to Hyattsville’s Shoppes at Arts District are now facing an unwelcome sight: Instead of the expected aisles of organic pet food and unique pet toys, they are met with empty shelves and a “We’ve Moved” sign on the front door of the space formerly occupied by The Big Bad Woof.
One of the main culprits? Parking.
The Big Bad Woof opened in August 2011, as one of the original tenants in the Shoppes at Arts District, and was an important addition to the mix of retail and restaurants that form the Shoppes’ diverse offerings. Owners Julie Paez and Pennye Jones-Napier were attracted to potential growth in their local customer base and benefitting from the Arts District’s appeal as a shopping and entertainment destination, Jones-Napier said.
Ironically, the location may have become too popular; Jones-Napier said that the “lack of available parking was the primary reason for closing the store.” According to Jones-Napier, The Big Bad Woof was allocated only two reserved spaces behind their building, and these were frequently used by customers of Chipotle and other restaurants during the lunch and dinner rush periods.
The only other tenant that relies on customers being able to carry large bags to their car, Yes! Organic Market, has considerably more parking spaces.
Jones-Napier said that, over time, the store began to lose customers because of parking concerns, and they finally decided to close and consolidate operations at their Takoma, DC, location. While Jones-Napier said that they were sorry to leave and would miss seeing their loyal customers, the business and financial realities of their Hyattsville location required a change.
Frequent Hyattsville visitor and Greenbelt resident Michael Smallwood, who shopped at The Big Bad Woof for food and supplies for his service dog, was not happy to hear about the closing but echoed their parking complaints. “I am sorry to see them go — it was a nice store with a great staff — but parking is a nightmare,” he said.
In a phone interview, Councilmember Bart Lawrence (Ward 1) said, “It is a shame that Big Bad Woof has closed. It was clearly well liked by the community.”
“Parking remains a priority for the City of Hyattsville,” Lawrence said. He added that plans were still in place to build a parking garage off of Hamilton Street near the Trolley Trail, which could alleviate many of the parking issues.
Several attempts were made to contact the property manager of the Shoppes at Art District, Cedar Realty Trust, but no response was received by press time.
The Big Bad Woof store in Takoma recently moved to a space at 6960 Maple Street, NW, which doubles their previous store in Takoma, DC. They have also increased hours and added reserved parking spaces. Jones-Napier said that they plan to focus more of their efforts on delivery and shipping organic pet food and other pet products, including some that are fair trade.
The Big Bad Woof’s Facebook page includes this post to its Hyattsville customers: “We thank you all for your five incredible years of support of the Hyattsville location. It has been a pleasure, privilege, and a joy to serve you, to get to know you and your fantastic pets.”
The good news for Hyattsville residents is that The Big Bad Woof is dedicated to serving its Hyattsville customers, who can have orders delivered for pick-up at Grooming by Em in North Brentwood, which is a short drive from the Arts District. Big Bad Woof no longer uses Paws of Enchantment in Mount Rainier as a drop-off site.