From wrapping paper to cowboy hats, Bruce Variety specialized in odds and ends. It’s where Betsy Turley got her first backpack.
“I looked up there and realized there was a whole world up above the shelves,” she says.
It’s where Hopeton Dobbs got his first job.
“I was here for 25 years and had a lot of loyal customers,” he says.
It is, by more than 2,500 accounts, a neighborhood icon.
“Bruce’s really meant something to the people around here,” says Richard Dimock, the owner. “It’s kind of emotional. After all of these years we’re kind of vacating the neighborhood.”
It will take days to move 60 years of dust and shelving out of the Bethesda neighborhood, but Dimock says sky-high rent, $21,500 per month, is too expensive to stay.
“In a variety-type of market, the average ticket is about $6 and the rent has exceeded where we can’t afford to make a profit,” he says.
Last year, Dimock reassessed and looked for a new location. He searched from Northwest D.C. to Potomac, Md., but when neighbors heard the store would be moving, they rallied to keep it in Bethesda. In just two weeks, 300,000 electronic signatures appeared on a virtual petition.
“Took me back a little bit you know, that people would care that much,” says Dimock.
Dimock was moved and persuaded not to move too far. Now Bruce Variety is relocating up the road where the rent is cheaper and the neighbors are the same.
“Just eight-tenths of a mile, so we’ll see the same Bethesda faces,” he says.
Dimock hopes to recreate the old store’s character at a new location. He plans to open March 1.