Tenleytown smells bad, but these corporations smell worse

Madeline Kessler

With big box stores dominating the hilltop skyline, Tenleytown resembles a strip mall. The corporations find suburban families to be a desirable market. The needs of lower-income families in other parts of the city are ignored.

The sky-high leases make the area unaffordable for small businesses. Those that can afford it are new arrivals Target and Chase bank. Target first moved to DC in 2008, and has since expanded. Chase bank has 70 new locations planned to open in the DMV in the near future, and has recently been put under scrutiny for its pay disparity, with reports of bank workers unable to make ends meet, despite the company’s CEO and higher-ups being tremendously wealthy.

These corporations set up shop in such close proximity to one another in Tenleytown because it is profitable. Chase can provide high-income NW families with credit cards to rack up purchases on; Target can satiate them, providing Fruit of the Loom 6 packs of socks and underwear as far as the eye can see. 

Across DC, prosperous shops, banks, and commercial properties are not spread evenly. They do not set up shop in areas of town that do not have high incomes because there is no profit to be made, so huge parts of town become food deserts. While Whole Foods’ dumpster stinks from all the food they throw out, one in seven DC families struggle to put food on the table. 

Wilson is in Ward 3, where the median household income is $109,909 and there are nine full-service grocery stores. East of the River, in Ward 8, is a food desert. The median household income is $31,642 and there is one full-service grocery store. Wilson students who live in Ward 3 live in households that are among some of the most privileged in the country, but Tenley seems unbearable. These corporations want to push limitless crap on us, while our fellow Washingtonians who live in Ward 8 are terribly food insecure. 

If you read a news article or hear something you don’t like about a business in Tenley, whether it be a tax-evading billionaire owner of a certain grocery chain, or a particular homophobic chicken sandwich store, you do not have to spend your money there. There are great organizations in DC working to end food disparity in the city, and you can go to dchunger.org to get in touch. •