More Changes in the Village

More Changes in the Village

High rent forces Rocky’s Video and Lafayette credit union out of Potomac Village, while a 24-hour Walgreen’s is on tap to open later in the year.

After 19 years of renting movies to Potomac families, Judy Ticktin is closing the doors to Rocky’s Video in Potomac Village.

“We’re upset, we’ve been here a long time and you get to know the customers,” said Ticktin.

Rocky’s Video once swelled to nine locations around Montgomery County but the store in Potomac Village is the last, said Ticktin. Over the years other franchises were closed when leases came up for renewal and some locations were bought by Hollywood Video, Ticktin said. The Potomac Village branch is the last one and will close on Thursday, March 15.

The rise of Internet movie rental enterprises such as Netflix contributed to the decline of Rocky’s, said Ticktin, but the Potomac Village location was forced to close because they could no longer afford their lease.

“The rent in the Village was too high,” said Ticktin. “I would say the Internet [movie rentals] did effect us, but this is very much a family store. There was still a desire [in Potomac] for kids and parents to come up and rent movies from us.”

Ticktin said that she told her regular customers in January that the store would be closing and over the last two months has sold off nearly all of her collection of DVD’s and videos. With Rocky’s closed, Ticktin said that she hasn’t decided what she will do next.

“I’m not sure yet,” said Ticktin. “We’ll see.”

THE CLOSING of Rocky’s Video is one of several recent and coming changes to Potomac Village. The Lafayette Federal Credit Union (LFCU) branch in Potomac Village will close on March 23, also citing the high rent.

The two closings come on the heels of last month’s closing of Cherner Automotive and the merger of W.C. & A.N. Miller Realtors with Long and Foster. Miller will continue to operate under the Miller name at their current location.

In a March 7 letter to Potomac residents, Juan Marulanda, the Chief Operating Officer of Lafayette said that the branch was closing for similar reasons as Rocky’s Video.

“The primary reason for closing the River Road Branch is that the building space lease came up for renewal at a prohibitively higher rent,” Marulanda said in the letter. Marulanda also cited decreased business at the branch over the last few years and said that Potomac customers would be served by the Lafayette branch in the Cabin John shopping center on Tuckerman Lane.

Despite the fact that several banks operate in Potomac Village, the decision to pull out was because the location was the most cost-effective, said Jack Hilton, the Communications Officer for LFCU.

"We did the numbers," said Hilton. "We want to serve the membership and had to make that tough decision [based] on cost."

The decline in customer traffic at the Potomac Village location was due in part to a location that was difficult to find inside the Potomac Promenade office complex.

Like Rocky's Video, the Lafayette Federal's Potomac Village branch also suffered partially as a result of the internet.

"A lot of members go online now [to do their banking] and don't need to come in as much as they used to," said Jack Hilton, the Communications Officer for LFCU.

On a good day the branch would get 10-20 customers, said Hilton. The Cabin John branch can get as many as one hundred customers per day.

No employees will be laid off in this merging of branches, Hilton said.

"With the combination of rent being exorbitantly high [and the decrease in customer traffic], we had to make the hard decision," said Hilton.

Hilton said that an ATM machine will remain at the location to serve LFCU customers.

MEANWHILE, THE arrival of Walgreen’s at 10101 River Road in Potomac Village continues to be on the horizon. Signs announcing the arrival of the national pharmacy chain first appeared on the vacant storefront late last year, but it will not be until October or November of 2007 that the store will open, said Monee Bryant of Walgreen’s District Office in Baltimore.

The space is the end-unit of the shopping center on the east side of River Road at the intersection of River Road and Counselman Drive.

No construction is visible from the outside, and Bryant said she did not know if or when construction would begin.

“It’s going to open in the late fall … but we won’t know anything definite until the closer we get,” said Bryant. The store would be a 24-hour pharmacy, said Bryant.

Walgreen's pharmacies frequently have drive-through windows for customers to pick up their prescriptions, but Bryant did not know whether the Potomac Village branch would have one.

Callum Murray, the Potomac team leader for the Montgomery County Planning Board staff, said that such a modification would require that a site plan be submitted to and approved by the planning board.

"That would definitely require a site plan because that would be a significant change to the flow [of traffic]," said Murray.

Murray said that no such plan had been submitted yet.