Teshome Chekole has owned the Town & Country Market at 823 Upshur St NW for a little over 13 years. Affectionally known as "T" to many residents, Teshome has seen the neighborhood change during that time; back then one of the major concerns was dealing with crime. Today, it's how to appeal to a neighborhood that's changing.
"Oh yeah, the neighborhood has changed, big changes. I know it wasn’t like this before," Teshome said. "The community is changing, so the style of the store is changing."
In fact, the store will be closing at the end of the week in order to renovate and modernize the interior. According to Teshome, times have changed and so has the neighborhood.
"Back then we had to buzz people into the store. We had to be careful, and we locked the door as people left, and then slowly we opened it."
Now it's different, says Teshome. While they stopped buzzing people into the store many years ago, the register area has always been solidly behind a thick layer of blurry plexiglass and you paid through a revolving door. That will no longer be the case. "Because of changes on Upshur, I can change my style also."
With the new renovations, the register will be open and off to the front corner with no plexiglass, allowing the store to be visible through the front windows instead of blocking the view of the interior. Teshome said he plans to offer the same type of merchandise, from craft beer to wine, ice cream to pet food to lottery tickets and so on. "It's the style inside that's changing," he said.
He hopes that the interior renovations will be completed in six weeks, and he plans on repainting the exterior of the store in Spring once the weather improves.
The store itself is over 30 years old, and Teshome bought the building and the business about 13 years ago. He told me with a laugh that he kept the name of the store because he liked that the initials matched his own, T & C. While we talked I met his daughter and grandson who came by to say hi.
There's few things better for a community than a family business that continues to thrive.
Update: the store reopened on Monday, April 4, 2016. Read more at Town & Country convenience store reopens for a changing Petworth (April 05, 2016)