Georgetowners want to bring back Neam's Market, which once occupied the space that now houses at the intersection of P Street and Wisconsin Avenue. The corner grocer was more than its market name implied: it was a place where famous residents of Georgetown's storied heyday shopped for cheeses, caviar and more.
But as with all good things, Neam's came to an end. The owners sold the market business in 1989, though they still own the property
Georgetowner William Newton started as a freshman at Georgetown in 1991 and continues to live in the neighborhood. He started going to Neam's in part because his grandparents had been loyal customers for years, they told him to "always dress respectably" when shopping there.
"Neam's carried an air of sophistication about it which one would not normally ascribe to a small grocer's, in part because of the people who shopped there, and in part because of the goods it carried. It was neither flashy nor pretentious, but quietly self-assured, and very competent when it came to treating each customer with the respect which one would likewise show to the shop and its employees," said Newton in an email to Patch.
Now Georgetowner Lawrence Williams has started a petition to bring Neam's back. In his rallying cry he bemoans the loss of a place where people can make informed decisions about a range of food products, rather than deciding on items based on price.
Here is the full text of the petition:
Food brings people together and neighborhood markets can play an important role in creating a strong and vibrant community. Starting in 1909, Neams’ Market was this lynchpin of Georgetown. As noted by the Washington Post in 2010, “Neam's was an integral part of the District's cultural fabric and a landmark of Georgetown's merchandise scene.” A 1982 profile of Georgetown life by the New York Times described how Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt requested that Neam's Market select and hand-deliver a gift of Russian caviar to first lady Nancy Reagan. Jackie Kennedy had a charge account at Neam's while her husband was president. In 1985, director Mike Nichols chose to shoot a few scenes in Neam's for his Washington-based film "Heartburn," starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.
The Neams always treated its customers like they were guests in their own home—probably because in the early years, founder Najeeb Neam actually raised his family in an apartment above the grocery. In addition to being a source for fresh food, Neams’ played the important role of helping people make informed selections of high-quality produce and meats.
Unfortunately, the disappearance of neighborhood markets has left consumers to base their decisions almost solely on price, leaving many to rely on frozen and processed foods, as well as fast food restaurants, which have been one of the major contributors to the dramatic rise in obesity and diabetes over the past few decades. And while stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have proven that consumers are willing to pay more, their quality, customer service and convenience have degraded as they’ve become large, publically traded companies that are forced to cut costs in order to meet their shareholders’ demands for increased earnings per share every quarter.
Many in Georgetown mourned the loss of Neam's when it closed its doors in 2000. Georgetown has always been a neighborhood that values independent retailers, and even after 10 years neighbors still fondly remember Neam's: http://www.georgetownweek.com/2010/01/remembering-scottie-feldman.html. William Newton summarized the feelings of many of us in the Georgetown Metropolitan with his recent comment: “I want Neam’s back.” http://georgetownmetropolitan.com/2011/12/02/what-would-you-like-to-see-open/
Want to sign the peitition? You can do so here: http://www.change.org/petitions/bring-back-neams-market