What it’s like to run a grocery store during an insurrectionist riot

inside glen's garden market
Glen’s Garden Market, during pre-pandemic times
Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor (Getty Images)
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Danielle Vogel is a former bipartisan policy advisor in Washington D.C. who turned grocery store owner when she opened Glen’s Garden Market in the Dupont Circle neighborhood in 2013. When Vogel caught wind of January 6's historic D.C. insurrection, she raced to her store—and Winsight Grocery Business interviewed her about her experience.

According to Winsight Grocery Business, Vogel initially decided to close the shop at 5:45 p.m. to comply with the curfew (her employees live all within a short walking distance of the store), until she had to change plans.

Vogel said: “The original [plan] we made was that we would honor the curfew by closing at 5:45 p.m.; the curfew started at 6 p.m., so that gave everyone enough time to get home. The staff felt that they were uncomfortable being out after dark, so we quickly amended our plan to close instead at 4:30 on [Jan. 6]. Part of the reason why we really wanted to make that happen was because there were rumors that the Proud Boys were staying at a hotel in Adams Morgan, and three of the four people working that night live in that neighborhood.” Yikes.

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Fortunately, the community is checking in. “But as has been the case since the beginning of COVID, the community has been utterly wonderful. We’re definitely asked if we’re OK; we’re definitely asked how they can help. They’ve come through to support us in ways we might never have imagined before this.”

2021 also brings a little bit of optimism. “What gives me hope is Mayor Bowser has put us second on line for the vaccine, so my squad is going to get their shots in February. Never ever did we think that our job working in a grocery store was going to save our life, but here we are. That is the most spectacular development I could have imagined after the last nine months.”

There’s a lot more in this interview, much of it business related, which is something that I feel like a lot of people don’t quite have a grasp of yet. While grocery stores are still functional, they aren’t economically shielded by their essential business status. Do yourself a favor and check out the interview here. Who knew the beginning of 2021 would bring riots and insurrection, too.

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

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DISCUSSION

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Burners Baby Burners: Discussion Inferno

I feel for these people, getting out earlier was the smart choice.

I remember being at work as a teen the first day of the Rodney King riots, we didn’t have a manager in the store and the assistant manager on duty was only a few years older than me. We were listening to the radio when the emergency broadcast system kicked in and explained the curfew due to rioting. It was shocking as hell, and we were only 3 employees deep since it was still daytime, so we talked it over and locked the door, asked customers to make final purchase decisions and come up as we were closing immediately. We never heard from corporate, we just decided to get everything into the safe ASAP and get out immediately. We bolted up shop just as the credit card systems all went down in the local businesses (as it was phone-based at the time).

The next day we went back to work in the morning and watched as looters calmly, politely looted the Foot Locker across the street, occasionally a cop would arrest one and the other looters would just walk past. We had snipers on our shopping center roof and they never had to pull a trigger. It was eerie, but nothing like what we saw last Wednesday.