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Too small! (screen grab from Google maps)

The Yes! Organic Market at 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue SE was among the company’s first, starting in 2000. It’s also one of the smallest, at about 2,000 square feet—and the most profitable for the size.

Now, owner Gary Cha needs to move the market, with no easy options.

“We grew out of that space a long time ago,” Cha tells Housing Complex. “We’re desperately searching for new space, but there just isn’t any…we are not able to serve the community in that small space.”

Cha is eyeing the film development shop next door for an expansion, but doesn’t sound optimistic. He’s also looking as far away as H Street, where many customers come from already.

There’s something of a time crunch: Stanton Development, the owner of the building, is planning to add two more stories behind the store, which could disrupt business during construction. Stanton, though, says there’s no reason for Cha to move.

“We plan on them staying,” said Stanton’s Kitty Kaupp. “We love them as a tenant.”

In the long term, Cha says he would love to move into the Hine Junior High school site, which Stanton is also developing. But that won’t even get under way for at least another two years—a long time to be crammed into their current location.

Meanwhile, of course, Cha is racing to open his store on Pennsylvania east of the river. He addressed ANC 8A last night, advising them of a ribbon cutting in the first week of September. The 7,000 square foot store will be hiring about 30 workers at a job fair to take place that day.

As Cha often hears, commissioners wanted to know how prices would compare to other organic groceries, like Whole Foods. Cha answered that that adding a seventh store creates economies of scale that help bring prices down, and that they’re looking for good-quality product lines that are cheaper in bulk—it’s possible to get two-dollar pasta sauce, for example. The 118 apartments in the complex create a built-in customer base, but Cha says they’re dependent on attracting the surrounding community as well.

“If we can’t get people to come in and shop, we’ll go out of business,” he said.