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Friday, May 10, 2019

Chico's Natural Pet Market engages community in fight to stay at Barcroft Plaza

Danielle Areco (left) and Del. Kaye Kory speak at a community meeting at Chico's Natural Pet Market.
With only three weeks until her lease expires May 31, Danielle Areco is continuing her fight to keep Chico’s Natural Pet Market at Barcroft Plaza 

Areco convened a second meeting May 9 to update customers and supporters on her plans and urge them to contact Federal Realty officials on behalf of the store.

Chico's welcomes pets.
Federal Realty is refusing to renegotiate a new lease for the popular pet store – or even respond to Areco’s request to discuss the situation. In fact, they could put a lock on the door and charge Areco a penalty if the store is not vacated. 

“It is really outrageous that Federal Realty is trying to push out a small business, especially a business run by a woman, and that has strong community support,” said Del. Kaye Kory at the community meeting.

The cat adoption center at Chico's is run by Fancy Cats.
However, Kory acknowledged, there’s not much a business owner can do when a lease expires and a property owner wants a tenant out. “We can’t compel them to do anything, except with public pressure,” she said.

Meanwhile, everything at Chico’s is marked down 25 percent.

Areco had a good relationship with Federal Realty until February when Richard Abruscato, the vice president of leasing, took over and refused negotiate a new lease. 

An attorney told Areco she could sue the company but “that would not be in our interest,” as “the lease is not in our favor,” she said. Under the current lease, the store is charged $16,000 a month and there is no extension clause. If she overstays, she could be charged a penalty of 100 to 150 percent of the lease.  

Cats are available for fostering, as well as adoption.
Federal Realty had indicated that rent would go up if the store remains on a month-to-month basis. Areco suspects the company has another tenant already lined up.

In would could have been an intimidation attempt, a man who said he was an “agricultural inspector” flashed a badge and told Chico’s employees that they couldn’t display pet products made from hemp.

Neither Abruscato nor anyone else at Federal Realty has responded to Areco’s requests to discuss the issue, so she is reaching out to the community, elected officials, and the media.

She urges people to write letters urging Federal Realty to come up with an equitable solution allowing Chico’s to stay in Barcroft Plaza to Abruscato (, property manager James Rich (, Senior Tenant Coordinator Craig Smith (, and other company officials.

 The company also has not responded to Areco’s proposal to cut the store in half, meaning Chico’s would be much smaller and another tenant could go in the other space. “Fifty percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing,” she said.

Chico's carries fish and small reptiles and ftogs, as well as pet food and supplies.
While her top priority is to stay in Barcroft Plaza, she is not waiting until the last minute.

If forced to move, she is considering relocating Chico’s to Pinecrest Plaza on Little River Turnpike, which is offering a more reasonable lease. The store would be smaller, but she would still retain the cat adoption center operated by the Fancy Cats Rescue Team.

If the store does move, everything at Chico’s would have to be put in storage for months while the new space is built out.

There’s a bigger problem, however. The store’s original investor has withdrawn his support, so she needs to find one to three new guarantors for the new lease. Contact Danielle Areco for more information,, 202-243-8484.

If Chico’s does relocate, customers won’t be left in the cold, as all the merchandise will be available online through Endless Aisles.

The store currently has no debt, and revenue has been rising, Areco says. “In the first month in the new place, there’s no way we won’t be profitable.”


  1. Disgusting behavior by federal realty. Yes, they are running a business, but act as human beings and come to the table to discuss at least. Really abhorrent to see these actions.

    1. I sent a pretty harsh email to all those AHs, and addressed it to the Butthead. Too bad it had to be such a nasty email, but after their DMV stunt they deserve nothing less. Sorry that Chico's is going through all of this.

      We should all boycott the new tenant if Federal Realty goes the route of throwing Chico's out.


    1. I you think the new quy is a butthead that James Rich is like two buttheads glued together. Unbelievable, you think they might focus on all the vacancies they have instead of Chico's. They should get their lazy buttheads off their chair and start marketing Barcroft Plaza to more high end retailers, particularly sit down restaurants.

  3. Thank you so much guys for all the support, if you know anyone that can help with a temporary location please let me know. You can call me 202-243-8484. Danielle

  4. I would love to stay...I really do. Soon we will need to liquidate some fixtures as well, so please spread the word. Thanks Danielle

    1. We will miss you and so will by cat Buddy. I think that all German Shepard's owners should let their dogs loose in the parking lot when the Federal Realty buttheads are there, I'm certain the dogs could have a feast and rid us of these AHs.

  5. As usual our dedicated and fearless leader Penny Gross is no where to be seen to help out Chico's. She is probably working with Federal Realty on a homeless center express shop. What a community activist!

  6. I like Chico's; I shop there and appreciate having a pet store near my home. And I know Danielle is very kind.

    But more than Chico's and Danielle, I really like the renovations Federal Realty is doing to the shopping plaza. It's a long overdue facelift that significantly improves the look of our community. Kudos to Federal Realty for reinvesting in the shopping plaza. I also understand that making that kind of investment takes a lot of money and that may mean higher rents for the tenants.

    More importantly I'd like to understand why Del. Kory said it's especially outrageous when a woman-owned business is bullied by its landlord? Does Kory think it's alright to treat small business owned by men worse than those owned by women? That's not equality and it smacks of identity politics.