Food brings people together and neighborhood markets can play in important role in creating a strong and vibrant community. Starting in 1909, Neams’ Market was this linchpin of Georgetown. As noted by the Washington Post, “Neams’ 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 Neams' Market select and hand-deliver a gift of Russian caviar to first lady Nancy Reagan. Jackie Kennedy had a charge account at Neams' while her husband was president. In 1985, director Mike Nichols chose to shoot a few scenes in Neams' for his Washington-based film "Heartburn," starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, and then proprietor Jack Neam.
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 such as Neams' has left consumers to base their decisions almost solely on price, leaving many to rely on frozen and processed foods, as well 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 Neams’ 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 Neams’: 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/