Bethesda Variety Store Flap Gets Ugly
The owners of the Bruce Variety party and crafts store claim Stronsiders Hardware, their next-door neighbor in Bradley Shopping Center for almost 60 years, orchestrated their ouster from Arlington Road in order to grab the space to start its own variety store.
Bruce Variety owners Linda Ridenour and Richard Dimock closed the Bethesda favorite in January because they said they could not afford the rising rent. They settled on a new location across town on Woodmont Avenue.
After Strosniders general manager Bill Hart told us last week that the hardware store decided to open its own Bradley Party & Variety Store in the same space with no knowledge of Bruce Variety’s planned re-opening, Ridenour left a comment claiming Hart and the people at Strosniders wanted their space “for years” and have worked to “manipulate the community’s thinking.”
What goes unmentioned in the comment, copied below, is that Dimock is the ex-husband of Robin Strosnider, who Ridenour claims paid a retired Bruce Variety worker for inside knowledge of the store’s vendors:
The truth of the matter is, everyone knew including Hart from Strosnider’s, that Bruce’s was relocating. We had a sign with our new 8011 Woodmont Avenue address posted on our door during the 50% moving sale, and up until the landlord or the new tenant, removed it when we vacated the space. For Strosnider’s to say that they didn’t know, and then try and manipulate the community’s thinking to believe that they were trying to “save the day” by putting another variety store in, is simply not factual.
In fact, Hart of Strosnider’s even denied to us on numerous occasions that they were interested in Bruce’s old location , yet we discovered that they reserved their new business name for Bradley Party and Variety within five days after we moved to our new location. Does anyone really believe that a business decision of that magnitude wasn’t premeditated, long before? There’s no question that Strosniders wields influence in that shopping center, and there is no question that they have wanted that space for years. So lets be upfront……….
Furthermore, we discovered recently that Robin Strosnider, contacted a retired employee of Bruce Variety, and has been plying the retiree with money to reveal our vendor resources. Not sure if that is a business method of Ms. Strosnider, or a business principal of the new variety store owners, Hart of Strosniders.
Strosnider could not be reached at a listed number today. Ridenour and Dimock did not return requests for further comment and a manager at Strosniders said Hart is out-of-town on vacation.
When reached for comment, Bradley Shopping Center trustee Helen Olson referred all questions to fellow trustee Ed O’Hara. O’Hara did not return a request for comment.
Dimock left the same comment on the Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row blog.
Bruce Variety has yet to open its new location at 8011 Woodmont Ave., despite an announced March 1 opening date. Strosniders is celebrating its 60th anniversary in the shopping center this year. Hart said he hopes to open Bradley Party & Variety (6922 Arlington Rd.) in early May.
“When we lost Bruce’s, the shopping center lost an icon in the community. We felt basically we need to kind of control that situation and bring on another business similar,” Hart said last week. “I think what we’ll find is, we’re not going to know exactly what to carry at first but we’re going to try our best and listen to customers and kind of have them help us figure out our way.”