As local residents come to terms with the impending closure of Bruce Variety, some have shared stories of personal history with the Bethesda institution – including one Potomac man, the store’s founder.
Current owners of Bruce Variety, a 60-year fixture on Arlington Road, announced in December that they would close the location because they could no longer afford the $22,000 monthly rent, Patch reported. Robert Dotson, a Potomac man born in 1919 in Kentucky, founded the store in the 1950s after returning from service in World War II, the Gazette reported.
At the time, self-service stores as we know them today were a newly emerging phenomena. More commonly, store clerks at the time would man counters and serve the customer their purchases. Dotson, after using the new self-service technique to save money as the manager of a five-and-dime in New York, recognized the financial benefits and decided to go into business for himself, he told the Gazette.
After opening his store in Bethesda, he sold the business to current owner Richard Dimock in 1985.
“He used to stop by from time to time but it’s been a few years since he last visited,” the Gazette reported. “He said the family is ‘sad’ the store is shuttering its Bradley Shopping Center store.”
Do you remember Bruce Variety as it was under original ownership? Tell us your memories in the comments.