This is the latest in a series of posts on Bates Area business owners. Click here and here for my last two posts, on artist Kendall Nordin and the owner of 52 O Street Studios, Marty Youmans. This week’s post profiles Nesro Hassen, owner of the new 3rd Street Market at 3rd and P Streets NW.
Nesro Hassen knows that not every convenience store in the area is laid out like his: long and open, with the clerk up front and not much in the way of protective glass or barriers. This is intentional. “Some stores, they have a different culture,” he says, “but I don’t close my stores.”
The 3rd Street Market is Nesro’s second convenience store. He works evenings here in Truxton Circle and mornings at his first, a Quick-Stop on Georgia Avenue he bought 15 years ago. He started off as an employee there, but struck a deal with his then-boss to work his way into ownership. When he first took over that store, which uses the same open layout, the neighborhood was much tougher than it is now.
“It used to be not so nice,” he says. “We got robbed sometimes, you know. But we kept it open. You can’t hide behind glass.” As the neighborhood has improved, Nesro is proud to have been a part of the change. “Someone has to start it,” he says.
Though this openness is a point of pride for Nesro, he stresses that so far his experience here in Truxton Circle has been great. He came to the Washington area from Ethiopia 20 years ago, and considers this his home, and his customers his friends. He’s noticed a particular warmth at 3rd Street Market in the little things that customers do – saying hello, stopping for a minute to chat – and that makes him optimistic about the store’s future.
Shortly after he first opened, a customer asked Nesro if he thought he would be able to keep the store so open for long. “Of course!” Nesro says he answered, “and you’re going to help me too!”
“That’s the important thing,” he explains, smiling “We all have to work together!”