Is Amazon Testing Yet Another Grocery Store Concept in Washington D.C.?

Amazon has reportedly leased a site that's bigger than its Amazon Go stores but smaller than its previously announced supermarkets.

You've heard the term "serial dater" — someone who goes out with a lot of people but never seems content. Is it possible that Amazon has that with grocery stores? Rumors had spread for years that the online retail giant wanted to get deeper into the grocery game, and in 2017, it appeared the deal was done: Amazon bought Whole Foods, one of the best-known national grocers out there.

And yet, despite this $13.4 billion buy, Amazon continues to mess around with markets on the side. In 2018, Amazon opened its first Amazon Go store — a smaller cashierless convenience store. And then last year, news broke that Amazon was planning another chain of more conventional supermarkets. The first one is slated to open in California this year, with reports speculating that other locations could come to Chicago, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia.

An Amazon Go store sign in Seattle, WA. David Ryder/Getty Images

So what the heck is this? The Washington Business Journal is reporting that "It sure looks like Amazon is bringing a grocery store to 14th Street" in the District of Columbia. The site explains that the city "issued a permit Monday to build out an 8,041-square-foot brick-and-mortar Amazon store at the Liz, the recently delivered mixed-use project at 1701 14th St. NW."

Amazon reportedly declined to comment, but the permit provides some clues: "a variance request filed with the Department of Health … cites 'Amazon Retail LLC' as the establishment name," according to the Business Journal. Meanwhile, the general contractor for the site apparently described the site as a "small grocer."

At this point, the best guess appears to be that — false alarm — this store is just an Amazon Go store, which would make sense because Amazon's convenience store chain has been expanding to urban markets like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. "The site plan for the D.C. store shows an indoor shopping cart corral, a 'speed lane' to enter the store via a swipe and no obvious cashier lanes, all hallmarks of Amazon Go's sensor-filled shopping experience," the Business Journal explains. However, the site also points out, "At 8,000 square feet, it is significantly larger than the typical Amazon Go but smaller than the fledgling grocery store concept."

So could it just be some random other thing? Well, yeah, definitely! For those who have trouble keeping up with all of Amazon's grocery concepts (I don't blame you), last March, Amazon also opened something called a "Whole Foods Market Daily Shop" in New York City—basically a Whole Foods-style convenience store which, it seems, has remained a one-off thing.

So who knows what D.C. is getting? Maybe it's an Amazon Grocery Express? Or an Amazon Go Supreme? Or a Whole Foods Go Daily Shop & Amazon Video Streaming Center?!? Does it even matter? If you're paying for that Prime membership, you know you're going to use it!

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