Neighbors for Neighbors

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Whole Foods or Trader Joe's: We have voice, let it be heard!!


I just blogged about Hi-Lo closing.

I'm curious, which would you rather, Whole Food or Trader Joe's or what alternatives would you suggest?

How would this benefit our community and who would it hurt?

If we feel strongly about this, we can weigh in. Before we do, we need to carefully take into who our who really represents - and work to ensure all voices are heard. 


This post was edited to after feedback from the comments at 7:38 pm. 


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Comment by Robbie Samuels on January 16, 2011 at 2:12am

@Sheila why would someone find issue with the term Anglo? "In some parts of the United States Anglo-American is shortened to Anglo and applied to White Americans who are not of Hispanic or Latino origin". "The term Anglo is often used as a synonym for all non-hispanic Whites, who constitute roughly 70% of the total population."

And the workers' were given 3 weeks notice when the parent company not Hi-Lo decided to sell (if I'm reading the original article in JP Gazette correctly). It sucks that it's closing at all, but it's better than showing up to find the building locked. The JP Patch article doesn't give us enough information to judge how all the worker's were treated. But I'm glad to see someone showing them concern - can we translate that into an action that helps them get a job?

@Anna Thank you for posting that article. And yes, thank you to JP Patch for posting their article in Spanish and English so the conversation can cross-over. If I had the language skills to post in both I would.

Comment by Robbie Samuels on January 16, 2011 at 1:52am

I still don't understand why we're discussing TJ's?? The question that started this forum was narrowly structured and is distracting us from the larger question. What do we need to do to preserve the diversity of JP? It's not about where you or I, as white young professionals, get our groceries. It's where will the Latino and Caribbean JP residents who counted on Hi-Lo as an institution for 47 years get the items they need that can't be easily found in Boston.

Ok, I get it, we're all motivated by self-interest and since I personally often drive to multiple stores to get my weekly groceries I can appreciate why having WH would be appealing to some. And if it wasn't moving into an area that had been serving the Latino and Caribbean community I might be able to focus on the questions raised regarding whether WH moving in will push Harvest to do better or whether City Feed's prices are too high or whether TJs would be a better option for the community.

But IT IS taking over the space where Hi-Lo is. And the parent company made the decision, not the manager of the store - so I want to know what we can do about it. I want the voices of those most affected to be part of this larger conversation. I want those of us on this forum to realize we don't represent ALL of JP and that by many standards there have been 2 JPs and this just further divides our community.

Don't like the options at Harvest? Become a member and push them to do better. Need to shop at WH or TJs to get your needs met? Form a weekly carpool with neighbors to save gas and get to know each other.

But please, don't celebrate this as "progress" - it's gentrification.

If the initial question on this forum had been broader, perhaps we'd be wondering how to get a local entrepreneur to open a space similar to Hi-Lo that would treat their workers better, have a variety of food and decent prices. WH doesn't have to be a done deal and even if it ends up being the outcome we can still be considerate of how that decision affects folks with fewer options - who can't just get in their car and drive to Cambridge each week.

This could be such a unifying moment in JP and I'm kinda disappointed by the rhetoric on this board. This isn't the JP that I want to be living in. I'm looking forward to hearing what JPNDC and City Life/Vida Urbana have planned. I hope you'll join me in supporting their efforts.

Comment by Caitlin Barthelmes on January 16, 2011 at 12:25am
Definitely Trader Joes - it has the same "luxury" but with better prices. I think it would actually be excellent for neighborhood business if TJs moves in. I know several friends who currently drive out of their way to shop at Trader Joes - why not have them shopping in our neck of the woods and check out some of the fantastic things JP has to offer?!
Comment by Todd on January 15, 2011 at 11:59pm
When I lived in Pittsbugh, I compared the prices of Giant Eagle (comparable to Stop and Shop), TJ's, and Whole Foods, and overall the prices were similar for similar items. Sure, there are some things that are more expensive at one or another, but in general, the pricing differences are due to a different selection. For example, I'm sure that you'll be able to get much nicer meat or fish at Whole Foods than at S&S. I'm excited that WF might be coming to JP. I really dislike S&S. While the store has been freshened up recently, the produce selection is always super poor. I've never found a use for Hi-Lo even after living in JP for 7 years even though I've gone there roughly once a year to remind myself about it.
Comment by Sheila on January 15, 2011 at 10:19pm
@anna - in the fairness of diversity. didn't you find issue in an article that uses the phrase "anglo"? And, the employees sure don't seem to be too happy about how hi lo treated them, but I guess that was just an oversight.
Comment by Anna Sandoval on January 15, 2011 at 9:42pm

From Jamaica Plain Patch

Hispanic Community Saddened by Hi-Lo's Closing / Cierre de Hi-Lo Foods Conmueve a la Comunidad Hispana - Jamaica Plain, MA Patch

and by the way a big thanks to Patch for publishing this is Spanish as well as English! Finally a crossover in the conversation.

Y por cierto muchas gracias a Patch por publicar esto en español e inglés. Finalmente tenemos la posibilidad de crear una brecha en la conversación.

Comment by interrobang letterpress on January 15, 2011 at 9:09pm

apologies for the truncated link.

Comment by interrobang letterpress on January 15, 2011 at 9:00pm

Whole Foods may be expensive (you cannot with authority say "over-priced" because you don't know the economics) but they are up front about sourcing, and much of their goods are organic, and "whole". Trader Joes on the other hand are secretive about where they source from.


I'd opt for Whole Foods over Trader Joes. In my opinion, it's a better company. And mind you, as a self-employed letterpress printer living in one of the 10 most expensive US cities, I can't afford to shop there.

Having lived in JP for 18 years, I've been fully vested at Harvest for 13 years, and tried to spend most of my food dollars there.

Comment by Anita Horn on January 15, 2011 at 7:40pm
I agree that City Feed is way overpriced, as is Whole Foods.  I'd go for a Trader Joes.  It's very reasonably priced, but since it doesn't do it for all my grocery shopping I don't usually go out of my way to go to the one in Brookline or Cambridge.  But if it was close by it would be worth the trip.  I absolutely hate Stop and Shop.
Comment by Joseph Porcelli (Chief Neighbor) on January 15, 2011 at 5:14pm
Live at 5:30 pm David Warner of City Feed discusses the economics of their business at 5:30 pm tonight on the main page.

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