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What impacts should be considered and what should the community process look like if Whole Foods is really planning to move into JP?

As you know, the Jamaica Plain Gazette and JP Patch are reporting that Whole Foods will be moving into the building currently owned by Hi-Lo Foods - even though Whole Foods has yet to confirm.

Highlights of questions that have been raised so far include: What will be the impacts on local businesses, the Latino and Caribbean communities, traffic, parking patterns, the cost of rent, and properties values?

Given that these impacts could be significant, I propose we need a community process!

We need to educate ourselves about the facts, understand what we can legally influence and how, and ensure that all those potentially impacted are made aware and given the opportunity to participate in the process.

Let's discuss:

  1. What other potential impacts need to be considered?
  2. What should the community process look like, who needs to be involved, and how should we go about beginning the process?
Joseph

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Comment by Steve Garfield on January 17, 2011 at 7:37am

Look at the local farms in Massachusetts that Whole Foods supports:

 

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/locally-grown/index.php?st...

 

 

Comment by Robbie Samuels on January 17, 2011 at 12:44am

@Brett - I too would like to respond...

"No impacts need to be considered, and there doesn't need to be a community process. This isn't a country where we get to command what brand may or may not do business in a particular area."

Actually we get to do exactly that. And that's why there's no Domino's in JP. That's why there's Southwest Corridor Park instead of Rt. 93 a block from my house. That's what it means to be legally allowed to organize.

"1)If Hi-Lo was serving a vital need in the area, someone will no doubt take advantage of the plethora of open retail space to start such a business."

I certainly hope so for the sake of Latino and Caribbean residents. But rent is high so it's doubtful that a new business will be able to sell the items for the same prices. I believe the community process that you are so quick to shut down is how the community shows there is a need. It's not up to the individual to do so but should be a community effort.

"2) If you don't like Whole Foods, don't shop there. Patronize the businesses you want to patronize. And if it turns out that nobody wants a Whole Foods and doesn't shop there, they'll go out of business, and someone else will get a shot at the location."

You do realize that residents from nearby communities will begin to drive to JP to shop at Whole Foods, right? So regardless of the fact that a small but significant percentage of the neighborhood can't afford to shop there (or won't find what they're looking for), WH will still do quite fine. And yes, some residents in the neighborhood will be thrilled by the new WH - until the traffic impact is felt. Just ask Brookline residents near Trader Joe's - I'm sure they love the traffic jams, illegally parked cars on their narrow side streets, etc.

"3)Markets operate with pretty low margins, and the name of the game is all about providing what people want to buy. If there are a lot of folks in the area who want the kind of food only Hi-Lo carried, then it'd make sense for WF to carry it as well."

WF isn't obligated to change their business practices to serve the needs of the Latino & Caribbean community. They'll do quite fine without changing a thing (see #2 above). If they do indeed end up opening up in JP, I don't see them graciously deciding to add several aisles of ingredients that were found in Hi-Lo. I do believe that an organized response to WH moving in may elicit a positive response from WH, or a business comparable to Hi-Lo getting financial support to open up elsewhere in JP, or some other positive response.

Doing nothing and expecting a positive outcome? That's not an option if you're in the group that's going to be most adversely affected. If it was your wallet or your family that was being harmed you wouldn't sit back and just accept it as fate? Or would you?

I'm waiting to see how Hyde/Jackson Square Main Street, JPNDC and City Life/Vida Urbana respond. As a white resident I want to support the efforts led by JP organizations that work with the Latino & Caribbean communities so we can identify a resolution that meets their needs.

Comment by Andrew Joslin on January 16, 2011 at 9:01pm
It's more of a sympton of and the inevitable result of JP as a real estate production machine for the last 15 years. Whole Foods wants to be here because of the affluent food consumers now in JP. The formerly core Hispanic community in the Hyde Sq. area has been pushed to the side by gentrification, seems straightforward, no mystery. It's been sad to see the cultural diversity being squeezed out of JP.
Comment by eric schmider on January 16, 2011 at 8:59pm
Oh please excuse my typos- frigging iPad!
Comment by eric schmider on January 16, 2011 at 8:56pm
I would like to l respond to Brett.
1. Yes, there is a demand for what the HL sells, however, they do it at a reasonable cost in a building that has long since been paid for. Have you wondered why bell a Luna remains empty? Rent is too high. So if someone does offer HL type goods, they will be available at boutique prices. A bag of Yerba matte is 4 bucks at Hilo, Whole Foods charges twice that for a fancy package containing the exact same product.

2. JP is still a lower income neighborhood. If a family can't afford to shop at WF a simple vote with the feet isn't so easy when you don't have a car or the time.

3. Sure WF offers good products. I do shop there when I can. However, what about the quality of a neighborhood? I intentionally moved to JP because it was unique. Compare Brookline to Roslindale; banks, verizons, starbucks, etc vs Rosi village and it's success in maintaining something special: Greek, Lebanese, latingm and Italian small businesses have fought to keep generic big a box bizes out.

WF will make the neighborhood more attractive for a more monied group that trusts certain brands, and is less adventurous. The HL does not bring crime, it is just not an antiseptic place with Purell dispensers on every aisle, it is truly a venue that offers a view into other parts of the world without packaging it in an American style.

This is not just about margins. This is about how a skilled conglomerate uses the tools of marketing (packaging, advertising, branding, etc) to deliver what is still a product delivered mostly from the big guys. I would rather have my kids growing up in a neighborhood that doesn't look like every other generic American Dream Town.

Yes, there is an impact. There is always an impact. Less choice, less diversity, and less of a chance of discovery when we leave that up to the big companies to ring us the products that they can deliver according to their corporate rules.
Comment by Brett on January 16, 2011 at 6:46pm
No impacts need to be considered, and there doesn't need to be a community process. This isn't a country where we get to command what brand may or may not do business in a particular area.

1)If Hi-Lo was serving a vital need in the area, someone will no doubt take advantage of the plethora of open retail space to start such a business.

2)If you don't like Whole Foods, don't shop there. Patronize the businesses you want to patronize. And if it turns out that nobody wants a Whole Foods and doesn't shop there, they'll go out of business, and someone else will get a shot at the location.

3)Markets operate with pretty low margins, and the name of the game is all about providing what people want to buy. If there are a lot of folks in the area who want the kind of food only Hi-Lo carried, then it'd make sense for WF to carry it as well.
Comment by Robert Watters on January 16, 2011 at 6:30pm
What JP really needs is "Market Basket"
Comment by Pat Roberts on January 16, 2011 at 5:46pm
Don't worry, Whit.  The local Politburo will indeed form a committee, they will have a list of requirements Whole Foods must follow, and they will expect to be listened to, because they are "speaking for the people", and in JP, the Politburo (oops; I mean "the people") get to say what happens here.
Comment by Whit on January 16, 2011 at 5:35pm
Geez, I don't know.  Since we have a completely planned economy in JP we better consult the 5 year plan.  Maybe the local Politburo should also form a committee.  Any thoughts?

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