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Whole Foods official announces it's opening a store in Jamaica Plain

Neighbors,

According to the Boston Globe, it's official, Whole Foods announced toda that it plans to open a store in Jamaica Plain in the building currently occupied by Hi-Lo. Here are some quotes from the Globe Article:
“Whole Foods Market has been keenly interested in developing a Jamaica Plain location. We are now eager to become active members of such a strong, diverse neighborhood and to open a store that is reflective of the vibrant community,” Laura Derba, Whole Foods Market North Atlantic regional president, said in a statement.
"In keeping with the company’s mission, Whole Foods Market plans to source a wide variety of products that meet its strict quality standards as well as the diverse needs of their shoppers"

More info available on JP Patch

 

LETS DISCUSS: What are your thoughts about this?

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Comment by trinajackson on January 19, 2011 at 5:57pm
I am going to be quite candid with my thoughts about this. I'm guessing those who are just "thrilled, thrilled, thrilled!" probably do not identify -- politically, ethnically or racially -- as members of the Latino and immigrants of color community which is being pushed out and marginalized after generations of making Jamaica Plain what it is today: a vibrant and diverse neighborhood for all kinds of people. Ironic that the very people who moved to JP because of "its diversity" fail to recognize (or care) about how that diversity is in jeopardy. Businesses don't make a community, people do.
Comment by Jeremy McHugh on January 19, 2011 at 5:50pm
There is some evidence out there that you can shop for basics at WF for about as cheaply as you can at TJs. see here- WF v TJ cost comparison.  Its possible that WF offers more to lower income residents than one might assume. Also, local food sourcing is awesome, and in my opinion an important aspect of developing sustainable regional economies in the long term. WF is involved in that movement, even offering a loan program for local food producers. WF has shown a commitment to bringing fresh and healthy food to market, and when feasible, sourcing it locally. On the other hand, Hi Lo was offering lots of canned foods and dried goods- ie, Goya and spices- that may not be that hard to source elsewhere. As for culturally specific produce, originating thousands of miles away- generally, those costs of transportation get built into ultimate retail price, and also produce a larger carbon footprint than locally produced goods. So if the price remains low, there is a good chance that quality suffers as well. While its unfortunate that a change like this has an impact that will be uncomfortable for some neighbors who are accostomed to shopping at Hi Lo for certain items, overall it may be that WF offers a net positive cultural resource for the whole community.
Comment by Todd on January 19, 2011 at 5:50pm
Are we having a contest? I've lived in JP for almost 8 years and have zero connection to Whole Foods with the exception of being a happy customer.
Comment by Pete Stidman on January 19, 2011 at 5:43pm

@Whit Offering your opinions for hire surely inspires confidence.

 

I'm not paranoid but as a former newspaper reporter I am a perennial skeptic, note I didn't say there are ringers on here but implied that there could be, as in "beware." Make your own judgements. After all this is the internet. And Whole Foods spends a fortune on PR. Totally plausible when money's at stake. And I gotta say when posts start extolling the virtues of particular products Whole Foods sells and direct people to the WF website, I'm doubly skeptical.

Personally I'll pay attention to the posts with full names I can verify actually live here or that I already recognize from my 10 years in the neighborhood. If anybody's curious about my background they can Google me. I was displaced from the neighborhood less than a year ago.

Comment by Alex Emmott on January 19, 2011 at 5:36pm

On a personal level, I’m glad WF is coming to JP.  As a community, I think we gain and we loose. 

Development is clearly a complicated issue and it’s our responsibility to make it an inclusive process.  The question is how?  I think development happens both with Whole Foods and without it.  Let’s keep in mind this is a private business transaction in which a minority-owned, JP-grown, small business is being sold, not being pushed out.  

I think the best way to manage development is on a public policy, not private enterprise, level.  We need to address issues that effect small businesses in our community – things like health care (an astronomical expense for small businesses; we paid over $2000 per month at Canto 6) and exorbitant commercial rents (think The Milky Way).  Solving these kinds of problems will do more to promote diversity and economic strength than protesting a company that will bring much needed jobs, more traffic for small businesses, fair wages, and health care (for PT and FT employees) to Jamaica Plain.

Comment by Todd on January 19, 2011 at 5:28pm

Whole Foods isn't as outrageously expensive as people are claiming. Many of the staples, including the store brand, are on par with or cheaper than at Stop and Shop or TJ's. I did a comparison in Pittsburgh of the local chain vs TJ's and Whole Foods b/c I lived very close to all three. WF has a much higher end than the other stores. TJ's has awesomely weird products that only they have. Each store was cheaper on some items and more expensive on others. You have to compare like-for-like though, or get as close as you can. You can do a google search to find price comparisons that other people have done.

 

In any case, I'm really excited about Whole Foods. They have a great reputation as an employer and they do make efforts to buy local as well as organic. I think that one of the problems that larger chains have buying local is that local often means smaller producers who may not be able to produce in quality or consistently.

 

I won't miss Hi Lo. 

 

On the solutions side, talk to Stop and Shop about whether they could offer some of the soon to be missing ingredients. Perhaps WF would be interested in part of their store reflecting Hi Lo's products. 

 

The Hi Lo has a much bigger parking lot than the TJ's in Brookline. It will be interesting to see what the traffic impact will be and what mitigations WF will have to fund in order to move in. I'm sure they'll have to do a traffic study.

Comment by Steve Riden on January 19, 2011 at 5:26pm

Lively discussion here.  Quick plug for Neighbors for Neighbors -- this forum is part of a small non-profit led by the indefatigable Joseph Porcelli.  It is supported by donations from members like you. If you can spare a few bucks to support this type of community-building organization, please click that big orange "Donate Now" button on the right side of your screen.  (I admit it: I'm a ringer for NFN.)  

You may now return to writing friendly comments to share with your neighbors.  Thanks!

Comment by Rene Rodriguez on January 19, 2011 at 5:26pm
Thrilled thrilled thrilled!  Whole Foods will be a welcome accompaniment to the neighborhood and will fill a much needed gap in quality grocery shopping. I always drive to Brookline or Boston to hit the WF, and this always results in ancillary shopping in those neighborhoods.  I suspect this is the case with many shoppers, and could prove a boon to local businesses in JP.   Harvest Co-Op could use the competition and CityFeed serves a different market segment.  Good things are happening in JP!
Comment by Judy Grant on January 19, 2011 at 5:24pm

I'm not sure if Joseph has posted this already, so below is what our new City Councilor, Matt O'Malley had to say about this issue.  

 

Personally, I am pretty certain this is a symptom, rather than a cause of JP's transition into a mini-Brookline or Cambridge - increasingly less diverse, less affordable, less of an activist community.  Whole Foods as a business only treats it's workers well when they don't want an actual union, the CEO is virulently anti-health reform, and the business model is essentially high-end big-box - not sustainable at all, much of their stuff isn't even organic.  On the other hand, City Feed is unaffordable for general shopping needs, and Harvest is a miserable shopping experience (and anti-union as well) - we have no true food coop in JP.  It's a little depressing, honestly.  

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Joseph Porcelli <jporcelli@neighborsforneighbors.org>; Judy Grant <judithgrant@yahoo.com>
"Frias, Valerie" <Valerie.Frias@cityofboston.gov>

 

Dear Joe & Judy-

 

My office has called both Whole Foods and the Hi-Lo management about getting some concrete answers.  We are awaiting responses from both organizations and are looking forward to organizing a meeting to hopefully facilitate a discussion that would serve to: a.) keep the community process open, b.) fight to protect jobs for current employees, c.) alleviate concerns about the impact on the community.

 

I think we all agree that we need a strong anchored business in Hyde Square .  Indeed, Whole Foods may be that business (if Hi-Lo is, in fact, leaving). However, the community has some legitimate questions that should be addressed.  As your city councilor, and neighbor of Hyde Square , I’ll make sure that everyone is in the loop as the process progresses.

 

Feel free to call my office (617-635-4220) or cell (617-935-9752) and forward this email to any interested party.

 

Best,

Matt

 

 

Comment by Whit on January 19, 2011 at 5:21pm
Attention Whole Foods CEO:  Please pay me to be your "ringer".  I would work very cheaply.  You can contact me via my page on Neighbors for Neighbors.  There is a photo of me attached to this comment so you can see what you are getting.

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