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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 Daniel Verinder on January 19, 2011 at 10:45pm

It is interesting that "take over" has such a negative connotation. WF's word for it is "acquisition", so I'll try to use that in the future. Pat is mostly right-from what I can find, Tony and Susan Harnett started Bread and Circus, and Tony was happy with the sale to WF (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company/history.php#4 and http://wholefoodsmarket.com/pressroom/blog/2003/06/03/bread-circus-...)

 

(I can't find any evidence of any owners before Tony and Susan Harnett or after the Harnetts but before WF.)

 

It is also worth noting that WF was accused of union busting, as the Bread and Circus workers had union representation, but after WF acquired Bread & Circus, they did not:

 

http://www.answers.com/topic/wholefood

 

http://www.answers.com/topic/wholefood

 

 

 

 

Comment by Pat Roberts on January 19, 2011 at 10:30pm

I have noticed a couple of comments that Whole Foods "took over" Bread and Circus.  That's not what happened, and I think to characterize the situation that way doesn't help the conversation.  Actually, Tony Harnett bought Bread & Circus from a young couple who started the store in Brookline in the early 70's.  He built a successful chain from that single small store, and at some point, decided to sell the stores to Whole Foods.  A similar situation occurred with a chain of coffee shops in this area called the Coffee Connection.  George Howell, who created the Coffee Connection, eventually sold the stores to Starbucks, because he wanted to move on to something else, or because he wanted a change. 

This is a common business model.  Someone creates a startup, makes it successful, and sells it to a larger company.  Often they take that money and create another startup.  Sometimes I suppose they retire to warmer climes.  But at least in these two cases, and probably in many others, it's not a wicked giant company wrecking a small, happy little company. 

Comment by Daniel Verinder on January 19, 2011 at 9:50pm

Wow, so much food for thought. Maura is right-there are bigger issues. Karin, I cannot speak to Hi-Lo vs. Stop&Shop,  but can say that many Hi-Lo customers find the remaining options lacking (http://jamaicaplain.patch.com/articles/hispanic-community-saddened-...). Also, since you brought up unemployment, note that 50-99 of our neighbors just lost their jobs (see last link and: http://www.manta.com/c/mm27y06/hi-lo-foods). I don't see how anyone can argue in favor of WF based on price, they tend to be more expensive (though I agree w/Jeremy that I don't see much ssavings at TJ's).

 

 JP is 1/4 Hispanic (http://www.cityofboston.gov/Images_Documents/Jamaica_Plain_PD_Profi...). So it is not unreasonable to for 1/4 of the grocery stores to cater to Hispanics.  I don't know what % of the population are WF shoppers, but  there are already 2 WF's within 2 miles of JP, 1 accessible by a direct ride up the Orange Line, and a total of 6 WF's within 5 miles.

 

Angie, as a condo-owner, I sympathize with you. But it is worth noting that former JP residents have been displaced from their homes because of landlords literally selling out or otherwise failing to pay their mortgage and having the property fall in the hands of banks and speculators who would rather maximize profits by redeveloping and up-selling properties than continuing to lease to renters. And that is in some sense what happened here. Hi-Lo Foods didn't get forced out, but neither Hi-Lo/Knapp nor WF checked with their workers, their customers, or their neighbors to see if this is what anybody wanted. Some of the posters seem to similarly be assuming that since they want WF, then the majority of neighbors  must want one.

 

Pete, thank you for saying it! In fact, the CEO of Whole Foods was busted for going on a forum and pretending to be someone else for 8 years in order to defame his competitor Wild Oats and play up Whole Foods (to lower Wild Oats's stock price so WF could buy it.) See wikipedia or: http://michaelbluejay.com/misc/wholefoods.html for more. I can't believe how many allegedly grass-roots pro-WF websites I've seen all using similar language (like "vocal minority of opposition"). It makes me suspicious, too.

 

Lastly, for what it's worth, this is, on a much smaller scale, history repeating itself. In 1975, Bread & Circus started in Brookline. It grew to be the largest natural foods retailer in the Northeast. Then Whole Foods took it over in 1992.

Comment by Whit on January 19, 2011 at 9:34pm
Maura, I think that is exactly the conversation we should be having.
Comment by Maura O'Toole on January 19, 2011 at 9:18pm
As a life long resident of JP (born and raised) I feel like JP has always had the trouble of people not being happy with the things that move in. My mom personally protested Store 24 when it moved into the space that was one of the last grocery stores on Centre St. She still refuses to shop at the Tedeschis. I think the bigger question is- why do so many rental spaces sit empty? If you ask around you will find that only a few landlords control most of the retail spaces and most of them have very bad reputations. I think there needs to be a bigger discussion of what keeps businesses in JP and what drives them out as well as what keeps people here long term and what makes folks cash in their valuable JP real estate and head for "greener" pastures.  There are much bigger issues at play then WF vs Hi Lo.
Comment by Karin B. on January 19, 2011 at 7:32pm

A lot of people are saying that the local Latino/Carribean community won't have any place to buy their specialty foods. I suspect the people who are saying that are not people who actually eat Latin/Carribean foods. First, how have you not noticed that there are Latin grocery stores every few blocks all over JP? Those small, local businesses will probably benefit from the Hi Lo closing. But also, our local Stop & Shop offers a lot of usual products from a lot of different countries. They have an entire Carribean section, and also hard-to-find products from Central and South America, from cheeses and tropical fruits to fresh peppers, beverages and special sauces.

I agree with comments about how great it is to support the local economy and eat local foods (I had a CSA last year) but try to remember that many people don't have the LUXURY of choosing to pay more for their food in order to support local businesses, especially now that the unemployment rate is so high.

FYI, Hi Lo is not closed yet! I was there yesterday to stock up on some of my favorite things and they were having a 10% off sale.

Comment by Patty Neal on January 19, 2011 at 6:51pm
I am so excited that Whole Foods is coming to our community!  Hyde Square has lost so many businesses in the last couple of years we need something to anchor this neighborhood.  I always thought WF was too expensive but over the past few years they have really worked to lower prices.  Yay!
Comment by Eric on January 19, 2011 at 6:37pm

Trina, diversity is always in jeopardy and I agree with you that people are important to making a community. I just don't agree with your implied premise that the opening of Whole Foods determines whether or not we can insure long-term economic and racial diversity in Jamaica Plain.

 

Comment by Amanda on January 19, 2011 at 6:26pm
I've been shopping at the Stop and Shop on Centre St for the five years that I've lived in JP. I believe Stop N Shop definitely fills the niche that HiLo filled and does it better. I'm excited to have WF because it will fill a niche important to me (also a long-time community member, home owner, etc.), fish and delicious cheese...one block from my house.
Comment by Angie VM on January 19, 2011 at 6:17pm

I don't know how I'll feel once Whole Foods is here.  I am not going to claim that I'm against it because who knows, I may end up needing to go there to pick up some fresh fish from time to time...  so I won't comment on whether it is a good or a bad idea any more than I did already a few days ago.

 I did want to point out to those who keep talking about diversity and insulting the neighbors that own condos and oh no! make money... that those neighbors are part of the community and diversity includes EVERYONE: rich or poor, and of all cultures.  So please show some respect to others, lest you regret your comments when one day you're so "unfortunate" so as to be able stop renting and buy your own condo.

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