Community forum about Whole Foods Monday Feb 28!


5 responses to “Community forum about Whole Foods Monday Feb 28!”

  1. I just sent the following letter to the Gazette regarding the current supermarket debate. What I
    forgot to add was: If a grocery store could still make a decent profit selling food cheaply, why
    did Hi-Lo get out? If the owners were tired, why didn’t they first look for a prospective tenant here
    in the community? I support local businesses as often as I can, I’ve also been saddened to see
    some favorites disappear, and I’m also getting slowly priced out of JP. But unless someone can
    come up with some cash and a realistic business plan, isn’t ranting and raving about Hi-Lo’s demise
    understandable though futile?

    Andrea Cherez

    Letters to the Editor:

    I am a renter who has lived in JP for over fifteen years. In that time, I’ve seen many good friends and
    wonderful, locally owned businesses priced out of the area. However, on the plus side, neighborhoods
    have improved, which is nice if you can afford to still live here. So I have mixed feelings over the debate
    about Hi-Lo and Whole Foods: I shop at Whole Foods for some items and the employees there seem to be
    happier and better taken care of than at many food store chains. But I also usually skip lunch for budgetary

    Most of the perspectives I’ve heard can be sorted by the financial class of the speakers. It’s got me to wondering
    about how gentrification has played out in this country in the past. If there are any knowledgeable folks out
    there, what I’d look to know is this: has there ever been a case where an area improves and gentrification doesn’t
    follow? If so, please spill the beans soon as to how.

  2. Another pro-Whole Foods family here! Despite Hi-Lo closing at owners’ direction, I find the objectors’ argument that the surrounding community somehow deserves Hi-lo’s overpriced/ substandard products (esp the produce) and its FILTHY unsettling… At best.

    Meredith West

  3. First, I’m not anti-Whole Foods, I’m pro a JP that’s diverse and affordable. In fact I’m the demographic that WF is targeting – white, middle class, educated professional in my 30s. I’ve even been known to occasionally shop at WF, although I prefer to shop locally at Harvest or cheaper at Trader Joe’s. But the thing is, this isn’t about me and my shopping preferences. My self-interest is greater than having the convenience of a WF in my neighborhood.

    My self-interest is about maintaining the diversity of the neighborhood. As a queer trans man, it’s that diversity and queer-friendliness that drew me here in the first place. As a non-profit employee still paying off school loans I’m also personally invested in keeping JP affordable for me and my neighbors.

    So far the argument has been either pro or anti WF. But it’s not really about WF’s either. It’s about neighborhoods changing, rents going up and people getting priced out of the place they call home. I have more choices than those directly affected by HiLo closing. I can get in my car and drive to one of the (I believe) 5 WFs in the area and as a member of Harvest’s co-op I can petition for better produce or more variety. The foods I’m looking for aren’t hard to find or to find cheaply, but that would be the case if I was looking for the Latin/Caribbean ingredients that HiLo sold.

    What’s been missing in this discussion is how to hold Knapp Foods responsible. I’m really mad at them for the way they maintained the store, how they treated their workers (3 weeks notice after years and years of employment!) and why didn’t they have an open community process if they were tired and wanted to retire? They sold to the highest bidder and it’s not actually Whole Foods fault for wanting to move to a neighborhood that’s been gentrifying for the last 10-15 years.

    Whole Foods doesn’t belong in JP, especially in the Latin Quarter. I absolutely believe a solution can be found that can maintain the diversity of this area. Necessity is the father of invention and we need a solution that provides for the needs of our Latin/Caribbean neighbors. JPNC should have been involved before Whole Foods became a probable owner and now they should build a community process that supports bodega owners and other local entrepreneurs taking an active role in what happens next. We can find affordable solutions for entrepreneurs with creative financing and support from the city and the community.

    We need to consider the full impact of Whole Foods on our community. The traffic congestion. The need for more parking. Rent going up. Neighbors forced to choose between food or heat. This isn’t the JP I love and I sincerely hope JPNC helps us find a solution that keeps JP diverse and makes it affordable.

    Thank you,

  4. Dear JPNC,

    I truly wish that the prospect of a Whole Foods Market in Hyde Square was specifically about grocery selection, labor rights, and other issues internal to Whole Foods. But unfortunately, this appears to be a much broader of gentrification — its pace and scope and the depth of its impacts — that we face. If Whole Foods opens a store in our neighborhood’s Latin Quarter, the process of gentrification in Hyde Square (which of course has already commenced) is likely to spiral beyond the control of any grassroots checks and balances. We need to look deeply at the precedent of Whole Foods accelerating gentrification in other communities. Please read my Open Letter to Jamaica Plain on this subject here:

    Please read this with an open spirit and honest inquisitiveness about what may happen to our neighborhood’s Latin Quarter and its many Latin American immigrant residents over the 20+ years in which Whole Foods plans to reside in Hyde Square.

    Thank you,
    Helen Matthews

  5. I agree with parts of what each of the other posters have said but overall I support Whole Foods making an investment in this neighborhood.

    Traffic is defintely going to be an issue. Center street can be tough as it is but it’s a problem I’m willing to live with if it means being able to walk to my grocery store. As Andrea said, if Hi-Lo was doing well, I don’t think they would have closed. I’m sure they didnt get “tired” from counting their profits.

    My other big problem honestly is this though: Who benefits from Whole Foods being chased away? Whose business is threatened? Who will lose money if the high-end customers are at whole foods? I have talked to several of the spokespeople for Whose Foods and none of them seem to know who runs Whose Foods other than “some concerened citizens” who are spending alot of money on donuts, coffee, banners, flyers, websites, mailings and staff.

    The economy is still really bad. I’m not sure who else is going to invest the money to take over that space. Whose Foods certainly won’t be renting that space if it sits empty. Do we really need more shuttered doors and boarded up windows on center street? Bella Luna has been empty for a long time. The coffee shop next door has been gone for months. Fat Rams is moving, but then the space they are in now will be empty as well. The campaign headquarters is sitting empty. The church development at Center and Forbes has yet to rent a single space.

    If whole foods is going to provide jobs and benefits for dozens of people to run the store and for dozens of UNION workers to rebuild it, then I say good. Whole Foods will bring in tax dollars which will then go to fund the schools, police, and all the other social services JP desperately needs. The irony is that when I was living in San Antonio all the hippy “JP types” LOVED working at whole foods because in conservative south texas, they are the only place where the “alternative” crowd could work comfortably without fear of being singled out for being LBGT, tatood, pierced, etc.

    Also, Part of me thinks this is all backlash because John Mackey has come out strongly against Obama Care:

    Regardless, JP needs JOBS!! JP does not need more empty storefronts.

    Besides, Massachusetts needs to keep as many grocery stores and markets open as possible. The underserved urban communities need more access to food, not less.

    Whole Foods, if you’re listening, please come to JP.

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