A Whole Foods Fight in Boston

Grad students and hipsters protest the organic market, but many Latino residents are happy about the new shopping option and the jobs.

Aida Lopez has been an involuntary resident of Jamaica Plain since 1970, the year she was forced out of Fidel Castro's Cuba. She settled in this largely Hispanic Boston neighborhood because of the low rents and familiar language. But in her years in J.P.—as the neighborhood is known locally—Ms. Lopez has watched it transform from a mostly ethnic enclave to a mix of Latino immigrants, grad students, gays and lesbians, and bearded hipsters, all seeking cheap housing in one of the country's most expensive cities.

As Jamaica Plain's demography has shifted, so too have the community's retail needs. For 47 years, the Hi-Lo grocery store provided J.P. residents with staple items and a vast stock of Latin American products. But when Knapp Food group, the Massachusetts-based owners of Hi-Lo, decided that they had had enough of the supermarket business, they pulled out of Jamaica Plain, shuttered a local landmark, and negotiated a 20-year lease with Austin, Texas-based grocery giant Whole Foods.

You can guess what happened next.

Local activists mobilized, Internet message boards seethed, talk radio hosts pontificated. But the Cuban exiles gathered at Ms. Lopez's gift shop, La Casa de la Regalos, shrugged at the latest addition to the area. "I bought my Spanish food at Hi-Lo," said Aida Lopez's daughter Rosa, "but just the Cuban stuff and milk." She wrinkled her nose: "The meat wasn't fresh." All agreed that Jamaica Plain needed more shopping options—chain store or otherwise.

But Christy Pardew, spokeswoman for Whose Foods, Whose Community?, an activist group protesting the forthcoming Whole Foods, says the issue is "keeping multinational chains out." According to Ms. Pardew, the addition of a high-end grocery store to Jamaica Plain will result in higher rents, pushing low-income residents from the neighborhood. "It's a term that real estate agents use," she intoned, "called 'the Whole Foods effect.'"

[Story continues after video] 

But real estate agents aren't economists, and Ms. Pardew admitted that there "isn't a lot of academic research" to back up the claim that stores like Whole Foods destroy low-income, ethnic communities. In fact, evidence points in the opposite direction: "To blame gentrification for rising rents is to get things exactly backwards," says Duke University economist Jacob Vigdor. "Companies like Whole Foods are building in places where the clientele is there already. They follow the customer."

When studying gentrification patterns in Boston, Mr. Vigdor investigated claims that elevated rates of neighborhood departure correlated with rising rents. "Actually, I found that in the gentrifying neighborhoods, the turnover rate among long-term residents was actually lower than it was in other parts of the city," because most residents see changes like lower crime rates and the revivification of derelict buildings as positive developments.

"People think that gentrification is causing prices to rise, when it's actually the reverse. In cities that are popular places to live, where demand exceeds supply, and prices go up all over the place—this leads people to seek out neighborhoods that are less expensive," says Mr. Vigdor.

Census data for Jamaica Plain show that Whole Foods is indeed following demographic trends, not simply hoping that if a store is built, the yuppies will come. In the past decade, the Hispanic population in J.P. has declined by 10 percent, while the African-American community shrunk by almost 15 percent.

Laura Derba, Whole Foods' president for the North Atlantic region, thinks that "The issue in Jamaica Plain is change." What it isn't about, she says, is Hi-Lo workers now being out of jobs. "We held a job fair for them," she points out, "and 28 [of 40] came. And 20 or so of them have been hired by Whole Foods."

Did Hi-Lo provide health care to its 40 employees? Anti-Whole Foods activist Ms. Pardew admits she doesn't know, adding that "the stories we hear from [Hi-Lo] employees is that they weren't great employers."

In contrast, last year Whole Foods ranked 18th on Fortune magazine's "100 best companies to work for." The company will provide health care to 70 of the 100 employees in the J.P. store. And while activists complain that the store "is unaffordable to many families in Jamaica Plain," an informal survey by Boston Globe blogger Rob Anderson found that "Comparable pasta, cereal, and soap products were all cheaper at Whole Foods than at Hi-Lo, and the store much vilified as 'whole paycheck' had the cheapest milk of any store in the city."

As activists focus their ire on Whole Foods, check-cashing shops that dot Jamaica Plain and the Rent-a-Center a few short blocks from the Whole Foods construction site operate free of pickets. Though both types of business are frequently accused of demanding usurious interest rates that exploit the poor, they possess one important advantage over Whole Foods: They are immune from aesthetic charges of yuppification.

Rosa Lopez, a lifelong resident of Jamaica Plain, cycles through stories from the bad old days, incredulously wondering what the protesters think was so grand about J.P. in the 1970s or '80s. "Telling people that they can't open a business here? After they rented the space? That sounds like something that happens in Cuba," she chuckles. In a gift shop that displays rolls of toilet paper emblazoned with Castro's face, it isn't meant as a compliment.

Michael C. Moynihan is a senior editor at Reason magazine. This article originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Grad students and hipsters mobilized to protest the organic market,

    Err, wha'?

  • Warty||

    It's beautiful, isn't it? Being nonunion trumps all else.

  • Virginia||

    Being uppity about your health plan is also a sin.

  • ||

    Until A.D. 2011, I was a grad student living in J.P. It's one of those border communities...where the white hipsters meet the Latino immigrants and both look a little leerily at the other third of the residents: people with more money than they knew what to do with. Granted, these people all live in different neighborhoods in JP, which is, after all, just a neighborhood in Boston.

    I've been to that Hi-Lo. Even though it was somewhat run-down, it's not like the aisles were full of incredible deals. The most distinctive thing about it was that it sold a ton of "Hispanic foods," which basically means Goya. Hispanic food stores also tend to have at least a few vegetables for sale, not like those bastards Ruggiero's on Washington St. It was low-price establishment but the selection and the quality weren't that good either.

    Whole Foods will be a very big change. But there's a Stop-n-Shop within easy walking distance. And then there are the little Latin convenience markets.

    Basically, you can't swing a dead cat in J.P. without hitting a Latin grocery (bodega).

    I would expect that the Whole Foods will make aggregate prices in the part of J.P. a little bit higher. On the other hand, the introduction of a greater variety of healthy foods will be a big boon. There's also a new spot for an entrepreneur who could come in and undersell the competition. Unfortunately, it's hard to sell food too cheap in J.P. because it's not an easy place to get large deliveries (a lot of quaint, narrow, one-way streets).

  • ||

    You can't over price something like food. If the people in JP cannot afford the food at Whole Foods, then the Whole Foods store will go out of business, without bearded hipster intervention.

    That's the problem with bearded hipsters, they don't really understand economics.

  • ||

    "That's the problem with bearded hipsters, they don't really understand economics."

    .....or much of anything, really.

  • George V||

    They kow how to roll a doobie.

  • The Fringe Economist||

    and ride fixies all day

  • ||

    Yes of course. Go talk to some hippies on campus, they will trade in their organic burritos, long hair, tie-dyes and even their <gasp> mind altering substances, just to join in solidarity with the unions.

  • Warty||

    It's that, or something something corporations. And who's talking about hippies, anyway?

  • Sudden||

    Hipsters wear ironic shirts, why not adopt ironic protests?

  • Paul||

    Grad students and hipsters mobilized to protest the organic market,

    Err, wha'?

    *facepalm*

    It's the wrong organic market. They want the indy offering with hipper-than-thou store employees.

  • kilroy||

    Is that Trader Joe's?

  • Virginia||

    round here we have My Other Mortgage.

  • NoVAHockey||

    I hate trader joes. it doesn't carry household products, so you have to make a second stop.

    I prefer Wegmans

  • ||

    Don't be a schmuck. Trader Joe's is great for certain things. Nuts, solid light tuna in olive oil, etc. Can't be beat for that stuff.

    Two stops is the price one pays for quality. Luckily for me, Trader Joe's is just down the Counterbalance on Queen Anne Blvd from Metropolitan.

  • Resto Druid FTW||

    You live in Seattle Epi? I work downtown (on 6th Ave.). Small world eh?

  • ||

    There are a lot of Seattle-ites on this board. Paul, sage (well, he's outside Seattle), and more.

    I work in Fremont. I live in Belltown.

  • ||

    Epi check out PFI (Pacific Food Importers). They are an outfit that provides stuff to restaurants, but also have a retail outlet in SoDo. Awesome selection of olives and cheeses, all sorts of imported foods, bulk spices (WAY cheap), stuff like that. It's a great store. They have, for instance, like 5 different kinds of feta cheese alone. You can't buy less than a lb of cheese or meat (they have cured meats - prosciutto, speck, etc.) and they don't slice.

    The place is unreal

  • ||

    I've been there. They have jamon, but they won't slice it (they'll only cut you off a chunk), which is, frankly, annoying as shit as I don't have a jamon ganivet and I'm not about to buy one.

    But yeah, they have some cool shit there.

  • ||

    i am an absolute olive and cheese fiend.

    maybe if you open carry there, they'll slice it for you :)

  • nudist||

    maybe if you open carry there, they'll slice it for you :)

    OMG.

  • Paul||

    There are a lot of Seattle-ites on this board. Paul, sage (well, he's outside Seattle), and more.

    There are a couple more rat-bastard cowards who lurk as well. But I won't give up their names. They do post occasionally.

  • chuckd||

    ha! i doubt i'm one of the 'rat-bastard cowards" you're referring to but i live in the sandpoint neighborhood and work in georgetown. i love winco, no unions, super cheap, awesome bulk foods selection.

  • ||

    Hey!

    /actually live in Seatac, now.
    //sigh

  • rather ||

    I heard 4th Ave was your corner epi

  • ||

    Trader Joe's sucks by comparison.

  • MrGuy||

    If I were from Seattle, I would lie about where I'm from.

  • Realist||

    One should always buy tuna packed in water...it's healthier than oil.

  • ||

    I buy mine packed in dolphin.

  • ||

    Wegman's is the greatest grocery store known to man.

  • BB||

    Absolutely. I feel so ... granola..when I shop there. But the prices are good, the selection is awesome (everything from cheap beans to $250/ounce caviar), the place is clean, and, well, criminy, ALL grocery stores should be this good.

  • ||

    I grew up in WNY, so we always had a neighborhood Wegman's store. Of course, I took it for granted, until I moved out of state. The first time I brought my wife to visit the family, I took her to Wegman's. Her jaw hit the floor, and ever since, a Wegman's trip has been a "must do" activity when ever we visit the family.

  • ||

    One of the things I truly missed after moving away from Tonawanda was the Wegmans in Amherst. Sadness.

  • ||

    That's so funny. It's the only thing anyone from WNY misses, after they leave.

    Well, that and the chicken wings (with blue cheese, of course)

  •  ||

    And they have $.99 solid white tuna that still comes in a 6 ounce can.

  • Old Man with Candy||

    No. There's Berkeley Bowl and then there's everything else.

    Damn, I miss that place. Austin has some excellent options, but BB is sui generis.

  • Gray Ghost||

    I've got to vote for Central Market (prefer the one in S. Austin) over Berkeley Bowl, having been to both, and the new giant Whole Foods on 5th/Lamar over both of them. Wheatsville pegs the meter for obnoxious hipster grocery store, though admittedly the staff has never been anything other than polite and helpful.

    But all of them are great, if insanely overpriced on near everything, grocery stores. Of course, the whole topic is de gustibus anyway...

  • Spoonman.||

    Wegman's is fucking great.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    If you're buying oven cleaner or bleach at a crunchy granola store, you're probably getting ripped off ripping your self off anyway. Do you buy your clothes at Wal-Mart? Sometimes its worth making that extra stop.

  • ||

    Wegman's isn't a specialty store. They are a regular grocery store, that just happens to offer most of the items you will find at a "crunchy granola" store.

    Wegman's is what Publix tries miserably to emulate.

  • ||

    I love Wegman's. Their store-brand stuff is almost as good as the name brand. Their fresh bread rocks too, esp the Marco Polo bread.

  • Mensan||

    There are Publixes (Publixi?, what the hell is the plural of Publix?) in other states? I always thought it was just a Florida chain.

  • JD the elder||

    Maybe your shoddy local Trader Joe's doesn't. Ours does.

  • liamandme||

    Straight up, Wegmans in the shit.

  • ||

    Basically it's the kind of store that would not hire half the employees that used to work at a Hi-lo because they are not open minded enough to have dreds, cool tribal tats and at least 2 out of 3 of the most popular Apple products in their man bag at any given time.

  • ||

    There was one such indie organic store in my neighborhood. I could predict to a fine degree of accuracy how good the service would be that day based on how cool I looked. It lasted about a year.

  • Brett L||

    The Whole Foods Effect. Right. So, her complaint is that Whole Foods adds value to a neighborhood. Can't have that in 'ethnic' neighborhoods. Some of the brown people might get rich and move uptown.

  • ||

    Chris Rock used to do a funny bit about this, what white people do to property values. Jogged a memory from the early nineties.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The SWPL philosophy does not promote actual ethnic diversity unless you're the only paleface in a sea of brown.

  • kilroy||

    rolls of toilet paper emblazoned with Castro's face

    I wonder if they produce an Obama version of this.

  • ||

    Funny, every time I use toilet paper it has an imprint of Castro's face.

  • ||

    They do. Google it. You can also get the IRS 1040 on toilet paper.

  • kilroy||

  • Mr Whipple©®™||

    and 100 dollar bill TP

  • KW6||

    No, Mr President, that's not SUPPOSED to be toilet paper . . .

  • David Emami||

    "In this vein, the B&G people would also like me to point out that many of you who have excess U.S. currency to get rid of have been trying to kill two birds with one stone by using old billions as bathroom tissue. While creative, this approach has two drawbacks: 1) It clogs the plumbing, and 2) It constitutes a defacement of U.S. currency, which is a federal crime. DON'T DO IT."

  • ||

    Is that from Snow Crash?

  • ||

    The IRS provides this particular brand of TP for free, it's called an actual 1040 form. It's a little rough on the old asshole, but it's better than doing taxes.

  • Bucky||

    when i read that it seemed so...right.

  • ||

    The ultimate expression of the free market is commie dictator TP.

  • ||

    Poverty fetishists.

  • Bucky||

    yeah, to bad the hipsters missed their university class on demographics...
    actually the Real Estate agent could clue them in on the idea of "follow the money"

  • ||

    La Casa de la Regalos. It's LOS regalos.

  • Bucky||

    si, how ironic, the home of the regals or is it the Kings?

  • ||

    The hipsters decided that Whole Foods was evil when their president and founder wrote a very insightful op-ed in the WSJ that didn't toe the socialized medicine party line.

    -jcr

  • Federal Dog||

    Geez. You're right. I almost forgot that.

    And it wasn't long ago. Damn, I wish this administration would end already.

  • Ink Cartridge Sam||

    Which is funny because prior to that hipsters loved Whole Foods

  • ||

    He's also been the subject of Reason pieces.

  • ¢||

    There's a point in every neighborhood's gentrification where the white-served-by-brown balance is just right for the gay/grad/beardo community, and it's their white-god-given right to mob up and stop the world right there.

  • Hipster Douche||

    How dare this big evil corporation drive up the property value of this neighborhood and displace minorities. That's OUR job!

  • ||

    How dare this big evil corporation drive up the property value of this neighborhood and displace minorities. That's OUR job!

    OH shit, burn! That is SO true, too.

  • slutmonkey||

    If by "displace" you mean "allow them to sell their homes at inflated prices when they move to a cheaper neighborhood" then please dare.

  • ||

    Whole Foods moved there specifically for the growing hipster population. Why don't these hipsters move to Cuba?

  • KD||

    I bet a lot of them would, if they could, after seeing Sicko.

  • ||

    Liberals never cease to amaze me how hypocritical and brain washed they are. up is down, war in Libya not a war, We want organic but not from successful companies.success is failure. Taxes for poor so we can give them money.

  • ||

    It’s an absurd protest group. They oppose all mulitnationals. Whole Foods they claim is high-end, too expensive and would increase property values thus hurting the working class, yet they brag about stopping Kmart – a low-end multinational – from opening in the 90’s, probably based around the usual argument that new jobs will lower wages, thus hurting the working class. So, multinationals, high-end and low-end stores are not welcome. They’re fighting against change and demanding a locally owned status quo.

    In other words, they’re progressives.

  • This Dave||

    Because the whole world should be forced at gunpoint to obey their aesthetic preferences.

  • ||

    Thats it, in a nutshell. And I do mean NUT. It gets to the point where having these swine picketing your enterprise is a mark of distinction. I used to avoid Whole Foods like the plague because these trendoids were all over it. With them picketing, the customer base now consists of people who actually care what they put in their stomachs. MUCH better company.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    "keeping multinational chains out."

    Better to be ripped off by the locals than get lower prices from a multinational chain, huh?

  • iamtheeviltwin||

    Yeah I can't imagine someone in these forums making that argument...


    Tony|9.29.10 @ 3:00PM|#
    Wal-mart reduces choice.

    Individuals naturally will go where prices are cheapest and convenience is maximized. They are not thinking about (nor should they be expected to think about) the macro effects of their micro choices. They are paying for the convenience and cheap prices with fewer jobs and/or lower wages. That's what you get when huge outfits running on cheap Asian labor descend into your town. Wal-mart reduces individual choice not just because it puts local alternatives out of business, but because it contributes to a lower standard of living for people in a community.

  • waffles||

    having not been in a proper Walmart until I wanted to buy cheap ammo, I disagree. I had tons of choices. Why I was even free to shop somewhere else and pay a little more for my goods. So much freedom it's sickening.

  • Pain Monster||

    See you soon, folks!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Wow. So much wrong with that statement, it's hard to find a good starting place. The naked paternalism; the contempt for consumers; the protectionism; the parochialism.

    If Tony weren't real, Reason would have to invent him. Some times, I think they did.

  • Chupacabra||

    Wait.....Tony's real? Really?

  • fish||

    Yeah....I heard about him years ago on Art Bell.

  • ||

    Wal-Mart is an economic blessing to rural communities. With my own eyes, on four different occasions, I have seen a Wal-Mart built on sites with nothing around, but farm land. With in a year, other retailers, including mom & pop stores, had opened up shop in strip malls right next to Wal-Mart.

    Unless of course, people like Tony prefer that poor, country folk drive for hours in order to do their shopping?

  • Zeb||

    The world is their museum. When they go to the country, they want to see country folk, not people who can buy whatever they want.

  • KW6||

    When they go to the country, they want to see serfs and peasants, so they can pretend that they are superior.

  • LarryA||

    With my own eyes, on four different occasions, I have seen a Wal-Mart built on sites with nothing around, but farm land. With in a year, other retailers, including mom & pop stores, had opened up shop in strip malls right next to Wal-Mart.

    Exactly what happened in the small town where I live. The area around our Wal-Mart is the only shopping center in the county with no vacancies.

  • ||

    My response to any reflexive Walmart hatred is always, "poor people need to shop too" but it's always ignored. Seriously, progressives are some of the most discriminatory people on the planet.

  • fish||

    Yeah and raisin bread at 1/2 price......that really sucked too!

  • The Truth||

    China is #1 in organic markets. I know because they told me so.

  • The Truth||

    Oops, I meant organ markets.

  • 4chan||

    If you told me that somebody is willing to buy my left kidney for $20,000, I would seriously consider it because I need the money bad.

  • Bucky||

    three cheers for spoofers...

  • rather ||

    LOL

  • ||

    First, I don't often shop at Whole foods. Too expensive. But last time I did, it seemed as if the food was fresh and plentiful.

    When these morons protesting can get enough to rub two nickel bags together, they can rent the space and bring back Hi-lo or whatever. Until then, STFU.

  • ||

    Nothing is too expensive or even merely expensive.

    Find a way to generate income and buy it.

    Saying something is expensive or too expensive is a convenient way of letting yourself off the hook for your shortcomings, your lack of skill and wit to earn enough to buy something.

  • ||

    Stone Brewery's slogan for Arrogant Bastard Ale in San Diego:

    It's not too expensive,
    you're too cheap...

  • ||

    Stone. Quality. Some of the best ale brewers on earth seem to have sprung up in So Cal.

  • KW6||

    Well, sure, they're following the market. You have to be half-blasted to be happy living in California.

  • Zeb||

    Of course something can be too expensive. If it costs more than you are willing to pay, it's too expensive. Only a fool pays whatever is asked for everything.

  • ||

    If you have to ask.....

  • ||

    No Zeb, nothing is too expensive. It has nothing to do with paying the full asking price or not.

    Those who believe things are too expensive so suffer from false belief.

    If someone is unwilling to pay an asking price, that someone has decided for himself or herself that the thing being offered isn't worth it.

    However, the false belief "too expensive" is held by persons unwilling to accept truth about themselves -- they are too lazy to discover a way to earn enough money to buy something.

  • SFC B||

    $17 for a regular Snickers bar is too expensive. It is not a "false belief" or me being a failure who can't afford the $17 Snickers bar. It's me realizing that $17 for a Snickers bar is too damned expensive.

    Sometimes the seller is the one with the "false belief".

  • Amakudari||

    Uh, what? English much? "Expensive" means something is highly-priced.

    Homeopathic remedies aren't worth a penny, yet they'll retail for $20. That's too expensive. A blank canvas by an abstract art will sell for $3 million. Considering that expensive is not an indication of my laziness.

    Declaring that "cheap" and "expensive" are figments of those oblivious to The Truth -- everything is priced just right -- is an immensely ridiculous thing to say.

  • Jim||

    A producer who cannot move his product at his chosen price-point, and then goes out of business, had products which are "too expensive". I know...the one business I ever opened, never sold a single glass of million dollar lemonade. Somehow I doubt the problem was that everyone else was too "cheap".

  • Bucky||

    or you've been indoctrinated into the "Rich People Are Evil And They Got Their Money Using People" club...

  • waffles||

    The douchebags protesting this store are the left's answer to the religious right. The reason their actions make no fucking sense is becuase to them it's an act of faith. Whole Foods is bad because they just know it is. I'm sure most people opposing this barely even know about the WSJ op-ed, let alone the massive economic stupidity afoot.

    Actually, in many ways the religous right is more tolerant and rational. But they serve the same purpose.

  • mr simple||

    While it's fun that you proved all of their talking points wrong, who gives a shit? The fact of the matter is a company rented space from landowners and are using it for whatever purpose they and the landowners see fit. People can shop there or not by their own choice. How brain dead can these people be?

    Telling people that they can't open a business here? After they rented the space? That sounds like something that happens in Cuba," she chuckles.

    Exactly.

  • ||

    I'm sure a Cuban grocery store would love to expand there and serve the locals fresh ethnisine and...oh, wait.

  • ||

    "Aida Lopez has been an involuntary resident of Jamaica Plain since 1970, the year she was forced out of Fidel Castro's Cuba. She settled in this largely Hispanic Boston neighborhood because of the low rents and familiar language"

    Wait a minute- "involuntary"? Really? She moved here from Cuba, and has CHOSEN to live in her neighborhood area for 40 years. That was involuntary? I had no idea that anyone was actively keeping her hostage there, nor that there aren't opportunities and freedom to live across the whole this country.

  • ||

    If you get rid of Castro, Cuba beats Boston. There's a reason that Ernest Hemingway didn't hang out in Jamaica Plain.

    I think that's what it meant. Now why she doesn't live in Florida, or Alaska, or Wyoming is anybody's guess... Personally, I'd choose to live in Boston if the alternative were to be shot in the head, but as always, your mileage may vary.

  • ||

    Cuba vs. Boston? Shouldn't the camparison be Havana vs. Boston?

  • ||

    Boston and JP are two different worlds, but there are plenty of better Hispanic friendly places to live outside of Boston. You dont even have to leave the state.

  • Rock Action ||

    Springfield, MA?

  • ||

    Back in early 2010, when I first read about John Mackey and the Whole Foods situation with healthcare, I was rather astonished to see the protests on youtube. The people protesting the store looked exactly like the people going into the store to get groceries.

    Back when I was living in the city, Whole Foods shoppers/workers were nothing but freaks and leftists and tree-huggers.

    Did I miss something?

  • ||

    Whole Foods is a great store, and I think it has won over a lot more people over time. Even if you would never do all your shopping there, there is still stuff that they do cheapest/best/freshest. So it's not just the initial customers any more.

  • ||

    Whole Foods gets great product placement on Top Chef. It has major foodie cred now

  • Bingo||

    Like Episiarch said, their customer base has grown substantially. There is something of a Food Enlightenment going on right now in the general public and Whole Foods is no longer dominated by hippies and hipsters. Also hippies, hipsters, and other elitest types hate the general public, so the rising popularity of Whole Foods is seen as a threat, god forbid they share something in common with the bourgeoisie.

  • fish||

    Did I miss something?

    Yeah those middle age f's were shitty dancers and their "chants" were unconvincing.

  • bilbo||

    Holy crap that protest will smell like bad BO from all those hipster douches.
    How dare a national chain be organic, only stinky aging hippy douchebags with ponytails and bad tiedyed shirts can open organic markets

  • Colin||

    How much you wanna bet that if the owner of Whole Foods hadn't come out against ObamaCare there would be no protests?

  • fish||

    No bet!

    Hope and Change my flabby white ass.....Central Command and Control!

  • Mr Whipple©®™||

    Holy crap that protest will smell like bad BO [patchouli oil] from all those hipster douches.

    Which is even worse than BO.

  • ||

    Patchouli =/= bath

  • bilbo||

    the rainbow festival goers would probably disagree. But then you would have to describe to them what a bath was....

  • fish||

    Patchouli = the smell from the anti stench mints in the urinal!

  • ||

    According to State vs. Hippies et al, patchouli stench is not in and of itself reasonable suspicion for a Terry Stop .

  • ||

    It is, however, a public nuisance.

  • ||

    Not sure who wrote the subhed, but it doesn't reflect the text of the article, nor the other articles published about this story. It looks like the coalition against the Whole Foods, misguided though it is, is more diverse than just "grad students and hipsters."

  • Mr Whipple©®™||

    It could be worse. I live in a rural South Jersey farming community which is in the process of one of those city sponsored downtown revitalization projects. The centerpieces are, a refurbished theater (which actually isn't bad) and an Amish market. The rationale behind the Amish market, is that it will bring fresh produce to the city. Huh? There's a fucking roadside produce stand a mile in any direction. Just to fuck with them, I 'm thinking about calling PETA to stage a protest against the Amish puppy mills on the day of the grand opening.

  • MissNJ||

    I'm up in rural NW Jersey and just ordered a garden shed from Amish Mike. Please don't alert PETA for at least another two weeks since the puppies are still building it. Thank you.

  • Jose||

    Sounds familiar. We had the same thing occur here in East Harlem with the advent of Costco, Best Buy, Target and other stores coming into the area. 99% of the residents appreciated the jobs, better products at lower costs and walking distance. About 25 activist fought the project. They lost the battle and now East Harlem has a fine place to shop. Activist have no good reason to oppose these stores except for their hate of capitalism and of the very people they supposedly "serve".

  • Alice Bowie||

    For the most part, the jobs created are the 'Nigger-jobs' of the future that lead to no growth in career development or financial advancement.

    Not that I'm against the project, but saying that blacks/latinos (people that most americans generally dislike and would prefer if they just simply went back to africa or mexico) are happy for the jobs is a stretch.

    The real losers are the small business owners.

    The people in the hood needs jobs, and, this development in East Harlem did bring them jobs. I just wish we could have put some effort in training these people to do the work that we outsourced that actually pay well and can lead to some positive future for these people.

  • ||

    It's amazing how casually racist "liberals" are. You're so fucking paternalistic that it's stunning. Not to mention egregiously stupid; Whole Foods jobs are serious, career-track jobs. But you're too busy being a scumbag racist to go figure that out.

  • Sudden channeling Alice Bowie||

    but, but, but...... I capitalized the n-word to show reverence and respect!1!!1!!

  • Alice Bowie||

    You know I'm not a racist. I use the "N" word just to add colour to the argument.

    I, myself, and 1/2 black and 1/2 latino, and you can't deny that the traditional american don't particularly care for my kind.

    Besides, nothing explains a "Nigger Job" better than the word Nigger...which I learned from white people...btw.

  • ||

    Whatever, racist. I note that the only thing you responded to was the racism part, and completely avoided the fact that you're a fucking moron who doesn't even know the way Whole Foods does employment.

    How unsurprising. But based on the bonecrushing stupidity of your posts in the past, what else would we expect?

  • This Dave||

    You learned the word "nigger" from white people? So you missed it in black music, movies, TV shows, or simply walking down the street? But heard white people say it first where, a Klan rally?

    How is it even possible that what you're saying is true? If I hear that word 1000 times a year, maybe 5 of the 1000 are from the mouth of a white person.

  • KW6||

    "I, myself, and 1/2 black and 1/2 latino, and you can't deny that the traditional american don't particularly care for my kind."

    It's not the brown skin, it's the red politics.

  • SFC B||

    We don't like Alice's casual racism either.

  • Bucky||

    you're the chick on stage in the Sharpton video, right?

  • Otto||

    Did you hear from them? As I mentioned below, the residents of the poor neighborhood went to town council meetings to try to get them to allow a Wal-Mart to move in near them. They got organized and fought against elitists like yourself who think that everyone needs to start at the top.

    The first three jobs I had as a teenager were: dishwasher, dishwasher and dishwasher. Call me whatever names you think fit.

  • Alice Bowie||

    hey, my first job was KFC. And, back then, the McJob (since everyone is up at arms about N-Job) was a job for teenagers. My uneducated father had a job in a factory, spoke no english, and was able to purchase a home, put me thru catholic school, and retire with dignity.

    Now, even with a BS degree, I challenge anyone to do same.

    How things have changed.

  • Alice Bowie||

    BTW, his insurance covered by Moms Leukemia at the time...and, he wasn't left penny-less and the insurance company didn't weasel out of the the claim

  • heh heh||

    You realize that your dad's union thug-backed cadillac health plan is paid for in higher premiums from those same small-business owners you deify, right?
    Not to mention: How is working for a small corner grocery a "career path"? Whole Foods and Trader Joes both provide health plans for their workers, even the shelving and stock people after they've worked for a few months.

  • ||

    Not only are you a racist paternalist, you're a nostalgist dipshit. Amazing. They don't grow them much more retarded than you, Alice.

  • Toolbag||

    I have done much much better without a college degree.

  • DLM||

    Let me see if I understand this. Black are only worthy of low-wage employment?

  • Jim||

    I think she's upset that Goldman Sachs hasn't opened up the Harlem branch yet, and hired a bunch of cats with GEDs as day-traders.

    Or that a manufacturing concern hasn't opened up a plant there yet to pay a bunch of people way too much to do a job anyone with a pulse could do, and then price themselves out of existence when, *gasp!*, it turns out a bunch of uneducated Chinese peasants can make the shit just as well and for 1/3 the cost.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Oh wait, by the time you free-market and tea-bagging puritans change America for the 'better', Blacks won't be the only folks worth low-wage employment. You too, will be the new Niggers of America.

  • Mr Whipple©®™||

    This is a joke, right?

  • Alice Bowie||

    You may think it's a joke, but the people out of work, suffering wage decreases, and lost much of what they have don't find it the lease bit funny.

    I know libertarians would just shrug their shoulders and say, tough-shit for them.

    Me, I've lived most of my life already. I lived in the BEST OF TIMES to be alive as a human. In a Liberal "new deal" America that gave me and many people like me a chance.

    Can't wait to see what a mess you guys will make out of this.

  • ||

    He's a joke, it's just that he doesn't realize it.

  • Jim||

    If I can't do anything worthwhile that someone, somewhere else, could do for cheaper, then I don't deserve the higher wage. What you're talking about is subsidizing American industry, which only promotes inefficiency.

    We're not nationalists. I don't want an American to have a job when a Chinese could do it for much less, resulting in a lower end-price for myself. It's up to Americans to find things we can do, that others can't or won't for the price.

    You're waxing nostalgic about a world in which the Indians, Chinese, and Brazilians were, by and large, not competing in. It's easy to obtain the financial security that we did after WWII when pretty much your only possible competition was burned to the ground, and their populations decimated. Why are you so racist as to think that a Chinese or Indian doesn't deserve a job if they're willing to do it for a better price than an American? Protectionism is racism; it is declaring third-world peoples unworthy of having jobs.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Hey, don't get me wrong. I don't believe in protectionism. I'm just saying that the ultimate consequence of our actions here in the US has led to much of the job and opportunity losses.

    There is NO CURE. You cannot make a LAW to stop outsourcing or to stop jobs leaving the US. There is NOTHING anyone can do.

    I'm stating that many people in this country will not survive this. Particularly those that were once part of the middle class. Hats off to India, China, and the rest of the developing world.

    But let me tell your, I live and work in NYC. Ask anyone who lives/works here. NYC is a dormitory for the WEALTHY and their SERVANTS. The way you know you are a SERVANT is whether or not you need to work to maintain your lifestyle.

    It's been this way in NYC for the last 15-20years, or so. The rest of America will follow shortly.

  • ||

    You are truly stupid.

    I lived in NYC for seven years. In Manhattan. There are plenty of non "wealthy" and non "servant" people there, you fucking loon.

    You live in a fucking fantasy world, where you're not a paternalistic scumbag. Well, guess what: here in the real world, you are.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Nope!!! U r either 1 of the 2 buddy boy.

    Don't get me wrong, in my office is a bunch of 20 somethings' that live three in a one bedroom.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I'm right because I said so times one million!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    You know who else lived three to a bedroom?

    Hugh Heifner.

  • heh heh||

    I'm with Epi. I've lived in NYC for awhile, and this statement is just beyond stupid/incorrect.

    Also, using NYC as an example of coming "libertarian hell" is just jaw-droopingly absurd. You realize it's one of the least-business friendly business environments in the US right?

  • moop||

    "The way you know you are a SERVANT is whether or not you need to work to maintain your lifestyle."

    so anyone who is not filthy rich is a servant in your mind? 99% of americans need to work to maintain their lifestyle. you are such a fucking tool

  • Bucky||

    operative word "gave"...

  • fish||

    Oh my god....you can almost hear the harp music as Alice turns on the "wayback" machine.

    I know libertarians would just shrug their shoulders and say, tough-shit for them.

    "Tough shit for them" is what you hear when society wakes up and realizes.....holy shit how are we going to pay for all this.

    Nice try Alice but I don't know a single libertarian who wakes up in the morning and thinks......238,000 people lost their jobs last month.....gonna be a good day.

  • Von||

    She just keeps digging further into the hole and its hilarious.

    I know plenty of people (of all colors and ethnicities) who would love to have a job at Costco (esp if they didn't have to ride the bus an hour a day to get there).

  • moop||

    i remember when i was in college and costco's cart boys made $10/hr, $15/hr on sundays.

  • ||

    The people in the hood needs jobs, and, this development in East Harlem did bring them jobs. I just wish we could have put some effort in training these people to do the work that we outsourced that actually pay well and can lead to some positive future for these people.

    Why don't those people train themselves. Since when do other people need to be responsible for training minorities to do anything? This assertion is racist, it assumes that minorities are otherwise incapable of improving themselves.

  • Bucky||

    reminds me of the council woman that did not want a Wal Mart built because it would cause teenagers to steal...

  • ||

    If they're stealing cheaper stuff, then Wal-Mart is actually making things better by lessening the severity of their crimes.

  • ||

    I've certainly never heard of anyone who wants Cubans to go back to Mexico.

  • Otto||

    Wal-Mart wanted to build a mega-store in Orlando on a large road that separated two neighborhoods: one was mainly white & upscale, the other mainly black and poor. The poor neighborhood was almost unanimous in wanting Wal-mart - they saw jobs and cheaper products, at a convenient distance (in a community where many ride the bus). The people in the upscale neighborhood complained about how there would be increased traffic through near their houses. They won.

  • ||

    They wouldn't want their fake community of really big fake tourist attractions to be marred by a really big store where real people shopped.

  • ||

    Any semi-free market provides exactly the kind of "let's consult everybody" system of setting prices that the Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressives often claim to want. Since such a system regularly puts the lie to the LIRP's fondly held belief that what the common man REALLY wants is what the LIRPs think would be good for him, they naturally hate it.

  • Wee Must have Consensus||

    Consensus consensus consensus...then we can take over because we got consensus.

  • Bingo||

    Whole Foods' meat and fish counter is basically protein pornography. Goddamn I want a steak now.

    Oh and hipsters probably dislike it because it's no longer "authentic" to them. God knows how a freaking grocery store "sells out", but whatever. Faux blue-collar chic seems pretty played out to me, but I suppose you gotta find some way to sneer at people when the trust fund dries up and your liberal arts degree doesn't mean squat.

  •  ||

    Protein pornography. Goddamn I want a steak.

    Save up for one of their bison rib-eyes. About $18/lb last time I had one, but mercy. Marinate it in a good olive oil with some rosemary and garlic, grill it hot and fast for medium rare and be thankful you're an American.

  • ||

    You have to be careful with the bison, dude. Watch it like a hawk, because if you overcook it, it's drier than an old Dennis Miller rant.

  • Dennis Miller||

    Wow man, you didn't have bag on my locquacious style simply because you don't approve of me ranting on MNF about how Hank Williams nailed the opening song this time around like Celine Dion on the Titanic soundtrack or how Natrone Means ran through the Browns defensive line like Nokia ran through its competitors in the cell phone market....

  • Warty||

    The Browns never played on Monday Night Football during Dennis Miller's time. You fucking idiot.

  • Sudden||

    Upset brownies fan are we?

    Although I admittedly don't remember Miller's reign of terror on MNF, I figured using the browns would make the reference stale, therby proving Epi's thesis. (hence the reference to Natrone Means and Nokia cornering the cellphone market)

  • ||

    OH SNAP

    He's got you there, Warty.

  • Otto||

    Upset brownies fan are we?

    Ever met one who wasn't?

  • Warty||

    Not upset, I just didn't want to pass up the opportunity to call you a fucking idiot. And the Browns weren't relevant when Natrone Means was playing, either.

  • ||

    again, if you're in seattle, the place to go for meat is Bob's Quality Meats. They rock. I buy about $200-$300 worth when I go , and it lasts a long time. Very high quality stuff, a real butcher, dry aged, the whole nine yards

  • ||

    I've been there. I'm not going to Columbia City when I can go to A&J Meats in Queen Anne. Just a few blocks away from Trader Joe's.

  • ||

    Fair enuf. I don't even live in Seattle, so it's a much farther hike for me. I do my Bob's/PFI run once a month or two and I'm set.

  • Sudden||

    I found something to keep me entertained over the weekend.

  • fish||

    I prefer the "Homeless Carpaccio" beaten tender from the carcasses of only the cleanest and most succulent street people available!

    Protein pornography indeed!

  • ||

    But Christy Pardew, spokeswoman for Whose Foods, Whose Community?, an activist group protesting the forthcoming Whole Foods, says the issue is "keeping multinational chains out."

    Because they have stores in a couple of cities in Canada and UK, they are a "multi-national"?

  •  ||

    "Multinational" = capitalism, which is "bad."

  • Sudden||

    It's funny how leftists think:

    Multinational = capitalism = bad
    International(e) = socialism = good

  • TheCheeseStandsAlone||

    You are wrong...

    Current food and oil prices
    are at a record high:

    Commodity=food and oil=decreased
    competition=monopoly=higher prices...

    There is no "level-playing field"
    in these markets...

    Companies like "IGA" and "Sunoco"
    have become the result of planned
    product obsolescence...

  • Mr Whipple©®™||

    Oh...I though multinational meant that they sold a lot of ethnic foods. ;)

  • ||

    That's multicultural.

  • annieinexile||

    i (heart) cubans! and fidel toilet paper! and whole foods!

  • ||

    Cartman and Cthulu could take care of whole foods. Of course they'd take care of the hippies too! Win/win

  • Mike Israetel||

    So aren't these the same sort of people that bemoan the lack of "healthy, organic food grocery stores" for low-income, inner city residents, and blame the lack of the aforementioned for the obesity prevalence in low-income groups? Now they are against these stores... ok...???

  • Jim||

    You're missing the point. The healthy, organic food the poor people eat must also come from a store owned and operated by said poor people.

    It's a tricky line to walk, because if the owner gets rich and opens other stores, suddenly he's an evil multinational corporation, and *poof!*, instantly goes from "good" to "bad". So the trick is, open a healthy grocery store, but make sure that you stay right on the razor's edge of failure the entire time and never expand lest you become a "sell-out" and worthy of protest.

  • Mike Israetel||

    Hahhaha.... "razor's edge of failure." Priceless, Jim. So basically one must retain permanent underdog status, correct? Oh and be at one with the earth and her produce, right? Am I missing anything? :)

  • Jim||

    Hey man, the only way to stay "legit" is apparently to be a poor bohemian. Or at least to appear to be a poor bohemian.

  • Hipster||

    "So the trick is, open a healthy grocery store, but make sure that you stay right on the razor's edge of failure the entire time and never expand lest you become a "sell-out" and worthy of protest."

    We treat our grocery stores like we treat our favorite bands.

  • Mike Israetel||

    +1

  • Wonderland||

    +1,000,000,000

    You are so fucking cool!

  • ||

    White Kids complaining about nothing.

  • ||

    i might steal that for a potential band name...

  • Alice Bowie||

    funny...no one is call'n u racist.

  • Bucky||

    iffen yu so edjumacated wy yu rite lik yu knot? fraid of bein cauld wite?

  • Jesse Jackoff||

    Racist!

  • ||

    "Telling people that they can't open a business here? After they rented the space? That sounds like something that happens in Cuba," she chuckles.

    Uh, no. In Cuba the people telling you not to open the store have badges and guns, not signs and sandwich boards.

    That said, the protesters are idiots.

  • sevo||

    Tulpa|4.19.11 @ 8:15PM|#
    "Uh, no. In Cuba the people telling you not to open the store have badges and guns, not signs and sandwich boards."

    Which is exactly the aim of the "protesters"; to enlist those with guns to keep the store from moving in.
    If it wasn't, they could easily make their "protest" known; don't shop there.

  • Tony Fernandez||

    They use the power of the government, which does have badges and guns.

  • Tony Fernandez||

    Protestors against developments like this really irk me. You guys do not own the community! You do not get to decide! If you want to keep a company from building there, then come up with the money and buy the land from them. If you can't do that then shut it! Using the government is nothing more than threatening the company/coercion. Tyrants are the worst, especially when they are our neighbors.

  • Realist||

    Yes, what he said^

  • ||

    If the protesters don't like the way the neighborhood is shaping up then why don't they just leave. Find some other damn place that will put up with their shit.

  • sevo||

    El Duderino|4.19.11 @ 11:39PM|#
    "If the protesters don't like the way the neighborhood is shaping up then why don't they just leave. Find some other damn place that will put up with their shit."

    The same dynamic is in process in the Mission in San Francisco. Warm weather, low (rent-controlled) rents, and restaurants willing to take the left over money from the thieves.
    Any new development/store gets screams about 'gentrifying' (as if that hasn't already happened).
    Right down the street is another lower-rent area; Bayview/Hunters Point.
    But the rent costs aren't the real issue; the issue is: 'We want cheap rents in a nice area'. And we'll get the government to make sure it happens.

  • sevo||

    TheCheeseStandsAlone|4.19.11 @ 7:50PM|#
    "You are wrong...
    Current food and oil prices
    are at a record high:
    Commodity=food and oil=decreased
    competition=monopoly=higher prices..."

    And Elvis' alien love-child is at the bottom of all this, right?
    Care to cite a monopoly?

  • Realist||

    Organic food groupies are the same dickheads that believe there is overwhelming evidence of AGW and other lib bullshit.
    The idea that organic fertilizer makes produce more healthful is exponential stupid. Food organically grown has residue of hog, cattle an chicken shit....ummmm!

  • ||

    How do you think you get an ecoli contamination in a spinach crop. . .

  • George Henderson's neighbor||

    When a giant condor flies over it and takes a shit on it?

  • bilbo||

    spotted owls too

  • ||

    Owls suck.

  • Realist||

    That was my point!

  • ||

    I agree.

  • ||

    "You know how many hipsters it takes to screw in a lightbulb?"


    "I have that on vinyl."

  • Scooby||

    "You know how many hipsters it takes to screw in a lightbulb?"

    "It's a really obscure number; you've probably never heard of it"

  • CPA in Boston||

    How ironic? I live in one of he more "Successful" neighborhoods in Boston and this article is dead on. The hipsters/hippies will look at us "working, successful types and look down upon us." I avoid that neighborhood for obvious reasons.

  • Asdf||

    Not going to take a stand on this Whole Foods issue, because I think that there are legitimate concerns on both sides of it.

    But, the amount of ridiculous "hipster" stereotyping and cracks about body odor and other cliches is kind of astonishing. There's a little bit more to JP than Latino longtime residents and hipster caricatures!

  • ||

    U mad, bro?

  • Asdf||

    Nah not really. Just sick of the controversy being cast as one group of people vs. another instead of what's best for the neighborhood and its residents as a whole.

  • Amakudari||

    Late to the party here, but why is "what's best for the neighborhood" relevant? It's not their property. There's also nothing stopping them from pooling their money and purchasing that property or any other to establish the grocer they desire.

  • sevo||

    I don't think you're late. Seems you're right on time with a bullshit detector.
    If it's 'wrong' for the neighborhood, it'll fail. Third-party busy-bodies can take a hike.

  • Bucky||

    third-party b.o. bodies...
    fify

  • cool||

    Nice ArticlesCool

  • ||

    The thing you have to know about local politics in JP is that it is framed in terms of the prioritization of the interests of renters over landlords/homeowners. A coalition of private non-profits and community groups have de-fact control over the zoning process and are able to (illegally?) spot-zone projects they approve (such as subsized rental housing) and block projects they don't, or at minimum force developers to make cocessions to their agenda. They pretty much are able to decide or direct development in the neighborhood. However, as-of-right development (such as changing a grocery store to a different brand of grocery store) requires no zoning review and I believe these groups are looking to see how much influence they can bring to bear over an as-of-right project. I think this is a direct result of a project that went up a few years ago a few blocks away. These groups were holding up the zoning in an attempt get more units of "affordable" housing included in the project. The developer had agreed to build more affordable units than required by law in an attempt to get their support for the zoning variances he wanted. However, this time the groups over played their hand and pushed for even more units and so the developer chose to build to the existing zoning and ended up only building the minimum number of "affordable" units required by law. So I think these activist groups are trying to figure out how to get leverage over as-of-right development.

  • ||

    We had a similar fight in Denver in neighborhood where WalMart proposed to go. This would have brought in jobs and reasonable prices on goods. Instead, they built a Lowes, where you can see all of 30 cars on a good day.

  • roguepatriot||

    I used to go to a church in JP for 3 years. WH is what the area needs. Good for JP residents.

    Ignore the protesters.

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