Whole Foods is finally coming to gentrifying Brooklyn. The reaction is as hilarious as you'd expect, as told in this arch yet poignant New York Observer article. Excerpt:
"I have concerns about the politics of the Whole Foods founder," said Mary Crowley on Saturday morning, walking through the Grand Army Plaza farmers' market with her husband. John Mackey, the company's co-founder and CEO, is a self-taught businessman who believes in small government, and he once compared working with unions to living with herpes—"It stops a lot of people from loving you." In August of last year, he wrote an editorial for The Wall Street Journal arguing that the government should not interfere in the health-care business. "He's very conservative," Ms. Crowley continued. "And we have good stores here already, so I don't know if we need another one."
Ms. Crowley's husband, John Denatale, walked over with their tall, long-haired dog. "I think people in the Slope get over things quickly," he said, their dog pushing his snout between his legs.
"I think they'll be upset. I disagree," said Ms. Crowley.
There was a strong wind blowing down Eastern Parkway. "People in Park Slope don't like change," explained Mark Germann, a young attorney standing over his son in a stroller while his wife, Beth Aala, a filmmaker, looked at yogurt drinks in the Ronnybrook Farm Dairy stall.
"Chains or change?" she asked, coming over to secure an extra blanket over their son.
"Change," he said.
"Maybe both," she added.
And I just love this dude:
No bricks [for the new Whole Foods], however, will come from the landmarked Coignet Stone Company, constructed in 1873, on the corner of the Whole Foods lot. The structure will sit just behind the new store.
"I don't know. I just don't want them to tear it down. Do you? Maybe they should. What do you think?" asked artist Dustin Yellin on Sunday afternoon, after a flight back from Art Basel, talking about the Stone Company building. "They should donate it to artists to have a small museum there! I want to build a museum." [...]
Mr. Yellin described Whole Foods as a "weird art installation, a postmodern clusterfuck of like 55 kinds of the same kind of granola and 55 kinds of the same kind of chocolate." He doesn't like grocery shopping very much.
"If it's not going to be a museum, and it's not going to be a park—'cause those are two things that I think enhance communities—then I say to myself, 'Well, a Whole Foods isn't terrible because a strip mall would suck. And Whole Foods isn't terrible, because don't they have good stuff?' I could definitely shop there to cook dinner for my friends. It's not Wal-Mart."
Reason's voluminous Mackey file here, including his participation in 2005 roundtable on "rethinking the social responsibility of business." Short version of our 2009 ReasonTV interview with Mackey below.