Christopher Swope was GOVERNING's executive editor.E-mail: email@example.com
I hope that every super- market executive in the country sees these pictures. What they show is the checkout line at the Trader Joe's grocery that recently opened in my D.C neighborhood. What they also show is how starved urban neighborhoods--even well-to-do ones like mine--are for high-quality, reasonably priced grocery store options. Note to CEOs: There's gold in them thar cities!
The dearth of urban grocery stores is one of the most frustrating aspects of American city life. Grocery chains seem to believe that dense urban neighborhoods are more trouble than they're worth--or at least more trouble than plopping down cookie-cutter stores onto suburban parking lots. Safe, formulaic thinking drives these decisions. Still, I've never understood why CEOs of grocery chains have been so willing to ingore so much pent-up demand in the cities. Crack the code to big-city retail and big profits will follow.
The space, in the first floor of a new condo building, is relatively small. So we use compact double-decker shopping carts rather than mongo suburban-style SUV carts. There's parking in the building for those who choose to drive. But there's also a phone by the exit for calling taxis.
And the checkout clerks don't shoot funny stares at people like me who stuff most goods in a backpack for the walk home.
Of course, waiting in a long checkout line like this one is a drag. Which is why I'd like to see some other grocery chains give Trader Joe's a run for its money. Get on with it, free market. Do what you're supposed to do.
UPDATE: Downtown Seattle gets its first supermarket in generations. (Seattle Times)
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.