The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Communist Grocery Store

Back when I lived on Chicago's south side my neighborhood had one grocery store: The Hyde Park Co-Op. It was expensive, but at least it sucked. Rotten produce, never any diet coke, rude employees, and high prices worked to make it the worst grocery store that I have ever seen. Just before we moved there the Co-Op opened up a new branch just 4 blocks away. I don't know this for sure, but I'm willing to bet that the local alderman worked to freeze out competition in the area in favor of this "local flavor" because it's idiotic to have two branches of the same store 4 blocks away from each other. Predictably, the second branch lasted only a few years, and the space has now been vacant for 2 years.

I really don't need much. A Jewel or a Dominics would have been a huge improvement, but for some reason, even though the North Side is lousy with Jewels and Dominics, they just couldn't open one in my 'hood.

It's tough to build a grocery store in an urban area, and this article explains why:

As obvious as the needs are, and as well-documented as the opportunities for profit may be, it takes forever to get an urban supermarket deal done — 10 years in the case of the first Pathmark in Newark; nearly as long before Publix opened its doors in the inner-city Atlanta neighborhood of East Lake. One reason is simple bureaucratic clumsiness. “Urban environments have an arcane development process and a lot of companies don’t have the stomach for it,” says Buzz Roberts, who has run a supermarket assistance program for the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corp. “You can do two or three stores in the suburbs in the time it takes to do one in the inner city.”

Hat tip, Reason.


  • The Co-op truly does suck. To be fair, there was already a 2nd location on 53rd St. (at Woodlawn) before they build the now-defunct 47th St. outpost.

    The lack of Diet Coke was an outrage, as was the quality of the produce.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:21 AM  

  • One of my biggest complaints with politicians who are "looking out for the little guy" is that they generally side with the mom and pop corner stores that litter the inner cities versus the larger chain grocery stores. This leads to the people in those areas who can least afford it paying much more for groceries and having little or no choice of items to purchase. Quite frankly we all know competition works would go a long way towards boosting the quality of living of the lower class if they had the same choices that I have when shopping for groceries.

    By Anonymous Rod, at 4:32 PM  

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