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Veggie aisle at Stop and Shop

How About Two Stop and Shops?

Stop and Think!

Who says Nantucket winters are boring? It may seem dull most of the time but this off-season started with a bang for everyone when the probability of CVS taking over the the Grand Union spot became public, causing a monumental community uprising rejecting the idea. The thought of anything but a grocery store in this spot was simply unthinkable. The obvious Davy vs. Goliath scenario was about to be played out in print and cyberspace like nothing seen in years. 

In the end, Nantucket dodged this bullet but in my view, the most important matter is that we all learned a lesson that we can't always get everything we want and that we need to have better relationships with the "Big 3" downtown property owners.

So here we are in the middle of "rumor season" and it's been awfully quiet. I for one would have loved to see the Mignosa's Fruitcenter or Roche Brothers take over the sight but that doesn't seem to be happening. So why not Stop and Shop? They're already here and it makes a lot of sense for them to move into the prime downtown location.

In years past we may have responded with our predictable "No" to them as they would have a "monopoly" here but I think we may have learned a lesson this year about Nantucket economics. The truth is that the competition is really Nantucket itself and also people doing bulk shopping on the Cape. Doing large scale business here is a monumental challenge. Ask any restaurant owner how many weeks a year they make money. Their answer may be in days, not weeks. We don't think about that with Stop and Shop, but they have enormous challenges here during the summer to take care of 35,000 more people. Not a simple task 26 miles out to sea.

It simply makes Nantucket business sense for Stop and Shop to re-create the building to something more attractive to summer visitors, while in winter giving us a different place to go to break up the monotony. This will also help S&S spread out the business a bit so they can better manage trucks and restocking etc.  

And now that we have the Shell branded gas, using your points finally gives us a little something to smile about.

I say get it done and move on to the next issue.      

Nathaniel Lowell is a fifth-generation Nantucketer with strong views.

(Photo credit:  Nantuckettiechic.com)

Comments

This is coming from an "off Islander" that visits occasionally but I would think another/different store/company would offer competition to S&S. Monopoly, especially on an Island, does not seem a good thing, in my opinion.

 another grocery store?

Sure, but not another S&S when the current one is happily gouging away - with no competition!

How about wegmans?  :-)

For an economy based on capitalism, where competition is a good thing, having a Stop & Shop monopoly is a horrible idea.  It's not good for the year-round residents or anyone else except Stop & Shop.  If the Nantucket officials in charge of approving such a plan decide to go forward with it, then Stop & Shop's prices should be regulated like any monopoly, such as the Steamship Authority.  I can't see how Mr. Lowell thinks this would help anyone that needs to put food on their table.

Its interesting reading the comments as I thought we had learned a little bit more about how the Nantucket economy ticks this past year. There are so many factors that determine a business the size of a grocery store taking up roots on Nantucket.  You don't just sign a lease for a decrepid building with steep monthly rent with an undetermined cost of rebuilding the store itself.The next tenant is being asked to do much more than "re-stock" the shelves and change the sign. Any entity not yet established on the Island would be taking a huge risk coming here. If it were so simple, you'd see Shaws or Market Basket knocking down the doors of the Winthrop offices. Figuring out the lay of the land here is half the battle. With the thinking on these posts, why aren't we revolting against Cumberland Farms for establishing 2 locations?  Do you really think that a Seven Eleven would bring the price of milk down? It makes complete sense for Cumberland to have 2 locations for several reasons which have nothing to do with the "M" word. They are already coming here with 2 trucks a week. Their business will spread out and they will seamlessly handle both stores by likely only needing to add one truck a week in  Summer. Same goes for Stop and Shop. They have the many pieces already here to make this work. As far as perception of gouging, that claim can be made in any business here. You gotta do some homework to make that case. The competition for local businesses has become shopping in Hyannis in recent years. The growing seemless fast ferry system has made shopping for certain items easier. I do quite a bit of shopping off island and I keep a pretty good comparison to sale pricing vs. regular pricing. You really have to be a shopping junkie to know the total picture. A simple answer is that if Shaws, Star Market or Market Basket were the ones rooted at the former Finast location, some would likely be saying that we were being gouged by them.. In the end, we ALL want a grocery store downtown. We cannot decide or "vote" who should be there. We won the first round with the CVS decision. Lets not pretend we can hand pick the grocery store we think we want. If Stop and Shop ends up moving in there, taking on the monumental task of getting this building up to code and attractive for our seasonal economy, we should be thankfull, establish a working relationship with their Nantucket management and welcome their contribution to the revitalization of our beloved Downtown. We have a history of saying NO before we realize we should be saying YES....  This is a good discussion to have and I look forward to continuing this debate. Nat    

Just some stray thoughts on a blustery Sunday. But, as a member of the Planning Board I had to set the record straight on this discussion of Art 38 and the truth about what the PB did and did not do this year that is taking place on various sites.

Let us back the truck up. The Planning Board did NOT vote down any warrant article proposal that related to grocery stores or big box limitations. There was no Planning Board meeting last week. There is no study group. There was a long list of warrant articles for discussion a few months ago proposed by staff. It was a large list. The staff had to pare it down for this coming town meeting. More will be considered as there will more than likely be a special town meeting.

I am not sure where this discussion of Art 38 came from. That article is NINE years old, has not been discussed since then, articles about it are NINE years old. Why this is being discussed as if current is mystifying. I voted against it then as stifling opportunities here. There is NO article related to big box stores on this town meeting warrant other than to clarify that the anti-chain store by-law did not prevent a new grocery store downtown.

Discussion about the Valero property has taken place within the Naushop Crossing Area Workgroup meeting context. The area plan is nowhere near completion, no agreement has been reached by the participants, thus no warrant articles were able to be generated based on the non-existent plan at this time. Included in Naushop Crossing area plan is the Glowacki complex and Naushop. A complicated area.

There is no conspiracy by the Planning Board in regards to grocery stores anywhere. The nine year old article was against big boxes of ANY kind. People either want a grocery store downtown or they do not. We do not have the right to control who it is. Someone needs to step up to the plate and there are few who have an interest. Winthrop has been very unresponsive to any conversations about Wilkes Square as well. They have no attachment to Nantucket anymore other than a responsibility to off-island shareholders. It is an antiquated, not well built building, and a tenant will have to put money into it. Winthrop is NOT selling the building. They are looking for a new tenant. It matters not to them who it is, ala CVS. Whether a business cares or does not care about patrons is immaterial. One should expect any business to maximize profits in this economy.

If S&S does go into downtown, they will have to change business model. There is a lot more involved. They could be planning to do something positive with property they have next to Boys & Girls Club, buy fire station, provide money for new station, any number of things. Alot of options it would seem. Other than expressing concern and a desire to have a grocery store downtown, the BOS and Planning Board and Planning Commission, have no power here over the property.

What is clear is that a grocery store needs to be in place before summer starts one way or another. Just a thought, why is it assumed that a grocery store that is not S&S, that went downtown, would necessarily charge less than S&S given the very high rent Winthrop has traditionally charged. Some chi chi store may charge more due to location and rent. We would be naive thinking that. Competition on an island is all relative. Stop & Shop has an advantage, they know what it costs to do business on the island and it would seem that they would not want to alienate the populous. A new, smaller business is going to look at that cost and not want to bother or run risk in the winter months and chose not to come here . More than likely they will charge more if they did come here.

Remember the hue and cry of ten years ago with the "bag the market" hysteria. Those people stopped competition and a new grocery store. Now people are screaming about needing a new grocery store and assuming that it will be Art. 38, and what the Planning Board has or has not done this year. Cheaper? The bottom line for all businesses is profit. Do not be fooled otherwise.

If someone else wanted to come in they would have done so already. The only other entity that was interested has now walked away due to difficulty dealing with Winthrop. We need to get real here and realize that more than likely another entity other than S&S would NOT be cheaper. We need a store there, I do not care who it is and not opposed to S&S.

 

 

 

Stop and Shop will be building a new shopping center on the land next too the Boys and Girls club. Who knows what will come of the current location? In regards to Cumberland Farms having 2 locations, it is rumored that the old location will be another "new" liquor store. I am all for upgrading location and buildings, but I do not like the idea of furthering a monopoly.  Stop and Shop does not offer us the same deals as other off-island stores. Granted there are some logistics to getting the food to the island, but you cannot tell me it costs 2-3 dollars per box of cereal, or 1 dollar per container of baby food when they are shipping in such bulk. They know they can charge these prices because they are the only show in town. Competition always makes business better, and I am tired of having a subpar store that overcharges for subpar products.

Cumberland vs. Stop & Shop: There is a difference.  The difference is that grocery stores sell items that people must have to survive.  Customers go to Cumberland Farms for convenience, not because of the wide selection or better prices.  What would happen if all of the gas stations on the island were owned by the same company?  It seems unlikely that the price of a gallon of gas would be the same or less than the prices they currently charge.  The same logic holds true for groceries.  Regarding the cost to renovate the Grand Union space, bring it up to code, etc. - that's true for most any business that moves into a new building.  There's normally costs to renovate a space before a business can open in a new location.  

If it turns out that Stop & Shop emerges with an on-island monopoly with one or more stores, it doesn't mean that competition is completely gone.  Bartlett's Farm has a great (if somewhat pricey) market.  And some people may turn to Amazon to get their non-perishable food delivered right to their door.  $79 for a year's worth of deliveries could easily be recovered by lower online prices than what Stop & Shop charges.  That means islanders would only have to use the local stores for perishable foods.  Unfortunately, like a monopoly, that's not great for jobs and the local economy, either.

Nat, you are right that we are unable to vote on who Winthrop rents the space to. We are indeed lucky we won Round 1 and prevented the CVS, which would've been catastrophic to our three local pharmacies and the very character of downtown. There is no doubt that having a Stop and Shop in that location is a better option, and better than the building being turned in to a mini-mall of t-shirt shops and souvenir stands.

But. Our community is already paying the price for Stop and Shop having a monopoly on island groceries. Their selection is slowly narrowing and we're seeing more and more Stop and Shop branded items on their shelves (which certainly give them their highest margin). On average, their prices are marked up 15% from the Hyannis Stop and Shop (I did my own admittedly non-scientific experiment on the subject), which may seem like a reasonable Nantucket premium (it certainly is in line with a lot of the rest of the merchants here on the island). But they cannot justify this markup by increased business costs alone. A 15% markup for the typical family of four would be equivalent to the price of a round trip fast ferry ride tacked on to a week's worth of gorceries. In other words, if I can go over to the Cape, buy the same groceries from their Hyannis store, and get back, all for the same price, then, by shipping in bulk as they do they're either taking advantage of our isolation and reputation as being a tony resort island or they have the worst shipping manager there is!

Lastly, the best evidence that Stop and Shop plans to take advantage of their new monopoly position is the very idea that they would be interested in the GU space. The amount of groceries needed to supply this island of castaways isn't going to change, that is, their revenue from both stores is going to be the same as what they're selling from their mid-island store as we speak. So, to take the new building and give some of those profits to Winthrop is ONLY a smart business decision if you decide that you need to thwart competition (like they did in buying up the Craif property as well).

Winthrop knows this and, if I had to guess, has likely been trying to sell Stop and Shop on the importance of this idea. Everyone says, "but Market Basket and Roche Brothers and Whole Foods are not knocking on the door trying to come in to the market." Well, this is because the building is too small to fit the plans of most of these stores. But Fruit Center Marketplace has expressed their interest from day one, has a long history of running a market in this sized space, and remain interested even today. Yet, Winthrop seems determined to bring in a large national chain instead.

So, in the long run, I'm afraid you're right. We probably do not have any control over this turn of events, should it happen. But we don't have to like it.

Regarding their association with the Shell station, while every penny helps around here, you still have to spend $120 for $104 worth of groceries in order to earn the points needed to match the On Island gas station's price from across the street, and they'll pump it for you. Sorry. Not impressed. With Stop and Shop, everything is "better than nothing."

 I think Stop and Shop is a good idea downtown. It would offer a viable established supermarket for residents and visitors downtown. This concept isn't anything new, after all on the Vineyard they have 2 locations, one in Vineyard Haven and the other in Edgartown. Atleast you know what to expect from Stop and Shop.

 I think Stop and Shop is a good idea downtown. It would offer a viable established supermarket for residents and visitors downtown. This concept isn't anything new, after all on the Vineyard they have 2 locations, one in Vineyard Haven and the other in Edgartown. Atleast you know what to expect from Stop and Shop.

This is a good dialogue we need to have as a community. I'm thankfull to be part of the discussion. After reading the recent posts, we seem to be getting closer to the real truth about Nantucket Economics. Let me give some more examples to discuss. Lets imagine another large store with different owner was built out of town several years ago.Then this year the GU left the downtown, the CVS situation arose and  Davey defeated Goliath in round one. What do you think would be happening now hypothetically with 2 large stores out of Town? I doubt that either store would consider moving into Town under the same circumstances. The main reason is there isn't enough market share left here to invest that kind of money in a truely seasonal "third" store in Town. So think about the current scenario we have. One- We need a store downtown but its a pretty tall order for anyone to undertake that isn't already established here. Two- The current S&S isn't big enough to handle the Summer season as they are noticably working hard to keep up now. Three- So we ALL want a store in Town but some don't want it to be the entity that is already here but in order to service our fluxuating community, S&S needs to spread it's business out to another location and seems willing to take on the monumental task of cleaning up the GU and giving us what we "say" we want and at the same time, give us what the community actually needs to keep up with Summer demand.  As Greg mentioned, shopping on the Cape is more common. It wasn't long ago we were being asked to "keep our money on island"?  Nantucket is no longer isolated and people like the experience we get in our neighboring Hyannis (and they like us now too!) Why in Gods name would Trader Joes for example, spend kazillions to come to Nantucket and be forced to charge us more when they can happily sell us little goodies by just being in Hyannis? Take the little trip to Sagamore and experience the no-frills Market Basket (from the North Shore) concept of volume pricing. No cards to swipe, no gas points, just old fashioned thrifty shopping like our Moms taught us. I saw a Nantucketer in there Monday and saw several locals at BJ's later that day. Thats today's version of competition for S&S on Nantucket. They are sandwiched between us and the Bridges. They just happen to be here and we should give them a chance to prove that they appreciate the market share they have here and on the Cape as well. It is after all the Cape And Islands and they just happen to have both Islands. I hope we can find it in ourselves to accept this situation as reality and  if everything goes well, we'll soon be complaining that there's not enough parking at the A&P Lot at the "new" Stop and Shop or not enough of those cute little wagons.. We already won the battle, lets not lose the war.