There is at least one viable alternative to Stop & Shop leasing the space recently vacated by the Grand Union. As the public dialogue continues about whether or not there will be grocery store downtown and whether or not that grocery store will be a second Stop & Shop, giving the giant chain a monopoly on-island, this important fact has been absent from the conversation.
Don and Rita Mignosa, Nantucket residents who own the Fruit Center Marketplace, full-service, gourmet food centers in Hingham and Milton, continue to pursue a deal to open a third store on Nantucket at the Salem Street property, but have been unsuccessful in negotiating with Winthrop, the owner of the Grand Union property. They contacted Winthrop early last fall indicating their interest in the location. There may be other alternatives, but this one is known about because the Mignosas have been quite open with anyone who wants to discuss it with them.
“Our offer to lease is in, but at this time Peter Braverman, the agent for Winthrop, is entertaining other offers. We are willing to match any other offers to secure the space but have not been allowed to do so. Further, we think a second outlet for Stop & Shop would create a monopoly on the island — truly not the best choice for our community,“ Rita Mignosa said in a recent communication.
The Mignosas have stated publicly that they are ready, willing and able to open an on-island Fruit Center Marketplace as quickly as possible. They have the know-how needed and are fully conversant with the grocery business, as well as the logistics needed to keep the shelves stocked. They are prepared to bring their off-island managers to Nantucket to train island employees. They have secured employee housing. As a small company, with a successful track record, they say they are in a position to make the long-term financial commitment needed, if only Winthrop would give them the opportunity. While they are not a huge, international corporation like Ahold, the parent company of Stop & Shop with headquarters in the Netherlands, they believe they have the resources necessary to be successful.
Faced with the possibility of having no grocery store downtown, many residents appear inclined to accept a second Stop & Shop, even if that means that Stop & Shop would have a monopoly. It is not the first choice, but, to date, it has been presented as the only alternative.
Some citizens believe that a monopoly on an island — when it comes to essential commodities like groceries — is a bad idea. This is especially true when Stop & Shop has demonstrated, in their view, little concern for quality, service, price or even cleanliness, judged by what has been offered to islanders for years. A spokesperson for the chain recently conceded that the present mid-island Stop & Shop is a “terrible store.”
Representatives from Stop & Shop said that their mid-island store is their priority, but they would be willing to consider a second location downtown in the recently vacated Grand Union space if “that’s what the community wants.” They claim that “numerous people on the island, from town government to residents” have asked them to take over the lease for the Grand Union location, owned by Winthrop. However, no public discussion has taken place involving Town officials in regard to such a request.
Meanwhile Stop & Shop has secured control of the Craig property mid-island for a possible new or expanded store, precluding any other grocery-store operation from utilizing that land.
Apparently their representatives are also in talks with the Town regarding the property on which the present fire station sits. These Stop & Shop representatives have stated that obtaining this land would be optimal for them, as it is contiguous to the existing Stop & Shop parking lot.
The Board of Selectmen recently voted to include an article on the Warrant for this year’s Annual Town Meeting to appropriate $600,000 to fine-tune the design created over five years ago for a new fire station to be located at 4 Fairgrounds adjacent to the police headquarters. The proposal did not go through the normal capital-program process.