There is an alternative to Stop & Shop Monopoly

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There is an alternative to Stop & Shop Monopoly

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.

More Stop&Shop please.

Please define "full-service, gourmet food center"... it does not sound like a grocery store. Is there a selection of assorted paper towels, toilet tissue, cleaning products and all of the myriad food and household items a Stop&Shop would carry? While I think it's grand for everyone to express what they WANT, there should be more consideration of what we NEED. I live in town, as do many people, and we townies need a full service grocery store. Stop&Shop is probably the only entity that can make that happen before the summer onslought. Therefore, I fully support Stop&Shop opening in the former Grand Union location. If you want to avoid a 'monopoly' engage another grocer to build somewhere else on the island. As far as the cost; I cannot imagine any other full-service grocer will be less expensive than Stop&Shop. Whomever brings the goods to us is going to pay more to get the goods here than Hyannis, and it's going to take longer. In the last couple of years, cost-conscious shoppers have been able to find Stop&Shop no-name brands at lower prices for many items. For instance, customers can pay $1 for a box of cereal without a brand name like Post or Kelloggs, or $4 with the name brand.... or $1.50 for a sleeve of bagels without a name brand, or $3.99 with the name brand like Thomas'. We all know our Stop&Shop is not a Super Stop&Shop, so they don't carry everything they sell at some mainland stores. Its pretty obvious, they don't have the room to do so. If they get to build a new store on island, as they seem to hope to do in the mid-island area, I am pretty sure it will be bigger and stock more items, and offer more services. They will probably employ more people too. How is that a bad thing? I say, let's not look a gift horse in the mouth (whatever the hell THAT really means?). I welcome Stop&Shop expansion. Let them monopolize away, for the good of downtown, and the whole island.

Basic Economics

You sound like, Nat, Barb. ;-)

I have to admit to NOT being an expert on any of this. Just seems like basic economics to me. Competition is good. Competition can result in lower prices and better service. How having a monopoly on an island for essential goods such as groceries could be a benefit for our community is beyond me. Stop and Shop may be a lot of things, but I fail to see how it is a "gift horse."

This is all about money, and if Ahold can secure a monopoly in our market, they will have it made for years and years. It is my understanding that establishing a monopoly in lucrative markets is a common business plan with such big companies. So be it. What irks me is that it appears our Town officials, and others, seem to be making it so easy for them. We have leverge. We should us it.


D. Anne I am not an economist

D. Anne I am not an economist by any means.  But it seems to me like maybe your friends aren't getting a response not because they're being ignored by Winthrop... but maybe they're first offer was so much lower than that of others that they didn't even get a foothold in the deal.  Maybe their offer was smply too low.  That space right in the center of Town probably comes with a pretty hefty price tag.

I've been hearing some talk about the commercially zoned land currently owned by the Valero's on Old South Road...perhaps this is a spot for another grocery store?  An out of town space would certainly be less expensive, and may even come with a better parking situation that would make it less of a conundrum for a smaller business.

It does seem like time is an important factor here as well.  If we don't get a second supermarket established in Town, we are going to have a real problem with our whole tourist economy, and the service at our one store will not be able to keep up with the demand.  If we thought we had crowd control issues in the height of summer before, we are going to see people fighting in the aisles this summer without access to an in-town market.


As a quick aside, I have

As a quick aside, I have first hand knowledge that the market D. Anne is referring to agreed to Winthrop's asking price AND offered to shoulder all of the renovation costs of the building. It's a shame that Winthrop wouldn't listen as Fruit Center is regularly voted the best grocery option on the South Shore and is a very nice mix of regular groceries (at better than S&S prices) and organic produce.

None of this matters if Winthrop is prejudiced against them for not being a large, national corporation. But it is important to note that we shouldn't have to live with the "Stop & Shop is better than nothing" feelings many of us have.

The GU building

 I'm not sure that a yuppie gourmet market will serve the public very well. There are specialty shops already that cater to such a crowd. A grocery store for the common man and women is most needed with prices that are atleast somewhat reasonabe. The story regarding the former GU location has seemed to dissapear in the past couple of weeks. I hope some movement and negotiation is happening behind the scenes.

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