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Five Reasons to Shop at Stop and Shop

Stop and Shop seems to be the place to hate, these days. After the facebook page Nantucketers For Fair Grocery Pricing began a petition demanding that our local Nantucket branch of the store honor the same discounts offered in the Cape Cod flyer, and that demand was fulfilled and a few months afterwards ignored again, the corporate entity that services the majority of islanders for there grocieries and household goods has been the target of community outrage. Out of Nantucketers for Fair Grocery pricing arose a new group comprised of people attempting to boycott Stop and Shop at least for the month of February, if not longer.

This group proposed that by joining Amazon Prime and buying all of one's dry goods in bulk, then purchasing as much of his fresh groceries from off-island companies like Omaha Steaks and Hillside Foods as possible, as well as from local sources like Bartlett's Farm and Annye's and the Green Grocer on Amelia Drive, one could avoid patronizing the much maligned supermarket and still put food on one's family's table on our island 30 miles out to sea.

This has also led to another initiative, the Nantucket Cooperative Supermarket Initiative, which has its own facebook page, and seems to be indeed a worthy cause.

However, as we muse about our choices, and work toward gaining further opportunities, our local branch of Stop and Shop continues to be the best choice for many island families. 

Last week, after a pleasant shopping experience, I was moved to write the following post on my facebook page:

I couldn't give up shopping at Stop and Shop-- not just because I can't afford to- but because it is a hub of our community where I always bump into friends and neighbors and share a hug or a chat. I wouldn't want to miss out on our weekly visits with Adam, the deli manager, who is one of the most consistently warm and friendly people on the island, and who always goes out of his way to make my son feel loved. I would miss seeing Sue, another sweet, sweet person who has lived in the community for years. I would miss seeing people like Larry, the deli manager, who also has the nicest hello, and John, the produce guy, who stopped to buy a lemonade from my son while he was jogging last summer, and Kerry, who loves to rib me, and Mary, who is also so sweet to C, and another manager whose name I can't remember at the moment. And Geri, can't forget Geri, who is also lovely. Really, so many employees there who are long-standing employees and long-standing members of our community. They always make me feel at home. And when I go over my budget and have to take things off the total (which happens more frequently than I like to admit), not once has an employee rolled their eyes at me or treated me with anything less than patience and compassion. So, I just wanted to say thank you, guys!

 Number One:  Shop at Stop and Shop because it employs locals, many of whom are friendly people who make you feel at home.  Online merchandisers like Amazon and Target are every bit as Corporate Ugly as Stop and Shop, but they don't give jobs to local people.

Number Two: Shop at Stop and Shop because it offers and range and variety of fresh whole and organic foods,  which is essential for a nutritious diet, and it offers them at prices and discounts that local families can afford.  Last week about 75% of my produce was offered at tremendous discounts, and it was all very fresh and delicious.  I avoid shopping from the inner aisles of the store, where the dry, canned and frozen foods are kept, because these processed foods contain additives like sodium, soy and whey, grains and gluten that are hazardous to my health. So Amazon's dry goods aren't an alternative anyway. Anything that's not fresh is not good.

Number Three:  Stop and Shop sells some local produce when it's in season, as well as local Something Natural bread, and local Nantucket Coffee Roasters Coffee.  And before you drive out of the parking lot, you can stop at Nantucket Wines and Spirits, a local, small business, and pick up a nice bottle of something from Mary or her daughter Alana.

Number Four:  Stop and Shop is community minded.  They are a big sponsor for the Annual Boston Pops concert on Jetties Beach, which is the Nantucket Cottage Hospital's biggest fundraiser. They have drop off boxes for the Food Pantry, for example.  And I believe that they also donate products for the Culinary Arts program at Nantucket High School.  These are just a few examples of their community minded generosity. I'm sure there are many others of which I'm unaware.  In an attempt to respond to people's needs, they started carrying organic, free range chickens in addition to the hormone and antibiotic free ones they've been carrying.  So they are catering to conscientious eaters at different price points. I was quite happy with the quality of the free range organic chicken.

Number Five:  Stop and Shop plays an impotant role in our local food chain of food stores. Because they offer products at competitive prices, they help to keep in check the prices at the smaller markets. For the same reason that many people feel, and I agree, that an alternative second supermarket would be good for the island, because it offers healthy competition, Stop and Shop, too, is good for the island.

We like little businesses, not big business, on our little island.  But sometimes we need big business too. And remember some of our forefathers who started out small and went big?  Starbuck, Folger, and Macy.

Comments

Thanks Rachel, this is a great dialogue starter.

I am curious, would the people who are involved in the boycott speak about the reasons they think the boycot is important and how they think the boycot will make positive change?

I am very curious.

 

Thanks,

S

I am not the leader of a group on Facebook that is calling for a boycott of Stop and Shop; I am not sure where the author got her information. I have been vocal online about my concerns over the possibility of Stop & Shop completing its monopoly of our grocery market by securing the former Grand Union space. I strongly believe that competition in the market place is the only thing that will keep their prices in check (which are 15% higher than their Hyannis store on average) and encourage them to improve the quality of the fresh goods and produce they sell to islanders. I did post that I was encouraged to learn that I can order many of the goods that most of us pick up in bulk at BJs when off-island direct from Amazon, at prices that are significantly lower than Stop & Shop’s, with free second day shipping. And I have joined the chorus of many in lamenting how often we buy produce from the store that needs to be thrown out the next morning due to rot or mold. (By the way, it is Stop & Shop corporate policy to give you double the money back if you return something that is no good, but you have to ask.)

I have participated in conversations about how we, as concerned islanders, could make it if we decided to give the Dutch conglomerate much-needed competition by buying as much as possible from other local and off-island options. But I have not called for a boycott (have shopped at Stop & Shop this month even), am not a moderator for (and only recently joined) the Nantucketers for Fair Grocery Pricing group, and did not organize the event page (on Facebook) in question. I am concerned about being able to feed my family healthy food and about being able to afford it. Two things that are tough to do now and that I think will be further hindered by monopoly.

One more thing. This is not about the locals that work there. All wonderful folks. In fact, checking out last week, the clerk noted our Trader Joe's reusable bags and said, “I really wish they’d open one of those downtown; we don’t need another Stop & Shop here.” They get it too.

Ah, the saga continues. We sure are a finicky bunch. It wasn't long ago when all we heard was "buy local" and support local jobs. I remember a letter scolding people for shopping in Hyannis. We have a history of flip flopping on issues and a reputation of finding something to complain about. This off-season may be the most controversial in years. We seem to be ignoring "our" great victory against CVS (where many happily shop at in Hyannis) only to wave our finger in the face of the solution to the delapitated Grand Union spot downtown. Frankly, I'm shocked at the vitriol on Facebook towards Stop And Shop. Do we really think we can gain anything positive with all the hype against our major supplier of food? We have for decades complained about the Steamship being a monopoly, trampling on the Hyline etc etc. I've heard every complaint imaginable but if you do some soul searching, you'll find that the situation Stop and Shop finds itself in is quite similar to the Steamship. When Stop and Shop bought Finast (circa mid 90's)little did they know they would become our "Lifeline For Food to The Islands". They could have been Shaws, Star Market or any other large grocery chain. The A&P was never much of a competitor in the sense of the word. They were just "the other store" that happened to be downtown. We never thought about them much but we sure didn't mind using that "free" parking lot for Hyline and other business. I shopped there for the piece of mind and the people there. I used to complain about their produce but as legend has it; the meat was better!  So here we are. The GU is gone, the building is a piece of bleep and we ALL agreed we wanted a grocery store "in town". S&S so happened to have bought Finast some 20 years ago. Nobody else has ever built a large grocery store out of town and we "bagged" the one attempt to do so. Now S&S, who is stuck between a rock and a hard place (and Nantucket Economics) being our lifeline for groceries, seems to be the only candidate to resurect the old GU dumping ground to essentially expand their current store as it is simply impossible to serve our community during the Summer. We should be welcoming them instead of "Borking them" to the downtown, thanking them for taking on this monumental ta$k. With the lack of parking, we should be relieved that a "new" store isn't going in there as the newness factor would likely increase the parking problem as everyone would be trying out the new store at the height of the Summer!   So I have to ask the naysayers, do you really want to succeed in keeping a grocery store from re-locating in the downtown before this Summer?? I was very excited about the possibility of another store coming in after the CVS battle, but it hasn't happened and our Economy needs a grocery store in town.  If everyone is so convinced that "competition" will lower prices and give us better food, then as one Planning Board member,lets bring it on. Lets get another grocery store to come on over and get er done. If it was so easy it would have already happened by now. The Nantucket Economy can be easily figured out by looking at the restaurant business. The investment is enormous to make money for 100 days. We tend to look at S&S like Exxon or BP as we've been conditioned to think big business is ripping us off. Ironically, market forces are the reasons that Star Market, Shaws or Market Basket aren't here and if they were, they'd be charging us just like S&S. As the previous posts are saying, shopping in Hyannis is the true competition to the Nantucket Market. The internet is the other competition. Boycotting S&S is just ridiculous nonsense and will accomplish nothing. We need to establish a good relationship with S&S and accept them like we accept the SSA and Hyline. Like them or not we are stuck with them all if we choose to live here. Nantucket will always be the greatest place in the world to live. Lets give Stop And Shop a chance to re-invent themselves in our community. Neither of us have much of a choice.     

Rachel Dowling's picture

This is a really interesting and informative post, Nat.  Thank you for weighing in! 

Rachel Dowling's picture

I'm sorry if I unfairly or incorrectly implicated your name as the leader of the "boycott."  I was getting my information from the then "open" group on Facebook, Nantucketers for Fair Grocery Pricing, so I didn't think I was writing anything that wasn't already public to many.

I have edited the original document, and you set the record straight here, so I think that should suffice.

 

Rachel Dowling's picture

Thank you, Sarah! I'm  big believer in dialogue, althrough it's not always comfortable.

Completely leaving the Nantucket AIDS Network's personal opinions on the matter aside, this article was brought to our attention and one clarification is necessary. As the Manager of Operations & Special Events at NAN and the person who designed the STI and Condom Awareness outreach week I wanted to address the statement: 

And they gave a slew of $10 dollar gift cards to the Nantucket AIDS Network to give away as incentive for those getting free HIV and STD testing for the month of February. 

Those gift cards were not donated by Stop & Shop, we in fact purchased those gift cards outright ourselves. In an effort to make sure everyone has the most accurate information we at NAN just wanted to let you all know that. 

Best,
Taylor Korpita

Rachel Dowling's picture

Thank you for the clarification, Taylor. I have edited that statement out of the original post. I think it's a wonderful incentive that you at NAN are offering.  There are plenty of other examples of Stop and Shop's philanthropy around us.  Their sponsorship of Boston Pops, a big fundrasier for Nantucket Cottage Hospital, is probably the biggest.

Welcome to the Nantucket Economy.Thanks Rachel. There are multiple reasons to welcome S&S to the downtown location. This issue has really made me realize that there is something missing or possibly taken for granted by a portion of the year round population. I ask litterally every person I talk to about this issue. Some of the answers are shocking. Some very knowledgable people "simply" think traditional competition is just; ho humm, the same as anywhere else.. That's the missing link connecting the whole picture. Look around you. Maybe it's the new influx of banks that make some of us think starting a "large" grocery store is so simple. Maybe its the multiple liquor stores? Maybe its the many restaurants? Landscapers, plumbers, caretakers, builders galore, right? Why not a simple grocery store? The answer is economics of scale and market share. I'm just old enough to remember when Nantucket dirt was cheap. Many old Nantucket families (including mine) benefitted from the "free dirt era". Well, we are running out of dirt and it's no longer cheap let alone free. Imagine being the person or persons developing the business model for Market Basket to "start-up" on Nantucket. That person better have a very sharp pencil. The issue of market share I think is the easiest issue for us to understand. Whoever that store chain is, is going to have to know how much money they'll make summer vs. winter. Ask any restaurant owner what it would be like to be open year round? The economics don't work. More restaurant competition doesn't equate to lower prices. Another issue that has crossed my mind is that on one hand we (at the moment) are asking for cheaper prices and better quality. In another not long ago moment in time, we may have actually complained that the "Big Box Store" was undercutting our "local" businesses!  As I said in previous post, we tend to flip flop as these issues come and go. There was a time where we were shouting in the streets for people not to bring their car and revitalize the B&B's. Now we want to kybosh the only spot for a store that can serve those who bring their wallets and leave their cars on the Cape... Thanks again Rachel for continuing this vital discussion..... NL    

Nat, I appreciate your knowledge of the local marketplace, but liquor stores and luxury, resort restaurants are not the same as grocery stores. You can avoid eating out. You can stay out of the liquor stores (which, by the way, are an excellent example of competition in this marketplace, given that prices are lower here than in Hyannis because of the number of stores we have here). But you cannot avoid purchasing groceries. Especially if you have kids. It's kind of like heating oil and propane. Essential. When there is more than one company, prices are better kept in check. And the companies have to fight for your business. Competition is a good thing, even in this unique, hard-to-crack market. This is the reason behind the desire for a different grocer. It's no more than a wish, however, since no one but Winthrop managers have control over what goes in to the vacant space. But the idea of trying to find ways to shop locally without using Stop & Shop, i.e., to make them aware that they still have to live up to some sort of competition, actually came from you. When we last discussed this, you mentioned that S&S would still need to compete with BJs and Cape stores and online merchants. And you're right. So, acknowledging the lack of control over what goes in to the GU space, the one way to keep S&S's prices and quality in check is to give them reason to fight with these other options for our business.

Rachel Dowling's picture

"But the idea of trying to find ways to shop locally without using Stop & Shop, i.e., to make them aware that they still have to live up to some sort of competition, actually came from you. When we last discussed this, you mentioned that S&S would still need to compete with BJs and Cape stores and online merchants. And you're right. So, acknowledging the lack of control over what goes in to the GU space, the one way to keep S&S's prices and quality in check is to give them reason to fight with these other options for our bu siness."

This statement contradicts itself, though, Greg. You say you are talking about the idea of shopping locally, but stores on the Cape aren't local, and places like Amazon aren't even "Cape local." .  And those online merchants don't have to pay Nantucket real estate prices.  So is it fair to ask Stop and Shop to fight with even bigger companies that don't have to pay our exorbitant rents?  Maybe not.

Anyone that goes into the old A&P space is not going to have a fare shake of the business that Stop and Shop gets because it's a building in dismal condition with a serious deficit in available parking. It's much smaller, too.

I absolutely agree with you that competition is healthy. And I feel that Stop and Shop plays a part already in keeping our boutique store prices in check. Avoiding them altogether merely invites our smaller stores to raise their prices without discretion.   And, as you keep pointing out again and again, groceries (especially fresh groceries) are an essential.  But avoiding our only supermarket altogether only inviites the smaller business to raise their prices without discretion. People will charge what the market will bare. And by taking S&S out of the equation, you're asking the market to bare a lot.

 

Rachel Dowling's picture

But by the same token, I don't approve of anyone doing land grabs and overexerting their power. I just think we need balance.

A very wise man I had the pleasure of working with for many years once said to me; people don't like to be told they are wrong. I've never forgotten that and I reflect on that human trait often when I'm talking to people and giving them my opinions on a particular situation. With the S&S issue, I'm finding myself saying; "how many ways can a person say the same thing"? I could debate this issue until I got larengitis and I'm not going to change the minds of the folks who claim that some items need to be thrown away "the next morning" or that competition lowers prices and improves quality. I simply don't see rotten food or traditional mainland(ie: real world) competition at play here. Sometimes the bananas are so green, you gotta search for one you can eat the same day. I'm finding myself trying to find what others are claiming to be so bad. It appears to me that the "Occupy Stop and Shop" folks are expending an enormous amount of time and energy in the wrong direction. During the CVS Battle, the soon to be Occupiers claimed that we needed a grocery store in the "heart" of downtown and every living, breathing man, woman and child on our eroding little Island agreed. So what happened? Did we forget that we just wanted a store, any kind of store as I recall some saying. Jerry Carl wrote a 2 sentence letter saying, why not S&S at the GU? Fran Kartunnan said to me, she doesn't understand what all the fuss is about? I could name many more folks you know or should know that have no problem with S&S fixing up the old dump and making a pretty crappy situation down there work for our so-called beloved downtown and all our summer visitors who leave their cars on the Cape. There I go repeating myself. Sorry. I've been kinda feeling light headed lately possibly from shaking and scratching  my head so much. I gotta give you Occupiers some credit though. You really got my attention with this one. I haven't been this engaged in a single issue since the SSA was nearly Hijacked by the City Of New Bedford. Alot of energy and money was expended for absolutely zero gain during that long struggle. That battle had to be fought and won as local control of our Lifeline was being threatened. The current S&S battle is not a battle at all. Nobody is taking away your "essentials" as Greg reffered to groceries. In fact its quite the opposite. The only major Island grocer (who just happens to be S&S) is attempting to take care of our essentials by expanding their current store that cannot handle our  needs now, let alone this summer. We here about our Emergency Management strategies often (to often) these days. I wonder what the plans are for 55,000 people shopping in one location this Summer? Mad Jam and 40th Pole parties of the early 80's sound familiar? I'm a nuts and bolts kind of guy. It is blatantly obvious to me why S&S has no choice but to fix that place up asap. If they don't, there's no nut or bolt, not even a washer. If you all want another grocer and as I stated earlier, I'd love to see the Mignosa's establish a business somewhere on island. So why not direct all this deeply seeded energy towards that worthy goal instead of this 70's No Nukes rally against Stop and Shop. Thanks for allowing me to weigh in here. No offense meant or taken. We all choose to live here in what I think is the greatest place on planet earth. We gotta keep waving to each other while we disagree on some issues. You guys have given me a real headache but I've learned alot during this past month.Your a passionate bunch but so are we. My Dad warned me of Nantucker's finicky ways on certain issues. He was right. The only difference today is that you don't know everyone's name. Kind regards to all sides, NL