The following is an edited version of a letter sent to Harvest Co-op Markets prior to the announcement of its decision to close its South Street store:
I am a member of the co-op and value it on many levels. I also understand that one of its primary functions is to make money—and that is behind most all businesses in Jamaica Plain, and elsewhere. One of my concerns is the quality of businesses in JP, and the out-of-control proliferation of coffee shops and fashionable eating places. The South Street co-op is such a genuine and honest place to shop, unlike almost any other place. For my own edification I went to the nearby Whole Foods yesterday, and was reminded why I appreciate the South Street co-op. There were some price differences, but as far as “feel,” to me there is so much more at the co-op.
Even compared to the new co-op location on Washington Street, the South Street store is so well-tailored to the location it holds, while the new one is cavernous. I walk to the South Street co-op, as it affords me a good dose of exercise away from the nasty drivers who can’t seem to drive fast enough. But even now, before the demolition of both the Casey Overpass and the nearby Shea Rotary, I would never walk to the Washington Street co-op. There would simply be far too many close encounters all along the way, and it would be much too far a distance to walk.
Parking? Not much there, and if you imagine the current clientele of the South Street co-op driving to the Washington Street store… it is not a pleasant sight to imagine. Now then, once the construction project(s) that are planned get underway, it will be virtually impassable and impossible to get to the new location directly from JP. Maybe you don’t know this, but it seems that at present, the co-op is positioned so beautifully to service two very different groups of shoppers. It seems very short-sighted to even consider closing the South Street location, and assume that those who shop there will simply come to the Washington Street store.
Please think again and renew the lease, and keep a very unique and unduplicable business alive. JP and the people who are making business decisions are trying much too hard to make JP hip and “modern,” and as a result the feel of JP is becoming too homogenized and far less interesting.