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Globe reports Whole Foods looking to buy chunk of Johnnie's Foodmaster stores

itaunas Aug 30, 2012 10:21 AM

(Although these are both chains, one is local to Boston so I think this is the right board.)

I have mixed feelings about this. This only affects one store I regularly shop, one that I am not a big fan of (Arlington), and another which is pretty nice but further away (Melrose) and their stores could use a bit of love and care so maybe the family is ready for an out as the article suggests. However, Johnnie's does have a solid product set (old school meat cutters offering some variety cuts, decent salt cod, some decent sausage and deli products, gray corned beef and _ribs_, italian-oriented canned goods, beano's sub dressing, ok produce staples). I love when they have sales for un-cut "sirloin tips" because you can usually find a piece of flap-meat that is tender, nicely marbled, and get to cut it to your own liking. I even like their Italian sub with cut to order meats, although the (house baked) bread is a bit odd and the Beacon Street store can be good for beer 12-packs. I can't imagine the remaining stores keeping up the same variety, purchasing power, or even freshness (a real problem with their closed West Medford store) if they drop 60% of their locations. Plus a couple of remaining locations are close to competitors like Market Basket (Medford), McKinnon's (Somerville Alewife), Price Rite (Lynn) and South Weymouth is pretty far away. Seems to me that this either spells them respinning the stores into something else upscale or they otherwise get sold/closed too. That would be a true bummer because while not fashionable, Johnnie's is pretty unique product wise and they will be missed.

http://www.boston.com/business/news/2...

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  1. c
    camberville RE: itaunas Aug 30, 2012 10:40 AM

    No way! I live across the street from the Beacon Street store and that's where I do most of my shopping. It's nice because whenever I go to a huge supermarket I end up buying a bunch of crap I don't need, but at Johnnie's I can just stick to the basics. The produce isn't great, but I do like the deli and meats -- and those uncut sirloin tips are on sale next week so I'm all over that!

    If I want to go to Whole Foods I just walk to Prospect Street. I guess I can always do my basic shopping at Star Market or Market Basket, but man it's really nice to be able to run across the street and buy a 12-pack anytime I need to.

    Who wants to start another WHOSE FOODS protest with me?

    12 Replies
    1. re: camberville
      g
      Gabatta RE: camberville Aug 30, 2012 10:54 AM

      The carpeting at the Beacon Street Foodbastard would be sorely missed. This area needs another WF like we need a hole in the head.

      1. re: Gabatta
        Bob Dobalina RE: Gabatta Aug 30, 2012 12:26 PM

        On the other hand, if Whole Foods wanted to buy out the Porter Square Shaw's, I would not be that upset. That place has a special place in heck...

        1. re: Bob Dobalina
          g
          Gabatta RE: Bob Dobalina Aug 30, 2012 01:11 PM

          If they promise to build a garage for additional parking and improve traffic flow I am on board!

          1. re: Bob Dobalina
            m
            mathteacher RE: Bob Dobalina Sep 1, 2012 08:21 PM

            In my circles we call that place "Breakup Shaws" because we've all had fights with our significant others there and have seen countless other couples fighting...I think it's the layout or some kind of curse.

            1. re: mathteacher
              Bob Dobalina RE: mathteacher Sep 2, 2012 07:49 AM

              That's hilarious. Totally going to borrow that...
              My guess for the reason: Because you start realizing what a cheap sob your significant other is when they balk at paying $.50 over market for the organic yogurt you really wanted...

              1. re: mathteacher
                Karl S RE: mathteacher Sep 2, 2012 08:28 AM

                That location is cursed. Even 30+ years ago, the management guaranteed that there would always be the longest lines possible, no matter the hour of the day. It was a black hole for time.

          2. re: camberville
            d
            drbangha RE: camberville Aug 30, 2012 11:01 AM

            Not me. I cannot begin to express how much I would love a Whole Foods in the Melrose market, although I'd strongly prefer the Shaws be bulldozed over the Johnnie's Foodmaster.

            1. re: drbangha
              macca RE: drbangha Aug 30, 2012 11:06 AM

              Agreed abouit Shaws. Closing Johnnies will not make me give my business to Shaws. I buy a 24 can box of cat food every week, and Shaws is more than 2 dollars higher than Johnnies.

              1. re: drbangha
                Gio RE: drbangha Aug 30, 2012 11:14 AM

                With a Market Basket and Trader Joe's nearby I'd love to have Whole Foods enter the picture in town. We shopped at WF on Prospect St when it was Bread and Circus so we're long time fans of the store. It will be a pleasure not to have to travel to other towns to buy various items we like. Others may not agree with me but careful planning/shopping can prevent grocery bill shock at the end of the month...

                1. re: Gio
                  s
                  somervilleoldtimer RE: Gio Oct 31, 2012 04:22 PM

                  Why aren't you shopping at the Harvest Food Coop 2 blocks away, for 1/3 the price?

                  1. re: somervilleoldtimer
                    Gio RE: somervilleoldtimer Nov 1, 2012 06:06 AM

                    I used to shop at Harvest as well but the Reading MB and the various farms (Connors, Tendercrop, Wilson) are what we like now...

                2. re: drbangha
                  Karl S RE: drbangha Sep 1, 2012 03:47 PM

                  Completely agree about Shaw's in Melrose. JF in Melrose started bright, but has become sad (and JF's meat has gone WAY downhill - they won't even cop to "Choice" vs "Select" and merely advertise "Steakhouse Quality" which to my mind is assumed to be Select - JF is worse than Market Basket in that regard, which is always crystal-clear about labelling beef grades). Both should be euthanized, though elders in town love being overcharged for bad value at both locations. Neither is a value store like Market Basket or Price Rite, and neither is a quality-for-price store like Roche Bros, Wegmans or, rather differently, Whole Foods (which, btw, should have gone many years ago into the old Purity/Star/Shaw's location now occupied by Ocean State Job Lots at the eastern end of the Lynn Fells Pkwy at Rte 1).

              2. macca RE: itaunas Aug 30, 2012 10:54 AM

                I saw this article this am, and am sad!! I shop at the Johnnies in Melrose. As you said- it is nice to shop in a store that has real meat cutters. Just bought a corned beef there last week. Love their 5 for $19.99 meat sales- love to stick up on cutlets for parms and piccatta. All of their greeting cards are 99 cents- a huge savings over the course of a year. Lots of elderly shop there and seem to like their prepared meals. If it does close, I will not be shopping at WF- will make the trek to hannafords in Saugus or MB in Reading.

                23 Replies
                1. re: macca
                  itaunas RE: macca Aug 30, 2012 11:22 AM

                  In the case of Melrose its also a pretty easy trek to the Hilltop Butcher, which is a bit depressing, but if you look hard enough there are decent finds and a pretty decent overlap with Foodmaster meat products (not deli, though, although some decent sausage options sometimes). There also is Dom's in Malden, but their prices outside of the sausages are pretty high and mainly pre-marinated meats. My fear would be that something like the Alewife Foodmaster might become a good option for Shaws if the other locations get sold, which would be a real downgrade. Similar to camberville I use Foodmaster for a lot of my day-to-day shopping not just a missing item and while I would never do a "month shopping" trip there, I probably do spend as much money there (and independent green-grocers/butchers) as I do at Market Basket and sometimes more.

                  1. re: itaunas
                    Dea RE: itaunas Aug 30, 2012 11:27 AM

                    Totally agree. I won't shop at Shaw's (not a fan of loyalty cards), so if that is what happens to Alewife I'll be stuck schlepping out to MB in Somerville or up in Burlington. BAH!

                    1. re: Dea
                      Bob Dobalina RE: Dea Aug 30, 2012 12:24 PM

                      Not sure about Shaw's but there's a "loyalty card" trick I know at Stop and Shop - if you use the self-checkout lanes, if you bring up the produce list, the top left has an option, "I Forgot My Card." You tick that and you get the same deals. (I think it is under the Produce - it may be one of the other main menu items.)

                      1. re: Bob Dobalina
                        jgg13 RE: Bob Dobalina Aug 31, 2012 07:07 AM

                        If you ever pay by some method other than cash it doesn't really matter if you use one of those cards or not. For instance, if you pay by CC they'll just track you by that instead.

                        Besides, with modern machine learning techniques it's probably only a matter of time before they can identify you fairly uniquely based on what you purchased :)

                        1. re: jgg13
                          Bob Dobalina RE: jgg13 Aug 31, 2012 07:17 AM

                          Oh yeah, it's not the tracking that's an issue for me. I just hate having extra crap in my wallet, always forget to put it back, crap on my keychain, etc., just so I can save $.50.

                          1. re: Bob Dobalina
                            l
                            LeoLioness RE: Bob Dobalina Aug 31, 2012 08:31 AM

                            I've always just asked the cashier to scan a card for me. It's never been a problem.

                            1. re: Bob Dobalina
                              jgg13 RE: Bob Dobalina Aug 31, 2012 08:50 AM

                              Ah, fair enough. I fall in the same boat then. Laziness, not paranoia :)

                              Many moons ago it was paranoia, so I purchased everything in cash with those cards.

                              1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                b
                                bear RE: Bob Dobalina Aug 31, 2012 09:44 AM

                                If you don't have your card handy, you can always just give them your phone #.

                                1. re: bear
                                  L2k RE: bear Aug 31, 2012 11:50 AM

                                  Which number? My home number? My cell? The cell I had when I got that card 10 years ago? My wife's cell? I HAVE NO IDEA!!!

                                  1. re: L2k
                                    b
                                    bear RE: L2k Sep 1, 2012 07:46 AM

                                    Which ever number you put on the application. I use my land line, since we never answer it unless we recognize the number.

                                2. re: Bob Dobalina
                                  Dea RE: Bob Dobalina Aug 31, 2012 11:48 AM

                                  Same here. I've made my peace with the tracking stuff - I accept that we now live in the age of Big Brother. Still annoying though!

                            2. re: Dea
                              j
                              Jenny Ondioline RE: Dea Aug 30, 2012 12:30 PM

                              It's not like they verify the name or address you give to get a card. Or you could do like I've been doing for the last 10 years and use a card you found on a 71 bus heading down Mt. Auburn Street...

                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                KWagle RE: Jenny Ondioline Aug 31, 2012 12:45 AM

                                Do you have keys attached to that card? I wonder what happens if it gets dropped in a mailbox.

                                1. re: KWagle
                                  j
                                  Jenny Ondioline RE: KWagle Aug 31, 2012 08:18 AM

                                  Huh?

                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                    KWagle RE: Jenny Ondioline Aug 31, 2012 02:03 PM

                                    Many of those tags say "if found, drop in any mailbox." when I thought I had lost my keys a few years ago, with a dozen such tags attached, I researched this, and in fact apparently stores do collect keys and contact the people whose names are registered to the tags. At some point I should test this by dropping old keys into mailboxes with tags attached.

                                    1. re: KWagle
                                      j
                                      Jenny Ondioline RE: KWagle Aug 31, 2012 04:07 PM

                                      Oh. I've never seen that on a loyalty card, including any of the ones currently on my keychain. Old motel room keys, yeah...

                                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                        KWagle RE: Jenny Ondioline Sep 1, 2012 12:10 AM

                                        Of the 9 loyalty cards on my keyring at the moment, 6 have that written on them.

                                2. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                  Luther RE: Jenny Ondioline Aug 31, 2012 07:15 PM

                                  Yup, my Shaw's card is one I found on the ground outside the store shortly after they changed over from a Star Market the first time.

                              2. re: itaunas
                                macca RE: itaunas Aug 30, 2012 11:29 AM

                                Like you, I do my day to day stuff at Johnnies- milk, cream, cat food, some of their meats. I also shop Trader Joes, Hannafords, Pace's if I need cold cuts and the Farmers Market when in season. Ii would miss at- as it is an easy trip to make. I also feel bad for the elderly that shop there. Those without cars now have the option of Shaws and Johnnies- it would be a shame to take that away.

                                1. re: itaunas
                                  MeffaBabe RE: itaunas Oct 30, 2012 09:32 AM

                                  Hilltops Butcher shop is closed. It says for renovations and will open in Spring of 2013 but I heard a rumor the place may be closing for good.

                                  1. re: MeffaBabe
                                    macca RE: MeffaBabe Oct 30, 2012 10:15 AM

                                    About a month ago, I heard the restaurant had closed. Maybe it was a hint of what was coming. Havent been to either the butcher shop or the restaurant in more years than I can remember. In the butcher shop, I used to like their coffee. In the summer, they would often have whole skinless, boneless turkey breasts. Used to love them- bought them and cubed them for the grill.

                                    1. re: macca
                                      L2k RE: macca Nov 1, 2012 07:55 AM

                                      Hilltop Steakhouse is open, if you can trust their website, and advertising Thanksgiving dinner and their winter menu.

                                      1. re: L2k
                                        Gio RE: L2k Nov 1, 2012 08:25 AM

                                        Their web site states:

                                        "Our Saugus Butcher Shop will be closed on September 5th, 2012 for renovations
                                        and will re-open Late Spring of 2013!"
                                        http://www.hilltopsteakhouse.com/butc...

                                        The Weymouth store is still open, apparently...

                              3. Dea RE: itaunas Aug 30, 2012 10:57 AM

                                Yeah, I can't fathom why WF would want to open another outlet on Beacon when the Prospect St outlet is so close. I'm also concerned about the Alewife Parkway Johnnie's which is my closest supermarket. So convenient for picking up that one ingredient I forgot to buy for a recipe, and stuff like that. I am not thrilled with this development at all.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Dea
                                  GretchenS RE: Dea Aug 30, 2012 11:04 AM

                                  And that Alewife Parkway one is very close to the Medford WF, is it not? Seems strange.

                                  1. re: GretchenS
                                    Dea RE: GretchenS Aug 30, 2012 11:06 AM

                                    Indeed! It's not on the list of those that WF is buying / converting, so I'm not sure what its fate will be. Bah.

                                  2. re: Dea
                                    r
                                    rknrll RE: Dea Aug 30, 2012 11:46 AM

                                    I'm guessing you are closer to the Foodmaster there than the Medford Whole Foods. I'm in between the two and chose Whole Foods every time for the ingredient or two type of thing. The only thing that gets me into that Foodmaster is the Redbox machine...and even then, I hit the button to open the sliders by the registers so I don't have to walk through the entire store just to get to the exit.

                                    1. re: Dea
                                      s
                                      somervilleoldtimer RE: Dea Oct 31, 2012 04:23 PM

                                      Yeah, me neither. Although I've been in Somerville long enough to remember when the Johnie's on Alewife didn't carry yogurt or rye bread, and all other stores had started carrying these things.

                                    2. Berheenia RE: itaunas Aug 30, 2012 12:09 PM

                                      We shop at the Brookline Beacon Street at St Mary's T stop Johnnies. We already heard a WF was coming to the Fenway soon. I think between that one, the Symphony store and the Washington St/Brighton store, the area will be saturated . Where will I buy my 99 cents a pound chicken and get a roll of quarters? Not in WF!

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Berheenia
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                                        nightsky RE: Berheenia Aug 31, 2012 04:22 PM

                                        Why do they call that one Johnnie's Fresh?

                                        1. re: nightsky
                                          Berheenia RE: nightsky Sep 1, 2012 03:54 AM

                                          Johhnies Foodmaster came in ~2004 and replaced a short lived semi organic grocery store and were trying to preserve the organic aura. They do maintain a lot more organic and soy based vegetarian stuff than most little stores. This is of course my two cents on the name.
                                          Before either of these there was a much loved or hated local market called the Beacon Market that was there forever and when it folded the neighborhood was desperate to get another small full service grocery store. Johnnies has filled the bill beautifully.

                                          1. re: Berheenia
                                            n
                                            nightsky RE: Berheenia Sep 1, 2012 07:29 PM

                                            Totally agree JF is a great asset to the neighborhood. And their prices are reasonable. I wish they baked bread in the store the way they did when they first opened. Beacon Market predates me but I do remember the WholeFoods wannabe that preceded Johnnies. It was awful.

                                            1. re: Berheenia
                                              s
                                              somervilleoldtimer RE: Berheenia Oct 31, 2012 04:24 PM

                                              I LOVED the Beacon supermarket. I used to cross the river to get my coffee beans there.

                                        2. p
                                          pemma RE: itaunas Aug 30, 2012 12:49 PM

                                          I shop in the Salem St. Medford Johnnie's and that is a pretty decent store. In fact, they just spruced it up a bit with new paint and lighting. It's a good size, has no self checkouts, no annoying loyalty cards. The prices are definitely lower than the Stop and Shop in Winchester and I find it has about as much variety as that huge Stop and Shop in the Fellsway Plaza. I buy most of my meat at McKinnon's, but I really like Johnnie's sausage -- more so than Dom's or McKinnon's.

                                          I do go to the West Medford WF once in a while, to pick up some things (it is closer to me) or for specialty items. I don't have anything against WF ( In fact Olivia's Organic Salad is cheaper there than at Johnnie's), but I couldn't see doing all of my shopping there -- What, no Cheez-Its?!.

                                          Salem St. is not slated to be taken over by WF, but it seems like the writing is on the wall for it. I wonder who would take it over. Hopefully, Market Basket. There is already a Shaw's and Stop & Shop close by.

                                          1. ipsofatso RE: itaunas Aug 30, 2012 05:53 PM

                                            Next up: Crosby's? One can hope - that would put a Whole Foods in Hamilton and Salem and close the gap between WF Saugus and Andover.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: ipsofatso
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                                              drbangha RE: ipsofatso Aug 31, 2012 06:55 AM

                                              I don't think there is a WF in Saugus-?

                                              1. re: drbangha
                                                Karl S RE: drbangha Sep 1, 2012 03:51 PM

                                                No, there is not. There's long been a huge gap in WF coverage east of 93, south of 128, and north of the Mystic River (Swampscott is just extremely inconvenient to people who don't live in Lynn, Salem or Marblehead). There will be a WF over on old Pleasure Island in Lynnfield just north of 128, but still a problem for folks caught in the web of highways in the segment of the north metro area south of there.

                                                1. re: drbangha
                                                  ipsofatso RE: drbangha Sep 1, 2012 04:39 PM

                                                  Correct, I meant Swampscott. I always do that and my apologies to Swampscotonians.

                                              2. l
                                                LeoLioness RE: itaunas Aug 31, 2012 08:33 AM

                                                I wonder what the price disparity between Johnnies and WF is? There are a lot of people around the Clarendon Hill Johnnie's who probably depend on a reasonably-priced grocery store.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: LeoLioness
                                                  h
                                                  hckybg RE: LeoLioness Aug 31, 2012 09:10 AM

                                                  As someone who shops at both, I can say that the price disparity is very significant, even for generic brands. A can of white beans, Goya brand, at Johnnie's is something like 79 cents. At WF, the store brand would likely be around 99 cents. I try not to get too sentimental about retail or neighborhood change, but the prospect of the Beacon Street Johnnie's changing to a Whole Foods is surprising to me and not a little unwelcome. We already have a Whole Foods nearby and Johnnie's has been a very good grocery store--resilient and responsive to its diverse customer base. In the past five years they have started stocking fancier beers, smoked salmon, Sriracha, Greek yogurt, and upscale chicken sausages, for example, but still have 5 for 20 meat specials, salt cod, etc. I was a little sad reading the Globe article today with longtime customers complaining that the growing student population in the area has made them feel pushed out, because I think the student population will be just as sorry to see the affordable option of Johnnie's go away.

                                                2. s
                                                  smtucker RE: itaunas Aug 31, 2012 12:58 PM

                                                  I am still mourning the loss of Bread & Circus. The next generation is producing babies, and some of those fabulous wooden toys would be the perfect gift.

                                                  I am betting that there are large numbers of people who will find the prices at WF to be out of their income bracket. Loosing local businesses can really affect the neighborhoods.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: smtucker
                                                    g
                                                    Gabatta RE: smtucker Aug 31, 2012 01:23 PM

                                                    Ya think? I don't mind spending a higher proportion of my income on high quality ingredients because it is important for me. However I ran into WF yesterday and coughed up $7 for 3 sweet potatoes. I almost gagged at the register and remembered that the quality really isn't worth the prices they charge. As the song says "'Pay My 80 Bucks For 6 Things And Get The Heck Out'" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UFc1p...

                                                    I miss Bread & Circus as well. The switchover of the stores (including Symphony and Brookline) was regrettable. The quality of produce and meat was definitely better when it was Bread and Circus.

                                                    1. re: Gabatta
                                                      s
                                                      smtucker RE: Gabatta Aug 31, 2012 03:53 PM

                                                      I used to shop at the Symphony store, but it was one of the "S" supermarkets then and it was nasty. Just being nostalgic, I had a one bedroom, with running water, in that neighborhood for $108.00 per month. Of course, the buildings behind me kept burning so there were some smoke issues to deal with.

                                                      Bread & Circus was out of range of many of my neighbors then as well.

                                                  2. p
                                                    phatchris RE: itaunas Sep 1, 2012 09:05 AM

                                                    In my opinion Americans should care more and spend more on what they put in their bodies and less on what they put on their bodies, Then maybe we wouldn't have such a diabetes epidemic.just my 2 cents. I personally would rather spend a couple extra bucks at whole Foods for locally produced veggies and meats then stuff thats shot up with hormones and shipped across the country.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: phatchris
                                                      itaunas RE: phatchris Sep 1, 2012 09:55 AM

                                                      Although its not Johnnie's, in my experience I have seen a heck of a lot more Massachusetts vegetables at Market Basket than Whole Foods. I would rather eat low-spray (such as the former Busa Farms) local vegetables than organic crops shipped in from California and Iowa like Whole Foods and Walmart offer. Whole Foods is a big fan of certain types of labeling (fish country of origin, non-GMO), but has not always as clear where it brings produce from (not the worst in this regard, Wilson Farms has actually refused to answer such questions in the past and labeled generic produce like it was their own). Johnnie's itself is a local business and in the past has purchased from other regional providers such as Grote and Weigel (before it closed and reopened), the Olde Irish Butcher Shoppe (as opposed to the offense that Whole Foods calls an "Irish banger"), locally distributed canned tomatoes (Italian and CA grown). They also carry natural poultry and organic produce, but not certain if they still offer "coleman" like meats. A number of local and regional business who have done business with Whole Foods haven't felt so nurtured after the initial contract runs out and they want to renegotiate or decide just to copy the product and packaging to buy from another supplier or just produce their own inferior version.

                                                      So while I appreciate some organic goods, the actual local products, some luxury products (Iggys bread when they actually stock it, olive oils, cheeses) they stock, I am not convinced that trading a family-run local chain for Whole Foods is an improvement, much less a plausible fix for a true health problem in the US.

                                                      I guess one possible outcome if Johnnie's downsizes and went upscale with the remaining stores, they could carry local "marks" from a couple of local distributors like "Jansal Valley" and "New England Family Farms" which probably isn't possible with the current chain. Unlikely, but one possible conclusion to this story. Regardless I'll keep seeking ethnic green grocers, local bakers, Italian salumerias, Irish convenience stores, evil lobster vendors and fishmongers, and farmers markets for products I like (almost all available within the same radius of existing WF locations and with much less parking hassle).

                                                      1. re: itaunas
                                                        p
                                                        phatchris RE: itaunas Sep 1, 2012 01:34 PM

                                                        I totally agree that Whole Foods is not the end all be all for America's health issues, I just think there is less overly processed junk to choose from making the decision to eat a little better easier. I also find in my own experience that the butcher at Whole Foods is far superior to that of any other big non specialty supermarket. I would much rather pay $22 a pound for whole foods prime rib-eye than say $10 a pound for it a Johnny's, Shaws, Stop & Shop or any of the others.

                                                        1. re: itaunas
                                                          Luther RE: itaunas Sep 1, 2012 01:35 PM

                                                          Check the freezer aisle at WF, you'll find a lot of their "organic" frozen vegetables are from China.

                                                          1. re: Luther
                                                            m
                                                            Madrid RE: Luther Sep 1, 2012 03:17 PM

                                                            what I dislike the most about WF and there is a long list, is that they take over the individual choices local shops had and homogenize them. River St. used to have blue ribbon BBQ...now, sometimes it was awful, and sometimes it was great, but it was River St. When I complained, I was told, well now we have pizza!!!!the same pizza you can get at any "mothership". I used to live in Brookline near one of the original bread and circus markets, and it was loaded with all kinds of local products. Same for Prospect St. I don't want to walk into any WF anywhere and find the same stuff. shipped from all over the planet.

                                                            I also used to live in East Arlington and that Foodmaster was the closest market then. The produce was shameful though I always got a laugh out of the moo noises from the dairy case. I'm not much of a carnivore so I didn't appreciate the butchering options, but was I thrilled to move to East Somerville and find the united nations that is the marketbasket. Each to their own, but it's always sad when an even sort of quirky family business gets bulldozed into oblivion sameness.

                                                            I love Iggy's bread but the WF mark up is huge...I get my Iggy's at Farmers Markets now.

                                                            1. re: Madrid
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                                                              phatchris RE: Madrid Sep 2, 2012 06:29 AM

                                                              Funny thing with Iggys and whole foods is that its cheaper to buy the french rolls or hamburger buns individually than in a pack of 4. $1 a piece individually, $6 for a pack of 4

                                                        2. re: phatchris
                                                          Karl S RE: phatchris Sep 1, 2012 03:53 PM

                                                          That's a lovely sentiment that flies in the face of millennia of human development: the foundational exigency of any society is to provide as much food for as little cost/effort as possible. Trying to nudge against that is like nudging the Pacific Ocean.

                                                          1. re: phatchris
                                                            s
                                                            somervilleoldtimer RE: phatchris Oct 31, 2012 04:27 PM

                                                            But it isn't either or. My beloved Market Basket now has organic fruits and veggies. Also, I hate that WF carries "conventionally grown" veggies that are still 2 or three times the price of Market Basket. No reason for that but greed, and it all ends up in the pocket of some guy in Texas whose name I forget but will go down in history for killing all the little "health food stores" that used to be locally owned.

                                                          2. almansa RE: itaunas Sep 1, 2012 02:25 PM

                                                            I live walking distance from Johnnie's in Melrose and regularly shop at WF in Woburn, Lately I've begun shopping at Market Basket in Reading where I bought a 2# block of Cabot Hunter's Cheddar for $3.99 ($12.75 at Shaws in Melrose). I try to avoid WF for the prices. I'll get meat there in a pinch, and sometimes seafood, but it often looks a bit tired. I do go with my kids for the prepared foods at lunch sometimes.

                                                            13 Replies
                                                            1. re: almansa
                                                              Karl S RE: almansa Sep 1, 2012 03:58 PM

                                                              I'm a Melrosian whose primary markets are Market Basket in Chelsea and Reading: both are wonderful stores (both with fish counters that beat WF for both quality and price - I buy fish every Tues/Thurs/Sat). The Chelsea location, I've discovered, is easier on mpg than Reading for me.

                                                              As with all supermarkets, it helps to carefully study the weekly specials over the course of weeks, months and even a year to learn the pattern of regular discounts: the thing that go on sale every 4 weeks, every 6-8 weeks, every quarter, at the holidays, and seasonally on a yearly basis. Every store has a pattern, and MB's is particularly reliable (which is why there's no need for a loyalty card because they know their value-oriented audience learns the pattern). I love that the MB in Chelsea (and even Reading) open before their stated hours because they are so keen on customer service. A lot of people who work at the Melrose Shaw's and JF shop at MB, of course....

                                                              1. re: Karl S
                                                                ipsofatso RE: Karl S Sep 1, 2012 04:53 PM

                                                                I used to shop at JF in Arlington and found their prices pretty reasonable for staple items but would go to MB for the rest of my stuff. What WF charges for fish is bordering on criminal and it must be their highest margin item. Then again, it must come from their private Whole Ocean. Anyone remember their failed marketing campaign to brand their lobsters as "Cragsters" so they could charge $12.99/lb? Re: GMO foods - most foods are not the original natural prototype, Some were developed with intentional genetic engineering in the field and some were done in the lab. Who cares as long as it tastes good and the cost is reasonable?

                                                                1. re: ipsofatso
                                                                  Karl S RE: ipsofatso Sep 1, 2012 05:15 PM

                                                                  When I can get perfect sea scallops at MB that for $13/lb that are actually drier and in better condition than those at WF for $9-10 more per lb, then you realize how much of a snob premium there can be....

                                                                  1. re: Karl S
                                                                    Gio RE: Karl S Sep 2, 2012 05:07 AM

                                                                    We had those MB scallops last night and they were delicious: no chemicals, dry and fresh, briny, silken. Perfect.

                                                                    1. re: Gio
                                                                      Karl S RE: Gio Sep 2, 2012 07:03 AM

                                                                      And I've gotten watery "dry" scallops at WF and other "fine" fishmongers (probably not because of TSP but because they were held an extra day longer for sale than they should have been). Never had that problem at MB (at the good newer MBs, the high volume of sales encourages better turnover: I suspect that is the reason the fish tends to be better there - also, they have a more demanding audience of non-middle class people who know fish better than middle-class folk tend to in our culture).

                                                                      1. re: Karl S
                                                                        almansa RE: Karl S Sep 2, 2012 09:19 AM

                                                                        Not wet because of stp, but wet because of abc2d. 90% of "dry" scallops are treated with this now. It is a huge problem. Nothing coming out of New Bedford is dry anymore, but it's being sold as dry, and either purveyors don't realize it or they turn a blind eye.

                                                                        1. re: almansa
                                                                          Karl S RE: almansa Sep 2, 2012 09:25 AM

                                                                          Ah, that explains some problems I've had with finer fishmongers. But I've not had the problem at MB in Reading or Chelsea. Go figure.

                                                                        2. re: Karl S
                                                                          almansa RE: Karl S Sep 2, 2012 09:28 AM

                                                                          Turnover matters for sure, but I buy authentically dry scallops wholesale for close to $15/lb, so at MB you are getting really fresh, treated scallops. And if they're really fresh, it's perfectly fine. The thing about abc2d alkaline treatment is that you can't detect it - I can, but I am used to it. The scallops will feel almost too dry to seem real. Normally people attribute this to them having discovered super fresh scallops. They will also seem surprisingly large. But they'll keep for up to a week and never really take on the sulfurous odor. It's just that every day the sugars break down and the scallops taste worse and worse. Not bad, necessarily, just boring. And they won't take on a good sear. But if MB is moving product, then the scallops could perform swimmingly.

                                                                          1. re: almansa
                                                                            Karl S RE: almansa Sep 2, 2012 09:31 AM

                                                                            Very helpful information.Obviously, it's pained me immensely to buy "dry" scallops from expensive fishmongers, only to have nothing like the sear I am used to, and if I complain they protest they are indeed dry. MB is closest in quality to what I get when I go to Braun's Seafood in Cutchogue (on the North Fork of LI - a fabulous fishmonger of local catch) en route to cook for my elderly parents on LI.

                                                                            1. re: almansa
                                                                              Gio RE: almansa Sep 2, 2012 10:05 AM

                                                                              Interesting, that, almansa. On Sat. AM my husband first went to the MB Reading store for the scallops but they were sold out. Then he went to the Woburn store where he bought the last 1 2/3 lbs. So very fast turnover indeed. I hasten to add Saturday was the last day of the sale.. Now you have me wondering. However, the flavor hadn't seemed to have diminished at all and they seared just right.

                                                                              1. re: Gio
                                                                                Karl S RE: Gio Sep 2, 2012 10:46 AM

                                                                                A friend of the family who is in the restaurant/wholesale supply of seafood in the Northeast told me he get gets his sourced from Canada, where both STP and ABC2D are illegal.

                                                                      2. re: ipsofatso
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                                                                        gimlis1mum RE: ipsofatso Sep 1, 2012 06:10 PM

                                                                        private ocean, indeed. Their fish aren't coming from local waters (disclosure: I am friends with the author of this article):
                                                                        http://nshoremag.com/gloucester-fishe...

                                                                        1. re: ipsofatso
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                                                                          somervilleoldtimer RE: ipsofatso Oct 31, 2012 04:29 PM

                                                                          "their private Whole Ocean". You gave me a good snort!

                                                                    2. p
                                                                      pasuga RE: itaunas Sep 1, 2012 10:45 PM

                                                                      I hope there will be a huge protest before they let the Charlestown store go. For the folks in the projects and those who don't have cars, Johnnie's is the only reasonably priced store anywhere close. I live near Central Square with two WF within walking distance and I never shop there if I can help it. Any bag I could bring home from Johnnie's for $30 would be about. $50 from WF.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: pasuga
                                                                        ipsofatso RE: pasuga Sep 2, 2012 09:34 AM

                                                                        Whole Foods cares deeply about that.

                                                                        1. re: pasuga
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                                                                          wonderwoman RE: pasuga Oct 29, 2012 02:43 PM

                                                                          echo this.

                                                                          i lived in charlestwown when i was a lot younger and didn't mind schelping. but, the closest subway stop is a good 10-minute walk from the center. it's going to leave a lot of people without many options.

                                                                        2. l
                                                                          lergnom RE: itaunas Sep 2, 2012 09:57 AM

                                                                          Thinking about this from a shopping center management perspective, I knew WF was doing smaller stores. But we're talking 30k+ as small, closer to 40k. The Foodmaster stores tend to be in the 20k range and the one on Beacon in Brookline is maybe 12k. That's small.

                                                                          It's weird because you need an infrastructure to run stores and you can only be cost efficient if you have scale. And a common form of scale is standardized stores, with standardized layouts and sku's. These stores are not only smaller, meaning lower gross, but harder to run. It's tough to understand. Unless they feel they can staff and otherwise manage the stores with efficiency generated by the rest of the local operation, this is not the usual way to make money for a grocery chain used to running big stores.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: lergnom
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                                                                            cambridgedoctpr RE: lergnom Sep 2, 2012 12:26 PM

                                                                            it seems that every WF store that i have been to differs in size, and yet, standardization would really help cut costs.

                                                                          2. Bob Dobalina RE: itaunas Oct 26, 2012 06:23 AM

                                                                            So it shall come to pass -

                                                                            http://www.boston.com/businessupdates...

                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                                                              FinnFPM RE: Bob Dobalina Oct 26, 2012 06:31 AM

                                                                              WFM is also going to set up shop in Lynnfield and Nashua, NH. I'm still holding out hope for Acton or Westford.

                                                                              1. re: Bob Dobalina
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                                                                                bear RE: Bob Dobalina Oct 26, 2012 05:10 PM

                                                                                So sad.

                                                                                1. re: bear
                                                                                  Berheenia RE: bear Oct 27, 2012 08:18 AM

                                                                                  It really is. Do they have to close in November in neighborhoods with lots of seniors and folks with no cars? I'm talking about the Brookline store where Johnnies fills a lot of needs besides groceries. People are always in line getting their Charlie cards filled up or just buying a lottery ticket or a newspaper. It's going to be a long winter.

                                                                                2. re: Bob Dobalina
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                                                                                  wandergirl RE: Bob Dobalina Oct 26, 2012 05:21 PM

                                                                                  I am really upset by this. I knew when I spied Tastykakes (TASTYKAKES in Massachusetts!!!!) on my last visit that it was a sign that the end was near and a cruel world was trying to make it as painful as possible for me. I read an article that said the four Foodmasters that weren't being taken over by Whole Foods would continue to operate but I wonder if that is true. If it is, I'll check out the Medford store but I understand it is no where near as nice as the Melrose outpost. Otherwise, I don't know where I'll go since I can't stand Stop and Shop or Shaws.

                                                                                  1. re: wandergirl
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                                                                                    pemma RE: wandergirl Oct 29, 2012 12:01 PM

                                                                                    The Medford store is nicer than Melrose. They just painted it and put in new lights.

                                                                                    I was in Salem St. yesterday. An employee (seemed to be a manager-type) said they had no idea what will happen to that store. They are assuming it will close, but have been told nothing.

                                                                                    1. re: pemma
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                                                                                      wandergirl RE: pemma Oct 29, 2012 07:54 PM

                                                                                      Thanks for the info, pemma. I am happy to hear I'd been misinformed about the Medford store but I suppose it won't matter much if they close too. I wish they'd make an announcement about it. It's unfair to the employees to leave them in certainty.

                                                                                  2. re: Bob Dobalina
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                                                                                    ScotchandSirloin RE: Bob Dobalina Oct 26, 2012 06:28 PM

                                                                                    The most striking news to me and my neighbors is there is going to be NO supermarket in Charlestown for an entire year. That will be really tough on people without cars.

                                                                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina
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                                                                                      peelmeagrape RE: Bob Dobalina Oct 27, 2012 12:23 PM

                                                                                      I'm really glad to hear that the deal seems to be going through soon and that the Charlestown Johnnie's is part of it. It's by far the most convenient grocery store for me to shop at but I almost never do because going in there so depressing. The produce is sad, the whole place looks run down. WF is fine, as long as they carry a wide range of excellent produce. (A Russo's outpost would be even better, but hey.)

                                                                                      1. re: peelmeagrape
                                                                                        Luther RE: peelmeagrape Oct 27, 2012 02:13 PM

                                                                                        The River Street Cambridge WF is enormous and they carry a pretty damn narrow range of decent produce. It's pretty disappointing, really. And expensive.

                                                                                        1. re: Luther
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                                                                                          Gabatta RE: Luther Oct 29, 2012 10:34 AM

                                                                                          nodding

                                                                                          1. re: Gabatta
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                                                                                            Madrid RE: Gabatta Oct 29, 2012 12:31 PM

                                                                                            and nothing like russo's though it easily could be, if all the choices weren't dictated by the mothership in texas.

                                                                                    2. h
                                                                                      hoolese RE: itaunas Oct 27, 2012 07:44 AM

                                                                                      I live near the Somerville location, which is walking distance to another Whole Foods, which is frustrating that our options are being reduced, like when Blockbuster took over video stores. Its fine that some people prefer Whole Foods, but its like Starbucks- do we need one on every block? The Beacon St Johnnies has a huge parking lot that is rarely even 1/3 full since most customers walk or bike, so I'm sure Whole Foods, whose customers are more the SUV type, liked that attribute.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: hoolese
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                                                                                        hckybg RE: hoolese Oct 29, 2012 09:40 AM

                                                                                        Hear, hear.

                                                                                        1. re: hoolese
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                                                                                          somervilleoldtimer RE: hoolese Oct 31, 2012 04:29 PM

                                                                                          That's why we still patronize Hollywood Express on Mass Ave out of Porter Squ

                                                                                          1. re: somervilleoldtimer
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                                                                                            Madrid RE: somervilleoldtimer Nov 1, 2012 02:41 PM

                                                                                            love that place. and they are so kind to my adopted special needs son.

                                                                                        2. p
                                                                                          pemma RE: itaunas Oct 31, 2012 11:23 AM

                                                                                          A friend said that Johnnie's employees in Medford were told last night that the store would close around 11/17.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: pemma
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                                                                                            wandergirl RE: pemma Oct 31, 2012 02:33 PM

                                                                                            pemma, I am really sorry to hear this. I now have no idea where I'm going to do my grocery shopping. Sounds silly but I actually enjoyed my trips to Johnnie's in Melrose. All of my options now will involve varying levels of annoyance/aggravation.

                                                                                            1. re: pemma
                                                                                              Karl S RE: pemma Oct 31, 2012 03:36 PM

                                                                                              It's telling that they would close the weekend *before* Thanksgiving. They don't want to acquire much holiday inventory, it seems....

                                                                                            2. FinnFPM RE: itaunas Oct 31, 2012 04:49 PM

                                                                                              I'm a little surprised surprised at all of the anti-Whole Foods sentiment in this thread. Is there really no one who believes that the presence of a Whole Foods indicates that a neighborhood is on the rise, that it is becoming a more desirable place to live and shop, and that property there is becoming more valuable? Why does everyone seem to think that these are bad things?

                                                                                              49 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: FinnFPM
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                                                                                                hckybg RE: FinnFPM Oct 31, 2012 07:40 PM

                                                                                                On the rise for whom? More desirable for whom? For my Somerville neighbors who go to Johnny's every morning to see their friends, or to buy groceries that they can afford on fixed incomes? I am fortunate that I can afford to shop at Whole Foods if I need to, but I also understand that there is more to a neighborhood than whether my home is worth more than it used to be. I'd rather know that I am living in a diverse and inclusive place where all residents, old and new, can feel like they belong. I like Inman Square because I can eat at East by Northeast or S&S, or I can shop at Johnny's, or Whole Foods, or the Marxist convenience store, or Boutique Fabulous, or the Catholic goods store. You say "on the rise" like that is an objective concept, but it is not. It is a metaphor that describes a neighborhood becoming more to the taste of affluent people. But besides the sheer oddness of having two Whole Foods within ten minutes of Inman Square, as we will soon have, I don't personally like to see neighborhoods that become all one thing, especially if that means that nice people who have made the neighborhood what it is can no longer live comfortably there. I will add, just for the sake of evidence, that every neighbor I have talked to about this, from all stripes, has expressed the same frustration and sadness.

                                                                                                1. re: hckybg
                                                                                                  chickendhansak RE: hckybg Oct 31, 2012 08:08 PM

                                                                                                  I can only agree -- and even affluent people don't necessarily want house prices to rise (they may not be on the housing ladder) or to shop at a wantonly expensive supermarket like Whole Foods.

                                                                                                  1. re: chickendhansak
                                                                                                    FinnFPM RE: chickendhansak Nov 1, 2012 06:00 AM

                                                                                                    Okay, great. If no one wants to shop at Whole Foods, then will build the Somerville location and no one will shop there, and then they'll get rid of it. Done.

                                                                                                    1. re: FinnFPM
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                                                                                                      LeoLioness RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 06:36 AM

                                                                                                      On the contrary, people will shop there. But it's going to be hard for people who make less money to shop there, and especially for local people without cars, losing the cheaper option in your neighborhood for food is pretty significant.

                                                                                                      1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                                                        galleygirl RE: LeoLioness Nov 1, 2012 08:30 AM

                                                                                                        Yup, this was what neighborhood activists were saying when the WF opened in Jp; and they were telling everyone that they should all protest. But guess what? The little old Latina grandma's on fixed incomes shop there all the time, becasue they know how to shop, and know the value of good food...It's telling that the JP WF has brought in the more unusual veggies and fruits that the clientele has asked for, and regularly sells out od oxtail, or cows' feet or some such thing on the prepared foods bar. Shockingly, the people that were "supposed" to be priced out of buying at WF seem to be buying there, becasue having their food last longer that the two days they could count on from Hi-Lo Foods seems to be a big selling point for them...
                                                                                                        (End of Rant)...
                                                                                                        But I have done a bunch of demos there, and while there are some of the usual gripes you get about price at any WF, I am amazed at the people who I would have totally written off, according to the neighborhood, who come by, try something amazing, but out of the comfort zone we would ascribe to them, and buy it...Given the choice, people may, say, by more expensive coffee rather than the cheap, but rancid, coffee beans that Beacon Supermarket used to be a destination for.

                                                                                                        1. re: galleygirl
                                                                                                          FinnFPM RE: galleygirl Nov 1, 2012 09:17 AM

                                                                                                          A-freaking-men.

                                                                                                      2. re: FinnFPM
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                                                                                                        drbangha RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 07:19 AM

                                                                                                        Prediction: 2 years from now we will learn that WFM has not crushed diversity and inclusiveness in all these neighborhoods, nor has it put anyone on the street or forced them to choose between food or medicine.

                                                                                                        1. re: drbangha
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                                                                                                          LeoLioness RE: drbangha Nov 1, 2012 07:31 AM

                                                                                                          I agree, though that's a pretty low baseline to wish for your neighbors.

                                                                                                    2. re: hckybg
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                                                                                                      pemma RE: hckybg Nov 1, 2012 05:27 AM

                                                                                                      I agree that variety is good. I run into WF in W. Medford for convenience and also for some specialty items. The prices, although generally on the high side are not bad for everything. In fact, Olivia's organic salads are cheaper in WF than in Johnnie's. Still, I can't imagine doing all of my shopping in WF, would miss certain brands and items. Gee, sometimes you need Cheez-Its.

                                                                                                      Anyway now I heard from someone that the Medford Johnnie's and one other might not be closing. But, I find this hard to believe in the long run, as I can't imagine that they would hold on to just two stores and lose all economies of scale that help them compete in this competitive market.

                                                                                                      1. re: hckybg
                                                                                                        FinnFPM RE: hckybg Nov 1, 2012 05:56 AM

                                                                                                        I see a lot of complaints about capitalism being made, and for some reason, being blamed on Whole Foods. The problem with these arguments is that there is a lot of emotion, but very little substance. What are the alternatives to this? Inequality is a real problem in this country, but when we promote a "diverse neighborhood," what are we really asking for? Does Johnnie's really offer that much grocery-based diversity? Or do we want to preserve a diverse spread of incomes in our neighborhoods, or something? When you say you don't want Somerville to be "all one thing," what do you mean? I can think of "one thing" I would like Somerville to be: better!

                                                                                                        Somerville is "on the rise" -- that means that there is more demand for housing there, period. If we are concerned that poorer people are going to be displaced, that's fine, though I'm not sure how many people would explicitly come out and say that they, I don't know, find their poor neighbors to be charming. I don't think people are willing to take full responsibility for their desire to keep their neighborhood "diverse." Your neighbors don't want to be your diversity.

                                                                                                        If you think that housing is going to become unaffordable, the answer is to build more of it, not to try and keep high-value development out of your neighborhood. That's just crazy.

                                                                                                        1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                          Bob Dobalina RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 06:14 AM

                                                                                                          .

                                                                                                          1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                                                                                            FinnFPM RE: Bob Dobalina Nov 1, 2012 06:18 AM

                                                                                                            Ha. If I could shove the new Whole Foods into the back of our car and drop it off on Route 2, I would.

                                                                                                            1. re: FinnFPM
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                                                                                                              Madrid RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 02:42 PM

                                                                                                              please do. take it away from us.

                                                                                                          2. re: FinnFPM
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                                                                                                            katzzz RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 06:24 AM

                                                                                                            I think you can boil this whole Johnnie's vs. WF controversy down to one issue: cost. While WF offers good deals on certain items (mostly their house brand products) it is very expensive to use it as your only supermarket. If WF really wants to improve the planet, lowering prices (especially of fresh produce) and making healthy foods affordable and accessible to people of all economic brackets should be one of its corporate goals. But I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

                                                                                                            1. re: katzzz
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                                                                                                              Steve L RE: katzzz Nov 1, 2012 06:42 AM

                                                                                                              It's class as well. The "let them eat organic, gluten-free cake" attitude is pretty ugly.

                                                                                                              1. re: Steve L
                                                                                                                FinnFPM RE: Steve L Nov 1, 2012 07:03 AM

                                                                                                                Is there something that is obliviously pretentious about offering gluten-free products?

                                                                                                                1. re: Steve L
                                                                                                                  Chris VR RE: Steve L Nov 1, 2012 07:17 AM

                                                                                                                  Yes, the comments on patch.com's article about the sale of the Melrose location make that really clear. There are definitely people who see this as a sign of yuppie scum taking over "our" town and people who see this as a boon to the community despite the fact that the local seniors who now depend on Johnnie's are going to be priced out of WF (yes, I know some foods are competitively priced but I really don't think anyone can argue that a senior on a fixed income can make their money go as far at WF as they can at Johnnie's.)

                                                                                                                  Johnnie's management wanted to sell. It's not like WF is making a hostile takeover. We could have ended up with a vacant store, so for me this is a net positive situation, especially if the alternative would be no grocery store in that location or, worse, more nail salons.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Chris VR
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                                                                                                                    pemma RE: Chris VR Nov 1, 2012 08:23 AM

                                                                                                                    Strange, when the WF opened in W. Medford there was barely a peep of dissent. Nor has the neighborhood been flooded with hipsters.

                                                                                                                    1. re: pemma
                                                                                                                      itaunas RE: pemma Nov 1, 2012 08:25 AM

                                                                                                                      That location was a Wild Oats for many years and since WF came it does have a new age juice bar that took over a laundrymat, though. A yoga studio in the former stained glass studio is obviously next. ;-)

                                                                                                                      1. re: itaunas
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                                                                                                                        pemma RE: itaunas Nov 1, 2012 10:07 AM

                                                                                                                        Yes, but the Wild Harvest had a conventional/normal food section, too, so, it wasn't as radical a change. I might patronize that prospective yoga studio if it has tai chi! Soon the only thing the area will lack is a hookah bar.

                                                                                                                2. re: katzzz
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                                                                                                                  bear RE: katzzz Nov 1, 2012 06:46 AM

                                                                                                                  I also think it's about choice and healthy competition, not about WF hate. Certainly Whole Foods has gotten more affordable in certain areas since Trader Joe's has moved East. Items like canola oil, yogurt and other dairy, and staples like flour and sugar used to be outrageous. Now they are in line with Trader Joe's.

                                                                                                                  In general, though, I spend quite a bit more when I do a sizeable shopping at Whole Foods than just about anywhere else. I miss the days of being able to choose between Whole Foods, Nature's Heartland in Bedford, or Wild Oats. Whole Foods has taken over the other stores with no improvement in quality or selection, so there's no choice. Thank heavens Market Basket is now such a terrific place to shop so there are still alternatives. Johnnie's was another local chain alternative, and it sounds like that's disappearing, too.

                                                                                                                  That said, it wouldn't be a bad thing for a Whole Foods to move into the Acton/Concord area. It's not saturated there the way it is in the metro Boston area.

                                                                                                                  1. re: bear
                                                                                                                    Bob Dobalina RE: bear Nov 1, 2012 07:20 AM

                                                                                                                    It's about WF Hate for me - I hate the place.

                                                                                                                    I hate the *(^()*% $3.99/lb. "organic" pears that look like crap and are as hard as rocks.

                                                                                                                    I hate the perfectly shined Granny Smith apples, all in a row, that actually taste like dust.

                                                                                                                    I hate the corporate sense of entitlement, as if somehow it is better than Stop & Shop. They are capitalists just like everyone else.

                                                                                                                    I hate the attitude of the customers.

                                                                                                                    I hate the high-pitched whines and tension-filled "Excuse me!"'s of people frantically trying to squeeze past me because it *might* take three extra seconds to get to the shelf of gluten-free crap.

                                                                                                                    I hate going to Alewife and getting bruised from people hitting me with their carts.

                                                                                                                    I hate...I seethe...I loathe....

                                                                                                                    :-b

                                                                                                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina
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                                                                                                                      mizzduke RE: Bob Dobalina Nov 1, 2012 11:18 AM

                                                                                                                      I actually find my fellow customers, and also the folks who work at the West Medford Whole Foods to be (for the most part) very pleasant! There was definitely some group bonding in the long checkout lines on Sunday for hurricane prep. I admit to avoiding the craziness of the Alewife branch though.

                                                                                                                      I will definitely miss Rt 16 Foodmaster, I shop there often for some specific staples (Martin's potato rolls, for example...!). I always counted myself lucky to be located right between two supermarkets with a pretty different array of products.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mizzduke
                                                                                                                        k
                                                                                                                        kdl RE: mizzduke Nov 1, 2012 11:32 AM

                                                                                                                        I echo your sentiment of how nice it is to have access variety. Especially if both stores are close to where you live/work. I go to WF for lots of stuff but there are a few products I use regularly that WF doesn't carry that Johnnies does.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Bob Dobalina
                                                                                                                        KWagle RE: Bob Dobalina Nov 1, 2012 01:02 PM

                                                                                                                        "I hate...I seethe...I loathe...."

                                                                                                                        You do! It's refreshing.

                                                                                                                        I'm glad to hear Market Basket is coming to Waltham.

                                                                                                                        1. re: KWagle
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                                                                                                                          Walthamfoodman RE: KWagle Nov 3, 2012 04:46 PM

                                                                                                                          Glad to hear about Market Basket coming to Waltham, already a ongoing customer at the Burlington Market Basket. Johnnie's Food Master coming to Waltham would have been even better! The existing price point in all the present shopping options are more set inline with Back Bay of South End Boston. Waltham is much more a community needing Market Basket.

                                                                                                                    2. re: katzzz
                                                                                                                      FinnFPM RE: katzzz Nov 1, 2012 06:58 AM

                                                                                                                      Meeting the needs of local communities is in fact a big, bold-faced, explicit corporate goal:

                                                                                                                      http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/missi...

                                                                                                                      How will WFM lowering prices help to "improve the planet?" That doesn't make any sense. There is no mechanism for that. Here is something that happens to lower-priced, lower-end grocery stores: they go out of business! Why are people still clamoring for that? Isn't it obvious that's a bad business model? That's what this entire thread is about!

                                                                                                                      1. re: FinnFPM
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                                                                                                                        LeoLioness RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 07:00 AM

                                                                                                                        Yeah, hardly anyone goes to Market Basket....

                                                                                                                        1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                                                                          FinnFPM RE: LeoLioness Nov 1, 2012 07:09 AM

                                                                                                                          Apparently they don't, because a new WFM is being heralded as the death of choice in Union Square.

                                                                                                                          1. re: FinnFPM
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                                                                                                                            LeoLioness RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 07:33 AM

                                                                                                                            Just because you say that to further your stance doesn't actually make it true. Especially considering there isn't a WFM coming to Union Square. But please, continue to fight the good fight if it pleases you so.

                                                                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                                                                              FinnFPM RE: LeoLioness Nov 1, 2012 07:54 AM

                                                                                                                              Sorry, force of habit -- when I think of MB, I automatically think of the Union Square one.

                                                                                                                        2. re: FinnFPM
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                                                                                                                          katzzz RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 09:06 AM

                                                                                                                          You have to look no further than Wal-Mart to disprove what you're saying.

                                                                                                                          1. re: katzzz
                                                                                                                            FinnFPM RE: katzzz Nov 1, 2012 09:21 AM

                                                                                                                            People complain that Wal-Mart undercuts local stores on prices. Here, the problem is that the new store costs too much. I don't see the link you're trying to establish.

                                                                                                                      2. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                                        itaunas RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 07:50 AM

                                                                                                                        Actually FinnFPM, if you read the original thread from August it mentioned specific food items which Johhnie's carries. The economic arguments came later and it does seem that many chowhounds prefer to discuss non-chow meta-discussions, but this was a chow topic first. :-( When I got back to Boston from overseas, one of the first things I did was pick up a stewing fowl from Johnnie's and made chicken and biscuits, along with Olde Irish Butcher Shoppe sausages and yes some cheeze-its. I have since bought some of the other things in my original post and would love to compare chow between the two supermarkets, but I don't think we would get heard over the meta discussions.

                                                                                                                        1. re: itaunas
                                                                                                                          FinnFPM RE: itaunas Nov 1, 2012 07:59 AM

                                                                                                                          Johnnie's sells products that WFM doesn't, true, but WFM sells products that Johnnie's doesn't. It's fine to be sad about losing some specific product, but the fact that the basket of goods available is changing does not mean that the neighborhood is losing food diversity. If WFM carries a broader array of goods, it's gaining diversity.

                                                                                                                          1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                                            itaunas RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 08:20 AM

                                                                                                                            If you want to discuss food items that you like between the two, I am happy to join you, but I won't get into the meta-discussion. There are some local suppliers that Johnnie's buys things from who they are probably one of the larger customers -- Boston Brisket Company, Olde Irish Butcher Shoppe, Pearl, Grote & Wiegel (previously Johnnie's didn't add them back after they re-opened though, so they are using Dietz and Watson). They also bring things in from Accardi Foods and back in the day Famoso Foods (which was acquired twice). WF isn't a reliable supporter of local suppliers, so there could be an impact on the products available locally if those purveyors lose enough outlets in total.

                                                                                                                        2. re: FinnFPM
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                                                                                                                          hckybg RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 08:34 AM

                                                                                                                          It is absolutely about economic equality, but that wasn't actually my major point in my post. As itaunas said, this is a food board and my response grew out of a sense that Johnny's has served as more than a grocery store for many Somervillians, as grocery stores do in many communities. I don't have a problem with Whole Foods per se, but happen to live in a neighborhood where we already have a Whole Foods and getting another will mean a major loss of convenience and community for many of my neighbors, who actually bear a lot more responsibility for the quality of this neighborhood than do yuppies like me. Your viewpoint seems to derive from the sense that a neighborhood gets "better" when it becomes more affluent, in part because that means your home is worth more money. I happen to see a neighborhood as "better" when it provides for many kinds of people. Johnny's is a profit-driven company and the owners want to get out of the business--fine. Nobody is stopping them. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a sense of loss among people who depended on it for many things. I have a lot of empathy for those people. You asked why many people on this board are frustrated by the acquisition, and this is one answer to that question.

                                                                                                                          1. re: hckybg
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                                                                                                                            Steve L RE: hckybg Nov 1, 2012 09:27 AM

                                                                                                                            Empathy is the magic word here. I shop a lot at Johnny's and some at Whole Foods. One thing I almost never see at the latter are people pushing walkers or oxygen tanks down the aisles. Businesses come and go...that's life. I feel bad about the folks that are essentially going to be collateral damage in these neighborhoods.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Steve L
                                                                                                                              FinnFPM RE: Steve L Nov 1, 2012 09:31 AM

                                                                                                                              Contrary to what seems to be popular belief on this board, WFM does not have a policy against allowing people with walkers to shop at its stores.

                                                                                                                              1. re: FinnFPM
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                                                                                                                                Steve L RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 09:38 AM

                                                                                                                                Well, maybe some of the defunct Johnny's stores can be converted into Dickensian workhouses and then we can all be happy. They might even use soy milk in the gruel.

                                                                                                                            2. re: hckybg
                                                                                                                              FinnFPM RE: hckybg Nov 1, 2012 09:29 AM

                                                                                                                              But why? Why does Whole Foods have to equal a loss of community? Won't all the same people still be around? This is just a grocery store. Whole Foods will still have tables for people to sit at, bulletin boards for announcements, and aisles for chatting. Your neighbors won't be vaporized. I understand the sense of loss that accompanies change, but it's just a sense. The things that matter are still there. The community either accepts or rejects the new entrant. It lives on.

                                                                                                                              1. re: FinnFPM
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                                                                                                                                hckybg RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 02:03 PM

                                                                                                                                I would suggest that for the people who go to Johnny's to buy salt cod or linguica, or for the staff who have worked there their entire careers, or for the folks who go there every day to play the lottery, it is not just a grocery store. And if you did understand the sense of loss that accompanies change, then perhaps you would undertand that it is not in fact just a sense. Nobody is saying that we should picket Whole Foods. I'm only pointing out that this change resonates in a real way for a lot of people, where you seem to see it through a pretty clinical view. And since we already have a Whole Foods in Inman, where I do my shopping each week alongside my shopping at Johnny's, it seems more than a little silly that we are getting a second Whole Foods.

                                                                                                                                1. re: hckybg
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                                                                                                                                  Madrid RE: hckybg Nov 1, 2012 02:35 PM

                                                                                                                                  there is a huge sense of loss,of community and services, whether it's salt cod or lottery or other special products. I wouldn't waste my time picketing the Texas Mothership whole paycheck. But the biggest part of community is understanding emotional significance and true *loss*. It's not about intellectual discourse about what works economically or not...that is part of the picture, but the rest involves deep community roots and foods that community wants to buy at reasonable prices.

                                                                                                                                  And the loss, for many of us, of some of the unusual local or eccentric products that the neighborhood speciality shops used to provide. No Finn, Whole foods doesn't have a rule against walkers. It's not about that. It's about where people who don't have a car, or have to take cabs with precious income once a week, and where they can get what they need to eat.

                                                                                                                                  change happens, so much faster these days and change is not all bad. But there are many who don't have the resources to adapt to all the change, no matter how they hard they try. Food is after water the most basic human necessity. Some really deep emotional roots there. And being able to purchase that food for reasonable prices, especially when you are elderly and/or disabled, and being able to choose the food you want, is at the heart of life.

                                                                                                                                  and I speak as one who hated the FM in Somerville for its really horrible produce, because that's what was most important to me when I lived in East Arlington, without a car.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Madrid
                                                                                                                                    FinnFPM RE: Madrid Nov 1, 2012 06:53 PM

                                                                                                                                    This isn't some ancestral garden that peoples' great great grandmothers worked to till. This was a store. What people bought was primarily determined by what the store stocked. I understand the sense of loss -- everyone knows people who shopped at or worked for stores who went out of business -- but from my perspective, this thread was really one-sided, and the whole "cheap food" idea was really being romanticized to a weird extent.

                                                                                                                                    A lot of people seem to shop at Whole Foods as well as Foodmaster, but they have this kind of bleeding-heart paternalism that makes them want to keep cheap food in the area, you know, for the poor folk. I'm not trying to be inflammatory, I just think that people really need to step back and wonder if the charitable attitudes they're feeling are really appropriate or necessary. The number one thing you should want is higher-quality food. If you think Food Master offers higher-quality food, great. But if you don't -- and yet still want it, so that the sick, poor, and elderly can use it -- there's something wrong there.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: FinnFPM
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                                                                                                                                      Jenny Ondioline RE: FinnFPM Nov 1, 2012 08:06 PM

                                                                                                                                      "What people bought was primarily determined by what the store stocked."

                                                                                                                                      The fact that you have that 100% backwards severely undermines your entire argument.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                                                                                                        FinnFPM RE: Jenny Ondioline Nov 2, 2012 04:19 AM

                                                                                                                                        I don't know about everybody else, but I don't walk into a grocery store for the first time and start requesting a bunch of specific products that I have seen or heard about somewhere else. I also do not consider it a marvelous coincidence that, if I purchase something, it must have been exactly the product I was looking for. People shop primarily by price, not by seeking out specific brands of things. If I need almonds, I don't go to the store and request almonds from a specific origin, supplier, or packager. I go to the store and pick from among the products they already have. That, unless I am totally mistaken about how the rest of the world shops, is primarily what happens at a grocery store.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                                                          macca RE: FinnFPM Nov 2, 2012 04:44 AM

                                                                                                                                          I shop differently. Price is important, but oftentimes, so is a specific product. Which is probably why I shop at more than one store. I use Trade Joes for certain products- today I will go to Johnnies to take advantage of their 5 meats for 19.99 sale. Will also have to suck it up and make a trip to Shaws, as they have my brand of cat food on sale, also good price on grapes and a few 10 for 10 dollar products that I use. N ow that the local Farmers Market is done for the year, I will make frequent trips to Wilson Farms, as I loke their produce. In between trips to Wilsons, I use Colarusso's in Reading- as I signed up to get their coupons by mail. Not sure how the rest of the world shops, but I dont shop the same way you do.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                                                        ipsofatso RE: FinnFPM Nov 4, 2012 09:59 AM

                                                                                                                                        Absolutely. It is not the job of a food market to save the planet, your neighborhood or your butt. Time change, properties change hands, life goes on. Thank you Johnny's FM for years of good shopping; best of luck to WFM.

                                                                                                                            3. re: hckybg
                                                                                                                              Berheenia RE: hckybg Nov 1, 2012 07:06 AM

                                                                                                                              I feel the same way here in Brookline, which is a very mixed income neighborhood, but then I realize that nobody held a gun to their head at Johnnies when they decided to sell. It's all about money.

                                                                                                                          2. k
                                                                                                                            kdl RE: itaunas Nov 1, 2012 06:44 AM

                                                                                                                            My spouse went to our local Johnnies Foodmaster this week and they told him the whole chain is going out of business. 6 are becoming WF, 4 are closing.

                                                                                                                            1. p
                                                                                                                              pemma RE: itaunas Nov 2, 2012 06:03 AM

                                                                                                                              It's official. Boston.com reports that all 10 Foodmasters will begin liquidation sales today.

                                                                                                                              http://www.boston.com/businessupdates...

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: pemma
                                                                                                                                Chris VR RE: pemma Nov 2, 2012 06:24 AM

                                                                                                                                Such a shame to see a local business close up shop after 65 years but I do hope this calms down the people who are railing against the Whole Foods invasion. Any grocery store is better than no grocery store.

                                                                                                                              2. drewinmrblhd RE: itaunas Nov 2, 2012 09:24 AM

                                                                                                                                WFM decided not to convert the Johnnies on Boston Street in Lynn, that would have been an interesting location.

                                                                                                                                1. w
                                                                                                                                  wandergirl RE: itaunas Nov 2, 2012 09:30 PM

                                                                                                                                  The Boston Globe is reporting that the Johnnie's in Medford will be taken over by Stop and Shop. If there is one thing this area needs, it's another Stop and Shop! (There are TWO existing Stop and Shops within 1.2 miles of the Johnnie's location.) I had been hoping for a Hannaford's or something to go into that location to break up the Stop and Shop monopoly around here but no such luck. It just gets worse and worse.

                                                                                                                                  http://www.boston.com/businessupdates...

                                                                                                                                  1. digga RE: itaunas Nov 3, 2012 04:15 PM

                                                                                                                                    Maybe someone has already mentioned this (I haven't been keeping up with all the posts)...The one big thing I will miss at the Alewife Brook Parkway location is the lovable staff of misfits that worked there (and I mean that without a shred of irony). We used to be a 5 min walk from there so I was there quite often. I can't tell you how many times I had a hilarious conversation with cashiers or observed random acts of kindness by the staff (stuff like folks being short on cash or food stamps and manager trying to figure out a solution). I grew to love them all. I hope they will all land on their feet.

                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: digga
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                                                                                                                                      Steve L RE: digga Nov 3, 2012 04:47 PM

                                                                                                                                      I just made what will probably be my last stop there today. They have a big store closing banner on the front and people holding signs on the corners announcing the liquidation sale. I saw several familiar employees that look to be in their 60s and wonder what is going to happen to them. It was sad to be in there.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Steve L
                                                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                                                        hckybg RE: Steve L Nov 4, 2012 09:07 AM

                                                                                                                                        The Beacon Street location is much more cleared out than I expected only two days into the sale. I would estimate that about a third of the inventory is gone, and by the time I left this morning, almost every single cart was in use. So I would guess there won't be much left after today. The employees did, indeed, seem very sad. And I couldn't help but notice all the things that are well priced there, including spices, canned goods, cage-free eggs, and yogurt, and all the things I like that I won't be able to get at Whole Foods, including Chex Mix, normal hot dogs, and Eggo waffles.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: hckybg
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                                                                                                                                          bear RE: hckybg Nov 4, 2012 09:55 AM

                                                                                                                                          And Hellman's mayo! And Oronoque pie crust, and...and...and...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: hckybg
                                                                                                                                            FinnFPM RE: hckybg Nov 4, 2012 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                                            I'm sure that your local gas station will be more than happy to sell you all of Chex Mix, Eggo Waffles, and Slim Jims you could ever want.

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