Monday, March 10, 2014

Goodbye, Tom Thumb

Goodbye, Tom Thumb. Oh, the name might remain, but big changes are coming to the traditional supermarket, no matter what name is above the door.

The private equity company Cerberus Capital Management announced that it was acquiring Safeway. Cerberus already owns Albertsons. Safeway already owns Tom Thumb. With all of these under one ownership, you can bet changes will come in order to compete. Whether or not the name Tom Thumb stays or goes is only a minor matter.

After the jump, what to expect from the new Tom Thumb overlords.



According to The Washington Post:
The deal is an attempt to compete in the increasingly tough grocery business, which is now crowded by a gamut of retailers, from drugstores and Wal-Mart to local neighborhood farmers markets.

So, it's not just Walmart, which has one-third of the grocery market, that is forcing change. It's Trader Joe's and Aldi's, which have different business models. It's CVS and Walgreens, which offer convenience. It's Whole Foods and farmer's markets, which offer organic and home-grown produce. The market is changing and supermarkets either have to adapt or perish. Expect a little of both as some stores close and others change their business model.



By the way, did you catch that reference to farmer's markets being a growing force in food retailing in America? Do you remember what the Richardson city council considers farmer's markets to be? Not a growing business model to cultivate, but a potential problem. Richardson is not only on the wrong side on that one; it's playing the wrong game altogether.

Also, did you catch that reference to Whole Foods? Richardson is losing a Whole Foods on Coit Rd while gaining a Walmart across the street in Dallas. That could be a sign of a declining neighborhood. The West Spring Valley Corridor redevelopment effort is stalled or off track altogether. All the while, the city council's attention is entirely focused on the real estate big deal (State Farm, Palisades Village). Look at the recent vision statement the city council put together, or the mayor's recent State of the City address. How many times was the word "neighborhood" used? Zero? One? Neighborhood revitalization has been neglected too long. The supermarkets are the canary in the coal mine.

3 comments:

mccalpin said...

By the way, did you catch that reference to farmer's markets being a growing force in food retailing in America? Do you remember what the Richardson city council considers farmer's markets to be? Not a growing business model to cultivate, but a potential problem.

I can only conclude that you must be listening to different city council meetings than I do.

First, the council's concern and proposed measures were aimed ONLY at the part-time, pop-up markets. The discussion had nothing to do with an established, permanent facility, which several council members made clear that they liked.

Second, a major concern was that the farmers market actually be a farmers market...not a flea market. If you have visited the pop up market, you will note that there are always some (or many) stalls that aren't selling food at all. Hence the discussion to limit the number of non-food vendors at a market...how is preserving the character of a farmers market a position against farmers markets?

Third, the successful market on Campbell near Nantucket was already showing problems in signage and litter. We have a sign ordinance in part to limit visual pollution, yet there were signs springing up for each vendor out in the grass along Campbell. Why would controlling the number of signs be an "anti-farmers market" position?

Fourth, there was concern that there were no regulations about litter containers, handwashing stations, and responsibility. If someone sells bad meat at the event, who do you go after? The vendor? He's long gone. The event organizer? Hmmn, there was no requirement that the event organizer even know who the vendor was...it seems that a little bit of a paper trail might be nice when the public has a complaint.

In short, if you were at the council meetings, the clear concern was that the farmers markets be a nice inviting place with little or no negative impact on the surrounding neighborhoods...actually, I suspect that everyone on the council likes and has been to the farmers market on Campbell...but they don't want it turning into a flea market with signs and litter all over the place, people changing oil in the parking lot, little attention to reasonable health measures, and lord knows what else going on...

Bill

Greta Nicoara said...


I can't comment on what the city council thinks, since I wasn't there. But to comment on Bill's comment, there is not a viable permanent farmer's market in the region that I'm aware of. McKinney and White Rock markets are the model markets. The atmosphere in downtown McKinney on a Saturday, driven by their market, made us consider moving there. Conversely, the permanent Dallas market is a constant struggle. I think this is driven, ultimately, by the cost of maintaining a permanent structure. My guess is that most farmer's can't afford to pay the rent demanded to make a permanent building a viable structure.

Second, to offer an alternative opinion to "If someone sells bad meat at the event, who do you go after".
Shame on the consumer for buying meat if they know nothing about the vendor. This is the whole point of a farmer's market, that you know and talk to your farmer. We've bought all of our meat from a local vendor for 5 years now. I've talked to him enough (and visited his farm) to be confident that I'm feeding my family clean, ethically raised, properly handled meat. City government is not here to babysit us. I realize I'm over-simplifying, but I cringe every time new regulations are placed on these farmers who are just trying to make ends meet. We have to return to some level of personal responsibility in this country.

Sassy Texan said...

Don't you just love common sense over Council's oppressive actions and the lone cheerleading? Thank you Greta!

Cheri Duncan-Hubert