Okay, bunch o’ stuff today. But first:
It’s really sad to see someone’s dream die.
A couple of months ago I noticed that there was a new organic market opening near us. ‘Great!’ I thought. ‘We won’t have to go all the way into Annapolis for good produce and specialty flours and such!’ Eventually this last week I noticed that they appeared to be open (it’s hard to tell from the road) and I did a little searching online to find out their hours. Eventually I located their site. I discovered the owners used to operate a smaller health food store that mostly carried vitamins, nutritional supplements, and health foods, off somewhere on a side street in the area. They’d decided the time was right (and the newly-built location was right) for opening a real organic foods market. They opened on the 8th of August; we went in on the 31st. By the time we went in, it looked like they were already dying on the vine.
Anything perishable (meats, produce, dairy) was in short supply, and either in perfect condition (i.e. just laid out) or really piss-poor condition (i.e., no turnover, and I guess they can no longer afford to throw stuff out and turn it over themselves). I could only find one usable tomato. Of the three(!) quarts of milk on the shelves, two had expired three days earlier. The shop was very clean and very well-organized, so I don’t think it was a case of them not caring—I think they’ve just hit the end of their money and stuff isn’t selling. There was only one other customer in there while we were there, and at any other grocery store we go to it would have been prime shopping time (late Sunday morning, just before lunch).
It looked like they’d made some questionable decisions. The location isn’t great, IMO: it’s tough to see from the road at all. The only reason we noticed it is because I caught sight of it as the passenger; as my husband noted, if it had just been him as driver in the car, he wouldn’t have had the time in passing to read the sign (small sign on a reasonably fast highway). Also, we heard nothing about their opening other than the one sign I spotted, so I’m thinking they must not have done much in the way of effective marketing. When I searched online for them I found a couple of brief mentions in local forums, and one short article printed before they opened in a publication I’d never heard of.
I think they also made some questionable decisions inside the store. They appeared to be carrying a lot of highly specialized stuff that only a few people would want. Whole trays of wheatgrass, but no squash of any kind, either winter or summer? Don’t get me wrong, the bags of pappadum snacks are freakin’ awesome and I could gain several pounds on those alone, but I’m thinking most shoppers would rather buy chips. I’m glad I finally found a source for amaranth and teff flours, but so few people are interested in those that even the Whole Foods Market in Annapolis doesn’t carry them, and Annapolis has a higher-income selection of residents who are thus more likely to shop for such ingredients. (Besides, it isn’t huge as grocery stores go, and even people who want amaranth flour or teff flour will probably only buy them once every handful of months. So it’s not a great use of space.)
I feel really badly for them. They clearly put a lot of love into the store, stocking items they thought were cool and that couldn’t be found elsewhere in the area, and I loved being able to buy those things. They got top of the line checkout equipment with touch-screens. But they don’t appear to have done the market research necessary to make sure they had the right inventory, location, and marketing, and it was probably just the wrong time and place for such a store. Certainly if they stay open I’ll go there when I can for specialty stuff, but honestly, a lot of what I want an organic market for is the produce—and for that, it’s clear I’ll still have to go to Whole Foods.
No book review today, I’m afraid. Between taking a four-day weekend, dealing with a new allergy (having a rash on the roof of your mouth and on your lips sucks), sewing a bunch of bags from that scrap of skull fabric, making jewelry, and putting up designs on cafepress, I didn’t quite finish the book I was reading. Soon!