As Fresh Market nears, grocers discuss local impact, produce

News August 23, 2012 3 Comments

by Lane Blackmer

Jersey tomatoes at Top of the Hill market and produce stand. (Photo by Lane Blackmer)


When it comes to the impending arrival of the Fresh Market grocery store on the former site of Margarity Ford, some residents and shop owners have concerns about the property being put to better use with something the community doesn’t already have. Others worry it’ll affect local businesses. Some belive it’ll be a welcomed addition.

The 8200 Germantown Ave. site for a proposed grocery store, condo building and townhouses has already been leased out, according to a May 7 article in the Local. Bowman Properties intends to open the North Carolina-based supermarket in late 2012 or early 2013.

When the project was publicly discussed in the spring, Weavers Way Co-op general manager Glenn Bergman, as well as other community members, spoke out, saying the development should offer something new like a movie theater or bookstore.

Chestnut Hill already has a Pathmark, two farmers markets, the Top of the Hill Market, the Chestnut Hill Cheese Shop and Weavers Way. There are also two nearby Acme supermarkets.
While Bergman says he isn’t against competition, he worries about the money staying local.

“It’s not just about buying local, it’s about what happens with that money again and again and again,” he said. “Economists have shown that the multiplier effect is very powerful.”

According to Fresh Market’s website, the grocer tries to buy local. It considers “local” within 100 miles of the store. And there’s also a standard to try to buy within the same growing region. None of the farms listed on the site, however, were in Pennsylvania or New Jersey.

Bergman said Weavers Way tries to buy locally as often as possible not only because it helps a business that’s likely smaller but also because the business will hire local lawyers, put its money in local banks, hire local accountants, hire locals to work there and spend their own money in the community.

“The money’s not staying here, the money’s gone,” he said, of buying from large corporations and chains.

In a survey Weavers Way released last week from the National Cooperative Grocers Association, cooperatives were cited as responsible for $1,604 in additional economic activity for every $1,000 spent by shoppers.

Bergman said about 20 to 25 percent of all sales in both stores are local products. The percentage of local produce, however, is much higher. Weavers Way has local basil, potatoes, milk, honey and apples year round, he said, adding that the co-op’s farm accounts for $140,000 in sales each year.

The co-op is trying to find ways to buy more local products. And by local, Bergman said he means 150 miles away from Philadelphia or less. But the closer the better, he said.

Meanwhile, Top of the Hill Market owner Andrew Peszka said about 90 percent of his store’s products, which mostly consist of produce and meat, is local.

Just how local? Peszka drives to New Jersey and picks up his produce daily.

The exception, however, would be things like bananas and oranges. And, he added, in the winter season a much higher percentage of his products are shipped in from elsewhere.

Although Peszka said Fresh Market would no doubt snatch away a few sales when it comes to town, he isn’t worried.

“Each store has its own unique products and their own way of selling,” he said. “I think a lot of people have said to me already ‘we like you, we’re going to stay loyal to you.’”

Peszka doesn’t deny that some may frequent grocery stores like Fresh Market in the winter or when they’re in need of toiletries, but that doesn’t bother him.

“Having whatever products they have is good and that satisfies that customer and ours satisfies our customers,” he said.

Patricia Collins, a shopper at the Top of the Hill Market, said she travels from the suburbs to shop for her produce there.

“It’s good quality and it’s easier,” she said. “You’re not going through a huge line and, plus, it’s fresher.”

Collins said she goes on separate trips for things like toilet paper, soda and laundry detergent.

Avid Weavers Way shopper David Bushnell said he will continue to shop at Weavers Way.

“I believe in it as an idea as well as it’s a great grocery store,” he said, adding that he thinks several in the community are like-minded. “I don’t really have anything against Fresh Market, just more positive feelings about Weavers Way.”

“The money’s not staying here, the money’s gone,” he said, of buying from large corporations and chains.

In a survey Weavers Way released last week from the National Cooperative Grocers Association, cooperatives were cited as responsible for $1,604 in additional economic activity for every $1,000 spent by shoppers.

Bergman said about 20 to 25 percent of all sales in both stores are local products. The percentage of local produce, however, is much higher. Weavers Way has local basil, potatoes, milk, honey and apples year round, he said, adding that the co-op’s farm accounts for $140,000 in sales each year.

The co-op is trying to find ways to buy more local products. And by local, Bergman said he means 150 miles away from Philadelphia or less. But the closer the better, he said.
Meanwhile, Top of the Hill Market owner Andrew Peszka said about 90 percent of his store’s products, which mostly consist of produce and meat, is local.

Just how local? Peszka drives to New Jersey and picks up his produce daily.

The exception, however, would be things like bananas and oranges. And, he added, in the winter season a much higher percentage of his products are shipped in from elsewhere.

Although Peszka said Fresh Market would no doubt snatch away a few sales when it comes to town, he isn’t worried.

“Each store has its own unique products and their own way of selling,” he said. “I think a lot of people have said to me already ‘we like you, we’re going to stay loyal to you.’”

Peszka doesn’t deny that some may frequent grocery stores like Fresh Market in the winter or when they’re in need of toiletries, but that doesn’t bother him.

“Having whatever products they have is good and that satisfies that customer and ours satisfies our customers,” he said.
Patricia Collins, a shopper at the Top of the Hill Market, said she travels from the suburbs to shop for her produce there.

“It’s good quality and it’s easier,” she said. “You’re not going through a huge line and, plus, it’s fresher.”

Collins said she goes on separate trips for things like toilet paper, soda and laundry detergent.

Avid Weavers Way shopper David Bushnell said he will continue to shop at Weavers Way.

“I believe in it as an idea as well as it’s a great grocery store,” he said, adding that he thinks several in the community are like-minded. “I don’t really have anything against Fresh Market, just more positive feelings about Weavers Way.”

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  • robert the bruce

    I believe the Fresh Market is scheduled for early 2014, not 2013. Could someone confirm this ?

  • TheTruth

    Nothing is fresh at The Fresh Market! The will go to other stores to buy produce if they run out. I worked at one for a year. (I’m a Chef) Nothing and I mean nothing is fresh or local. Expert help? If you call people who have never professionally worked with food experts. Very unsanitary. Management are people from Wal-mart or Bass Pro Shop. Save your money and shop at a store that doesn’t lie to you. This is the Truth. No reason to lie. Being a person with over 20 years in the hospitality business I care and love serving the people.

    • Believe it

      All those in the Deli case. Not fresh. The are shipped in. Not fresh.