Sunday, May 25, 2008

Straddle the line in discord and rhyme

Claremont Insider linked to a Thursday Business Press article on the downturn in the grocery industry.

Or at least slumping for some sectors.

As I've said before, those who are defending the Albertsons, Ralphs, Vons, and Staters of the world against the evil WalMart are failing to note that the ARVS have in their time displaced smaller grocery stores. After all, you can't have a supermarket unless you wipe out the markets.

History may be repeating itself, if the Business Press' guess regarding Wolfe's Market is accurate.

Business has been down about 20% at Wolfe's Market in Claremont during the past two months, but owner Tom Wolfe is unsure why.

Certainly the slumping economy - particularly the high price of fuel - is having an impact on sales, but the 90-year-old grocery store and delicatessen at 160 W. Foothill Blvd. also faces new competition from Trader Joe's and Sprouts Farmers Market, both of which opened within blocks of Wolfe's Market since last summer.

A Yelp review provided more information:

This is definitely a five-star place, but it is COSTLY. As in my wallet hurts when I go.

There are three possible solutions to this problem:

  1. Give up.

  2. Use politics to restrict the market. In the same way that some cities block grocery stores which just happen to be over 100,000 square feet, Wolfe's Market could influence the Claremont City Council to restrict entry to certain types of business chains. This wouldn't be unprecedented in Claremont; it took a major effort to allow the Starbucks to set up downtown.

  3. Offer a better product that leaves Trader Joe's and Sprouts unable to compete.
Luckily, it looks like Wolfe's Market is following option 3. The Claremont Insider also linked to a Claremont Courier article:

Amid heavy competition in Claremont’s specialty food store market, family-owned and operated Wolfe’s Market is set for a major overhaul. With plans to cut back on groceries and display space to make way for their growing lunch and dinner operations, Wolfe’s management hopes the changes will help weather the threat from competition and launch the store into the future.

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