Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Grocery Shopping Competition on Roosevelt Island

Will the increased competition caused by the arrival of Duane Reade improve service and pricing at the local Roosevelt Island Gristedes? Residents now have greater choices for their grocery shopping on Roosevelt Island being able to choose from among the new Duane Reade, Gristedes, Deli on Main Street, off-Island retailers such as the Food Emporium on First Avenue, Trade Fair on 36th Avenue, Costco on Vernon B'lvd as well as online grocery stores such as Fresh Direct, Bread'nBie and Gristedes online.
According to a recent NY Times article about the planned closing of several Gristedes stores:

the number of Gristedes stores has dropped from 78 a decade ago to 39 today (35 stores are in Manhattan), as a once familiar New York City name continues to recede. Most recently, the Gristedes at Central Park West and 62nd Street shut.
...“The problem in New York City is you’re going to be left with no supermarkets” because of the rise in basic costs, like rent, he said.

Gourmet stores can simply charge more, he said, but traditional markets get excoriated for price increases. “Shopping at Whole Foods goes hand in hand with paying $7,000 rent for a two-bedroom apartment.”
...“People complain supermarkets are too expensive,” Mr. Catsimatidis said. “You have to laugh. We’re not making the bottom line, and people complain we’re too expensive.”

The ideal size for a city supermarket like Gristedes, he said, is 9,000 to 12,000 square feet, big enough to have wide selection but not so big as to have a crippling rent bill. (Gristedes stores range from about 4,000 to about 20,000 square feet.)


Anonymous said...

Neither the deli nor Duane Reade are real competitors for Gristedes, unfortunately (except for drugstore related items, of course).

The other alternatives (off-island stores, grocery delivery companies) didn't do squat to improve Gristedes. They are playing their quasi-monopoly game pretty well.

That said I don't think anything will happen anytime soon unless we get another grocery store on this island.

Anonymous said...

Actually - not sure if you've been in the Duane Reade. While I agree, you cannot get a complete full range of groceries, notably fressh fruit and vegetables, you can get a range of foods from frozen lean cuisine dinners, to ice cream, soup, pasta and other meal and dessert options. For those ordering online or going to CostCo, this may allow them to avoid Gristedes between visits. When the Costco first opened, Gristedes did renovate and significantly improve their facility and food selections (though not their prices). Within the year, however, it had already started to slide. Now, you can find pidgeons walking around the deli in the mornings and outdated food on the shelves.

Anonymous said...

"and outdated food on the shelves."
like a birthday cake that my son had pointed to for at least 2 weeks... when i facetiously asked if it was fresh, i was told 'pretty fresh.' i had to buy it anyways, as the kid wanted that cake for his birthday. not one LIKE it. THAT one.

the kid ate 2 pieces and threw it away.

Anonymous said...

Gristedes has always been a major disappointment long before I moved to Roosevelt Island. Their stores are by far the most disgusting, confusing and over priced grocery stores in NYC. Food Emporium must be doing something right. I used to live where a Food Emporium was on one side of my building and a Gristedes on the other. They were as different as night and day in regard to cleanliness and price. The Gristedes on Roosevelt island is not only dirty and full of expired merchandise but I have witnessed not once not twice but numerous times where a cashier has PRETENDED to ring up a customers merchandise only to not scan it and put it in a bag and let the customer walk on his/her way. I am disgusted to say the least. I truly am. I believed in R.I. when I first moved her but after a little over a year I am truly leaning toward not renewing my lease.

Anonymous said...

I believed in R.I. when I first moved her but after a little over a year I am truly leaning toward not renewing my lease.

A grocery store really has that much influence in your decision to renew or not your lease? My primary sources of groceries is Fresh Direct, Bread'n'Brie, Whole Foods on Union Square (on the way home), and the Farmers Market on Saturdays. The only time I set foot into our Gristedes is when I really need something that I don't have at home or ran out of.

Anonymous said...

The farmer's market on Saturday on RI is as pathetic as one would expect of a Roosevelt Island institution. With the exception of the very few items market "homegrown" everything else comes from the same Carlifornia factory farms that supply Gristede's. Okay -- maybe they make a bit more of an effort to get fresher vegetables or fruit, but it still is not a real farmer's market.

Even the bread -- which, theoretically is high quality -- comes wrapped in plastic to ensure that it loses its crustiness. Try explaining to the sellers (not connected with the bakers, btw) that bread should be wrapped in paper, not plastic and listen to the response.

Does Gristede's deliberately try to stock the worst possible produce that it can get? There's a reason why Fresh Direct chose Roosevelt Island as its pilot. If that store didn't get a fantastic break on the rent, it would have been out of business long ago.

Anonymous said...

I might be mistaken but I remember reading that Gristedes lease agreement states that the powers that be may not lease any other space on R.I. to another grocery store chain? Anyone else know anything about this?
I am not the OP regarding the grocery store being a factor for living on RI or not but my answer would be yes! The online grocers are really great for some items and for some households. Our household consists of 2 very busy people. We eat at home once a day if at all. Purchasing our food online would be a waste as the quantity is far too large. We prefer to do our shopping everyday much like our family and friends in europe do. The grocery store is very much a factor in determining where we want to live and stay.


If Gristedes has a restrictive covenant in their lease regarding other grocery stores I believe it would only apply to RIOC controlled property not retail space owned by private developers such as the Southtown and Octagon buildings unless the restriction was incorporated into their ground leases. I highly doubt that these developers would have agreed to such a restriction but do not know for sure.

Anonymous said...

Covenant...are you a 80 year old attorney? You can put anything you want in a lease now without adding a convenant, rider, addendum, clause, etc. Gristedes could have negotiated their lease to say that unless a red headed 34 year old visits the store once a week until the end of the lease they are entitled to sell squash for 100.99 per pound.

Anonymous said...

Not sure I understand your point, or that it even makes sense. It is quite possible that the Gristedes lease contains a provision by which the landlord "covenants" (or agrees) that it shall not lease any of its other land here to another grocery store. That is not at all uncommen in shopping centers, mixed use projects, etc. as an inducement to a major tenant to sign the lease. Similarly, there may be a development plan or agreement affecting whole negihborhoods, transportation districts or other designated areas which contains restrictions on the number and/or location of grocery selling stores, in which Gristedes may have had some input. Accordingly, it is quite possible that there are restrictive covenants, use restrictions or similar agreements in place which effectively limit or restrict the opening of a directly competing store,

76-year old lawyer

Alain De Carolis said...

I don't really know if Gristedes on RI is expensive or cheap confronted to the other Grocery stores in NY. I don't even know if that's expensive or cheap if compared to the ones in Italy. Grocery stores maybe impact 3% of my income... maybe not.
All I care about a Grocery store is the quality and the variety of the products it sells.
That clarified, I must say that Gristedes fully satisfies my standards.
As the rest of the Island does...

Anonymous said...

As always when Gristedes expanded to be as big as it is now there was an uproar in the WIRE.

But to stay on topic here is another article in the WIRE that sheds some light on the non-competitive clause in the contract Gristedes has with the RIOC. It doesn't cover the entire island, "just" a 1900 foot circle around the store. According to that article the Farmers Market almost fell victim to it. Next thing I know the Gristedes backed off and let the market stay.

While I agree that the farmers market is not a real farmers market or even that great it is far better than what Gristedes has to offer, quality and price-wise.

Anonymous said...

those who expect the farmer's market to be like paris should just move back to soho fer chrissakes. bitching about the bread? how petty. you do know that the bread might actually BE fresh bread, as opposed to say whole foods, who parbake stuff?
the mennonites grow as much of what you buy as they can in the summer. no, they don't have avocado trees, or a grape arbor, but then neither does trader joes. some things you want are trucked or flown here, whether you shop at food emporium or the market.

i've heard the sniffy complaint that 'they're not certified organic,' but i'd rather pay my money to support a small farm than a giant conglomerate mass farming in china (hello again, whole foods!).

no, it ain't union square. but it is a lot better than many of you are giving credit.

Anonymous said...
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This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.