Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gristedes Supermarket Owner John Catsimatidis Comes To Roosevelt Island Town Hall Meeting - Hear's A Mouthful Of Complaints From Residents, But Some Compliments Too

Roosevelt Island Gristedes Image From Roosevelt Island 360

Gristedes supermarket chain owner, billionaire oil man, real estate developer and NYC Mayoral aspirant John Catsimatidis came to Roosevelt Island last night to discuss with Roosevelt Island residents the renovation and redesign of our long complained about Gristedes supermarket. David Kramer, a principal of Main Street Retail Master Leaseholder Hudson/Related Companies hosted the event which he described as a Town Hall Meeting, Customer Satisfaction Survey and/or Focus Group.

 Gristedes Owner John Catsimatidis and Hudon's David Kramer Town Hall Meeting

Mr. Catsimatidis began the Town Hall Meeting with a bit of history, recalling that he first came to Roosevelt Island over 20 years ago when his company bought Sloan's Supermarket which is now Gristedes. Mr. Catsimatidis introductory remarks focused on recent improvements made at Gristedes with the change in suppliers to Shop Rite which, he said and the audience agreed, provides higher quality products than what was previously offered. Also, improvements to be made at Roosevelt Island's Gristedes include offering more fresh produce and organic products at affordable prices. According to Mr. Catsimatidis, the new Gristedes slogan will be:
Supplying Organic Foods To The Community At Supermarket Prices Not Whole Paycheck Prices
Mr. Catsimatidis then said that he came to listen to Roosevelt Island residents opinion and asked for questions and comments.

Boy, did he get some.

Residents lined up to express their unhappiness with high prices at Gristedes compared to other nearby NYC supermarkets and Fresh Direct online (one resident even handed him discount price flyers from competing stores). Mr. Catsimatidis answered that the cause of their high prices was due to the rent and expensive cost of being in the New York City supermarket business citing the bankruptcies of a long list of NYC supermarket chains. Gristedes pays approximately $7 sq ft in rent for 25,000 square feet of space. Gristedes also pays it workers union wages.

Other long time complaints expressed to Mr. Catsimatidis included expired products on shelves, dirty floors, inadequate product offerings, counter conveyor belts not working, long lines at checkout counter, lack of a full service pharmacy, leaking roof, poor lighting among others.

Some residents complimented the Gristedes store for recent improvements and noted assistance provided by its staff and manager.

Mr. Catsimatidis expressed the intent to fix the problems described and urged any resident to contact him with specific complaints which will be addressed. He also asked for suggestions as to how to improve the store. I thought a great idea was suggested by resident Deborah Beck who recommended that the new store design include moving the store entrance from the dark tunnel like side entrance to better lit Main Street directly across from Manhattan Park.

The rest of the Town Hall meeting is shown in videos below. (Here and here too.) Unfortunately, the audio and video in second video are out of sync but I think you can still understand what is going on.

Time will tell whether improvements will come to the Roosevelt Island Gristedes Supermarket but I give Mr. Catsimatidis a great deal of credit for holding a public meeting with his customers and I hope for the best.

Now, if Gristedes will only stock the Goya Ginger Beer on a regular basis, I will be a more happy customer.


PeaceandPlenty said...

In all the years I have lived here I have seen town halls, letter writing campaigns and so on regarding the supermarkets.  Sometimes things change a little, then slowly go back to pretty much where they were.  With the exception of when the store expanded, I haven't seen all that much to entice me. 

The floors were disgusting 20 years ago and they still are.
The prices were way high 20 years ago and they still are.  Actually, maybe they're even worse, since they are now carrying some higher end products.  The selection on lots of products was limited and still is.

And let's talk gauging, not simply pricing to cover costs, unless I have a total misunderstanding of their costs.  When a gallon of organic milk is $9.49 at Gristedes and $6.29 at Whole Foods, a spotless, well stocked, high end store, something is wrong, and that particular price wasn't a volume issue.  Gristedes doesn't usually sell gallons and I was told they were delivered unexpectedly.  So $9.49???  Regardless of how much money I had, I wouldn't buy that out of principle alone.  I can give you a list of ridiculous prices of a similar nature.  I'll bet I could hire a roundtrip Towncar, travel to a Whole Foods in the fanciest Manhattan neighborhood, have the driver wait, and still come out ahead.

YetAnotherRIer said...

NY State actually has a "Milk Pricing Gouge Law" that prohibits the retail of milk at prices exceeding 200% of what the farmers are paid for the milk (it was relaxed tremendously in 2008, though). I assume there are many gotchas involved in this, though. Selling organic milk at that price you mentioned is not too surprising. What would concern me most is the price of conventional milk which still is quite excessive at Gristedes (again, not just at ours - all Gristedes in NYC are at fail here). Overpriced milk is a NYC phenomenon (http://gothamist.com/2011/09/19/milk_is_not_cheap_not_getting_cheap.php). I get my milk at Costco at $2.80 a gallon or so.

RIresident said...

I only go here on emergencies, maybe 2 times a year. I have been boycotting this place for years. Their meats are green and the prices on non-organic items are higher than the Wholefoods' organic items prices. So ridiculous! Taking advantage of the disabled that can not go to the city. Shame! 

RIresident said...

Thanks for the link! And let's emphasize some of us don't have cars to get to Costco, don't have the time to go there with the bus because we're at work and in the weekends we're already swamped with house work. Let's emphasize we need and want a good store walking distance from our buildings that is reasonable to us. :)

YetAnotherRIer said...

It's a nice 15 minute walk to get to Costco. No need for a bus or a car at all. One of those push shopping carts are excellent for bringing home a week or two supply of milk.

Anonymous said...

Id never shop there for main groceries, just forgotten ingredients, a candybar, or emergency purchase.

CheshireKitty said...

It is tough, but not impossible, to shop at Costco's without a car.  One could call for a cab, however, before leaving the store.  If I'm not mistaken, there are usually some car-service type cabs available by the exit (guys asking if anyone needs a ride).  Another approach is to shop co-operatively with a member who does have a car - have them pick up items for you, then get the food from the friend.  I'm sure many families/relatives buy in quantity at Costco's and then redistribute the food once it's brought home.  

PeaceandPlenty said...

Good food has a price and I expect to pay a fair price for what I want, but $9.49 does indeed seem like gouging.

As for cheap products, the prices we pay for them includes more than just money.  If we want cheap sneakers, the jobs go to other countries so that we can get them, and we lose jobs here.  So the cost of the sneakers is less, but the other costs are high.

If you want $2.80 a gallon milk, you will most likely be getting feedlot milk, where the animals are kept in crowded conditions and fed unnatural diets.  You will also most likely be getting traces of antibiotics and hormones in your milk.  It's a chain reaction.  The milk is $$ cheap, but the total cost is not and some of the cost, such as effect on health, are hard to measure. 

As for Costco organic, visit this website, one among many, to read about the sanctions imposed on their supplier for unlawful practices.  http://www.cornucopia.org/aurora-organic-factory-dairy/

I'd rather purchase half as much milk, of the very best quality, than have gobs of cheap, substandard milk.  That being said, I want that top quality milk at a fair price (not cheap, just fair).  $9.49 is not fair when top prices else where are in the $6 range for the exact same product.

YetAnotherRIer said...

I am glad you can afford this. I cannot spend $18/week on milk alone.

PeaceandPlenty said...

I didn't make any mention of what I can or cannot afford, nor what we spend a week on milk. What I did say is that I would be willing to cut consumption by half if necessary (or more) to get a good quality product, rather than buy more of lesser quality. In fact, one of the biggest points I made was that there are different ways of factoring what the true cost of something is.  If you spend years ingesting antibiotics and hormones, what will the cost be and will you be able to afford it?  How much does healthcare cost? 

Anonymous said...

Іt's going to be ending of mine day, but before finish I am reading this enormous post to improve my knowledge.

Review my page :: hcg diet drops

Anonymous said...

Thanks deѕignеd for sharіng such a nice thinking, articlе is fаstidiоuѕ, thаts why i havе
read it cοmpletely

my ωeb ѕite www.billboardtalent.com

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that's
equally eԁucativе anԁ intеresting, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I came across this during my search for something relating to this.

Here is my web blog: car transporters in florida