Friday, September 7, 2007

Foodtown Reno, The Presentation

First off a huge thank you to Larry and the ANA for coordinating an informative and interesting meeting! Secondly, a big SIGH at the lack of representation by the 'newbies'. In the standing room only crowd we only recognized a few of the folks we’ve worked with on community issues. We could also sort of tell that the three of us were in the minority and didn’t notice very many residents in attendance who could have been new to the ‘hood. Meetings like this are huge opportunities for both long time and newer residents to come together and voice concerns and interests in one forum. Besides that many of the updates or changes often talked about within the comments section of this blog can’t be developed without your support outside of this blog. (We will now step down off our soapbox). Here is what we got from the meeting:

1. The store has not been renovated since the Katz’s took it over in 1990. The MTA construction put on hold the renovation which the owners had been planning to make. From our point of view this may have worked out in our favor since the blog facilitated opinions the owners had no idea were out there. (We heard from both owners, the regional rep and the manager at separate times in the evening that no one knew a newer community existed in Kensington who wanted a wider variety of products). Noah called this a gut job which will take approximately six to eight months. Renovations will take place in off hours so that people will still have the ability to shop.

2. The renovation will overhaul the entire inside and outside of the store. A new glass entrance (stroller friendly) will be installed. A new fa├žade will be built with an entrance tower. Softer lightening will be introduced. The aisles will widen by moving the deli counter and the office which are currently in the front of the store. The refrigeration section near the current deli will be moved back opening up 1000 sq. feet. (They will also be moving the storage downstairs by installing a freight elevator).

3. A wider variety of products will be introduced by heightening shelves and installing shelves with multiple levels. For instance, the produce section will quadruple in variety and include organic produce. Also of note the store will be including natural products by UNFI who also supplies Whole Foods. (At a similar store outside NYC Foodtown stocks 176 varieties of organic and natural products so they have the understanding on what to incorporate).

4. The renovation will also introduce a bakery, cheese fridge, cold beer fridge, a wider meat selection and a new fish area. We were also told a Foodtown fish and meat expert will be coming to the store to help implement the changes. Lastly, the new bakery section will allow for cakes to be ordered with choice of decorations for birthdays or parties.

5. Regardless of the renovations the owners stressed that prices will not increase. They noted their prices are always competitive with other stores and in fact have a team that checks area stores to be sure they are better. They even stressed residents sign up for and use their green point system which tracks what you spend in the store and rewards customers with offers for free products for a certain quantity of points. (We subscribe to the green points and though we tend not to read the circulars were enticed a few times by the points displays. We’ve gotten free peanut butter and paper towels).

We are very excited about the upcoming changes and plan to start shopping more regularly at Foodtown. We truly feel their commitment to the neighborhood and quick response to residents concerns is commendeable. If this renovation is half of what we were presented it could be a huge positive for the neighborhood. And at the end of the day we would much rather spend our cash in good ole Kensington then trek to Fairway. From everything we heard it could certainly rival some of what is offered a pain in the butt car ride away (ok they may not have the cranberry walnut bread for $5 but we’re ok with that!). We hope you all too will start giving it a try.