Oakland, Berkeley, And East Bay News, Events, Restaurants, Music, & Arts
I've been shopping at the Monterey Market since the 1990s and I'm also a member of the neighborhood group that misses the community-spirited ethos of Bill and Judy Fujimoto.
Under the new owners, the market seems to be moving from a beacon enterprise specializing in quality produce to an all-purpose "lifestyle" shopping site, a la Safeway.
True, the Market has stocked cheese and tea in the past but the situation changed when the new owners started dropping by the small neighboring shops to see what specialty goods were on sale. After asking the small merchants where they sourced these products, the same goods would soon appear on the Monterey Market's shelves -- at discounted prices.
As a large retailer, the Monterey Market can afford to offer some select goods at lower prices. Both flower sellers reported that they were approached by Monterey reps who asked about their prices and where they obtained their flowers. Both businesses subsequently suffered serious losses when the Monterey Market began selling discounted flowers in front of the store. (The new owners deserve credit for halting the sales of flowers following complaints from their shoppers who expressed concern about unfair competition.)
The new owners have expanded sales of bottled wines (placing them in competition with Monterey liquors, whose shelves are now largely empty), have added body care lotions (in competition with another small local store), and reportedly considered adding a butcher (which would compete with nearby Magnani's) and a coffeeshop (which would compete with Hopkins Bakery and the Cafe Roma, directly across the street.)
The 600-plus shoppers who have signed CHARM's petition would like to see a return to a cooperative, community-based capitalism that supports a variety of merchants, both large and small.
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