Post-Shaw’s Food Search Begins

Thomas MacMillan File PhotoBulk food runs? PeaPod delivery? Shuttles to the suburbs? Days after Shaw’s supermarket closed, neighborhood leaders brainstormed new ways to get food to Dwight.

Zak Stone PhotoSince Shaw’s on Whalley Avenue closed on Saturday, Edgewood Alderman Marcus Paca (pictured) has already shuttled several car-less New Haveners out to suburban grocery stores, he said. Paca offered suggestions to help keep his neighbors fed in the post-Shaw’s era, including ride-shares and internet shopping.

Paca and other neighborhood leaders delivered this news at a meeting of the Dwight Supermarket Concerned Citizens Committee held in the Dwight Police Substation on Edgewood Avenue Tuesday night. As the store emptied out over the past two months, the group has been working hard to find a successor to the Dwight neighborhood supermarket.

Tuesday’s meeting drew a crowd of 60 people, including two state legislators, State Sen. Toni Harp and State Rep. Pat Dillon. Harp and Dillon pledged their support for finding a new grocery store.

Linda Townsend-Maier, executive director of the Greater Dwight Development Corporation (GDDC) which owns the shopping center, said that she is “optimistic” that Dwight will find a new provider. The GDDC is in communications with Super-Valu, Shaw’s parent company, about replacement possibilities, she said.

Townsend-Maier said if a replacement is found, it will take another three to five months before a new store would open.

Super-Valu announced in mid-February that it would close the New Haven Shaw’s as part of its corporate pull-out from Connecticut. Although Whalley Avenue’s store shut its doors for good on Saturday, Super-Valu’s lease lasts eight more years, or until it finds a replacement for the space.

The store’s closing put more than 100 workers out of a job and left thousands of shoppers without a centrally-located, affordable grocery store.

At the last community meeting, attendants filled out a survey about their shopping habits and needs. The survey also circulated in neighborhoods and on the web. More than 2,000 people have responded so far.

Mark Abraham (pictured), executive director of Data Haven, helped design and administer the survey. He said that the data corresponded to a “representative sample of neighborhoods” from around New Haven. The results helped bolster what activists have been trying to show—that Shaw’s was a vital source of food for a variety of people.

Only 6 percent of respondents said that the store was inconvenient—evidence of the location’s retail potential, Abraham said.

The survey highlighted a lingering need. Many former Shaw’s customers said that they will now shop at either Stop & Shop, Edge of the Woods, mini-marts, or other grocers. But 622 people reported that they are either unsure where they will shop or will shop “nowhere.”

Abraham cited this figure as evidence of a “huge displaced shoppers gap.” Displaced shoppers are those who lack the transportation to easily access other stores. Many people will be forced to “eat out of their freezer,” he said.

Alderman Paca said he is working with the NAACP to develop an “in-the-meantime-plan” to help this population get by. Options being considered include: Making a coordinated effort to bulk order food, providing internet access so people can order food from delivery services like PeaPod, and organizing a shuttle service from New Haven to Stop & Shop supermarkets.

Stop & Shop has locations on Amity Road and on Dixwell Avenue in Hamden.

Paca said he has driven several neighbors to buy food, “mostly elderly and disabled” people who have no other way to get there now. He said he doesn’t “want to see people starve.”

Paca said that the community needs to “leverage partnerships” with the wide range of organizations and institutions—from Yale Law School to the Whalley Avenue Special Services District—that have united around the cause of finding a new grocery store.

State Rep. Dillon suggested that another influential partner be added to the list: the state.

“It took money to bring [Shaw’s] here the first time. It’s going to take money to bring [a grocery store] here again,” Dillon said. The state was instrumental in providing the funding to entice Shaw’s to Whalley Avenue back in 1998, according to Dillon.

She said that the city is in a position to get funding for a new supermarket campaign now more than ever, given the Obama administration’s support for healthy eating.

Forty-Five percent of survey respondents said that a replacement supermarket should offer a large selection of high quality goods, like organics, local foods, international foods, and fresh meat and fish.

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posted by: Alphonse Credenza on March 31, 2010  12:38pm

The city should set up its own supermarket, subsidize its products heavily, issue coupons for free food to low-income residents, ration goods when supplies decrease, forbid or severely limit neighborhood competition, and then raise taxes and future liabilities to pay for it. 

Wait, isn’t that something like our new (un)health(y) system?

posted by: jayj on March 31, 2010  12:42pm

last I checked, Edge of the Woods and Minore’s were still open and they are only a few feet away.  How about supporting the little people who have ties to New Haven rather than the chain stores.

posted by: James on March 31, 2010  2:14pm

Alphonse, have you ever made a positive contribution to a conversation? It seems you just look for opportunities to interject your nonsequitur political beliefs into unrelated stories. This is a serious issue that has serious ramifications for a lot of people. What does health care have to do with this?

posted by: Opposing viewpoint on March 31, 2010  4:05pm

The Obama administration’s support for healthy eating?  You mean the president who holds a “beer” summit between a cop and a Harvard instructor?  The administration that bets cases of beer with the members of a Canadian government on hockey games?  Don’t kid yourself, the Obama administration is setting up the “healthy eating” thing as a precursor to food rationing. 

“We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK”.  “That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen”.  -  Barack Obama

And what’s up with the comment “forced to eat out of the freezer”?  I have news for you, that is what economically prudent people have been doing for many decades.  You buy stuff on sale and freeze it. 

The taxpayer already paid for the food for a lot of the Shaw’s customers. Now people are arguing that they have to pay for the store to buy it in now too?  Man this country is really going in the toilet.

posted by: It ain't Obama's fault, Baby! on March 31, 2010  4:59pm

Opposing Viewpoint,

Thanks for sharing those talking points from your last militia meeting. Those were really helpful to the discussion.

Why do I get the feeling that all the racist viewpoints come out of the woodwork every time the words “President Obama” get mentioned?

Does that make some people uncomfortable? A black president? Is that what you mean by “the country going into the toilet.” Because most people recognized that fact 20 years ago or earlier, long before President Obama was elected. So you’re either late to the party and incorrectly placing the blame, or you have a bias toward this particular chief executive.

IMHO, looking at the big picture, I can’t tell the difference between the last 5 presidents! Can you?

They all had a interesting combination of corporatist, socialist, and militaristic tendencies. They pander to whichever side they need to at any given time. Wake up!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 31, 2010  5:33pm

March 4, 2010, 1:58 pm
New Supermarket in Neighborhood That Needs One

The Best Yet market recently opened on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Sisyphean efforts to get New Yorkers to replace their passion for French fries with an appreciation of salads is making progress: Harlem is getting a supermarket specializing in lower-priced fruits and vegetables.

On Friday morning, city officials are expected to cut the ribbon on Best Yet Market, a city outpost of the family-run Long Island supermarket chain, at 2187 Frederick Douglass Boulevard between West 118th and 119th Streets. The event is ceremonial: the store actually opened a month ago.

The owners of Best Yet had been searching for space in Manhattan, because they felt there would be demand there, according to Jonathan Sender, the supermarket chain’s advertising and marketing director. The owners chose a location in the base of the condo project called SoHa 118 because the owners noticed that “they’re building condos all around there,” Mr. Sender said.

Best Yet’s owners are also benefiting from government incentives to move into Harlem. They received a $1 million loan from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone to help open the market. Officials of the empowerment zone also helped with hiring in the neighborhood. Roughly one-third of the 140 workers come from Upper Manhattan.

“It’s huge,” Hope Knight, chief operating officer of the empowerment zone, said about the new market. “We’ve gotten feedback from the community that they’re very excited that this market is here.”

The market joins an increasing number of supermarket options in Harlem, including a Fairway, a Pathmark and a Costco.

Best Yet’s owners are also benefiting from government incentives to move into Harlem. They received a $1 million loan from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone to help open the market. Officials of the empowerment zone also helped with hiring in the neighborhood. Roughly one-third of the 140 workers come from Upper Manhattan.

“It’s huge,” Hope Knight, chief operating officer of the empowerment zone, said about the new market. “We’ve gotten feedback from the community that they’re very excited that this market is here.”

They got the money from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.We have a Empowerment Zone here in New haven.Did Any of the comunity leaders ask them? Feel free to read the full artcule.

If the political pirates and Judas goat leaders
will not do this than I am going to say it again.Workers sit down and put you money togther and buy the store!!!

posted by: Tony the Tiger on March 31, 2010  6:12pm

Instead of wasting money to bring another retailer, lets use eminent domain, and take the land/building to start a city owned grocery store.

posted by: AndersonScooper on March 31, 2010  6:13pm

First I want to know if Stop & Shop and/or ShopRite cut a deal with Shaw’s to purposely leave this store vacant. (Of 18 Connecticut stores, Shaw’s sold 16, five to Stop & Shop, and eleven to ShopRite.)

Second, I think the community should consider a petition/boycott against Stop & Shop until they start servicing ALL of greater New Haven. It boggles the mind that they can have two stores in Milford, two stores in West Haven, one in Woodbridge, two in Hamden, one in North Haven, one in East Haven,—but no stores in New Haven!

Are we being red-lined? It sure feels that way.

I’m of the mind that the community should push Stop & Shop to do the right thing, and buy this location too.

posted by: Anon on March 31, 2010  6:55pm

Opposing viewpoint: for every tax dollar that goes to help working families and poor children, many times that amount go to subsidize the lifestyles of the rich and upper middle class (in the form of homebuyer tax credits, tax credits for mega corporations, subsidy for private autos, eg gas taxes only covering 10% of the cost of suburban highways, etc.).

Warren Buffet complained about paying less in taxes than the average janitor with 5 kids. If you are arguing for fairness, perhaps you should focus your energies somewhere else?

posted by: Clay Williams on March 31, 2010  8:18pm

Empowerment Zones (EZs)were established in various economically distressed parts of the US during the Clinton administration. In Connecticut, certain New Haven census tracts (plus a small part of West Haven) were designated EZs. The City supported the establishment of Empower New Haven to handle any funds eminating from the legislation and to develop and manage several beneficial programs throughout the City; however, no new federal funds were received after, I believe, the mid 2000s. Funds remaining in any existing programs must be spent by summer, 2010. I am unaware of any unspent New Haven EZ funds remaining

Upper Manhattan EZ chose to use their funding to create a loan pool that supported the creation of the 2 new supermarkets. The City/Empower New Haven chose to fund other types of eligible programs, since traditional and non-traditional business lenders and venture capital/angel investors were already in place and doing pretty much what they were supposed to do…provide capital to businesses. The current recession, however, has made raising capital from these sources more challanging.

EZ designations expired as of 12/31/09. Legislation to extend the EZ designation to 12/31/10 is part of HR4213, passed by both the House and Senate and now in conference committee to work out differences. Renewal of the EZ designations does not provide any additional money. It will, however, reinstate several job creation incentives and, for New Haven, $130 million in bonding capacity for EZ projects. Capacity does not mean money…ultimately, a funder for any bonds issued would need to be found. While the Shaw’s project lies in a Nw Haven EZ, I’m not sure that this project would work with this bonding program because of underwriting expenses and debt service & collateral considerations.

That being said, I am confident that, if an appropriate business proposal for this site were to be proposed, one that provides good, local jobs, meets the needs of the community and supports the City’s tax base, the City and others would do what they could to find the capital to make the project happen.

Just thought you should know the facts.

posted by: Anon on March 31, 2010  10:07pm


The redliners are supervalu, which has been replacing Shaws stores with icky Sav a Lot stores in poor urban areas in Connecticut.

And the stop and shop IS in new haven, on the woodbridge border.

Shoprite is a coop, and I wish it had considered buying the site, that would have been good.

posted by: William Kurtz on April 1, 2010  8:06am


I’m not sure the evidence is there to support the existence of the conspiracy to starve Whalley Avenue that you seem to think Stop & Shop is spearheading.  For one thing, some of the facts you have are inaccurate.  If you divide them by municipal boundaries, Stop & Shop has one store in West Haven, one store in Orange, one store in New Haven, one in East Haven, two each in Hamden and Milford.  They also have two in Bridgeport, so I’m not sure one can make the case they don’t want to serve urban areas. 

I don’t have a particular interest in defending Stop & Shop but continually accusing them of racist redlining isn’t really contributing anything useful to the conversation. 

Maybe the eminent domain avenue is something to pursue?  There’s been a lot of talk about food co-ops and collectives . . . it seems one big obstacle would be acquiring the real estate.  Let’s see.  Does New Haven have the resources it needs to get this kind of thing off the ground?

1.  A recent useful Supreme Court decision that allows municipalities to take land by eminent domain for private commercial development if that development will have a substantial economic impact?  Check.  As a bonus, since there seem to be few competing ideas on the horizon, market value should be cheap!

2.  A population of people such as you might find attached to a large university or two who would be likely to support such an endeavor?  Check.

3.  A steady supply of business students in search of ideas for thesis projects who might be willing to engage in some unconventional thinking and create a business plan?  Check.

4. People looking for work?  Check.

I might be naive! But if I was a business visionary or had some capital to invest, this is something I would be looking at closely.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 1, 2010  8:53am

posted by: Clay Williams on March 31, 2010 8:18pm
Empowerment Zones (EZs)were established in various economically distressed parts of the US during the Clinton administration. In Connecticut, certain New Haven census tracts (plus a small part of West Haven) were designated EZs. The City supported the establishment of Empower New Haven to handle any funds eminating from the legislation and to develop and manage several beneficial programs throughout the City; however, no new federal funds were received after, I believe, the mid 2000s. Funds remaining in any existing programs must be spent by summer, 2010. I am unaware of any unspent New Haven EZ funds remaining

Iknow the fact.I know the people at the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone. As you said I am unaware of any unspent New Haven EZ funds remaining. We need to find out from New Haven EZ How much funds do they have and can they use some of the funds to maybe bring in a
supermarket.It would hurt to ask them.Second It would be better if the people own the supermarket.I as said the people in the community and the workes need to sit down and pool there money together and buy or lease the store. The Dominican community pool there money
together and started Bravo Supermarket.Then now have them across this country. there are also opening up Dominican hair salon across this country.So I will say this again Kick out the Charlatan politician,Judas Goat’s sell out leaders and the community find a way to buy or lease the store.

posted by: Alphonse Credenza on April 1, 2010  12:26pm


If you hadn’t noticed, governments—from the federal to the municipal—place ever greater burdens on the electorate as they grow their bureaucracies ... while private industry shrinks.

You do not think this is a relevant point? 

If business makes money, it will stay.

posted by: James on April 1, 2010  1:26pm

Sure, it’s a relevant point. When you make it. Your first post was nothing more than an narrow opening into which you inserted a completely irrelevant commentary about health care.

posted by: James on April 1, 2010  1:42pm

I would also like to point out that there are times when it it appropriate for a government to step in. For instance, to provide a service that the market, for whatever reason, does not want to offer. Especially when it’s something that is necessary to sustain life. Unless you want a lot of people eating Twinkies out of the local gas station and then paying for the cost of diabetes-necessitated amputation, the area needs a source of food.

Sometime you have to pick the lesser of two evils. Funding a government program, however distasteful to personal politics, may cost less than the implications of not funding a program. And sometimes, we, as a people, need to do things out of basic humanity.

The fact of the matter is that there is void in the marketplace left by Shaw’s. The market doesn’t want to fill it because of both perceived and actual difficulties of operating a profitable store in that location.

The market solution to this problem would be to let the existing inhabitants starve to death. Once gone, the wealthier residents with access to transportation and able to travel farther to buy more expensive goods will move in to take advantage of the cheap land left behind by the now deceased underclass. As a bonus, crime will be down because all of the scary poor people will be dead. The area will gentrify, making the site attractive once again to a grocer. Market competition for the spot will ensue, and the lot will be put to the highest and best use. All without government intervention! How’s that solution suit you? If you don’t like that, I’ve got one that involves eating babies.

posted by: ILuvmyGov on April 1, 2010  4:45pm

For those of you who aren’t aware, Shaw’s on Whalley lost huge amounts of money - its needed large subsidies each month just to stay afloat.  So, if you are running a public company, you should be fired if you choose to keep this location open during a downturn.  Similarly, any reaonable grocery chain would look at this history and steer clear of investing as well.

The only way to get a business to go there is through the ‘stimulus-cash for clunkers-gov’t healthcare’ process of propping up an institution w tax dollars.  Only problem is, as Marg Thatcher once said; “Eventually you run out of other people’s money”

posted by: pc on April 1, 2010  7:39pm

Trader Joe’s.

The old Shaw site is in an economically depressed neighborhood, but it is also well located, within easy striking distance of two of New Haven’s largest employers, Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Hospital of St. Raphael.  It’s also convenient for people who work downtown but head home to other parts of the City or to the northern suburbs.  Then there are people who would just rather shop at a supermarket in New Haven than head out to Hamden, Amity, or Orange. 

Trader Joe’s prices are basically equivalent to Stop and Shop, and it’s prepared and semi prepared food and fresh produce selections are superior.  It’s smaller, and doesn’t have the same paper goods/cleaning supplies selection as larger supermarkets, but other chain stores, such as Walgreens, offer this.  Plus Tader Joe’s is a store that people will go out of their way to get to.  A supermarket with a clientele broader than just the Dwight neighborhood would have a better chance of succeeding and staying in the neighborhood.  It might even seed further retail development.

The location should be marketed as an advantage—lots of parking, little competition, close to dense employment areas, an untapped urban market eager for this type of store.  If an additional carrot is needed, try offering a free, year long “Shop Trader Joe’s on Whalley” campaign.  Perhaps some money can be shaken loose from the State to encourage them to train and hire from the neighborhood.

It’s worth a try.

posted by: Anon on April 1, 2010  8:22pm

The heck with this. The more I think about it the more I want to go local and keep profits circulating in this community.

I know chains do it cheapest, but is there really no way?

Is it possible that a city of 100K plus can not produce enough labor and brain power to do something like a grocery store? Are we kidding???

Is it possible that we are so screwed up that no one wants to come here [yes] and if so, what do we do about it, sit around and whine?

Take the ‘ghetto’ sav a lot Supervalu is offering? Hell no. We aren’t a ghetto and Supevalue frankly can shove it.


posted by: Anon on April 1, 2010  8:27pm

HEY, to Luvmyguv,

Where the heck did you get that info? Point us to the source. I would love to know that.
Supervalu hasn’t released that info publicly and we would like to know the details, so if you are privy, help us.

What was the drain, extra costs or just poor sales? That makes a big difference. If it is extra costs [security, lawsuits etc] we as a community can focus on a solution, We can’t if we don’t know what it is.

If it was just poor sales, we need to know that too.

C’mon, don’t just saunter on here with your secret information without giving us enough to do anything with it.

posted by: john on April 1, 2010  8:29pm

here’s a place i miss from my days in lovely JP, Boston:

sure it was not *always* the cheapest in town, but it was certainly reasonable, often produce was very inexpensive, and by working in the store (a certain requisite number of hours/month) you got a discount.

to boot, it was a great locus for socio-economic and cultural integration of a type that new haven, in my opinion, visibly lacks.

posted by: anon on April 1, 2010  8:47pm

OK, this is what we are dealing with:

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on April 1, 2010  8:55pm

The way I understand it, is that Shaw’s statewide was experiencing a decrease in revenue, not an absence of any profit. If the trend continued, they may very well have begun to run a deficit, so to avoid this they preemptively closed down shop in the state.
If I’m incorrect, can you show the source of your information? It would be really helpful to the community because we wouldn’t have to waste time going after another store that will never open and we can put our energy is finding a different solution.

Anderson Scooper,
If Stop & Shop were operating a store on Route 80 instead of on Whalley Ave (Amity Road), then I would agree with you that Stop & Shop was essentially “redlining” New Haven’s inner city. I don’t think it makes any sense for Stop & Shop to open a store a mile down the road. If anything the original Stop & Shop location was a form of “redlining”, not what they’re doing now by not buying the Shaw’s.

Chain groceries operating in 1934:
Chain Groceries operating in 1965:
Chain groceries operating today:

In 1913, there were 628 retail grocers operating in the city of New Haven. These were mostly locally-based, privately owned and one of a kind groceries that were opened on the ground floor of a small (20-30 foot wide) mixed use building. They were also separate from bakeries, butchers, florists, etc which were often located either next door or down the street in similarly deployed local, privately owned small stores.
In 1935, there were a total of 87 chain groceries operating within the city of New Haven. These chains operated out of small store fronts, usually with office or residential space above. These chains also competed with many locally owned, individual groceries in close proximity.
By 1950, there were only 24 chain groceries still operating, and the number continued to drop in the following decades.
We should try to learn from our past to better inform us of how to do things in coming years. Should we try to attract another super market and put ourselves right back into the vulnerable position we were just in? Should we try to attract some smaller chain groceries to several parts of the neighborhoods so that more people are within walking distance to goods and services? Should we try to establish some local groceries owned by small groups of residents that slowly grow over time to rebuild a dense network of grocers similar (but better) to what New Haven had in 1913?
Let’s inform ourselves and act as a community towards a logical and attainable goal.

posted by: Thomas on April 3, 2010  1:47pm

would like to see markets like Trader Joe’s and Aldie’s use that space there business model works in diverse markets and I believe might even get some Yale students and faculty to venture past Broadway. A government run store is a receipt for disaster and a money loser. Past comments concerning Shaw’s in both The Independent and the Yale Daily News have criticized the service at Shaw’s at the check-out lines, many shoppers felt they were not wanted there. No one believes service will improve under government management and operating at a greater lose will not help New Haven. Ferraro’s in a industrial area in a high crime area yet still thrives. The people of the neighborhood need to help make commerce work, I don’t believe they want as some look to suggest a UN food relief station on Whalley Avenue.

posted by: Alphonse Credenza on April 4, 2010  2:59pm


I made the point indirectly, but clearly.  You required additional information so that you could make the connection.

posted by: HewNaven?? on April 5, 2010  10:33am

If you want the service to improve you have to respect the workers. Give them good wages, benefits, a future, something to believe in. Isn’t that partially the mission on this site.

Find me a crappy worker and I’ll show you his crappy boss, or in this case, his crappy corporate owners.