Friday, March 26, 2010

Closing on April 3

After long deliberation and with tremendous grief, I am announcing today that Good Food Market will close its doors on April 3.

I know that I am disappointing a lot of people for not fighting but there comes a time when you realize that winning won't make the nastiness go away. I can't win swinging punches at shadows when my adversaries won't come forward publicly and I can't focus on what needs improvement as a start up when I have to spend my time with lawyers. I don't want my daughters exposed to this ugly side when there is so much to be thankful about living in Chestnut Hill.

I have made so many new friends, met so many people I deeply admire and am thankful that I got to create something I dreamed of doing for a long time.

If I can ask for support one more time, please stop by this coming week and buy what's left of our inventory so it doesn't go to waste. We are putting everything on sale Saturday, March 27 (at least 30% off).


Friday, March 19, 2010

Update & Reply To phillieFan

I want to thank everyone for all their support and well-wishes. We have fixed the zoning snafu at L&I and the case is no longer threatened. What a relief!

Also, I want to thank phillieFan for their courageous comment to my last post. I appreciate that this may be the first time that you have ever addressed me. (Sadly, you still weren't direct enough to provide your name).

I have some clarifications to your comment though.
1. The petition of "70 neighbors" was never given to Good Food Market nor made public. The only names that were made public were those 5 that courageously signed the letter to the editor in the Local back in June. These names are not in the L & I file nor are they on record anywhere else. I have also learned from several neighbors who signed this petition that they felt "coerced" into doing so.
2. We do have a tremendous number of professionals in Chestnut Hill that are very knowledgeable about zoning and Good Food Market went through the appropriate processes to be heard by these people. You specifically mention the "Land Use Committee." Let me again make perfectly clear that LUPZ approved the variance use of Good Food Market, as did the community association, and the parking committee.
3. GFM really does try to respect all our neighbors. We offer high integrity foods at reasonable prices. We have beautified an abandoned storefront and improved the lighting and quality of the streetscape. We recycle, compost and try to leave as small a footprint as we can on the planet. We offer jobs to neighbors who walk to work. We deliver to the sick, elderly and immobile. And these are all things that make us happy to be in business!

Whether or not GFM management is less polished than corporate grocery managers, our intentions are to serve the community's best interests with honest food, kind & generous friendship and responsible business practices. This is the type of planet I choose to live on. I wish you lived there too!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why Can't Good Food Market Just Serve The Neighborhood What It Wants?

It is hard to be optimistic and cheerful all the time when you really feel like people are out to get you. Sound paranoid?!! -- I never used to be paranoid - now, I am really convinced that I'm being harassed. Good Food Market is being attacked by "someone" who is determined to shut down our prepared food case or bankrupt us with legal fees trying to prove our innocence.

In the past month, GFM has been visited by both a zoning inspector and a health inspector because someone has complained that we are violating codes by having our prepared food case. Interestingly, both inspectors commented during their visit that the caller was "extremely knowledgable" about code, the vocabulary and the process. (I should also note here that I have yet to receive an official violation notice).

I guess I picked the wrong time to open up a grocery store because the Department of Licensing and Inspection is in the process of trying to rewrite codes to reflect modern business practices and that the C1 code is in the process of being revised. This has led me to be caught in the middle of an open discussion at L&I about what this code actually means. Why does this matter to me? Let me explain to you how this affects a small local grocery store so profoundly.

I am told that the zoning code has been the same since 1940. Under this code, a C1 building such as 12 W. Willow Grove Avenue can be home to a grocery store. This grocery store can sell meats, pharmaceuticals, confections, packaged goods, dairy, bakery goods, produce and many other things typically sold by grocery stores. Since the people who wrote this code knew that it would be around for a while and that retail evolves, they added a final paragraph that stated a grocery store in C1 can also have "accessory" use to provide the exact services that all other grocery stores have provided that it doesn't take up more that 25% of the square footage of the establishment. Now, let me ask you: do you know any other grocery store in the United States that DOESN'T have a prepared food case and deli counter?

Well, I have been trying to get to the bottom of this for months now. So finally, I got brave and called the person that really should know -- Jeanne Klinger, the head of L&I. I have to say that I was blown away that she answered the phone and she was very polite, so patient and took her time to speak with me. I was bold and I asked her why every other grocery store can have a deli case but I cannot. She didn't say that I couldn't, but she didn't say I could either. Her reply was that L&I isn't sure that THOSE grocery stores should be allowed to have the cases, either.

Now, I understand that if L&I wants to change this, this may be a good change and they may have the right to change it. But that really isn't my point here. My question still remains: why can they continue doing what every grocery store in the US does but I can't?

And I have to complain here, I don't think this is a fair spot to put an already-challenged small business in! If the L&I battle is with corporate grocery stores, why are they using me as the example? Do you think ShopRite cares if I live or die? Do you think shutting my deli case down is going to give the legal precedence to win a case against corporate lawyers?

Of course, I know my plight isn't nor should be a concern of L&I but it is obviously the reason why the complaint caller called in the first place! They knew I would be forced to fight a legal battle to prove my innocence and to do what everyone else can do. They are hoping to bankrupt me with legal fees.

I'm writing this because I want you to understand that Good Food Market is in danger of extinction and the people who want that to happen are using horribly nasty tactics to accomplish their mission.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Opening @ 11AM for March

We are going to be opening at 10AM for the month of March, starting this Saturday, March 6. Thanks for your patience and understanding as we sort out our schedule.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Event at CitiBank Saturday, Feb. 20

If you're in the neighborhood tomorrow, be sure to stop by CitiBank in Chestnut Hill. Between 11am and 2pm, we'll be sampling homemade goodies prepared by our very own Chef Amy. Come in and warm up during your Saturday stroll on Germantown Avenue!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Two Snowy Days

The snow has tested my faith lately -- like everyone else.

Last Saturday, we were excited to open and be there for the community. (We had so much fun with our neighbors when we opened for the snow storm in December). Unfortunately, when we unlocked the doors, we found that our deli case had died. We lost all of Amy's beautiful food as well as our deli meats and cheeses. We spent the morning cleaning out, throwing out and washing, as well as climbing the icy, snow-covered roof and begging the refrigeration service people for help.

I'm sure you know that every dollar is critical for a small start up and this made my eyes well up a little bit. The sting was worse because a couple customers came in looking forward to our deli selection. We had to explain that there just wasn't any turkey to slice. I was disappointed to hear exasperated sighs and grumbling. And then, I listened to our one phone message. A woman who started out sounding sweet and kind, "Hi, I'm calling to see if you are open today. I'm really disappointed if you aren't...," At this point, I felt needed and appreciated but then my mood quickly darkened, "because you SHOULD be here to support the community." CLICK!

Not "I hope you and your staff are safe in this state of emergency." Not "Oh darn. Maybe next time?" Honestly, it was at best: insensitive, at worst: plain nasty.

These are the exact moments that feel the most bleak. I felt like closing right away and calling it quits -- I'll admit.

I am lucky though because the staff of GFM is amazing, supportive and upbeat when faced with obstacles. Amy came in early Sunday and began cooking again. Quincy came in early (on his day off) and got the refrigeration tech to come in and fix the case. Everyone used humor to cheer me out of the depths of despair and we are moving onward.

So, this morning at 6:30 am I was feeling anxious and slightly traumatized about today's storm. But, we opened. Anne and Makinlee, both locals, walked in. Tracy & Amy volunteered to come too! Luckily, the cases were humming away beautifully. We shoveled and the neighbors came. Rosy cheeked, they thanked us for being open. They laughed with us and they made me feel a part of a community again.

And I remembered again why I started this crazy venture.

Thank you!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

This year, I'm trying to keep my New Year's Resolution list small and manageable.

1. Build upon our local commitment.  Part of our business plan is to make Chestnut Hill greener and a closer-knit community.  We want to expand our local vendor list, we want to encourage more walk-in traffic, we want to support local charities and community building organizations.  This will be a fun task!

2. Expand our "well-stocked pantry" selection.  GFM is all about the quick convenience of a little of everything.  We see the occasional holes on our shelves and dream of what fabulousness should go there.  Very soon, we will expand our allergy, diet-restriction and special needs section into its own department!  We are expanding our own frozen foods line of ready-made meals and desserts.  We are growing our conventional and affordable selections in each category so there is a little something for everyone at prices everyone can afford.

3. Stress less and appreciate more.  A new business has a lot of challenges, flaws, opportunities and uncertainties.  They can become overwhelming at times.  I want to roll with the punches more and take more time to celebrate the successes, however small, with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.

We hope that Good Food Market can help you reach and achieve your New Year's Resolutions as a local resource with healthy food choices, green products, and neighbors who care.

Here's to a joyful, healthy and happy 2010!