What happens when a new market in the neighborhood is planning on opening? Many would be excited for the news. A new Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market location has been approved to open in the Mission District on South Van Ness at the old DeLano Market site but not many are delighted with the news.
This new Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market location has attracted many residents but there are various concerns that have others wondering if it’s a good idea.
” We want to offer residents great alternatives to fast food, and give a solution to people who are looking for solutions to a healthy living,” says Fresh and Easy Market’s Communications Director Brendan Wonnacott.
“We promise that we will do whatever it takes to make everybody happy.”
This new project has been in talks since 2011 and has been approved by the Planning Commission. The number one reason for approval of the new location; because it will provide a general grocery store that is accessible to a dense and growing population that has had no such service for over a year, according to Brittany Bendix, city planner from the Southeast Neighborhood Planning Team of San Francisco.
DeLano’s Market close in February of 2011 and since then the Mission has had a vacant property. This South Van Ness location will be the first store in the Mission District owned by a corporation, Tesco, which is the third largest grocery retail in the world.
“It is definitely a good idea to open a Fresh and Easy Market,” says Mission Merchant Association Government and Media Vice President Phil Lesser. “This space has been vacant for some time, so why not use it on a well lit, legitimate secure purpose to the Mission.”
Many Mission residents love the idea of a Fresh and Easy Market in the their district especially because of safety. ” I will feel safer walking these streets with this store being here. Every time I walk by there are homeless people sleeping in the vicinity,” says Lizeth Flores
At many community meetings, residents raised concerns that this new Fresh and Easy Market will take away clientele from small businesses. Lesser states that there will be competition but that is what America is all about.
Julio, who wished to keep his last name anonymous, manager from Casa Madre grocery business, thinks otherwise. “I am not concerned about the business going down; I care that they won’t be creating jobs for the people in the Mission.”
Julio is not alone; other residents think the same.” I don’t think it will affect business,” says Margarita Valle, employee of La Cocina in the Mission District. ” I honestly think that it will not attract minorities. They will continue sticking to their small grocery store that they have been always going to and whom they trust.”
Noel de Anda, a Whole Foods Market supporter,is very excited about the new project. ” I support this project 110 percent. The Mission District needs a go-to market that provides healthy living.”
” I have been a Whole Foods customer all my life but it is a bit far for me. This new Fresh and Easy will be super convenient but I won’t stop being a loyal customer to Whole Foods.”
A Whole Foods declined to comment on the news store’s opening.
Wonnacott says that instead of affecting business it will contribute to the economic climate in the Mission.
Moira Bulloch, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) communications specialist, said their biggest concern is that Fresh and Easy is non-union. They have described their working environment as “anti-labor.” “For example, there will be less employment because of their self-checkout; employees will not be able to have a say in their benefits and will be paid lower wages,” Bulloch says.
The UFCW has launched a new website, Fix Fresh and Easy, which focuses on what the union believes to be wrong with how Fresh and Easy is operated and solutions on how it can be fixed.
UFCW is not the only one who believes Fresh and Easy is “anti-labor” and unfair. Residents of the Mission District such as Valle support the UFCW’s stance. “The purpose of a business is to bring employment to those in need, not take it away, I see that as anti-labor, “she says.
Wonnacott says that it is not Fresh and Easy Market’s decision to unionize or not. It is the employee’s decision through a vote done by the National Labor Relations Board.
This new location plans on hiring 20 to 30 new employees and offer those who work more than 20 hours benefits. Arriba Juntos, a program in the Mission District that helps find employment to those in need, plans a partnership with Fresh and Easy.
“We are a neighborhood market, so it only makes sense to hire from within the neighborhood,” says Wonnacott.
Up to this date Fresh and Easy Market has had 18 meetings with Mission community members and residents and has been working closely with them to provide the services that they are looking for.
“The process of opening a new store is different,” says Wonnacott. These projects can take up to nine months, even years, to complete. It all depends on location, permits and the process of construction. Once in a while we hit big bumps on the road.”
Bendix is now reviewing the building permit application for the project. Once she goes through the plans she will present them to the Department of Building and Inspection where structural, electrical and plumbing issues are reviewed. When that process is complete they issue the permit, which allows the project to begin construction.
There is no set date for the opening of this new Fresh and Easy location.