Friday, January 16, 2009
We made a stop at the River Valley Market in Northampton the other day, to see how a co-op supermarket does their thing.
They nestled the market in a former hollowed out hillside quarry, so there's tall solid rock ringing two-thirds of the parking lot and store.
Tall fences protect the shoppers from falling rock, and probably protect the rock from climbing shoppers.
Being a co-op means that the store is member owned. Anyone can join the co-op for a fee, or lend money to the cause, or both. The member-owners have a say in matters such as what kinds of goods the store stocks. Walking through, it becomes apparent that local ownership, and more precisely local Hampshire county ownership, leads to shelves stocked with predominantly local and organic foodstuffs. But it's not only local stuff. Want pure water? I mean really pure water? Then have a gulp of Voss; the purest unfiltered water in the world, tapped in far off Norway.
Made fresh from melting polar ice caps, Kelly mused...
Shopping at the store is very much like a 'Whole Foods' type of experience. They have a seafood section, a meats section, a cafe, wines, and plenty of organic and non-organic produce. They also have a pretty informative website with information on the inner workings, history and membership opportunities of this fairly unique grocery store, and it's fairly unique business model.
Also, judging from their website FAQ, their number one question is "Is River Valley Market only for members?"....
The answer is: Everyone is welcome to shop there. In fact, bring your kids.
We shuttled up a bit farther on Route 5, to have a look at a new gadget store Kelly had heard about. For me, you don't have to say gadget twice. We found the place to be located in the stately former New England Candle Company building. The sign out front has been replaced with the new moniker of the Gift And Gadget Outlet. Inside, we found that there is still a lot of NECC candles for sale in the first rooms you enter. The gadgets are farther in the interior. There is actually a bit of 'As seen on TV' type stuff in there, as well as other, well, gadgets...
They had this sign outside, and the wording is guaranteed to draw the folks passing on the street. Who doesn't look twice at a sign that says 'Free' anything..?
Heading back home on Route 9 in Hadley, we saw that construction for the massive new Lowe's home improvement building is in full swing.
Like the McDonalds/Burger King game, or the Big Y/Stop&Shop competition, the new Lowes will be arming itself to do battle with the brand new, similarly huge Home Depot, just up the street.
That's a lot of concentrated home improvement power, in a rapidly dwindling home market. But hopefully they know what they're doing, since they had to tear up some of the last open spaces on this road to make room for themselves...
And finally, (segueing with the word 'power')...I can't hear the roar of F-15 jets overhead without swiveling my head and trying to track the sound for a glimpse of the fighters in flight.
I'll finish out this post with pics of a couple of them that I watched landing in Westfield. Not because they have anything to do with markets and polar water and home improvement battles, but because, well, they're just so...cool.