In Berkeley, a venerable grocery market comes under fire

Shirley Ng, owner of Country Cheese Coffee Market, says Monterey Market is under-cutting her prices. Photo: Niclas Ericsson

By Niclas Ericsson

Emotions are running high in the Northbrae area of Berkeley, and the friendly spirit of the neighborhood is at stake, according to a number of small merchants who are afraid they will not survive in the wake of what is being perceived as aggressive marketing strategies at Monterey Market.

Several small businesses say the owners of Monterey Market have begun to deliberately stock items that they specialize in — including certain cheeses, wine and flowers — and they are selling them at predatory prices, which threatens the local merchants’ livelihoods.

A group of Northbrae neighbors has distributed a hand-out in support of the small local merchants in which it criticizes Monterey’s approach. “We are making a moral and ethical appeal,” said Tom Meyer, speaking for the group. Signatories on the hand-out include Monterey Fish, Gioa Pizzeria, Hopkins Launderette, and Storey Framing. (See the hand-out here.)

A manager at Monterey Market said he had no comment to make last week when asked by Berkeleyside for his side of the story. Follow-up phone calls requesting an interview were not returned.

“This used to be the happiest neighborhood I have ever worked in,” said Shirley Ng, owner and manager of Country Cheese Coffee Market at 1578 Hopkins Street. Ng said that things started to change in June 2009 when Monterey Market’s former manager, Bill Fujimoto, left his position due to disagreements within his family, the owners of the business.

Monterey Market: a Berkeley institution since 1961

“Bill and his wife Judy were among the leaders of the community,” said Ng. Around 200 locals gathered to say goodbye and show their support to Fujimoto when he left the store.

Monterey Market was established in 1961 by Tom and Mary Fujimoto, Bill’s parents. In the beginning the store had a butcher shop and sold dairy, canned and packaged foods and fresh vegetables. In 1968, the Fujimotos changed the focus of the store to concentrate on fresh produce, according to the store’s website. The store has long enjoyed a reputation for being at the forefront of Berkeley’s natural food movement.

The relationship between the new management and the community seems to have got off on the wrong foot soon after Fujimoto left. Before long, the small local merchants were hearing reports from customers that Monterey Market was selling the same specialty products as they were, but at lower prices.

“We only have a 30% mark-up”, said Ng, adding that she doesn’t understand how Monterey Market can sell the same products so much more cheaply.

Asked why Monterey Market should not have the right to pursue a business model that includes selling what it wants, Ng said:  “Sure, but they don’t have to carry exactly the same products. It’s not that there was no competition before — we carried some of the same items — but we had matching pricing,” Ng said.

Other merchants in the area echo Ng’s views. “We wish the owner of Monterey Market would respect the specialty of others,” said Maria Rosales of delicatessen store Magnanis. Like Ng at Country Cheese Coffee Market, Rosales says sales at Magnanis have gone down recently.

Based on his conversations with local merchants, Meyer believes this is true of several of the smaller local shops. His hand-out cites Mahmoud, owner of a nearby flower booth, who says his sales have dropped by 70%.

The decision by Monterey Market to stay open on Sundays, which it started to do in November last year, has also had a direct impact on sales, according to Ng and Rosales. In the days of Bill Fujimoto, opening hours used to be coordinated among the merchants, according to Ng.

Montery Market does have a section in its website about the neighborhood, with separate descriptions of the area’s merchants, including Ng’s store.

Bo Larson, owner of Monterey Liquors, is used to competition as Monterey Market has been selling wine and beer for a long time. But he is not happy about the store expanding into the domain of other merchants.

“There is a really nice community eco-system here, and I think it’s foolish what they are trying to do. It’s shortsighted and I don’t think it’s going to work out the way they want,” he said.

Attempts by the group of concerned neighbors to communicate with the management of the market were initiated as long as a year ago, according to Meyer. When these failed, the group decided to put together a hand-out to publicize the views of the local residents and small-business owners.

Around 150 500 copies of the hand-out were distributed in the area surrounding Monterey Market on Saturday April 30. Sign-up sheets at the local merchants, asking people to help with the campaign, have gathered more than 100 names, Meyer said. The group is now hoping that customers will choose to support the smaller merchants.

“We at least want to make people aware. A lot of people would go out of their way to support the local merchants,” he said.

Meyer said that recently the group had been approached by a representative of Monterey Market to set up a meeting. “That discussion will determine where we go from here,” he said.

Asked what he expected from the Market, Meyer said: “They should talk to their fellow merchants about how they could all flourish.”

Like several of the other merchants Ng is trying to adapt, moving into new products lines and instituting more competitive pricing. “I don’t mind the challenge. But there is a special spirit in this neighborhood”, she said, making it clear that she sees that spirit as being under threat.

Niclas Ericsson is a columnist, novelist and freelance journalist reporting from the Bay area for various Swedish media. He is currently interning at Berkeleyside.

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  • Nancy

     Even the Conservative prime minister of the UK — who is an ideological proponent of free-market competition and unfettered capitalism —  is looking for ways to keep shopping streets thriving because they are being killed off by online shopping and “clone store malls”.  Informal agreements on who sells what is not necessarily collusion or price setting but a way to keep the shopping environment balanced and healthy for all. 

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/may/17/queen-shops-revive-uk-high-street

  • Berkeley Resident

    Try this place.  Not quite VooDoo but fun and delicious.
    http://www.pepplesdonuts.com/

  • Jasmine Sunshine

     I can’t imagine the pizza place or other restaurants will be effected.  So we’re really talking about a handful of businesses, some of which are well run and others that are, to be honest, pretty poorly presented.  Many of them look like they are straight out of the 50s with dusty products on the shelves and lack any charm.  I have a healthy respect for the past, but to maintain yourself in a competitive market, those mom and pop shops are going to have to evolve to suit the times.  If Monterrey Market wasn’t there to pull so much traffic into the neighborhood, wouldn’t they all be suffering more?  As a home owner in the neighborhood, I’d love to see a few of those shops become more presentable, even if that means a turnover of certain businesses that are there.  Just to be clear, there are some that are already quite charming. As long as we don’t end up with a Subway or chain I’m not against the natural evolution.  A business in that location should be proud to have Monterrey Market as a neighbor and should stand to benefit from the traffic that business generates.

  • Anonymous

    Lilies, the chinese restaurant, is the street’s other anchor. Kid friendly, diligent at “to go” and , under a recent change in ownership, even more tasty!

    “…Liquor Store – My God, this place is depressing”

    That’s what real liquor stores look like. It’s a time honored decorative approach: “You want booze, we got booze.” A wine store might offer gift boxes of chocolates and silk flowers but never in a liquor store.

    What is a casual beer bar that serves cocktails? It sounds like a bar that wants to be a coffee shop.

  • Hombre

    This has GOT to be a sick, sick joke.

  • Ptuomov

    This is either a parody or a person confessing to a criminal conspiracy with Monterey Market’s former manager, Bill Fujimoto.

  • Bo Anderson

    These merchants are literally acting as the textbook example of a cartel and engaging in anti-competitive activity.

    “The decision by Monterey Market to stay open on Sundays, which it startedbo to do in November last year, has also had a direct impact on sales, according to Ng and Rosales. In the days of Bill Fujimoto, opening hours used to be coordinated among the merchants, according to Ng.”

    That quote above is these stores admitting to collusion!”Ng is trying to adapt … instituting more competitive pricing…. I don’t mind the challenge. But there is a special spirit in this neighborhood”That special spirit is you not competing with anybody. Your mad because you aren’t a monopoly anymore

  • Jiconcha

    Is this a satire? I mean, I know Berkeley is progressive and all, but does writer really object to a business trying to do its best to serve its customers?

  • http://www.davosnewbies.com lknobel

    I don’t think the writer had a view that he expressed. He’s reporting on a petition started by some local merchants which has attracted some community support. It’s a news story, not a piece of advocacy. Unfortunately, the owners of Monterey Market would not comment, so their point of view is unrepresented.

  • Vinny4prez1975

    “Cultural cannibalism?”  Man, you need to grow up.  For 99.99% of all of the humans who ever walked this earth, life has been short and brutal, as they struggled to live and feed themselves.  What you deride as “predatory” has risen our standard of living to heights unimaginable to most humans.  It has created the very luxury time necessary for artistic and “cultural” pursuits you seem to hold in such high regard.  Most people in history weren’t artists or singers because they had to toil on farms to feed themselves.  They didn’t have the luxury of time to devote to such things.  For many years now, humankind has seen its station rise to the point where more and more people have luxury time, and so more and more of our people are artists.  You write as if this has always been the case or is the natural order of things, and you completely ignore the fact that the very thing you deride, private commerce, created this!   You are like a fish who doesn’t know what water is, even though you have been surrounded by it and living off of it for your entire life.  In fact, one of the greatest things we can show as evidence of the success of private commerce and property rights and the profit motive is that it has created a standard of living in the country that is so high, sanctimonious ignoramuses like you can navel-gaze about your pet philosophies on the internet, and broadcast your ramblings to thousands of people at the click of a button.

  • DMS

    But what about the children?

  • Vendulka

    The ecosystem analogy for a community is apt. Stasis kills an ecosystem. Evolution, change, and adaptability are required for it to survive — symbiotic processes and all. In a community where every business carries the same goods at the same high prices for ever and ever (you might succeed in making life here even more difficult for poor people — is that the goal???) it’s probably more appropriate to liken this community to a display aquarium or terrarium than a natural ecosystem.

  • Bruce Love

     “Soon, you’ll obtain the stability you strive for
      in the only way that its granted
      in a place among the fossils of our time.”
    – Jefferson Airplane

  • Rahul

    Forever? Let’s use your Walmart example. Can you show us a time when Walmart drastically increased prices after doing its predatory rampage?  

  • Rahul

    What in the world is wrong with a store wanting to stay open on Sundays? I am a student and I often forget something for a Sunday dinner and it’s great to know that there’s a store in the neighborhood open on Sundays. Knowing my weird schedules I’d applaud even more if someone said a store was converting to 24 hours open. 

    If neighbors have traffic issues etc. I am sympathetic but there are better ways to resolve those. e.g. your rant about left turns probably has a traffic engineering solution. 

  • Rahul

    So, what’s un-excellent about MM? The fact that they sell some things cheaper? Or that they are open on Sundays? What makes the small stores better? Of course, if small-is-excellent is axiomatic for you then I can’t really argue against that! I do buy the nostalgia argument but how far can one stretch it? 

  • Anonymous

     I can not believe that you are not shopping at these stores because your own greed. You said yourself that we should act out of caring instead of greed, yet you care more about your own money and time than about the people who run these businesses. Selfish, greedy people like you are the reason this world is being destroyed. There is a long and boring story about someone like you in the Talmud. Because I care about my fellow human beings I will not repeat it here.

  • Anonymous

    If this does happen and the surviving store starts selling Zima for 12 dollars would it then be immoral if someone opened a store selling it for 11 dollars? 

  • Rahul

    The Monterey Mart owners probably did more for their cause silently than by any statement they could have made. The only ones who come out looking evil in all these are the colluding small business owners. 

  • Andy

    If I was a resident of this area, I’d laugh in the face of any merchant who tried to convince me that it was in my best interest to pay more for an item at their store.

  • Kendo

    No problem.  People with attitudes like Andy’s don’t live in this neighborhood. They live in cheap tract suburbs, shop in cheap strip malls, at cheap chain stores.  We live in Berkeley because we don’t enjoy those things or share those values.

    As a business owner I value goodwill.  It takes years to acquire yet can be pissed away with short-term perspectives (like competing unnecessarily with the neighbors).  Good neighbors make good customers and I hope the Monterey Market realizes the implications of their goodwill-damaging decisions before we feel it necessary to park in their lot, all day, to assert our long-term values like they are imposing their short-term values.

  • Kendo

    No problem.  People with attitudes like Andy’s don’t live in this neighborhood. They live in cheap tract suburbs, shop in cheap strip malls, at cheap chain stores.  We live in Berkeley because we don’t enjoy those things or share those values.

    As a business owner I value goodwill.  It takes years to acquire yet can be pissed away with short-term perspectives (like competing unnecessarily with the neighbors).  Good neighbors make good customers and I hope the Monterey Market realizes the implications of their goodwill-damaging decisions before we feel it necessary to park in their lot, all day, to assert our long-term values like they are imposing their short-term values.

  • Andy

     Yes, the “liberaterians” have an agenda.  Purchasing their consumer goods at the lowest price possible.  Imagine that.

  • Andy

     Yes, the “liberaterians” have an agenda.  Purchasing their consumer goods at the lowest price possible.  Imagine that.

  • Voxhumana

    I just came from MM where I had a disturbing experience that may be indicative of the change in ownership and the new approach to customers. I bought a dozen eggs that were directly in front of a sign that said $2.69. I checked the brand and the sign on the side of the display case which lists every brand and the price for each. Regular customers will know what I’m referring to. When I went to check out, the clerk charged me $5.79. When I challenged her, she disagreed and said that was what the register came up with, so it must be right. I suggested someone look into it because there was clearly a discrepancy with the SKU and the prices listed at the refrigerator case. Another clerk overheard this and went to check. He came back and said yes, they were listed for $2.69. The first clerk at the register still put up a fuss and didn’t want to correct the price. After I completed my checkout, I went back to the egg case to see if I could have misinterpreted the price in any way. The second clerk was back there talking to the signage man, asking him to correct the SKU to make it consistent with the sign. The two men (next to the egg case,) then decided the actual MM corrrect price was $4.89, although there was no sign anywhere for that price.

    So which is actually the correct price? So how often does this kind of thing happen? The second clerk who helped me said I was the third one today to object to the higher price. How many others picked up the same eggs and didn’t pay attention at the register, ending up paying almost twice what they expected, without even being aware of it?

    I’ve had similar experiences there recently with baked goods; the sign price did not match what was charged at the register. I can understand this more readily with produce. There are often inside and outside prices for slightly different fruits or vegetables. And these prices depend on the wholesalers and can change daily. But items with SKUs require computer updating and if these are not accurate and consistent with the adjacent signage, it results in a classic bait-and-switch, which is illegal.

    This experience has made me reconsider my patronage of MM. I guess the moral of the story is buyer beware. 

  • mtrono

     OK, I admit to my bias of not liking Chinese food. 90% taste the same, and it’s generally a regretful experience. Perhaps I should try it again, but I suffered once and never went back. Referring to it as ‘the other anchor’ is stretching their impact. I’d be shocked if anyone has ever gone out of their way to visit Hopkins to eat Chinese food. Let’s see, how many Yelp reviews does Lilly’s have? 48. The last was in March. Hell, even the Cheese Shop has more reviews at ~50. Gioia Pizza? 400+. ‘Nuff said.
    Not all liquor stores are depressing. Let’s take a classic example: Ledger’s on University. Old skool, yet takes pride in their selection and will order odd things upon request. Then, of course, there’s the new generation of beer shops like Beer Revolution in Oakland and City Beer Store in San Francisco. Hell, even a wine shop that sold decent spirits & beer, like a small K&L in San Francisco, would be welcome. Basically, who wants to buy beer from a ‘crypt keeper’ personage? I get enough of that on BART or AC Transit. Oh, and Yelp reviews? 0. Doesn’t exist.

    I stick to my suggestion that a place that primarily sold alcohol for on-premise consumption would be most welcome by a subset of neighbors who enjoy going out to socialize.

  • Anonymous

     Just spit-ballin’ here…..why don’t the other stores start selling the same things that Monterey Market sells instead of colluding against their customers?

  • Anonymous

    The low number of postings on yelp is a plus for me. I can’t stand whiners. For those who enjoy chinese food, Lillies is a great place, friendly service, good food and affordable. Try the Mongolian Beef or Salt and Pepper Pork.

    re:  the liquor store…”Crypt  keeper personage”…?

    I’ve shopped there for years and still don’t know their names. What a relief! I go there because I want a bottle of scotch, not because I need to talk. Basic politeness, correct change, that’s it. With all the money they’ve made with their minimalist approach, I doubt they spend much time on buses or BART.

  • Szunderwood

     Bait and swtich?  List alluringly low prices, but charge more at the register.  That’s the profit margin:  the majority of customers who don’t notice or complain.
     
    Over many years of shopping at MM, I have long observed the listed prices for produce are approximate, but my estimation has been that I was undercharged for some items about the same amount I was overcharged for others.

  • blogo

    This post made me laugh, probably because I agree with most of it. 

    What I like about the coffee shop is that it is always open.  I think the only day I can’t get a cup of coffee and breakfast is New Years Day.  I wish it was open during the evenings too and that they would expand their food offerings (a burger and fries would be nice) and add beer and wine, but I’m still grateful for what it offers today.  They’re a nice bunch of people, too. 

    I like Country Cheese, but it took me a long time to actually walk in the door and check them out.  I was turned off by the random selection of plates and other things they display on the sidewalk.  From the outside, it appears to be a thrift store, which is not appealing to me.  But once you get inside, their food selection is quite impressive and I have become a regular shopper.  I think they should ditch the plates and other random crap and market their core products on the sidewalk…. or nothing at all would be an improvement too.  Not everyone loves a yard sale. 

    Monterey Liquors is kind of a depressing spot, but I shop there regularly and really like the owner and his employee.  Good people, good selection, but just not the best marketing setup.  Plump Jack in SF used to draw me in with their window displays, but this place has most of the windows blocked with the backside of display cases.  It would take very little time and money to make the place more appealing and inviting.  I think it needs a woman’s touch.

    I’m not a big fan of the bakery.  I love bread and sweets, but I’ve just never been that impressed with their products.  Monterey Market carries Acme bread, so I’d rather shop there than buy a mediocre loaf of bread from these guys.  And their coffee stinks compared to the strong stuff you can get at the coffee shop. 

    Magnani’s has a great meat selection, but their prepared foods are mediocre and their customer service is snarky.  I don’t shop there much because of that. 

    I’ve never set foot in that flower shop, but it is a cute space.  Whenever I walk by, I just wonder who buys that stuff and how the place manages to stay in business.  And where is this Mahmoud guy?  I’ve lived in this neighborhood for a few years, and I’ve never seen him.

    I wish the Chinese restaurant would go away.  I order take out occasionally, but I usually do so out of desperation and later regret my choice.  It’s just not that good.  And the restaurant is not inviting, so I’ve never had the desire to actually dine in or bring a friend.  A grill or burger joint that is open on Sundays would be a great improvement to the neighborhood. 

    The only places I wouldn’t change are Gioia (one of the better pizza places in Berkeley and perfectly fine as a take out joint), the Monterey Fish Market (being open on Sunday would be nice, but great selection and service), and the Berkeley Horticulture Nursery (just plain awesome, and truly one of the most important anchor tenants in this neighborhood). 

    I also own a small business in Berkeley, so I can appreciate all points of view on this situation.  But I’m not convinced that Monterey Market did anything malicious or illegal.  They do carry some of the same wines as the liquor store, but that also means they share a distributor whose job is to push product.  They sell flowers that almost always die two days later, so I pay double elsewhere and have flowers that last a week.  All of these shops have problems, and I hardly see Monterey Market as a threat to the existence of the other shops.

  • blogo

    Who has dusty products on their shelves?  

  • DC

    I hardly ever shop at MM, but recently needed eggs recently and was nearby, so went there for the first time in about six months.  I had almost this same experience, except it was my error not theirs (I grabbed the wrong eggs after mis-reading a sign) and the clerk at register said, “lady, that’s not my problem.”  Regardless of the issue, hearing “lady that’s not my problem” is not even close to being an OK customer service response.  And unfortunately, it’s pretty typical of MM’s attitude towards its customers.  It reinforced my desire to not shop there.

    Me, I normally bike across town to go to Berkeley Bowl, which is much more inconvenient than going to MM, but this is why I make that choice.

  • Steve Jaros

     Well, yeah, we DO know what the other merchants are doing, since Ng admits that they coordinated their prices.

  • Andy

    I live in Brooklyn and shop at the wide variety of locally-owned and operated stores in my very friendly, very fashionable neighborhood.  Strip malls and chain stores don’t exist here because nobody would visit them.  If any of the store owners near me were undercut on prices by any competitor, they’d react in any one of the normal ways businesses react, which could be to lower prices, offer different products, provide superior service, market themselves in some unique way, or any of the other numerous, logical, intelligent and MORAL ways that businesses react to competition.  They would not, however, distribute a piece of paper admitting to colluding on what products to offer and what prices to set, because that would be immoral and illegal.  Nor would they presume to suggest that another merchant should raise their prices or join in their immoral and illegal business practices, going against all business sense and hurting themselves and their customers in the process, simply to help their competitors.

    You’re right.  People like me don’t live in Berkeley, because people like me don’t want to live among people like you, with such a tendency to presume so much.  You’re also correct that I don’t share your values, because from what I can see, your values are distorted and corrupt.  Your threat to take up space in their parking lot just to spite them (as opposed to, say, simply shopping elsewhere) is revealing, to say the least.  In summary, your values are a joke and so are you.

  • Andy

    I live in Brooklyn and shop at the wide variety of locally-owned and operated stores in my very friendly, very fashionable neighborhood.  Strip malls and chain stores don’t exist here because nobody would visit them.  If any of the store owners near me were undercut on prices by any competitor, they’d react in any one of the normal ways businesses react, which could be to lower prices, offer different products, provide superior service, market themselves in some unique way, or any of the other numerous, logical, intelligent and MORAL ways that businesses react to competition.  They would not, however, distribute a piece of paper admitting to colluding on what products to offer and what prices to set, because that would be immoral and illegal.  Nor would they presume to suggest that another merchant should raise their prices or join in their immoral and illegal business practices, going against all business sense and hurting themselves and their customers in the process, simply to help their competitors.

    You’re right.  People like me don’t live in Berkeley, because people like me don’t want to live among people like you, with such a tendency to presume so much.  You’re also correct that I don’t share your values, because from what I can see, your values are distorted and corrupt.  Your threat to take up space in their parking lot just to spite them (as opposed to, say, simply shopping elsewhere) is revealing, to say the least.  In summary, your values are a joke and so are you.

  • DC

    It’s kind of bizarro performance art – he was just posturing to get a rise out of people, which you provided.  You are correct – it’s quite literally a joke, and you fell for it.

  • Andy

     Uh…OK?  If that’s true, then congratulations to Kendo on a convincing performance.  Regardless, his post reflects the attitudes of the supposedly victimized store owners, and my post stands.

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/05/20/BU3F1JIBES.DTL&tsp=1

    Looks like Andronico’s is on the way out.
    Failure to pay vendors is usually the first sign of an impending bankruptcy & liquidation.

    I wonder if the chain is big enough to have any value, or if the stores will just close and be replaced by larger competitors?

  • Szunderwood

    Sharkey:

    Nice scoop.  Thanks for the link.  As goes Andronicos, so goes Berkeley… 

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    If Andronico’s is really on their way out, I would love love love LOVE to see Berkeley Bowl pick up at least one or two of the old Andronico’s locations to expand their business and encourage people to walk instead of drive.

    Berkeley Bowl could take over the Andronico’s on University and turn it into a produce/bulk goods store that would be well situated for walking & public transit and fill a category that Trader Joe’s doesn’t do a very good job with right now.

    I doubt that Berkeley Bowl is looking to expand, but it would be pretty nifty if they did.

  • SZUnderwood

    Yes, perhaps either Solano or Shattuck (or both) stores could be converted into a Berkeley Bowl (or a Whole Foods — which probably has deeper pockets).  Overheard two checkers at an Andronico’s implying that their pay checks are being delayed.  If that’s true, then the end is nigh…

  • annie painter

    Kendo, your post and your actions are immature and irresponsible. 

  • Anti-magnani

    My “beef” with Magnani’s is that they misrepresent their beef as “natural, hormone-free” when in fact it’s your run-of-the-mill Harris Ranch feedlot crap.  I’ve pointed this out to them several times, even gone to the trouble of printing out the information from the Harris Ranch web site and giving it to the manager which explains the difference, but they just grin and keep collecting their premium.  

    The guys behind the counter confirmed to me that their beef is the blue-label Harris Ranch, which according to Harris is “tested for residue” by “random samples”.  Big difference between that at the sign hanging on the wall at Magnani’s that says “no hormones or antibiotics ever!”.

    I love this corner, but we don’t buy meat at Magnani.  Not under the current management.

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    Wow. It’s unbelievable to me that someone can post this kind of holier-than-thou off-gassing without even the faintest glimmer of self awareness about what a complete jerk it makes you sound like. Was there really no point during your writing of this where you thought “Hey, this makes me sound kind of like a tool. Maybe I should tone it down a little?”

    And then the part where you razz him for “presuming” too much, and then go on to presume that everyone in Berkeley is just like him? REALLY?!? I mean, I can maybe see how you wouldn’t understand how obnoxious the whole boho-Brooklyner-who-doesn’t-ever-shop-at-chain-stores thing was if all your friends are like that too, but attacking the guy for gross presumptions and then making one of your own is over the top.

    Yes, Kendo sounds like a jerk. Yes, Kendo sounds like he’s full of hot air. But trying to out-jerk the jerk just makes you look even worse. Thanks for proving that you have the same kind of obnoxious, morally superior gasbags in Brooklyn as we do here in Berkeley. Do you guys also slap those dumb “COEXIST” bumper stickers on your cars, or is everyone who lives in Brooklyn too morally superior to ever drive something as antiquated and hostile to our Mother Goddess Gaia as an automobile?

  • http://www.samefacts.com Michael O’Hare
  • Poprocks23

    First, Let me say that I am a local resident of this neighborhood & frequent all of these shops.

    So…other merchants are complaining because the new MM owners aren’t abiding by cozy market-fixing arrangements wrt prices & good carried? Are you freaking kidding me?

    And MM opening on Sundays means I don’t have to deal with the previous Saturday MADNESS at the place, or give in to shopping at Andronicos.

  • Christo

    Agree with most if not all of this, esp. re: the Cheese Shop’s “old products”.  I avoid the store-wrapped cheeses as they invariable taste like a combination of coffee and mold; which is quite a weird combination.  I wouldn’t mind if MM started selling their own ‘cuts’ of cheeses: parmesan, etc..  Currently they only sell some bries, etc. that come pre-packaged.

    The coffee & pastries at the Cafe are inferior, I will often go to the bakery to get something, even though I agree that it’s not that great either.

  • Anonymous

    MM should be careful what they wish for. If they drive out the other specialty food stores their pleasant little shopping district which is a pleasure to visit, will be a bore and depressing place to go shopping. MM could loose total volume in that case.

    The specialty shops and MM and Berkely Hort are a nice business eco system that they would all benefit from cultivating.

    It can happen in interesting ways. Starbucks shops opening near a local coffeshop often increases business for the local shop. Why? People who only know Starbucks see the sign, park, see a long line and decide to go to the other shop. Or walking by the local shop on the way to Starbucks, find the local shop they haddn’t noticed before, try it and like it.

  • Guest

    > divide up the market

    One store manager can’t be excellent at everything.  It’s not anti-competition to sell only what you know best.

    Copying the selection picked by other local small shops — and undercutting their prices — works til those people who knew how to pick the best stuff to sell are gone. 

    Monterey Market used to be excellent because they knew everything about the day’s best vegetables and fruits.
    Up til 2 years ago, their manager knew all the farmers and could get the very best fresh available every day.
    Then this happened: 
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2009/06/stormy-weather-at-a-fruit-and-vegetable-icon.html

    > Look at … Andronico’s response

    O rly? 

    http://www.google.com/search?q=andronico's+paying+vendors
    Andronico’s creditors complain about paymentsMay 20, 2011 … “They are not paying their bills” ….

  • Alex

    Berkeley, why do you feel so privileged above the rest? You criticize a market that makes produce affordable to consumers? What do you think about monopolization of companies such as Walmart, Bank of America? You would never allow it but its ok if other neighborhoods have it. Please, stop being so privledged. I will continue to support Monterey Market.