No Whole Foods quite yet

Not sure if this story appeared in today’s paper, but it looks like Whole Foods couldn’t strike a deal to move into former Barnes & Noble at Fremont Boulevard and Mowry Avenue.

For those of you who can’t wait to pay $4 a pound for Cara Cara oranges, I offer you this.

Meanwhile, the Mercury News had more bad news about a company that is already in Fremont — for now.

Matt Artz

  • Audrey

    Marty, why would I call your racist when in fact I don’t believe that? I just said you’re stereotyping. Thanks for trying to make a presumed judgment on my part. Or putting words in my mouth. You can believe what you want to believe, which is obviously what you’re doing. I just think it’s interesting that you would throw out such a statement like Chinese people are inherently unapproachable… I have never heard anyone say that. I’m glad this conversation is strictly online because I feel like you are targeting Chinese people only. Well the good news is probably that I’m still young and 26 and I still believe that Asian people can make a difference. So what if we never become President, yes probably not during your lifetime perhaps, maybe not in mine, but I think it is a bit mean to state “And I say this in the context of believing that an Asian has no chance of winning American Idol let alone the American presidency in my lifetime.”

    Well anyway this is the last of my comments on this thread

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/parting-gifts-for-election-losers/ Marty

    I’m sorry for putting words in your mouth. It just seemed like you were dancing around that word in post 99 when you wrote “how do I say this in a tactful way”. I presumed the tactless way was inferring racism.

    And, I’m not picking on Asians randomly. The topic had diverted to Chinese themed shopping centers. My grandparents held stubbornly to their homeland to the point of disowning members of the family for marrying outside their immediate culture. I know these things are not exclusive. Anyways, sorry. That’s all I can say.

  • SayGoodNightGracie

    To hijack this thread back a bit Here is a quote from President Obama’s speach to CEOs:

    “As we work with you to make America a better place to do business, ask yourselves what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire American workers, to support the American economy, and to invest in this nation.”

    Why couldn’t the City Govt’ ask the same questions, just substitute Fremont in the above quote. Why do we have to accept just whatever anyone wants to plant in our City?

    If Whole Foods does not think they can make a go of it in Fremont, perhaps they haven’t shown enough of a commitment to Fremont. Maybe I really should stop giving them a reason not to open a location in Fremont and let them know I will stop shopping at Whole Foods until they do come to Fremont?

  • IndependentGuy

    It was back at #47 that I mentioned why not a Marina Food. A comment was that Asians were already well served. My view is simply what could survive viably as a business in that location. Gus made a couple of very good points later in #49: First, who is willing to invest in our city? Second, who can make money doing so?

    Even given 47% of the city is Asian, that’s still a generalization for the city as a while. I don’t know ethnic demographics by districts, but I have seen California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS) data for high school attendance areas for the 2009-2010 school year, if that’s any indication. FUSD as a whole is 50%. The high school attendance for MSJ, Irvington and American high schools is 60%. If you include Pacific Islanders & Filipinos, it’s 66% for those three high schools and 57% for FUSD as a whole. Those three high schools pretty much surround the Fremont Plaza. What does this suggest to you in terms of potential business opportunities?

    The movie “Rising Son” had a great line. Everyone might recall this was in the days where Japan was investing heavily in the US. A character in the film complained about Asians taking over the US. Mako’s character Yoshida-san replied, “if you don’t want Japanese to buy it, don’t sell it.” In other words, if someone’s chooses to sell out, don’t blame the buyer. This could apply to NUMMI (seller) vs Union Pacific (buyer), as well as the Barnes & Noble location.

    All that I’ve seen written about why Whole Foods isn’t moving forward on the B&N location is that the property manager is asking for too much. I haven’t read that Whole Foods don’t want to move into Fremont. From news items a few years back, I seem to recall Whole Foods was interested but specifically in a central Fremont location. So we can’t exactly blame Whole Foods if a property manager (who isn’t based in Fremont) wants more than Whole Foods is willing to pay. The question is, what business would be willing to pay whatever that lease rate is and be sufficiently profitable to survive. To get to that answer, you have to evaluate the prospective buyers. And I find myself wondering what bar the property manager has set that drove out B&N and Whole Foods. And what kind of business will generate enough revenues to offset it and still be profitable.

    What people simple think would be cool to have at the B&N location is not enough. Good businesses don’t make decisions that way. Fremont needs solid businesses, not a revolving door of failed ones.

  • Randy

    Hmmm… Marty, so your grandparents were Portuguese?

  • Robert

    I also would like all inclusive shopping centers.

  • Robert

    Yeah Marty, where are your grandparents from? You’ve peaked my curiosity as to where people would excommunicate you if you married outside your culture?

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/ Marty

    I’ll leave that up to your imagination, Robert. Luckily my grandparents were long gone by the time I married. My father though had strict orders – any woman who couldn’t lay claim to my grandparent’s homeland was not good enough for their son. Many families from this region have a similar requirement.

  • Larry

    For all those who keep saying Fremont is not a destination city, aren’t we missing the big boat here? Why aren’t we building upon what’s already here and thriving and make Fremont the penultimate destination for Asian culture on the west coast. It’s Chinese New Year and there’s nothing happening here with a 47% Asian population! Fremont Blvd. should be decorated and we should have our own televised Chinese New Year parade going down it. Why just a downtown, why not a Chinatown, Japantown, Korea Town, Little Saigon, Manila Town, Little Delhi, Little Kabul, all conveniently located in one city for shoppers, diners and business people. We should be having more Asian themed festivals to promote Fremont. We have an annual kite festival, but do you know that the kite was invented in China 2800 years ago? Do you also know that Fremont has the largest dragon boat organization in California and Quarry Lakes would be an ideal location for an annual dragon boat race and festival? Seriously, would having a Whole Foods really make Fremont that much more interesting? Think big, we could be putting Fremont on the world map and attracting investors and visitors from Asia and around the world.

  • SayGoodNightGracie

    Hi Larry, if that’s what you want then go for it. Organize, get the 47% involved and committed to your vision. At the end of the day, though, I still want my Whole Foods.

    IndependentGuy – If Whole Foods really wants to move into Fremont, they sure are acting like they don’t have to bother actually doing so. I moved to Fremont in ’97, does it really take 14 years to find that retail sweet spot in a City filled with empty lots and properties? I don’t think so. I think they need a little push.

  • IndependentGuy

    Gracie, I personally think a Whole Foods would be cool to have. Although the impression is that it’s high end and expensive, I’ve seen market basket studies that demonstrated that its somewhat comparable to Trader Joe’s, as both have moved to private labels. What Whole Foods has is a different selection. I also think Asians would shop there, same as Trader Joe’s. You raise good questions:

    - We really don’t know what transpired between Whole Foods and Sun Hill (the property manager), and if the city is doing anything proactive to mediate or facilitate the transaction.

    - We don’t really know the process by which Whole Foods vets and selects its locations. It does seem to me like the Hub/Plaza and Pac Commons areas are the two highest traffic shopping venues. There may be lots of empty lots in Fremont, but not the right profile to their requirements.

  • SayGoodNightGracie

    IndependentGuy, we may not know the process, but we do know the outcome. No Whole Foods. I see Whole Foods in all sorts of locations, some with good parking, some with not very good parking, larger stores and smaller stores. No matter where they are, they are busy. Part of that business is Fremont commuters (like me) going there after work. Which just goes to show that: if you build a Whole Foods somewhere, shoppers will beat a path to your door. And we Fremont commuters are very obliging, maybe that’s not a good strategy it turns out, since Whole Foods can count on our business no matter where they built. Why would they feel a strong incentive to locate to Fremont, sweet spot or no sweet spot.

  • Jen

    IndependentGuy –
    Keep in mind what VOR mentioned in #95. The federal demographic designation of “Asian” also includes those of South Asian decent, such as Indians. So that 47% appears to mean, Asian as in Chinese or Japanese as well as those from India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Also, the FUSD district lines are drawn so that the kids who go to Kennedy can be from Ardenwood, which is heavily Asian. Many Irvington kids are now from the Mission area, also heavily Asian. So you can’t look at the high schools in closest proximity to central Fremont and use that as a basis for an assumption of the demographics of the immediate geographical area.

    The parking excuse is ridiculous. The parking at the Palo Alto Whole Foods is abysmal. The property owners at that center are rumored to charge a ridiculous amount for rent. They have not been able to get another restaurant in the old Uno’s spot. I almost hope that the B&N spot sits vacant so that maybe those folks see that their spot isn’t as prime as they’re charging for.

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/parting-gifts-for-election-losers/ Marty

    I almost hope that the B&N spot sits vacant so that maybe those folks see that their spot isn’t as prime as they’re charging for.

    I think the coming Spirit Halloween store should satisfy that thought too, Jen.

    BTW, have you tried the Cheese Taster in Mission yet?

  • worble

    Wow! Between the whole foods and the ballpark dreamers you people can form a Mob and call yourself NILES. I’m sure Marty would love to be mayor of this Mob.

  • Jen

    Marty – I’ve been there before for a sandwich, but don’t recall being wow-ed by the cheese selection. Just for you, I’ll give it another shot. :)

  • IndependentGuy

    Jen, points taken. I understood the definition of “Asian”, which I’ve considered North/Eastern & Southern Asia. It’d seem odd to put those of Middle East heritage under Asians, but, given the ethnic categories is still rather simplistic, who knows — probably defined a long time ago before the influx from South Asia and the Middle East. For that matter, the cultures, languages, diets, etc., of North/Eastern vs South Asia vs Middle East are very different. In lieu of actual demographics for that area, I was using school attendance areas as a possible proxy. It’s hard to shoot in the dark.

    Worble, to me this is just a mental exercise: Given the demise of B&N, what might possibly be located there. So far the ideas are an Asian grocery store, a Whole Foods store, an Asian food court, and a Spirit store. What’s your guess?

  • VOR

    IG – you left out Dollar Store as one of the potential replacements for the former B&N.

  • californiaguy

    Worble # 115
    I love it. The Whole Foods Niles MOB

  • worble

    Cal guy I knew somebody would get it.

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/parting-gifts-for-election-losers/ Marty

    I’d get my mob on for a WFs at the Henkel site. Would Jen survive the spike in endorphin if they decided to build there?

  • Wholefood Lover

    I don’t think Whole Food cares if you are Asian or Martian so long as it makes a profit. I’m an Asian, but I would love to have Whole Food in Fremont. I’ve visited Whole Food in many cities around the country and also wonder why we don’t have it here.

    But judging from our poor city planning results over the decades, Whole Food will be wary of our local politics, which favors developers rather than business development. Talking to several potential and current business owners, Fremont city will give you a run around and bleed you to death, thus raising the cost of doing business. Lew Wolfe personally stated that in the public that someone is making a living off the process.

    Blame the current leadership and their clan for what we’ve got. Do they ever held a townhall to listen to business needs? Nope. Only close door meeting with developers.

  • Jen

    Alas, Marty, I might not.

    I’m still holding out hope for a high density low income housing project in that spot with an Asian themed strip mall adjacent.

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/ Marty

    a high density low income housing project…with an Asian themed strip mall

    There goes Here comes the neighborhood!

  • Sam

    Larry in #109:
    I’m feeling sick.

  • WarbleFly

    What happenened to the train depot lovers mob? Worble is no doubt the chairman of said group.

    As far as Whole Foods,they are ok,but,,I think Andronicos would be a better store for Fremont.

  • VOR

    Andronico’s had a beautiful store in downtown Danville……and closed it several years ago. Not enough business. Not sure what that says about Andronico’s or Danville. Or course Danville doesn’t have a Ranch 99 either.

  • charlie C

    What does the Fremont Citizens Network have against the citizen of Fremont? No Whole Foods, no ballpark and no future! Thanks to the FCN (mob) the only flavor Fremont will be serving up is going to be VANILLA! Forget about steady cash flow, jobs, tax revenue and the civic pride a ballpark would have brought. Asian strip malls and Kabob Huts are the future of Fremont. Thanks to the FCN Fremont is doomed to be what it now is.

  • VOR

    Another great market, Consentino’s on Bascom in San Jose also closed after 64 years in business. They had great meats, super bakery, nice selection of wines, cheeses, etc. The supermarket business is tough and smaller stores no matter the quality of their produce, products or service is becoming a thing of the past.

  • IndependentGuy

    VOR, it’s really been sad seeing so many family-owned business go out of business due to the corporate retain chains (Whole Foods, Fresh & Easy included). Even though it may cost a bit more, I still try to give family-owned businesses my business. Dale’s has been great. It’ll be interesting to see if Dale’s culture will survive under Ace Hardware management.

    Danville has a Fresh & Easy, a Trader Joe’s, and the usual other grocery store types. They also have a Windmill Farm stand for produce. Draegers out by Blackhawk I believe. I guess Andronico’s couldn’t be competitive. Chains can have the edge on selection and price due to economies of scale. It then comes down to extraordinary customer service and long-time relationships.

    Trader Joe’s is an interesting business. It presents itself as local, hip, earthy, but is actually a huge private corporation with 350 stores across 25 states. 70% of its sales is private label, and they religiously protect the maker of the labels. Wouldn’t be as classy if it turned out to be the same maker as a generic label at Smart & Final, huh.

  • VOR

    IG- Right on the money with your comment “It then comes down to extraordinary customer service and long-time relationships.” That’s why Dale Hardware has survived. The same goes for McIvor’s Hardware in Mission San Jose.

    I may be mistaken, but I believe Trader Joe’s is owned by a German conglomerate.

    If you’re ever in Mountain View check out The Milk Pail.

  • VOR

    One final comment on food markets. Lunardi’s is another grocery store that would be categorized as upscale but very good. A check of the cities they are in qualifies the upscale comment.

  • californiaguy

    Charlie #128
    Do not forget global warming, it is all FCN fault. The war in Iraq and Afganistan clearly FCN fault.
    Charlie get some help with your mental problems, please!

  • IndependentGuy

    For what it’s worth, from the Whole Foods website:

    Here are the guidelines they use to consider a location:
    - 200,000 people or more in a 20-minute drive time
    - 25,000-50,000 Square Feet
    - Large number of college-educated residents
    - Abundant parking available for our exclusive use
    - Stand alone preferred, would consider complementary
    - Easy access from roadways, lighted intersection
    - Excellent visibility, directly off of the street
    - Must be located in a high traffic area (foot and/or vehicle)

    The location would seem to meet their guidelines for consideration. As of their 2010 annual report, their preferred site size is 35,000-50,000 sq ft going forward, and they expect the majority of their new stores to fall within this range. Still, do-able if a store there would confidently meet their financial objectives. In other words, a smaller store but with good margins.

    Occupancy costs is a key metric. If the property lease exceeds their gross profit expectations, then end of story. They’re a Fortune 500 business so will do things by the numbers to meet financial objectives. It’s not just about selling organic healthy food to a community that wants them there. If the city isn’t willing or able to provide some offset as an incentive, then, again, end of story.

  • charlie C

    #133…I get Calguy, you’re Norman Bates and West is”Norma” Normans mother?
    Thanks to the FCN all that would have benefited us is now lost. In retrospect do you or any of the other usual suspects have any regrets for opposing the best thing that could have happened to Fremont? After the success of the Fremont Citizens Network campaign of intimidation killed the ballpark our city has forever lost years of steady cash flow. Because of the FCN opposition to reasonable development Whole Foods,Lunardi’s, Fresh & Easy, Andronico’s will never come here. I’m afraid your dissociative identity disorder is gettig worse.

  • californiaguy

    Charlie, It is hard to discuss anything with you.
    You are :OBSESSIVE
    excessive often to an unreasonable degree

  • Jen

    I’m confused. How are the ballpark and a Whole Foods, et al type market similar? And why would FCN oppose a Whole Foods?

  • Dan Ondrasek

    Jen….because the little green people in his attic told him that….

  • SayGoodNightGracie

    Ok. So is FCN still an active group in Fremont politics?

  • charlie C

    #136…Calguy & West “STOP WHINING” both of you! May I suggest some sort of badge of shame (perhaps a dunce cap) be worn by the both of you as well as the of rest of the FCN mob for condemning Fremont to eternal purgatory!
    #137 Ms. Jen (are you now or have you ever been a FCN member?)…Fremont will NEVER be considered a SERIOUS PLAYER for anything upscale as long as reasonable development is run out on a rail by a mob of bullies!
    #138 Did your PINK ELEPHANTS friends tell you all about the little GREEN MEN or have you deciphered the voynich manuscript?

    Oakland is dead and San Jose is failing…maybe it’s not to too late to try and bring the ballpark back to Fremont.

  • Dan Ondrasek


    Time for your Alka Seltzer Cough and Cold Nightime and about 11 hours sleep.

    Rest and get a sence of humor…

  • californiaguy

    OK, no comment!

  • worble

    Charlie do you really think that the FCN had anything to do with the ballpark not coming to Fremont? your sadly mistaken. The people of Fremont stoped this Dumb ass backdoor deal that W-ass-erman and his cronnies tried to sneak by the people that really care about Fremont. HA HA maybe next time they will ask for a vote and we will see what the people of Fremont want. NO TO W-ASS-ERMAN NO TO THE BALLPARK IN FREMONT!!!!