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RELEASED TODAY

Whole Foods Market® opens its doors in Jamaica Plain

Store features include expansive bulk offerings, pizza oven and prepared foods

Jamaica Plain, Mass., (October 31, 2011) – Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM), the world’s leading natural and organic supermarket and America’s first national certified organic grocer, opened the doors of the newest location, in Jamaica Plain, today.

The store, which spans more than 13,700 square feet and employs 104 full and part time team members will offer the Jamaica Plain community access to the freshest and healthiest local, natural and organic products at an affordable price.

“We are so pleased to open our doors in Hyde Square. We have created a beautiful store that will be a great match for the Jamaica Plain community,” says Store Team Leader, Mike Walker. “It is particularly exciting for us to have the chance now to really show our neighbors what Whole Foods Market offers as responsible, active community partners.”

The new store, located at 413 Centre Street is the result of a complete renovation of the interior of the existing space. Modeled for energy efficiency, Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain boasts a number of green technologies, including LED lighting and state of the art refrigeration systems. The parking lot, which offers 68 spaces, also has an electric car charging station as well as racks for 15 bikes and a self-service bike repair station.

No two Whole Foods Market stores are alike. Each store is designed to reflect the community it serves. Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain was designed to echo the vibrant culture of Hyde Square, while paying homage to the Googie style of architecture that makes the building so unique.

The products carried in Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain are also a reflection of the community. From locally produced to ethnically influenced selections, the shelves are stocked with affordably priced products that meet the company’s strict quality standards.

Along with the grocery, produce, meat, seafood, specialty, bakery and Whole Body departments, Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain offers an expanded bulk department featuring a wide selection of beans, grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruits.

For customers looking for convenience, Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain offers a great variety of prepared foods, including a large salad bar and hot bar, as well as a pizza oven and Panini station.

“Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain is unlike any of our other stores,” says Walker. “We are so excited for longtime Whole Foods Market shoppers and the folks who haven’t ever had the opportunity to shop with us before, to come see what we have created just for them!”

Jamaica Plain Store Information:

Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain

Address: 413 Centre St. Jamaica Plain, MA

Phone: 617.553.5400

Hours of operation: 8:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m. daily

 

 

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It seems that no matter what Whole Foods does to promote its commitment to the Boston community, it continues to answer the critics, even though it is now only about 200 people who have gone on record to oppose the construction of a new Whole Foods supermarket in the Hyde Square section of Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

Here is the email that the anti-Whole Foods group, Whose Foods?, issued on the morning of October 3:

Whole Foods must pay JP employees a living wage

Last Wednesday, Whole Foods market announced a job fair in Jamaica Plain this week. While the fair is an important step towards restoring jobs to 415 Centre St., Whole Foods has offered no guarantee that those jobs will pay well enough for workers to actually live in JP without housing assistance.

Nearly 200 neighbors have signed a statement demanding that Whole Foods pay a living wage to workers residing in Jamaica Plain and enter a binding agreement. Contrary to their glossy image, JP Whole Foods’ entry-level wages are below the living wage in Boston — $10 an hour to start, more than $3 an hour below what our city has determined to be a wage sufficient to keep a family of four on or above the poverty line.1 Whole Foods should pay all its workers a living wage.

Why does Jamaica Plain need a binding agreement to trust that Whole Foods will do right? Because Whole Foods has shown time and time again that it will do whatever it can to cut costs at the expense of good jobs. Whole Foods is the second largest non-union food retailer in the United States after Wal-Mart, and has also refused to hire union electricians for the Jamaica Plain store’s construction despite daily picketing by the IBEW for the last two weeks at the location. The Whose Foods / Whose Community? Coalition for an Affordable and Diverse JP stands in solidarity with the picketers.

Neighbors will continue to demand that Whole Foods pay its workers a living wage by entering into a binding agreement with Jamaica Plain. The agreement should also provide funding for anti-displacement work, affordable housing, youth programs, food assistance, and local business assistance.

By this afternoon, Whole Foods’ Northeast Regional Office had sent us a statement about the Whose Foods? email. Here it is:

Whole Foods Market is proud to be among the highest paying employers in the grocery industry.  Beyond paying above what our competitors pay, we offer benefits to full and part time employees, as well as a 20% discount on all Whole Foods Market purchases. Our generous wage and benefits package along with the fact that 70% of our team members are full time, are among the reasons we have been named on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year, for the past 14 years.  We would encourage anyone with concerns about our employees earning a living wage to visit our website for a full outline of our benefits.  www.wholefoodsmarket.com/careers

Prior to a new store opening, Whole Foods Market uses an open shop bid process to request and receive competitive bids for goods and services involved in the construction process. Contractors bid on the identical job and we make our decision based on quality and price — which is smart and standard business practice.

Whole Foods Market supports the rights of all workers, union and non-union, to work in a safe environment that is free from discrimination, harassment, and any other unlawful conduct. We work diligently to comply with all local, state and federal labor laws and we work hard to find the best partners to help us build our new stores. More than 50% of the sub-contractors that we hired for the new Jamaica Plain store are, in fact, union trade organizations.

In the end, the opinions of 200 people (some of whom don’t even live in JP) have been heard. Whole Foods has literally gone out of its way to respond their critics. With growing unemployment in this country, isn’t it time to just move on and let Whole Foods run a business? As people around the United States express their rage against corporations, they should be lucky that Whole Foods is actually the kind of corporation this country needs more of.

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A GUEST POST BY JP RESIDENT GRETCHEN VAN NESS

On Thursday June 2nd, 13 representatives of Whole Foods Market came to Jamaica Plain for their long-awaited meeting with the community. I met my neighbors on Cranston Street and we walked down to the Curley School together to hear what Whole Foods had to say. On the way, a brief, light summer shower broke out and a rainbow graced the sky over the Acapulco Restaurant.  I was filled with optimism about the evening. Now, finally, the community would come together, meet the people behind the Whole Foods name, get their questions answered, and finally, possibly, begin to move forward together.

As we approached the site of the meeting, however, I realized that our unexpected rainbow wasn’t about JP that evening. The broad steps of the Curley School were littered with people in blue t-shirts and boxes of blue t-shirts. A few people were handing out blue flyers.  It was the Whose Foods/Whose Community group that was formed in opposition to Whole Foods last winter. I recognized some faces from previous community meetings, but many of the young faces were new to me. A couple of people handed out yellow flyers that read, “Hyde Square and J.P. Welcomes Whole Foods” in English and Spanish.

I watched as people approached the building, confused about the array of blue stretched across the stairs. Some people walked away. But others bravely navigated the WF/WC obstacle course, and soon I followed them into the auditorium. Most people were seated and were waiting patiently for the meeting to start, but there was a flurry of WF/WC blue up and down the aisles and back and forth across the rear of the auditorium. There were police officers everywhere. On each of our seats was a reusable Whole Foods shopping bag with various brochures and a pre-paid postcard for sending food suggestions to the company.  Damn — we were hoping for cookies!

The meeting started with the Whole Foods folks introducing themselves. We met the mangers of the new store and many others, including Laura Derba, the current VP of the North Atlantic Region who started out working part-time at the salad bar. There was a brief PowerPoint presentation. Each speaker sounded upbeat, but one young woman’s voice wavered slightly. It was then that I realized how intimidating the auditorium must have looked to the people sitting in front of us. Someone in a blue t-shirt also picked up on this moment of weakness and shouted out an anti-Whole Foods comment. The presentation continued and the blue t-shirted folks all suddenly raised their blue flyers into the air. We looked around and couldn’t figure out what prompted the action until we saw two people photographing the crowd from the stage in front. An older couple a few rows down from us raised their Whole Foods shopping bags in the air, as they had apparently missed getting a yellow flyer at the door.

Then there was movement and sound above us. Two people were attempting to unfurl a banner from the balcony. It was upside down at first, but when they got it straightened out, we could read its message:  “Displacement:  What is Whole Foods Going To Do About It?” In all of the commotion that followed (this was when the first two arrests occurred and Chris Helms, editor of the JP Patch, almost got himself arrested, too, because he had chosen that moment to check out the view from the balcony), I remember thinking that this was the first anti-Whole Foods banner I’d seen that wasn’t also in Spanish and how strange that seemed. The people in the blue t-shirts were chanting “No Whole Foods! No Whole Foods!”

But the chanting died down and the meeting continued with the Q&A session. The first speaker was the Executive Director of the Hyde Square Task Force. He was very, very angry that the meeting was not being held in “Hyde Square” and accused Whole Foods of arrogance in having the meeting at the Curley School. Everyone around me sat in mystified and uncomfortable silence. Wasn’t this the organization that had just received a $8,500 donation from Whole Foods? Why wasn’t the Executive Director thanking Whole Foods for its support and telling the community how the money had been put to use? And we had just walked the few blocks from our homes in Hyde Square to a school attended by kids who live in Hyde Square where Whole Foods has donated a salad bar. What was wrong with meeting here?

As the speaker continued, at first one by one and then in larger numbers, people got up from their seats, walked quietly to the front of the auditorium, shook hands with and thanked each of the Whole Foods representatives, and left. The speaker never even paused. After he had far exceeded the allotted two minutes and hadn’t asked a question, some people in the audience started shouting, “Question? Question?”   I never heard one.

But subsequent speakers did have questions and Whole Foods had answers. Despite countless interruptions and chanting and name-calling, we learned a few things. That the JP store is considered a small store and that the parking lot holds 65 cars, which is sufficient for the store size. That Whole Foods has entered into a long-term lease with the MSPCA/Angell across the street for overflow parking; that they are hiring locally and expect most of their employees to get to work by foot, bicycle, or bus. That they are already in discussions with the city to improve and expand the bus stop in front of the store. That as soon as possible after the store opens and they can assess how the parking is working, they will make their lot available to neighboring businesses. That a complete delivery service will be available from day one. That they will have a trailer in the parking lot this summer where people can apply for jobs.

And that was about it. Although the police had earlier arrested the two people with the banner, they had not confiscated the banner. As one of the WF/WC members spoke, several people in blue t-shirts charged down the aisle, attempting to unfurl the banner again. The police were close behind and grabbed a corner of the banner. There was a brief tug-of-war, which the police won. As they retreated, a woman followed after the officers, hitting one of them repeatedly. Laura Derba then announced that the police were ending the meeting.

As we filed out of the auditorium, the blue t-shirted folks who remained started chanting “No Justice, no peace!  No justice, no peace!” On the steps outside, a young man called for people to march to Washington and Green Streets, where the police had taken the people they arrested. “Where is that?” several young people in blue t-shirts called out, as they entered the address in their smart phones. A few of my neighbors remained. As police cars converged on the Curley School from every direction, we started the walk home. I looked for the rainbow again. It was gone.

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The Whose Foods? organization has release a video about the June 2 Town Hall Meeting where 3 arrests were made and Boston Police shut down the meeting earlier due to disruption and interruption of residents’ comments.

As the Whose Foods? email we received tonight states:

Whole Foods’ packed Town Hall meeting on June 2nd at JP’s Curley School was met by a large presence of residents who continue to express their concerns and demands about the potential arrival of the store. The meeting marked the first official visit of Whole Foods to Jamaica Plain since the January announcement that the upscale grocery store would be taking over the Hi-Lo Foods space in Hyde Square.

In a statement on behalf of neighbors concerned about the planned store, Martha Rodriguez of Hyde Square asked Whole Foods: “We were promised a forum such as this one as soon as you had access to the store. You gained access and erected a fence in late March, but waited over two months to host this meeting at which the community is allotted a deplorable 30 minutes to speak. Is this your idea of being a good neighbor?” and “What are you going to do about the displacement of our families, friends, and neighbors…?”

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Here is the video of  that “same white lady” who talks about her support for Whole Foods in Jamaica Plain. Seems that Twitter protesters forgot that this “same white lady” also said “passion is good, rudeness is not.” No wonder that the Whose Foods? campaign is losing major credibility in the ast 48 hours, to the point that even Mayor Tom Menino is speaking out.

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Boston Mayor Tom Menino said on June 3 that he supports Whole Foods coming to Jamaica PLain.

Maybe it had to take a fiasco Whole Foods Town Hall Meeting to FINALLY have Boston Mayor Tom Menino to publicly comment about the new Whole Foods store that will open in the Hyde Square section of Jamaica Plain, and we want to commend Mayor Menino for doing so.

At his weekly roundtable session with reporters, Menino, who has been facing criticism by JP residents for not making a public comment about the new Whole Foods store, clearly stated his support for the company’s arrival to the neighborhood. As reported by the Jamaica Plain Gazette:

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino today told the Gazette that he wholeheartedly supports Whole Foods’ planned move to Jamaica Plain and that local opposition to the store is the work of “a few [people] trying to make it an issue.”

“I think Whole Foods is great for the neighborhood. They have done a lot to work with the neighborhood,” he said.

Referring to the arrest of three protesters at a meeting Whole Foods hosted June 2, he said, “The folks who caused the problems were lashing out.”

In an apparent joke, the mayor suggested that the commotion at the meeting had been caused by agitators from outside the community. “We are trying to figure out if they are from Philadelphia, Chicago [or] Washington D.C.,” he quipped.

At least one of the people arrested, Peter Blailock, told the Gazette he lives in JP.

Menino said Whole Foods is going to be a vast improvement over Hi-Lo, the grocery store that formerly occupied the 415 Centre St. space that Whole Foods is moving into.

He praised Whole Foods for working closely with the city on reaching out to former Hi-Lo employees and hiring many of them after Hi-Lo closed in February.

Hi-Lo “did not do its duty, they were disrespectful to their workers,” he said.

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This banner led to arrests at the June 2 Whole Foods Town Hall Meeting in JP

It was indeed a sad night for the Jamaica Plain community as what was billed as a opportunity for positive, civil dialogue with Whole Foods, the Boston neighborhood’s future tenant in the Hyde Square section of JP, turned into a night filled with shouting, disrespect, disruption, arrests, and eventually an early shut down by Boston Police.

Later today, JRV.com will be posting RAW video of the first hour of the event to give it the context it deserves, since Whole Foods representatives did indeed show up to the event with the best of intentions. We will also be getting comments and statements from several interested parties, since it is clear that the level of discourse regarding this debate reached a new low level as members of the Whose Foods? organization were more interested in creating havoc on the event that actually trying to voice their concerns against the new Whole Foods in civil manner.

We did receive a statement last night from JP for All/JP para todos founder Rick Stockwood:

There were a great number of us in the room tonight that were excited to hear that issues such as parking, traffic, public transportation, after-hours parking, providing healthy foods to children, and product availability are being addressed by Whole Foods. It’s unfortunate that a community meeting designed to address neighborhood concerns and solutions to address those concerns was hijacked by a group of people who have no other plan than to cause a distraction. We look forward to hearing more about Whole Foods plans and how we can work together to build a long-term partnership that will benefit Hyde Square and Jamaica Plain.

We also emailed Whole Foods, We Are All Foods, Whose Foods? and other parties last night for a statement and once we receive them, we will share.

One final note to add: we want to THANK Boston Councillor Matt O’Malley for being the ONLY BOSTON ELECTED OFFICIAL to attend the event. This issue has become hugely important for several residents of JP, and it is a sad statement when elected officials like Boston Mayor Tom Menino, State Representative Jeffery Sánchez, State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, and Boston Councillors Felix Arroyo, Tito Jackson and Ayanna Pressley chose not to show up.

For more coverage of last night’s event, see today’s JP Patch and Boston Globe.

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