New Somerville Stop & Shop accessible, affordable
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 07:09
Just a stone’s throw from the Tufts campus, Stop & Shop opened a new store location at 105 Alewife Brook Parkway, its second in Somerville, on June 21.
“The new store will offer Somerville residents and neighboring towns fresh produce, seafood and high quality meats along with an expanded selection of natural and organic products,” a June 18 press release stated.
Although this site is new, the company has been around for nearly 100 years. Known then as the Economy Grocery Stores Company, the Rabinovitz family originally founded Stop & Shop in Somerville in 1914, according to the supermarket’s website.
Stop & Shop’s new store opened nearly seven months after the Johnnie’s Foodmaster grocery store chain announced last November the closing of its 10 store locations. The Alewife Brook Parkway site is the second former Johnnie’s Foodmaster location to re-open as a Stop & Shop, following the first in Medford in January.
Parke Wilde, an associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, said that grocery stores in the area have to compete for business. While Stop & Shop purchased two locations, Whole Foods Market obtained six stores from the Foodmaster family-owned supermarket chain that closed after 65 years of operation.
“Especially in an area like the Boston metropolitan area, the stores often feel an intense price pressure,” Wilde said. “Stop & Shop, it’s a regional chain, but I think all of these chains have to compete. Whether it’s Walmart coming in from Arkansas, or a local supermarket, they face many of the same pressures.”
The new grocery store site is entering a market with multiple competitors, such as Shaw’s, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Market Basket.
Ian Wong, director of health education at Tufts Health Service, commented on the ways shoppers choose their grocery stores.
“The thing we’re looking at ... comes in three parts,” Wong said. “One, access. [Stop & Shop] is pretty easily accessible. The other piece is cost, is the food affordable? Third piece is the variety of choices there.”
Students reported that access to a grocery store can be the biggest barrier to cooking healthy meals for themselves.
“Lack of quick and easy transportation is my biggest obstacle when it comes to purchasing and cooking healthy food for myself,” senior Alexandra Dardaris said. “Especially because I don’t have a car, many times I just end up ordering take out or walking to somewhere close on Boston Ave.”
Falling back on take out provides an unhealthy diet for students, as compared to shopping and cooking for themselves.
“For students who have access to cooking facilities, even cooking the food they enjoy, they’re probably going to do better in terms of health profile than eating out,” Wilde said. “The modern supermarket offers an array of foods ranging from quite healthy to less so.”
Beth Farrow, health educator and prevention specialist at Health Service, sees Stop & Shop as a store well suited to serve the needs of a college community.
“It is a store that provides a variety of foods at low cost ... and it just provides another option,” she said. “I know a lot of students were either going all the way down to Shaw’s or occasionally to Whole Foods. We hear from students a lot [though] that Whole Foods has great products but the cost is a little excessive for college students. I think [the Stop & Shop] is going to meet the needs of students more at a very convenient location.”
The new Stop & Shop is just 1.03 miles from the Mayer Campus Center.
The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate Services Committee last year addressed the importance of an affordable and accessible grocery store for students.
The Stop & Shop in Fellsway Plaza partnered with Joseph’s Transportation to provide a free shuttle from Tufts twice a week. The bus picks students up at the Campus Center at 7:45 p.m. and has them back by 9:45 p.m., according to the Student Services website.
“The current Stop & Shop shuttle is something that is paid for by that particular Stop & Shop,” Administrative Services Supervisor Louis Galvez III said.
Last May, Christie Maciejewski, a current senior who was the chair of the committee, spearheaded the project on the Tufts side, along with TCU Senator Brian Tesser, a sophomore.
“There are a lot of students living off campus who need to buy groceries, and there are a lot of students on campus that go to buy groceries for their dorms,” Tesser told the Daily in March. “We realize there is no convenient and affordable outlet to do that for students.”