On Community

13 Oct

There’s a convenience store down the street from us called Milk & More. It’s an adorable mecca of convenient health (and not-so-healthy) food, and for the past year or so it’s been our quickie escape from the slightly ghetto world of the one run-down grocery store a few blocks away.

Of course, if you’re willing to walk a little less than a mile, you can get to a Treasure Island, a Jewel, and a Whole Foods. But sometimes it’s rainy or it’s been a long day, and a girl just wants dinner. Now. And in this way, Milk & More has more than excelled. It’s difficult being a vegan with a late night craving!

On my walk to campus a few weeks ago, I noticed a new building coming up overnight. A sign outside says “future home of Trader Joe’s.” My first reaction was one of excitement – more variety! Two buck Chuck! Just a few blocks from our apartment!

But I wonder – to what extent is this going to push Milk & More to the brink of closing? A convenience store isn’t practical when there’s a cheaper alternative right across the street. And it is literally right across the street, not even down a few blocks. A convenience store might be open a bit longer, but only by about two hours. Is that enough to sustain an independent store that needs to charge more for the same brands to stay in business? Should it?

Gentrification is a double edged sword. On one hand, it’s rarely bad for a community. It usually brings more income and a safer atmosphere. On the other hand, it can leach the personality out of a neighborhood. Some of my absolute favorite spots are the ones that other cities can’t lay claim to – Molly’s Cupcakes, LooseLeaf Tea, Mista, Wigglyville. Is there room in our instant gratification-obsessed society for the little guy?

(Think that’s a dig at Whole Foods? It’s oh-so-subtle.)

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