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Original JP Harvest could close in February

The Harvest Co-op's lease on its South Street location ends on Feb. 28. Although board members are continuing to negotiate with their landlord, there's a chance the store could close, forcing members to journey to the newer Harvest on Washington Street on the JP/Roslindale line.

The co-op board meets on Jan. 5, starting at 6 p.m., at the Cooperative Artists Institute, 311 Forest Hills St. in JP, with time set aside for members to discuss the potential shutdown.

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It's been a ghost town since the JP Whole Foods opened up for business. And since the new Harvest location on Washington St. opened, the closing of the one on South seemed inevitable.

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That's a bummer! My mom lives about 2 blocks from South St Harvest and walks there to buy a lot of her groceries. Maybe they can open a pot dispensary there for all of the crunchy aging JP hippies (like my mom!)

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How long before another wal-foods opens. With only one in all of jp, they have a lot more to go before the saturation we have in cambridge.

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I have pretty much lost faith in Harvest. When the Washington Store opened Harvest management assured its members (and owners) two things:

1. The South Street store would remain open
2. The South Street store would be reconfigured to reflect its nature of a walk in store (which I hoped meant reducing the snake oil and increasing the improving the actual food inventory).

Item 1 more or less continues but item 2 never happened.

Harvest management never asked the member-owners (let's just say owners) their collective opinion about opening a new store. For something so significant going beyong the Board of Directors to get direct (if not binding) feedback is a no brainer. It's a good way to find out whether there was much interest among already existing members in the first place. It also directly involves owners.

Harvest management has also left out the owners by not paying dividends either last year or this year. The supposed reason is that 1) last year the money was needed due to two store openings (replacing the Cambridge store) and opening the Washington St. store. This year supposedly there was no profit. B.S. If money was given to non-profits then there was profit.

If there was no profit either year then there would not have been money to give to other non-profits. Harvest's management forgot a basic principle of any organization: take care of your home. Here that means making sure that before giving money away put those funds towards dividends to owners. The one night a month 10% discount for members is hardly a sufficient benefit. Not everyone can get to the store on that night. So if purchases through the year do not result in a dividend then there is no monetary advantage to being a member. It's $200 that just looses value since there are niether dividens not interest.

Does Harvest expect people who patronize the Washington Store when Whole Foods is easier to reach (better bus access), does a better job of maintaining stock, has a larger food inventory (and less snake oil medicines)? If they do then they are living in a world of their own making.

Any visit to Harvest always includes an expectation of not finding everything I want (often this is just basics), fresh food going bad (garlic that is mildewy), cheese that immediately grows mold and in general an unpleasant experience.

Perhaps the South Street store will be taken over by Trader Joe's, or even another Whole Foods. Either would be an improvement.

I prefer to shop locally, buy in bulk, do my best to reduce the consumption foot print. But at the cost of frequent frustration, disappointment and out right false statements? I'll just guy in larger bulk at stores that are more reliable.

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A Trader Joes would be so great and so welcome in that location.

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Trader Joe's is not moving in to that location. You can stop wishing that now. They had their shot with the new co-op location and declined. Why would they want to move in to a tiny crap hole when they turned down a bigger, new facility just two years ago in the same general community?

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the lack of a dividend (essentially the reason that I joined the "coop") was ridiculous, and even more so since there was no vote (wasn't aware of that fact) from the members as to whether or not they approved opening another store.

The freezers are constantly breaking at the South St. store, and I guess the foot dragging on replacement means that the writing is on the wall.

Aside from the issues that Anon references above, what about the extremely poor selection of frozen food items?

So many kinds of crappy waffles and what not, and I think only four or five kinds of frozen veggies.

That being said, I find the newer location to be much better stocked, and with a solid selection of produce.

But seriously, is there any measurable local benefit of shopping at Harvest at this point?

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I'll second the positive comments on the Washington Street location. I do most food shopping there and really like it. The South Street location pales in comparison, imo.

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I find that place kind of dirty and the produce not so fresh. When it was Robberway it wasn't so clean and I found that it didn't change when it became a Harvest. That is of course just my opinion.

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Harvest IS a member-owned cooperative, it is not a grocery service. IF we want it to be better, we have to make it better. That means attending occasional meetings, esp. the annual meeting, and communicating with board members about issues, and putting in some time and work. Attendance at the JP annual meetings has been at best sparse the past few years.
The comments I have read today seem to me to indicate a lack of understanding about our responsibilities and capacities as member-owners. If we are not active, we have to take potluck! As someone who has not been active for a while, I am not complaining, but I was disturbed when the dividends started to be paid, as I wd. have preferred for any money to go to the perennial problems with refrigeration at South Street.
I too remember Robberway; I remember when it was erewhon. IT stank to high heaven from dead rodents under the coolers. The South Street store is still WAY better than those. I also was an active member of the Allston Store, which may have been the golden age of the coop. But still, even in its somewhat diminished state, the coop is still a vehicle for provision and encouragement of healthy growing, producing, and eating.
I stopped visiting Trader Joe's when I started reading the sodium content on their labels. Maybe it has improved? I detest Whole Foods although I do go there sometimes, because their customer service, price labeling, etc. is very uneven.
In sum, I hope we will prevail and manage to keep the South Street store open. I prefer it, although I live nearer to Forest Hills store, which will soon be much busier when the many new units are constructed in the immediate neighborhood.

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could stand to be more active in a coop that they are a member of, but it is a business with a management structure that members shouldn't have to trouble themselves with as far as day to day operations go.

I.e., explaining to them the benefits of having working cooling systems at a grocery store. Another note - the beer coolers at probably the most energy inefficient in existence seeing how the doors don't close and the gasket around the doors are falling off!

Either way, I hope Harvest South Street steps up its game or makes room for a well run grocery store.

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Yes, it may be run-down. Yes, it has it's problems...but what could possibly replace it? What are the alternatives that are practical for the neighborhood? Another coffee shop, hair salon or fancy restaurant—or maybe just an empty storefront? What about the elderly, disabled and car-less who rely on this store? What about the lost jobs?

Personally, I have grown fond of this quirky place. I appreciate the fact that I can buy grocery staples in such a convenient location.

If you agree that this store is an anchor for the neighborhood and you want your voice to be heard, please consider attending the meeting on Jan. 5.

Jan. 5, 6pm @ The cooperative artists institute, 311 Forest Hills St,
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

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The South St. location has been on its way out for some time. Between the selling of rotting food, refrigeration issues, a leaky roof, and general dinginess, the place has not been a viable supermarket for some time. While the Washington St. location is an improvement, I have still returned home to find that I was sold stale foods, or been disappointed by a lack of selection. Additionally, the Coop prices have always included a significant mark-up on certain items that is not found elsewhere. When I lived in Vermont, I was a member of the Brattleboro Coop, which had reasonable prices, a great selection, and was generally well-run. Harvest has always paled in comparison.

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I think it reasonable to also consider the age of the South Street building.

The little rounded section on the corner was built by my uncle back in the early 60s as the then-new add-on so the store could expand. He is now in his 90s in retirement. I think that was the last major upgrade that building had.

I also have to agree with many comments that the South Street location is in need of some serious fixing up. While quaint, it is like walking into a Norman Rockwell painting.

Could it be that today's digitally-minded people and potential coop members/users are expecting more?

Food (natural) for thought.

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I understand why people want to vent about the current state of the South Street Harvest, but simply posting on this thread won't have any impact on the Harvest Board's decisions. Inside sources tell us that the Board is currently split about whether to close the store. What's important at this point is to turn up for the public comments session on Monday, January 5:

Harvest Co-op Board Meeting
Monday, January 5, 2014
Public Comments Session from 6–7 p.m.
The Cooperative Artists Institute
311 Forest Hills Street, Jamaica Plain

You can also email the Harvest Board and Management directly:

Board President: Lila Givens
General Manager: Mike St. Clair

Having read through the archived minutes on the Harvest website (harvest.coop), my conclusion is that the Harvest Management's plan -- since planning for the Forest Hills Store -- has been to close the South Street store, and that the Board is being managed by the Management. By showing up on Monday, or otherwise communicating with the Board, we can try to change that dynamic. It's not to late to turn things around.

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The email addresses for Lila Givens and Mike St. Clair got cut. They are

Board President: Lila Givens, [email protected]
General Manager: Mike St. Clair, [email protected]

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Some ideas:

1. As stated below, folks can attend the Jan 5 mtg (see original article) and/or email Harvest board/mgmt.:

http://patch.com/massachusetts/jamaicaplain/harvest-co-op-considering-im...

2. I'm also a burned former member. I still shop there sometimes as the lesser of many evils, but know from my time in Delaware, no less, that a co-op can be so much more. Anyone given any thought to finding that for lease ad and finding out how much the landlord is asking? Maybe a kickstarter campaign could help, and maybe it could be done in such a way to give members truer ownership over the store. Or maybe a true co-op could move into the space.

3. I had never heard of the place that was there before Harvest. Folks at Harvest always told me that the place was never meant to be a grocery store and was instead retrofitted to be such. They said that's why they had refrigeration problems, no public bathroom, ADA accessibility issues, etc. If that's true, maybe a grocery store should not be there after all.

4. Folk who cannot get to the Washington store but love their Harvest can (even now) get groceries delivered. It's still burdensome at $10/trip, but it's better than nothing I guess:

http://www.harvestcoop.com/new-delivery-service-for-harvest-co-op/

https://www.instacart.com/store#harvest-co-op

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On another thread, Dan suggested that Mayor Walsh wants to make Boston more co-op friendly. Maybe it's worth
contacting the Mayor's Office asking them to weigh-in on this. One can email [email protected]. Also, there is the constituents' hotline: 617.635.4500. I just sent the mayor an email.

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