I’m sitting here in the parking lot of the Greenwood Market, and I’m truly sad.
Mere moments ago, I stopped in during one of my thrice weekly visits, and the place was being picked clean by shoppers.
“What’s going on?”, I asked the nearest cashier.
“We’re closing on February 5th”, he said, “the owner of the property decided not to renew our lease. Instead, they’re giving the property to Fred Meyer.”
“Noooo!”, I shouted.
“Yeah, my sentiments exactly”, he replied.
“I’m heartbroken. Just heartbroken”, a woman shopper joined in.
You know, it figures that this would happen. Greenwood Market is my favorite grocery store in the city. It’s the only grocery store I ever go to alone. It’s the only grocery store I visit more than once per week.
Greenwood Market is a last bastion of customer service in an area more and more dominated by corporate sameness. One of the last places in Seattle I could buy a bottle of orange juice for a good price without being hassled for my “club card”. The last place I could buy a Twinkie without having to disclose my phone number. The last place I could drop by to buy two items at supermarket prices without having to stand in line for 20 minutes or having to fumble with an automated checkout machine. The last place people smiled, made conversation, and seemed to really mean it.
And now, it’s gone. At least it will be in three short weeks. It’s depressing. It really is.
Companies like Greenwood Market don’t stand a chance anymore. Few independent businesses do. No matter how great your service is, no matter how great your prices are, no matter how sound your ethics … you’re still at the mercy of someone else who is almost certainly less ethical. The bank, the landlord, or some other group of people who care nothing about the neighborhoods they own. The wealthiest companies hold ironclad control over the entire business landscape of the nation, and their control cannot be circumvented or resisted. We all exist at their pleasure. Every last one of us.
Two weeks ago, I picked up a woman from the Harbor Steps Apartments on First Avenue.
“I’m going to the airport,” she said, “Seattle is dead to me.”
Along the way, she informed me that she and her husband had lived at Harbor Steps for five years, and, courtesy of Olympia, their rent had been raised $300 each year. When she complained to management, she was informed that the company that owned the building was based in Chicago, and that they could not care less if she stayed or left. They weren’t trying to build an actual community in West Edge, their only concern was more and more money.
This is the reason that the M Market is now gone, and I’m pretty sure a similar mentality is behind the demise of the Greenwood Market. Screw the community, there is money to be made by a bigger store. Psychopathy and greed are the Achilles heel of capitalism. They are the reasons that western civilization will eventually fall.
In the end, however, it’s my fault. And your fault. We give these folks our money, and we elect the people they bribe over and over and over again. As much as I would like to blame corporate greed for the rising consolidation of America, alas, blame is no further than the nearest mirror.
And so ends another day in the USA. A country whose money, power, land, and assets become consolidated in the hands of fewer and fewer people each and every day. A country where smaller businesses are becoming harder and harder to maintain. A country where employers can demand anything of their desperate serfs and expect it to be done, because alternatives are few. A country where “choice” is anything but.
Rest in Peace, Greenwood Market.
It was a great 20 year run, but in the new American paradigm, you didn’t stand a chance.