Have you noticed that changes seem to be afoot at Country Club Center and its Walmart-was-Montgomery-Wards building? According to the Business Journal, you will eventually see another grocery store there. That's right, our community, which is chock full of grocery stores, is in line to get another one. But it's not just any grocery store, it's Amazon Foods! The Business Journal says Amazon has decided the suburbs are where it's at, and Arden Arcade is, you know, a suburb! Are you excited yet?
But, wait, you say, don't we already have one of those Amazon grocery stores (Whole Foods) a stone's throw away at Arden and Eastern? Of course we do. We're not unfamiliar with an Amazon grocery store where a whole lot of "professional shoppers in branded shirts" rush through the aisles to fill orders delivered on smartphones. Not that it matters to the Rocket Scientists in charge of our economic development down at County Hall. Look, County Club Center already has a de facto grocery store called Costco Business and the Winco across Watt in Country Club Plaza is twice the size of the average grocery store in California. And you can also buy groceries (and booze) at nearby Target, Walmart Grocery, Trader Joes, Sprouts, Raleys, Bel Air, Safeway, Grocery Outlet, Save Mart, yadayadayada. Or any of the numerous convenience stores, ethnic food markets and produce stores all over the community. It's another dumb land use decision, isn't it? Why do we need another grocery store? For the same reason we're getting another fast food chicken place kitty corner from the other fast food chicken place at Watt and El Camino. For the same reason our community's Poster Child for economic failure - the Savings Center on Watt - has rotted for decades: lack of leadership hiding behind laissez-faire deference to the Holy Marketplace. Oh, and maybe also because the County just can't stop approving to-go liquor licenses.
Beyond the unnecessary further saturation of grocery stores in our community, let's take a moment to see how Amazon Fresh compares with Whole Foods (AKA Amazon Foods or Whole-Paycheck-to-Amazon). Here's the difference according to shopfood.com: "Amazon Fresh offers a wide selection of national brands, private label, and store-made products at a low price, whereas Whole Foods offers organic products at a higher price point." Got that? Country Club Center gets the low end. Arden and Eastern gets the high end. Also, Amazon has a load of new technology it wants to deploy at its Amazon Fresh stores, the better to violate your privacy and have you function as an unpaid Checker. Apparently they want to shift their labor expenses to you so they can make gazillions more dollars, while fooling you into thinking this is the cool new way to shop. Is Amazon Fresh the consumer version of their warehouse distribution centers? You know, the ones that maltreat the employees? But, hey, never fear! Personal shoppers will fetch the packaged foodstuffs for you, even deliver it to you "for free" if you are a Prime Member and spend enough when you shop there. They'll also have convenient curbside pickup for Prime Members. Don't have Prime? Too bad.
Here at the global headquarters of the Advocates for Arden Arcade, we've often mentioned the plight of our invisible community: "the vision thing" is missing, our General Plan is a joke, our Overlords either don't care or don't know what they are doing, and we are stuck with a dysfunctional land use mess that favors out-of-town corporations over local businesses that are the backbone of any local economy. Please don't blame our new Supervisor for this one -- the train left the station before he took the job. But if this latest blunder by the County matters to you, you might want to let him know about it. On the other hand, maybe it doesn't matter to you. Maybe you are one of the people who voted against local control for
Arden Arcade back in 2010 because you trusted the County to run local municipal affairs. Or maybe you just don't want to get involved. Whatever the case, if you choose to stay in your hidey-holes, keep your fingers crossed that "County knows best". And, everybody, please be sure to have the the latest QR reader on your mobile phone so you can use your Prime account at Country Club Center's latest, greatest innovation.