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CaroKannyeWest t1_j64d5hc wrote

It's a great place for sure. A daily stop for me.

Most importantly it's located in a food desert. It's one of the few places to get fresh food in the west end.

All that said, I'm torn on donating. The place was run poorly imo for many years. Board positions, volunteer positions etc were filled w friends of management/owners where more qualified people were overlooked because they didn't "know someone".

The place is really needed, I just wish they kept John Santos around and let him run it the way it should have been.


Proof-Variation7005 t1_j64ewqr wrote

>Most importantly it's located in a food desert. It's one of the few places to get fresh food in the west end.

If anything, this should be the non-starter for donating. When they're in a situation where they shouldn't really have any way to fail? Crowdfunding isn't going to save them. The best case scenario is you end up like the suckers who gave $40,000 to Bucktown and they couldn't last 6 months after.

At a certain point, an operation needs to sink or swim and Urban Greens just announced they don't know how to swim


CaroKannyeWest t1_j64f755 wrote

Harsh but fair. And you're right. I was half worried I'd be out on an island with my stance here.


Proof-Variation7005 t1_j64nnx7 wrote

The line about needing "an infusion of cash to get to a place of greater stability" is what made me get that way.


JasonDJ t1_j64dvj5 wrote

They dug their own grave. If a grocery store can't survive in a food desert, they have no business keeping their doors open.

I went several times when they first opened and they were reasonable, fresh, and clean. I've heard that's changed quite a bit over the past year or so.


Kelruss t1_j64pcpw wrote

“Food desert” doesn’t mean “prime location for a grocery store” — often these places are food deserts exactly because they’re tough locations. For instance, dollar stores specifically target these locations and will work to drive out traditional grocery stores by selling cheap non-perishables. In addition, you often have corner stores selling produce and meat directly in neighborhoods (there are multiple on Cranston St., one on Messer, and another on Westminster). With Urban Greens, they’re competing with those corner stores plus at least one dollar store, and a butcher. Meanwhile, I would guess the local market that will basically only shop at a traditional grocery store is fairly small, likely already had an alternative (or might be doing delivery), and is easily poachable by, say, Trader Joe’s.


silvio_burlesqueconi t1_j653hjg wrote

Yeah. I've lived in the neighborhood for well over decade and never thought of it as a food desert—what with Joe's Meat Market, Rudy, Friendship Market, PPW, Price Rite, etc.

I'll pop by Urban Greens once or twice a month for specialty stuff but only did my regular grocery shopping there when Friendship Market and Rudy's were closed for a few months at the start of the pandemic.

They've always been a bit pricy and felt like more a niche place for the Whole Foods crowd than a neighborhood grocery store. I'm frankly surprised they've lasted this long having seen both Fertile Underground and Hope & Thyme come and go.

What's that Marge Simpson line? "We can't afford to shop at any store that has a philosophy."


lestermagnum t1_j64pcw9 wrote

“We now need an infusion of cash to get to a place of greater stability.”

Yeah, we all do.


GoxBoxSocks t1_j64d1uo wrote

What a bummer. It's far from perfect but having a grocery store on the West side with local produce/meats/etc has been amazing these last few years.

I hope they can survive.


Proof-Variation7005 t1_j64e9xs wrote


AttackonRetail t1_j68qw5j wrote

Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm not connecting the dots between financial mismanagement and the article bringing to light communucation and diversity inclusion training and pronoun misappropriation.

Does that make UG behavior right? No of course not. But I'd like to understand more about why their business model is failing because I would imagine these problems are more internal facing and customers would probably not easily catch this


Proof-Variation7005 t1_j6997b9 wrote

I’m not sure that there are dots to connect. This is context that I think some people would rather see before they make a decision to donate or not.


allhailthehale t1_j64jzf5 wrote

I don't understand why they're in such rough shape. I'm sure Covid was stressful in many ways, but business-wise it feels like it should have actually really helped them. Every time I go it feels like there's plenty of people there.

I want them to exist, sure-- it's super convienent to have it there and I'm supportive of coops. Everyone wants a feel-good local market. But they're so expensive that it doesn't feel like they're really addressing the food desert issue for the people most affected by it. And if they're not really serving a community purpose beyond being a bougie grocery store it's hard to want to prop them up. Idk. I wish that the call for donations included more more transparency around what is wrong and what the plan is.


Proof-Variation7005 t1_j64msi6 wrote

I wouldn't want to oversimplify it too much but Trader Joe's opening and splitting the hipster market share probably was a part of it.


allhailthehale t1_j64q2pf wrote

I'm sure that TJs (and Rory's) opening didn't help, but it seems like they've been struggling for quite a while-- like even before they got rid of the last GM.


Proof-Variation7005 t1_j64t4n0 wrote

Oh definitely, competition didn't create their problems. But I think the competition probably increased the severity and urgency.


WickedDog310 t1_j65k4oo wrote

You're not wrong, but TJ's opened what 2/3 months ago? They had to have been in rough shape already if 3 months of competition has driven them to this


Proof-Variation7005 t1_j65mrue wrote

I'd imagine the business model probably limits the margins on what they're actually making per customer. In a situation like that, without the buoy of multiple locations, a small hit can have a pretty big impact.


Double_Farmer_2662 t1_j65acq4 wrote

I go to UG almost every day. It’s only a couple blocks away, so super convenient, but very limiting. I bought a can of mandarin oranges and my only option was $5. I was shocked, but also in a pinch. We don’t shop there for most groceries. It’s to expensive and the options can be limiting. Meat also seems to be more expensive and also limited on what available. For a while the only ground beef was frozen, which I thought was odd.

Produce and vegetables are nice though, along with milk and eggs and other staples. I do really appreciate them for that.

I think they should focus more on trying to be peoples small neighborhood, quick stop grocery store instead of wanting to be peoples go to.

I’ll be sad if it leaves, but I feel like asking for 50k and not saying what improvements you’ll make is sketchy. At least tell us what it’ll be used for. Definitely worried about another Bucktown situation.


Capecole t1_j66jmkr wrote

Getting funding for an established business through crowdfunding is really sketchy. If a business with years of financial records can’t access a small amount of capital through traditional means, they’re clearly in a lot of trouble. It’s disingenuous to seek out investment from the community without a clear understanding of the financial position of the business.


Good-Expression-4433 t1_j64gugv wrote

It sucks because there's definitely a bit of a food desert over here but the brands they carried and prices that came with it I felt mismatched for the area they're serving. I like the store but found myself only going for emergency stuff as a non driver to save a trek to somewhere further out, or to get fresh vegetables for a dish instead of making the trip to Price Rite or Walmart. The shelves when I go in there have gotten emptier, the store feels dirtier, and the employees all seem miserable to boot.

Trader Joe's felt like the nail in their coffin as you can get some of the Whole Foods style bougie shit like Urban Greens sells but still have affordable options. Urban Greens just became less affordable for the people who benefit the most from the location and the people who can afford it have more options in Whole Foods and now Trader Joe's.


leavingthecold t1_j64y9tw wrote

>it sucks because there's definitely a bit of a food desert over here

How is there going to be a food desert there , before that place came there were plenty of Asian and Hispanic markets selling good produce and vegetables. Some of it was locally sourced as well

The only place I ever saw as a food desert was in South Philadelphia holy shit. Providence is to small for that and we have a bunch of options.


kyden t1_j65zv5q wrote

I guess it’s a food desert if you’re a white person and afraid to go into minority owned stores. I live in warwick and constantly drive into the area to stop at the cambodian markets, which have so much produce. Even then, its not much further to the stop and shop or aldi.


Hot-Muscle-9202 t1_j64nnfs wrote

El Tesoro right down the street (the big yellow building) has an excellent produce section and meat counter if you eat that as well as plenty of staples. Their prices are also very competitive. Even after moving to Cranston, we still return weekly to pick up things that we'd otherwise need to get by visiting more than one big-box grocery store.

There is also another smaller one on Union that has an entire refrigerated room of produce, similarly well priced and a well-rounded selection.


Severe_Huckleberry24 t1_j65g8pv wrote

TBH, $50k is going to go nowhere for them. They are in trouble.


iandavid t1_j65r7s2 wrote

I want Urban Greens to stick around because nearly every other supermarket around me is an out-of-state business:

  • Shaw’s is owned by Albertsons (Idaho) which is merging with Kroger (Ohio)
  • Stop & Shop is owned by Ahold (The Netherlands)
  • Trader Joe’s is owned by half the German family that split the Aldi chain in two, and the US Aldi is owned by the other half
  • Whole Foods is owned by fucking Amazon
  • Price Rite is owned by Wakefern (New Jersey)
  • Vicente’s and Market Basket are both Massachusetts-based

Who does that leave that’s actually local? There’s Shore’s Market in North Providence and Cranston, which is mostly limited to Italian stuff. Then there’s all the little neighborhood markets that are generally too small to have most of what I’m shopping for.

I know Urban Greens has had a rough time lately, but I really hope it finds its way, because it’s exactly the kind of small, cooperative market that I want to shop at.


[deleted] t1_j65uegw wrote



iandavid t1_j65uott wrote

Oh right! The closest Dave’s to me is the Smithfield Crossing one, and getting in and out of that strip mall on the weekends is almost as bad as navigating Bald Hill Road on the Saturday before Christmas.


Silentjosh37 t1_j672uqo wrote

What about the one in Cranston near Cranston East seems like that would be closer than Smithfield.


iandavid t1_j674xpe wrote

Depends on what part of Providence you’re in. I live off Smith Street, so getting to Cranston means circumnavigating the city. I used to go to that Dave’s more when I lived in South Providence, but now it’s a slog.


Silentjosh37 t1_j672paa wrote

Farm Fresh, Dave's, Armandos, Union Market, Good Fortune, Dockside, Tom's, Brigiados, Seabras, any number of small markets, they might not be giant markets but are "local".

I am all for staying as local as possible but having a store that has everything you might be looking for as you said you didnt like about the smaller markets but those things are directly opposed to each other. How many "super"markets would you like to have headquartered/owned by a RI only company? Our population is just way too small for that and that was the case decades ago but they just couldn't sustain and draw shoppers as they all carried the same products, from the same distributors(also not local) that they were just fighting each others.

Depending on your age names like Roch's, Jerry's, Almacs and IGA are usually only heard when giving or getting directions, like "take a left after the old Almacs but before the Dunkins." But they used to be the heavy hitters in the area, but then people started wanted more variety at the market and those supermarkets just couldn't offer as much and thats when Stop and Shop gained a foothold. Shaws as well, they were owned by a Massachusetts company at the time though.

The list I provided is just what I can think of off the top of my head and sure I have forgotten plenty. Not all out of state companies are a bad thing, especially if like Aldi's they can provide decent quality food that meets peoples budgets and doesn't break the bank.


rubylily7 t1_j6bbvym wrote

I love good fortune but they’re definitely not a local chain


iandavid t1_j674mn0 wrote

Some of the local chains you mention died because they couldn’t compete, but others were victims of greed. From what I remember hearing from my relatives who worked there, Almacs was in the latter category. Unfortunately since it happened in the 90s, there’s not much info online to back that up.

> having a store that has everything you might be looking for as you said you didnt like about the smaller markets but those things are directly opposed to each other.

I can buy 90% of the groceries I need at Urban Greens. Usually they’re better quality than what I can find at the Shaw’s that’s closer to my house. I can’t say that for most of the other local markets, even Dave’s. I recognize that my family’s shopping habits are different from other people’s, but UG hits the sweet spot for us, and that’s going to be hard to replicate if it goes under.


Silentjosh37 t1_j676ak2 wrote

What you are saying about Urban Greens is exactly what happened to a majority of those other stores. While they check the boxes you need they don't check enough boxes for enough other people to stay in business. Should it exist simply because it is "local"? Especially if all the reports of years of mismanagement are true? Its what killed most of the other "local" markets that have had the same fate.

A grocery store starting a gofundme is a really telling sign of poor sales and things not being managed correctly. If they wanted to raise $50,000 quickly they could do an inventory clearance sale and make bank, they just don't wanna take the hit and lower costs and would rather have someone else foot that bill. How long you think the gofundme will keep them afloat?


iandavid t1_j6772ge wrote

Well for one thing, it’s a member-owned cooperative, not a traditional corporation, so it’s not the same situation as other chains from the past. Fundraising isn’t out of step for a business that’s more focused on serving the community than turning a profit.


WafflesTheBadger t1_j66yokd wrote

I do appreciate Vicente's and MB and consider them somewhat local. Vicente's is very inclusive and they opened in a neighborhood that needed grocery. Market Basket is brilliant in their strategy of maximizing purchasing power and focusing on volume vs margin.

Other RI options:

-Dave's -Brigidos -Confreda's (their sales are insane)

Plus all of the farm stands in RI. I know a great group of girls who have been working with local producers to try to get their retails down (recently got LOCAL certified organic potatoes delivered for $1.99/lb and they offered me an additional discount if I wanted to take more)


Silentjosh37 t1_j6731ic wrote

This is basically my thinking, plenty of options, just not all of them being great and some less budget friendly than others.


CaroKannyeWest t1_j6b777n wrote

Just a shout out for Nueva Era on Cranston for produce as well.

Gigantic fricken carrots, etc at a quarter of the price. They grind and butcher meats right in front of you per order.

It's in a rough spot, no doubt but many don't realize there are 2 or 3 parking spots literally right in front of the store that are often vacant.

Back of the house you need to know a little Spanish but the cashiers and managers are all kind people willing to help any patron who walks in.

For only 2 aisles, they have everything as far as non perishables as well.

And the back of the store is a cafeteria spread with Dominican food.

One of the best kept secrets in Providence. Just don't use the traditional word "bolsa" when asking for a bag. They use "funta" to say shopping bags. They use bolsa as a word for a ballsack. Speaking from experience here. 😂


FrutaFertil t1_j678m2m wrote

I’m really happy that folks are smartening up about not giving cash to businesses so they can stay afloat, judging by the comments here. Urban Greens (and any other business looking to raise cash quickly from customers) could do a flash sale on gift cards, for example. Or access a line of credit from their bank. Hell, even Square will constantly offer their merchants lending options based on their cash flow. There are options, is all I’m saying. Asking for a handout is lazy as hell.


LEENIEBEENIE93 t1_j68nado wrote

Probably going to close even if they reach their goal. Probably more than 50 k in debt. I heard the management is poor. Have had numerous friends work there over the years. The old produce manager from Eastside who sexually harassed me for years and got fired from Eastside got hired there as a grocery manager. Fuck them.


BernedTendies t1_j68qplc wrote

Only a fool or someone so incredibly rich should donate to this. This place was poorly run, but also insanely expensive for its entire existence.

I used to live a couple blocks from this place for several years, and they came in clutch as far as lines go in the early pandemic days. The part where they didn’t come in clutch was when I got laid off in March 2020 and my grocery bills went from $110/week to $170 all while having significantly less options and sometimes needing to go to a regular grocery store anyway because they’d be out of chicken, lemons, or some other super basic food you’ll be guaranteed to need in a week. Selling $10 bacon and still having money issues can only mean it’s poorly managed.

I’m sad this didn’t work out considering it’s definitely in a food desert, but maybe this will open an opportunity for someone else to give it a try in the coming years


Wide_Television_7074 t1_j67axux wrote

is this a shocker? the place is uncomfortable. the constant virtue signaling and social justice warrior bullshit. they are spending money printing lawn signs with political messages — y’all are a freakin grocery market… you lost track of what matters to the existence of your business. blown opportunity to do good and make a profitable business. I hope the market that replaces it is neutral, and focuses on being a quality market — no soapboxes, no “using their platform”, no signs or pamphlets — I just want a grocery market.


airforcereserve t1_j6mti82 wrote

I like them but their board meetings are a train wreck of DIE (diversity, inclusion, equity) virtue signaling. BlackRock funded multi-national companies can afford to play these games but small businesses need to be ruthless with their revenue and expenses.