Why Whole Foods' Arrival is an Auspicious Sign for Detroit

Starbucks used to be the retailer who symbolically announced the revival of an urban community. Not any longer. Will Doig looks at Whole Foods, the new gentrification symbol, who've "made a science of putting down roots" at "just the right moment".
May 8, 2012, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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When Detroit offered Whole Foods, the Austin, Texas-based retailer $4.2 million to open a store in the city, they clearly believed in magical revitalization powers of the "Whole Foods Effect."

"Whether the Whole Foods Effect is real, or the company is just extremely good at slipping into areas that would have gone upscale anyway, has never been directly quantified," writes Doig. "But evidence suggests that Whole Foods can accelerate gentrification in particular ways. A new Whole Foods may not cause property values to shoot up on its own, but it can set into motion a series of events that change neighborhoods."

"This 'seal of approval' quality is Whole Foods' Midas touch; as with streetcar tracks, potential gentrifiers see it as something tangible that certifies a neighborhood as a quality buy. And not just residents; businesses, too, look to Whole Foods as a disciplined pioneer that does its homework."

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Published on Saturday, May 5, 2012 in Salon.com
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