Whole Foods as Gentrification Bellwether

Whole Foods' newest store in Gowanus, Brooklyn is causing local vendors and artists to tread "a fine line" between reaching new customers and supporting what they think of as new, "big" development.

The discomfort that neighbors feel about the new Brooklyn Whole Foods continues a pattern of local resistance to the company's entrance into new markets. Whole Foods includes local products in its offerings, emphasizes environmentally friendlier building practices, and even contributes food to local schools. But, in several cities, its reputation as a predictor of neighborhood turnover has residents feeling nervous.

Elizabeth Greenspan explains, "Indeed, at a time when wealthier people are moving back to cities, and lower-income residents are getting displaced, debates about Whole Foods seem to double as debates over the very character of cities and their residents. Whole Foods rejects the idea that it targets neighborhoods primed for high-end development. 'People use us a gauge of the state of the community, and we don’t think that’s fair,' [Whole Foods spokesman, Michael] Sinatra said. But even John Mackey, the Whole Foods C.E.O., has acknowledged his company’s knack for identifying neighborhoods on the cusp of gentrification."  

Full Story: A Whole Foods Grows in Brooklyn


Brand new! Urban Grid City Collection

Each city has its own unique story. Commemorate where you came from or where you want to go.
Grids and Guide Red book cover

Grids & Guides

A notebook for visual thinkers. Available in red and black.

City Map Posters are in!

Available in 9 different cities.
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $16.95 a month