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Living in the Food Oasis of Greensboro

EDIT 9/14/ 2013: Due to your comments, I’ve gone ahead and rebuilt my chart, along with edited much of the commentary that I originally wrote about these stores. Thanks to everyone who tipped me off to errors and omissions, which helped me find more quirks and a more complete analysis of Greensboro’s food oasis.

I live in a food oasis. I may complain about lack of stores in walking distance, but I still live in abundance of food.

To ease my urbanist brain, I finally sat down and did the math on how to get to the grocery store from my current residence. There is no doubt that despite my prime downtown location, I can’t get there without vehicular assistance. Sure, I can be like my dad who used to walk 5-10 miles a day, but he did that out of necessity. There are bus routes, but the headways (time it takes for the bus to run its route and back) are horrible. It’s far better and more practical to drive to the store.

Now I’m not knocking out the walk completely. I’ve had my 20-minute walk-to-Harris-Teeter moments too. But those moments were tough. Imagine carrying two heavy bags of pasta cans for a mile. Imagine someone my size, 5’4”, 120 something in poundage, lugging two barely bagged plastic bags through parking lots and around roundabouts and over broken sidewalks.

Oh the horror of the privileged college girl, who’s rebeling from the dining hall and avoiding her new, but annoying and challenging friends. She chose to walk to the store. WALK! Carrying groceries. CARRYING GROCERIES!

I digress. Let’s get back to the present. Here are the raw numbers on time and distance to the grocery store, courtesy of Google Maps.

Store Distance(driving) Distance(Walking) Distance (via Bus with 30 minute headways) Distance via Bike
Deep Roots 1.2 miles (7 minutes) 1.2 miles (24 minutes) 21 minutes 1.2 miles(8 minutes)
Whole Foods 3.3 miles(11 minutes) 1 hour 7 minutes 28 minutes 4.1 miles(26 minutes)
Food Lion #1(Glenwood/Coliseum Blvd) 2.9 miles(10 minutes) 2.8 miles (55 minutes) 21 minutes 2.9 milesb(8 minutes)
Food Lion(Meadowview) #2 2.3 miles(7 minutes) 2.2 miles (44 minutes) 21 minutes 2.3 miles (8 minutes)
Food Lion #3(E. Market) 2.2 miles (6 minutes) 2.2 miles (44 minutes) 16 minutes 2.2 miles (12 minutes)
Food Lion #4(Golden Gate) 3.7 miles(11 minutes) 2.9 miles (57 minutes) 23 minutes 2.9 miles (17 minutes)
Food Lion #5(Alamance Church) 2.2 miles (7 minutes) 2.2 miles (43 mintues) 25 minutes 2.2 miles (12 minutes)
Aldi 4.91 miles (10 minutes) 4.1 miles (1 hour 22 minutes) 37 minutes 4.2 miles (25 minutes)
Harris Teeter West Friendly 3.6 Miles(12 minutes) 3.5 miles (1 hour 11 minutes) 32 minutes 4.3 miles (27 minutes)
Harris Teeter Lawndale 3.6 miles(12 minutes) 3.6 miles (1 hour 12 minutes) 35 minutes 4.9 miles (28 minutes)
Target Lawndale 3.6 MIles (12 minutes) 3.6 miles (1 hour 12 minutes) 35 minutes 4.9 miles (28 minutes)
Compare Foods 2.2 miles (7 minutes) 1.9 miles (39 minutes) 16 minutes 2.2 miles (12 minutes)
Bestway 2.9 miles (9 minutes) 2.5 miles (51 minutes) 26 minutes 2.6 miles (17 minutes)
Super G Mart 5.6 miles (15 minutes) 5.2 miles (1 hour 46 minutes) 36 minutes 5.6 miles (32 minutes)
Walmart 5.3 miles (15 minutes) 5.0 miles (1 hour 40 minutes) 54 minutes 5.1 miles (31 minutes)
Walmart Neighborhood Grocery 6.8 miles (12 minutes) 4.5 miles (1 hour 30 minutes) 30 minutes 4.5 miles (26 minutes)
Li MIng’s Global Market 6.8 miles (12 minutes) 4.5 miles (1 hour 31 minutes) 27 minutes 4.5 miles (27 minutes)
Greensboro Farmers Curb Market 1.5 miles (5 minutes) 1.5 miles(28 minutes) 16 minutes 1.5 miles (8 minutes)
Bessemer Curb Market 2.2 miles (7 minutes) 1.9 miles (38 minutes) 15 minutes 2.1 miles (11 minutes)

My original methodology? I chose stores that were in 15 driving minutes or less and were not Walmart (2 of the 4 Greensboro Walmarts hit right at 15 minutes of driving). Also, all these stores are on my radar either for proximity or my actual love of shopping there. Those stores would be the Target, the Whole Foods and the first two Food Lions on my list.

These stores are clean, have exactly what I want or have the advantage of having all that I want. I do also shop at the Harris Teeters, but my guilt for going there is even worse than my Walmart guilt. I’ll save that for another post or if you really want me to explain in the comments.

After doing the additional math and analysis, new ideas for my grocery procurement appeared. Most notably, the farmers market is only 5 minutes from my house via car, making it the closest option. Shame it’s only open on Wednesdays. If I could get used to riding a bike with a cargo bag or trailer and at a speed that didn’t mow me down (or with added bike lanes on major thoroughfares), then I have far more options for stores. There would be more of a time commitment, but biking is as much an adventure as it is a chance to experience the open air. Thirty minutes on a bike can go by pretty fast.  Walmart is not worth the trip, no matter the mode of transport. The bus headways are still terrible, but if push comes to shove, the options do exist. We still have moderately sized cities in North Carolina without bus service. I’m going to count that blessing of bus service here.

In addition, although not shown on the map, I found many stores in far-flung areas are actually very convenient on foot or bike to their surrounding residential areas. Bestway, a small community grocery, anchors its inner suburb area of Lindley Park. For my dad, the Glenwood Food Lion was only a 24 minute walk and 1.1 miles away from home. Likewise for other homes. We may get a bad rap for being car dependent, but if one is willing to brave sidewalks alongside or biking in the midst of busier roads, we don’t have as bad of a grade as I thought on full-service grocery or fresh food markets. If and when the Renaissance Co-op comes online, it will give that community a store in walking and biking distance, comparable with what is available in other parts of Greensboro. Also, I’ve heard from many others that the Food Lions I cited as dirty, along with Deep Roots, are not that bad. Even though I still can’t vouch for East Market in person, I can vouch for Alamance Church being a better store than it has been in the past.

This does not let the City of Greensboro off the hook for moving towards a more complete street plan for all of our major thoroughfares. If we had that, then many of these areas would become urbanist meccas overnight.

So what if I don’t want to leave downtown or even my apartment complex? Give me Peapod or give me Trader Joes. Peapod could set up a kiosk and storage space at my leasing office. Most everyone in my apartment complex is a choice buyer already. Paying premiums for rent and grocery would just be an additional expense.  I would be excited to not have to drive to the store for small items. I’d just have the five-minute walk to the leasing office. Lowes Foods, a local chain suburban in nature, already offers grocery delivery. They could be that service here if Peapod decides to never venture in this market.

And then there is Trader Joes. They should move to my end of downtown, maybe on the South Elm lot or in one of the still empty storefronts on Elm or Greene Street. Their demographic desires are fairly well-known to anyone who follows grocery news. They want the professor. Moderately wealthy but choosy.  Plenty of those types of people (choosy, if not academic) on my end of downtown. Similar to the Deep Roots in physical footprint, they could also draw people from the older, lower-income areas who may or may not be on public assistance. Plenty of these people already shop at the Aldi, which is another imprint of their company. Why not do the Trader Joes concept where there is at least a moderate amount of  their demographic and a smaller floorspace.

Maybe they are stuck on the fear of theft, which is real, but these grocery companies need a better strategy and profit margin. Far more people need to eat and are willing to pay than steal. Stop the excuses. Oh and while we’re at it, many of these stores have questionable records on employee compensation and benefits, unionization, quality of food as well as their lust for profits even though they essentially are providing a public service. Is there such a thing as a perfect grocery store? One that I can walk to? One that delivers if I can’t or won’t drive?

This concludes my food oasis grocery rant and analysis. Where do you stand? What’s your perfect grocery store? What can they do for us who can afford to go anywhere, to make sure we don’t just go anywhere?


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Alex Moffett

    It’s funny because my situation is almost identical to yours. I live in a food oasis, but there is no adequate public trams option to get back and forth. The only store w/in walking distance of me is Food Lion. While I want to support FL due to their commitment to the community, it is always dirty and I just can’t bring myself to buy fruit with bugs flying around it. So generally I go to whole foods which is within 15 minutes of me. Or if I’m not feeling up to it I have relay deliver groceries (the VA version of peapod).

    • kristenej

      That’s exactly what I don’t want to see when I go to Food Lion. And honestly, I’ve seen it in Harris Teeter too and they are supposed to be more upscale. The Alamance Church Food Lion (another one of the bad ones) now has doors over its cheese, which is really suspicious. Why do you need refrigerator doors over cheese if it’s not being stretched out past it’s expiration date?

      At least you have Relay. I have not used Lowes yet, but part of it is that we have to deliver directly to the leasing office, due to our hallways being gated.

  • CityBeautiful21

    I greatly enjoyed this piece. Well done! I’m curious- could you update this post with travel time/distance using GTA as well? When we talk about food deserts, we’re often talking about them being deserts because people can’t walk to certain kinds of food AND can’t drive there because they don’t own a car. Which means the level of access to those foods by the transit network matters as well.

    You mention that the headways are challenging, but what about the travel times?

    Since you have documented that you live close to the bus/rail hub in GSO, this would also be an interesting way of assessing peak performance under this indicator. If you found it challenging to use the bus to get groceries, others would likely struggle much more. I think it would be valuable to see this laid out. Sorry for asking for more work on a friday!

    • kristenej

      On the buses. GTA’s headways are all 30 minutes. If I were to ride say to East Market Street Food Lion, that’s a 16 minute ride, just outside my threshold and also dependent if the buses run on time and also if I get there on time. Every other store is at least 20 minutes from my house on the bus.

      We do not have NextBus or anything of the sort. City Council voted it down two years ago claiming the only reason people wanted it was to see if the bus would be late. It did not factor in that choice ridership has gotten younger, richer and whiter.

      So basically, you’re better off walking, even though those times were in the 30-45 and sometimes 60-120 minute range My dad did. He would get frustrated waiting 30 minutes-1hour for a bus and just start walking to the store. It’s about a 30-45 minute walk from the Glenwood Food Lion to his house. He could be there and back and never see a bus. He also saved fares and stayed in shape by doing those long haul walks.

      • CityBeautiful21

        That’s so sad to hear on the NextBus issue. Are they aware of how successful real-time has been in the Triangle?

  • Eric Bunch

    Are all of those stores clustered together or are they just on the periphery of downtown? Seems crazy to have so many right outside of walking distance. Not to skirt the issue, but you might need to get a cargo bike!

    We have a similar problem here in KC (surprise!) except we do have supermarkets in Downtown and Midtown but the extra cost of shopping at those makes it worth it for us to drive or bike to the ones 3 – 4 miles away. We also have three or four smaller grocers in walking distance… at least we don’t have to drive to get a gallon of milk. The supermarket in Midtown is the highest grossing grocery store in the metro so it’s also extremely busy and awesomely diverse.

    The other problem we have is that in our big-box society, we have areas of low density, high poverty that cannot support supermarkets. Ergo, food deserts. It’s a strange paradox – the community can’t settle for anything less than a supermarket that it doesn’t have the population to support.

    Trader Joes doesn’t seem to like urban locations. I’d be interested to see customer zip code data for their KC location (which is inconveniently located about 4 miles south of the urban core). I bet a lot of their revenue comes from the sad sacks who drive from downtown/midtown.

    • kristenej

      They are all on the periphery. If you go to Greensboro on Google Maps with satellite view, type in the bus depot as your first direction and then all those streets I mentioned with the stores,(Glenwood is actually on Coliseum Blvd.) then you will see that although they are close, so many are in areas that don’t have proper bike or pedestrian infrastructure. There are sidewalks down W. Friendly so I can get to Whole Foods safely, but biking would be putting my life in danger. Also, we have corner stores. Corner stores that are pure nightmares to use and that sometimes buy old food from the supermarkets and mark it up to sell.

      And Trader Joe’s. Wanted to be near W. Friendly Whole Foods and Harris Teeter, but the neighbors went NIMBY and since they never like to confirm if they are coming until they are coming, the developer couldn’t make the sale.

      I wouldn’t mind smaller markets, but they have to be markets, be reasonable, be clean and be nearby.

      • Eric Bunch

        Ugh. Sounds like a nightmare. About half of our corner stores are nice enough to consider shopping at. And sadly the good ones are often avoided because they get lumped in with the bad ones. I just realized that the shop on my block has a decent selection of packaged groceries and other staples… it’s pretty nice. BUT I didn’t figure this out until after living here for 8 months because the place is called “Holy Smokes” and I never went in until now.

  • kagi

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention bicycling. With my bike and two Wald folding baskets ($22.50 each on Amazon), I carry two large bags — up to 40 pounds — of groceries very easily, plus my laptop bag strapped on top of the rear rack (if I’m on my way home from work). It’s easier than walking, and even easier than riding the bus with big heavy bags. Nearly anyone can ride 2.5 miles in 15 minutes (or 5 miles in half an hour). I use the car very rarely — maybe every three months or so, when I stock up on 40-pound bags of kitty litter. And I live in Greenville, NC — not some biking paradise. I’ve spent some time in Greensboro on a bike, and I can say that it’s a lot easier there than here.

    Now, whether you feel safe bicycling on the roads to your grocery store is another question. In the long term, we all need to be working for better bike infrastructure. In the short term, if you’ve never taken a bicycle traffic skills course, you should — it’ll change your notion of what’s possible in your city and in your life. In Greensboro, Jesse Day at the PTRC is a great resource. Good luck!

    • kristenej

      I am not sharp on my bike at all. In fact, I have two that both need to be serviced. Therefore, shopping is almost out of the question, unless I go up to Deep Roots, since I feel comfortable on the downtown streets at the speed I pedal. One day, I will get myself set up so I can have this as an option and not feel like I’m going to get mowed down or knock myself over. I may know Jesse, I’ll have to check and see.

  • Billy Jones

    You know there’s a very simple reason why downtown has so few options for grocery shopping but it’s not one Greensboro politicians like to talk about. From the 2010 Action Greensboro, Moser, Mayer, Pheonix Associates, Greensboro Downtown Economic Development Strategy:

    “Despite demand retail growth has been slow Despite the fact that
    downtown is attracting significant spending from visitors and a growing
    residential base, businesses have trouble staying open. Assuming an
    industry standard of 10% rent‐to‐sales ratio for successful retail, a
    business would need to generate $420,000 in annual sales in a typical
    downtown space of 3,000 SF with $14/SF rent. Local market data suggests
    that retailers in downtown Greensboro are achieving a lower sales
    volume, and spending closer to 25% of sales on rent. High start‐up costs
    compound already tight operating margins and impede the success of many
    storefront retail businesses. Downtown’s retail is currently
    approximately 15% vacant along Elm St, and anecdotal evidence suggests
    that many businesses do not survive the first year of operation.

    Poor building conditions are the greatest economic barrier to the
    success of new retail. Many buildings in Greensboro were constructed in
    the early/mid‐1900s and are in need of major renovations. The cost of
    rehabilitating ground floor spaces and creating a “vanilla box” for
    retail use will range from $40‐$80 per square foot depending on the
    building’s condition and original design. This either drives rents
    higher or creates an extra upfront burden for the tenant. Many buildings
    have likely remained vacant because owners are unwilling to undertake
    the upgrade cost on a speculative basis.”

    And this one:

    “Retail rents cannot fully support the cost of rehabilitating
    blighted buildings… Absent financial intervention, storefronts will
    remain vacant or will attract tenants of marginal quality and with a
    high probability of failure.”

    No grocery chain in their right mind would locate in an area with such a dismal chance of success. See that figure above, $40-$80 per square foot? Grocery stores and other retailers are used to paying $10-$20 per square foot depending on what part of the country they locate in. If they were to locate downtown they would have to jack prices up so high that anyone who could drive to the burbs would drive to the burbs.

    • kristenej

      Once again, a case for reforming retail in downtown areas. It’s happening in other cities, but these stores are learning to go smaller, and depend on the internet and other stores to provide items that aren’t needed or pre-prepared. Look at Deep Roots. They are a model for what downtown retail will look like in the future. The prices are high, but once residential catches up and maxes out, then we will not see the prices we are currently seeing now.

      • Billy Jones

        You’re correct, it is a case for reforming retail in downtown areas but as long as local tax dollars continue to be used to subsidize the current system (and they very much are) nothing will change.

        As for Deep Roots… if Greensboro’s well-to-do can have co-ops subsidized by the taxpayers then why not in poor communities like on Phillips Avenue where a real food desert exists and people have fewer transportation options than do downtown residents.

  • Aden Hailemariam

    When I lived in South Aycock, I usually went to the Harris Teeter at Golden Gate that is no longer there and the Wal-Mart off 16th St. Drove to everything though I walked to the Curb Market sometimes. I didn’t like the Food Lion at Golden Gate, though. It was just, I don’t know, not attractive. When I was long out of that area and there were rumors recently of a Trader Joe’s coming into town, I thought the old Harris Teeter space would be great for it. I assumed, proximity to people who want the cachet and crazy products (love the herb popcorn and frozen pad thai) and people who could use the lower prices.

    This isn’t close to the comment to this post I promised you. 🙂

  • Aden Hailemariam

    The food oasis situation can seem like some level of the tired (I think)
    meme of the “first world problem”. I can exacerbate the situation by saying that
    my current problem isn’t that I have no easy access to groceries but
    that I am trying to scale back the groceries I buy and grocery stores I
    go to. More on that towards the end.

    So, I believe I live in a food oasis.

    As someone with a car, I have multiple options for groceries within 5 miles of my apartment.

    I did not have a car, the closest grocery store, Lowes Foods, would be
    less than a mile walk away down the road. We do have sidewalks on our
    busy road but they get spotty around the grocery store and the store is
    at a busy intersection on the road.

    People do walk on the
    sidewalks on the road. You see people being active for exercise and/or
    leisure–running, walking, bike-riding. You see people in active wear
    who are likely going to the gym down the road. That gym anchors a
    shopping center but I doubt as many people you see walking on the
    sidewalks are walking (or are choosing to walk) to any of the other
    restaurants or stores in that same complex or at the pharmacy across the
    road. I assume some people walking on the sidewalks are walking/biking
    to work at one of the many businesses on the road. I am not sure how new
    any of the shopping centers around there are–the one that our closest
    grocery store (a Lowes Foods) anchors or the one the gym (the Rush)
    anchors–but it is all pretty clean and new looking.

    But back to
    the grocery store situation. I usually think of a few ways to group the
    stores around us where we can shop: traditional grocery stores, stores
    with grocery sections, and warehouse clubs.

    From my apartment–with a car–I can quickly get to:

    1 Lowes Foods
    2 Harris Teeters
    2 Food Lions
    1 Target with groceries
    1 Super Walmart with groceries
    2 Walmart Neigborhood Markets
    1 Sam’s Club
    1 Costco

    At least. All within 5 miles. There’s an extra-extra cost to shopping at
    a warehouse club so that’s a different story. There is at least one
    international grocer I can think of (an Indian grocer) and one that has
    closed (a Russian deli/grocer).

    Again, if I had to, I could walk
    to my “neighborhood grocer” or ride a bike there. Off the top of my
    head, though, there are issues with this that revolve around time. If
    you walk, or even if you bike without a basket (a cost), you can only
    carry so many groceries. Maybe take the whole family? I think I’ve seen
    this but what if you are single and alone to do your grocery shopping?
    Do you base your meal planning around what you can carry in one trip or
    do you make multiple trips? When I lived in a dense neighborhood in
    Baltimore, I could walk to a very nice Safeway. It was a more
    pedestrian-friendly area which means that it wasn’t weird if you were
    walking–or walking to the grocery store. We made more visits to get
    something here, something there, but we would drive for a bigger trip
    and probably drive and get groceries at other stores as we wanted, like
    at a Target or Whole Foods (when you figured you had a chance to get a
    parking spot when you got back home). The Safeway sold these, I don’t
    know what they’re called, fabric roller bags that I assume one uses to
    walk their groceries home. I kinda chuckled when I saw them up above the
    freezer aisle but they did look convenient. Dorky? Maybe, but, hey,
    this was a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, city, maybe I could make it
    cool? (Reminds me of the “making buses sexier” article you shared.)

    I think of the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market as close, too, but that is
    at least 7 miles away. I usually don’t have much of a plan when I go
    there. Other people may, but I usually don’t. I don’t go often enough to
    have relationships with any farms or people, I am not sure what will be
    in season, and I usually go and buy…whatever.

    I used to live in South Aycock neigborhood in Greensboro so I could
    walk to the Curb Market. I loved that. I think I may like that market
    better but, again, I didn’t ever really have much of a plan. I’d buy
    produce but it was almost like an amusement park. I’d go see what there
    was, ooh and ahh, and usually end up with something sweet or salty, like
    cake or dip, to take home rather than ingredients for the week’s meals.
    Reminds me of the last time I went to the Piedmont Triad Farmers
    Market–there were booths selling things that just seemed like food
    you’d get at a fair. Maybe not so different than the snacky, impulse
    buys at the grocery store?

    We have CSA and similar delivery around here, too, right?

    there are grocery options of different kinds in the city and just in the
    area I live in which is an area at the intersection of major roads,
    highways, 2 cities and a town.

    Again, you have a lot of places to
    go nearby, if you have a car. No car? Do you have the time it takes to
    get to and from the grocery store with adequate food (“adequate” foods
    can differ from person to person, family to family depending on need,
    lifestyle, whatever). Even with a car, do you have the money for gas to
    go all over to grocery shop? And how does money factor in? Do you find
    one store overall less costly than another? Is produce more/less costly
    at one store or another? Are you willing to buy store/private label
    brands and/or use coupons? With a certain amount of money to spend on
    food or the greater category of groceries, do you buy fewer things? Buy
    more basic foods, like ingredients? On the flip side–still looking at
    lower cost, more processed, calorie-packed foods? Hey, when I went to
    UNCG and lived on campus, I walked to the CVS on Spring Garden to get
    groceries sometimes. Not knowing comparable costs of the food I got, or
    that there were more options outside of what I got, and that I didn’t
    travel too far before I started taking the HEAT bus, CVS it was.

    And this is where my “problem” floats. The problem of trying to scale
    back the groceries I buy and grocery stores I go to.

    I was spending too much money on food.


    Two general
    reasons: no/bad meal planning and spending money on “entertainment
    food”. In a household of two, there was poor meal planning. Lots of
    groceries bought and so often they were ingredients and perishable food
    so often enough you could walk into the kitchen and think, “there’s
    nothing to eat” (read: I don’t want to prepare food right now). Next, I
    was spending too much on food I prepared for get-togethers–parties I
    was hosting or dishes I made for potlucks–and ingredients I bought for
    my hobby of making desserts.

    I shop at Whole Foods and Earth Fare
    (as well as Deep Roots where I am
    an owner) because they carry the groceries we need and want and I [can]
    complete grocery trips there. I shop at Lowes because it is RIGHT THERE
    Stores like Food Lion, Harris Teeter and Lowes continue to add more
    items that you’d expect to see at a Whole Foods or Earth Fare which is
    great because this helps me make fewer trips to those two stores, which
    are much farther from my home. (This paragraph is from another long
    comment I made on a post about groceries here

    side note: the two Harris Teeters carry different products. And the two
    Food Lions carry different products. Enough of a difference so that I
    go to one or the other of the same store or go to both of the same store
    near me.

    Cutting back on my dessert-making hobby, reaaally cutting back on
    food for entertaining, some serious but surprisingly easy meal planning,
    and more of an eat-to-live plan is helping make our grocery budget

    But see, I just wrote it. I had a choice to make it more of
    an “eat-to-live” situation. I mean, it’s less of a choice in that we
    need to budget, but I do have some choice in grocery options close to

    Geez, I even do what I’ll call “grocery tourism” and stock up
    when I can stop by the Trader Joe’s in Winston-Salem when I’m in the
    city doing other things. I know I’m not the only one! Let’s face it, I
    have driven to Winston-Salem just to go to Trader Joe’s.

    • kristenej

      Wow, this is awesome! It also confirms just how spoiled we are to live here. Also confirms what I started to touch on in the main post, that there are a lot of strip retail centers that do have enough pedestrian infrastructure to be urbanist. I was also thinking of those rolly carts. If I had one of those, I’d be doing more walking to Deep Roots. However, there’s the issue of either the rails if I cross over them or the big hill if I go under them.

      I also don’t do good meal planning. I live alone. I might as well be back in undergrad with the way I eat. Also looked at my Whole Foods cookie box and noticed that it still has questionable materials in it, but I paid a dollar more for it so I could feel better.

      Also, Traders does way better than WF on having normal food at reasonable prices. Considering that you live close to the interstate, that’s not so much tourism as it is making the drive for better groceries. Think about folks in the Triangle especially who live miles apart from the grocery, yet are considered to be in the same neighborhood, i.e. Brier Creek. Was there yesterday and they have sidewalks and crosswalks, but crossing US-70 is a nightmare experience on foot and honestly in vehicle too.

      • Aden Hailemariam

        Totally forgot that there is an Aldi within 3 miles of me, too.

        It’s so much to think about, I can see why it can be easier for people to just get fast food. I’m quite interested now in the grocery shopping habits of recent immigrants and refugees. I have some experience with new immigrants and food shopping and preparation but I wonder what the difference is in where they shop and how they eat. I am reminded also of modified food pantry requests based on foods that immigrants and refugees would be more used to. In Greensboro, some are living in pretty low density areas…well, a lot of us do but transportation can be an issue.

        I joke around that a place in Greensboro is a neighborhood to me not necessarily because it is anchored by something like a grocery store but by at least a nail salon. That is probably the a strip retail center effect to me. I see nail salons everywhere! But anyways, while I can see the infrastructure for a pedestrian-frenemy-ly road/strip mall, it all still seems disjointed. Like you said, even with sidewalks and crosswalks, traveling not-by-vehicle can be a tense experience.

        I always remember the day I did not want to deal with holiday traffic at Friendly Center. I parked at one end of the mall and walked all over it, shopping and such. It was great because I didn’t have to deal with parking, other cars, traffic police, etc. that comes with the holiday traffic. But I feel like I patted myself on the back way too much–wasn’t this supposed to be the point of the “outdoor mall” fashioned after plazas or downtowns or whatever? Why did I feel brave and cool but still weird for crossing the small but busy intersection to get from one part of Friendly Center to another?

        The infrastructure is great but the attitude or stigma towards walkers makes me sad. Even I wonder why people “are walking”. Again, I am lucky to have a choice where others don’t. I’ve thought about using the bus to go downtown…not that the closest GTA stop to me is really close and not that it wouldn’t take forever to travel around by bus but sometimes you have to. But, now, I’d just like to.

        • kristenej

          I can’t tell you how funny I feel when I walk at Friendly. Especially going from Whole Foods to the Apple Store or back down to the Macys or New York and Company. Ironically the Bog Garden is right behind there and people stroll through there all the time. At least it’s possible, but there are a lot of broken sidewalks and pathways between these areas.

          Super G seems to be the home base of any and all cooking that’s not common to the United States. I’ve not been to Li MIng yet, but I heard it combines both the different foods and the cleanliness we expect from a supermarket grocer.

  • cyclewrite

    I live in a near food oasis –we’re car-free and I live downtown. I live near 2 different Safeways chain stores in different directions….a 15-20 min. walk each, depending on which one I choose. Also there’s local chain. What does tick me off is that there is a ritzy large shopping mall right downtown with over 100 stores….yet no grocery store! How stupid …given business traffic during the work week when people do shop during lunch. Both Toronto and Vancouver have grocery stores located downtown.
    Farmers’ market is 9 km. away and is best for me to get there by bike. But it is the best one, since it’s both slightly yuppiefied yet real farmers are there for summer and fall with a ton of produce. Other local markets don’t nearly have as many different farmers and high volumes of choice fresh veggies and fruits. Of course, we like to get bison for special meals. 🙂
    I bike when I grocery shop since it’s waaaaaay easier for me to haul a lot more weight with less effort. In the winter time, that’s when I have to plan more carefully since some winter days are so cold, that it is nearly dangerous to unmitten hands to lock up the bike. I make sure I’m stocked with perishables, toilet paper, etc. for days the temperature drops to -35 degrees C or blizzard blows through.
    However step only 5 km. away and another neighbourhood is in a food desert.

    • kristenej

      We used to have a grocery at our major enclosed mall, but they moved to a newer suburban strip about two miles down the road. Then it and the majority of this chain (Winn-Dixie) shut down nationwide. Also, the new Kmart that was anchoring that center shut down. This all happened about 20 years ago. The Renaissance Center was also home to a Winn-Dixie before it shut down. What was a case of a weak grocery chain has now turned into a blight situation. None of these former Winn-Dixies, save the ones in more affluent areas, survived shutdowns. The Kmart is now a for-profit college. However, I think rental policies and ownership of these strips were also their downfalls. Also, many of the businesses in both strips went out of business nationwide.

      • cyclewrite

        Both Vancouver and Calgary have a popular local chain grocery store that have created loyal customer bases. It’s always great to see such businesses survive.
        It is a problem when a shopping mall relies on its economic viability on 1-2 anchor national chain stores..and your local examples illustrate that.

  • Tdtatum

    In Pittsburgh, it is very easy to walk or take the bus to a store. Driving in Pittsburgh is a nightmare and taking the bus is great. Every time my mother and I go to Pittsburgh, we enjoy not driving and taking the bus to get around. In Greensboro, I would take the bus, but the wait times are crazy. Additionally, I live off S. Elm Eugene Street and I am struggling with finding the right store that carries all or 80% of what I eat. Depending on the product, Deep Roots price can be 2x a much as Whole Foods. Food Lion produces are horrible and Target and Walmart produces are decent. There is one store you did not mention in your article, Earth Fare. Earth Fare prices are similar to Whole Foods and maybe closer to the downtown area than Whole Foods. So, what happen to the concept of a neighborhood grocery store?

  • kristenej

    It’s a money thing. The stores can only survive by being big, but just barely. I saw a documentary on this once, why stores are so big. Going back to being small would require a lot of changes and possibly a loss of profit. Thanks for pointing out Earth Fare. I also left out the Fresh Market and the Downtown Farm Market. We have so many stores, it all comes down to driving vs. public transit when we think about retail placement.

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