Not good enough for Whole Foods, so we get a Wal-Mart

Whole Foods MarketIn the weekend edition of the Morgan Hill Times, is a comment to the paper’s hotline about the vacant Target building at Cochrane Rd and US-101. The building is an 80,000 sq ft facility, now vacant since Target moved to the massive shopping center on the eastern side of US-101. One by one the businesses in the center see less traffic, relocate, or close altogether because of the absence of the traffic brought in by Target. It’s not surprising, however, that the new Target Center (complete with Circuit City, Staples, Men’s Wearhouse, Petco, Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Quiznos, Chili’s and soon a nine screen theater) is the major draw in the area of Cochrane Road.

The question asked of the Times ‘Red Phone’ column is, “Why not Whole Foods?” Whole Foods is a good, healthy (and social) fit for this town. Forget that Wal-Mart claims to be bringing a more ‘upscale’ version of its store. There’s still quite a cultural gap between Wal-Mart and Whole Foods Market.

So, why not Whole Foods?

The answer is depressing and complicated.

The explanation from the Times explains the desire of Whole Foods to be here, and much of that is determined by demographic and psychographic profiles. The math involved points to about 50,000 people within a five mile radius of the market, but that’s not good enough– Whole Foods may want that density in a one mile radius.

This is complicated because of the vast amount of open space and farmland in the area.

Trade Joe’s encountered the same situation, being begged to come here. Eventually, TJ’s did make it, and is located right off of US-101 on Dunne Avenue.

So, for all the restrictions on growth to preserve a natural environment, the return is that to sustain some business and income is by bringing in yet another big box retailer. On the other hand, when Morgan Hill turned down the type of retail presence now dominated by Gilroy to the south, all the tax dollars went–guess where?– not here. Most of the time, to get any real shopping done, I find myself driving either 12 miles south to Gilroy, or 12 miles north to south San Jose.

A perplexing situation?


photo under creative commons license, That Other Paper

1 Comment so far

  1. infocalypse | Metblogs San Jose (pingback) on April 19th, 2008 @ 8:22 am

    […] Not good enough for Whole Foods, so we get a Wal-Mart […]

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