Saturday, March 1, 2008

Oakland Magazine Joins the Anti-Poor-People Parade

Just got my monthly (?) copy of Oakland Magazine in the mail. A strange sort of magazine, it continually suggests that I should subscribe, yet I've received it for more than two years without paying a dime.

This month's edition contained what, all in all, was a good article about grocery shopping options in Oakland.

But, not to beat a dead horse, but I'm pretty irritated that they felt the need to join the parade of those who feel the presence of a 99 cents only store in West Oakland somehow hurts the people living there:

West Oakland residents wanted a healthy, community-focused, full-service grocery to anchor the Mandela Gateway retail and housing redevelopment project on Seventh Street, across from the West Oakland BART. What they got instead was a 99¢ Only chain outlet. But the scrappy worker-owned Mandela Food Cooperative ... negotiated a deal that will allow it to open a small (2,000-square-foot selling area) market as early as April.

This is exactly why capitalism works. I have no doubt that some people do want an overpriced failure of a "food cooperative." Thankfully, capitalism knows better, and the free market brought residents of that area with a store that provides them with reasonable merchandise at an excellent value.

I also find tiresome the author's suggestion that the 99¢ Only store is somehow declasse or inappropriate for West Oakland. Give me a break. As a matter of fact, I shop at that store not infrequently, as I often use the West Oakland BART station to commute. The store has good food at a great price. I plan to post some pictures in the near future to give readers a sense of what this store has to offer.

I also walk by the Mandela Foods location, and there is no way those guys are going to open in April. Not suprising, but it is pretty annoying when you consider that we as a city are subsidizing that store, giving it a financial advantage over the 99¢ Only store. Even with that disadvantage, the 99¢ Only store will win. Mark my words.

Incidentally, the 99¢ Only store clientele is extremely diverse, which I consider a great thing. The staff appears to be very diverse as well. Also a great thing.

I recently asked a checker about the news I'd read that residents weren't going to shop at the store. "Psssh," she said. "I see everyone in here. We're the best bargain in town."

Amen to that, and thanks to 99¢ Only for providing West Oakland with unbeatable value.

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