Whole Foods looks to buy six Johnnie's Foodmaster stores

Including the ones in Charlestown, Brookline and Somerville and Arlington, the Globe reports.



Free tagging: 


Whole Wallet, then

Seriously, I would do a lot more shopping at Whole Foods if they were not so expensive.

I pay $1.50 to $2 less per large container of lactose-free milk at Market Basket. I pay much less for King Arthur Flour at Costco in a big bag - or even at Market Basket in a big bag. Ditto for 10kg bags of rice - if Whole Foods even has those. Trader Joes charges about 1/2 to 1/3 for things like sesame oil. Johnnie's has similar discounts on most staple items, and MB has things in large bulk.

Those price differences might not make a difference to somebody who is single. For a family of four with two teenagers and occasional extra teenagers, the price differences can really add up quite fast.

Put simply: the Medford Whole Foods is a convenience store for us. We don't do regular shopping there due to the price differences for basice items.

Believe it or not, if you

Believe it or not, if you price compare, there are some things cheaper at Whole Foods if you shop the center aisles. I have found it on frozen fruit and as well as "healthy" brand name items.

I am on a restricted diet for health reasons and do shop around. I am not buying line caught swordfish, organic tomatoes or vegetarian meat products. I can be found shopping at Haymarket, Walmart and Sav-A-Lot as well. I am not a single 'urban' professional, retired executive, nor a trust fund baby.

One of the few frozen dinners that I can eat is $1.40 cheaper at Whole Foods then at my local Shaw's. AND it goes on sale about every four weeks so it is $2.40 cheaper. They have greek yougurt on sale this week for the same price it was on sale last week at Roche Brothers. They also have coupons online.

As with everything, you really need to shop around to get the best price and not fall for the marketing that every store uses.

A Guide To Shopping At Whole#$&%s

A simple guide for shopping at Whole Foods without giving up your 'whole' check:
-Only buy whats on sale and stock up (get creative with your meals).
-Stay out of the aisles and the prepared food section (this is where they make their 'whole' money) .
-Buy bulk dry goods (Often cheaper than anywhere else).

IF you can get there

Sure, if you have a car you can get to other markets in the area.

If you don't, it is miles and multiple transfers on buses.

If you live in the area around either Somerville location, and don't have a car, you are pretty limited in your ability to comparison shop.

That's the problem - the area is already short on the basics.

The "Whole Foods is so

The "Whole Foods is so expensive" meme is pretty trite. I make much lower than the average salary in Boston and can afford to shop at Whole Foods just fine. I just budget carefully and don't buy unnecessary luxury items. Also, they stock produce and other food that other supermarkets simply do not stock. They're also consistently rated as a good employer and often help contribute money to their neighborhood/city. You could do a lot worse.

Whole Myths

Whole Foodites are like Apple Fanboys, blinded by their devotion to the corporation. Both are willing to pay more for a luxury retail experience, which is fine, thats what brands are for. But dont spread misinformation. Sure, Forbes or some other corporate mag says of the national chain retailers, Whole Foods is better than some of the others. But those magazines don't follow family owned businesses like Hi Lo or Johnnies. Not only has research shown that a local business keeps 10 times the money in the community compared to a national chain like Whole Foods (50 cents of every dollar versus 5 cents for national chains), but the Globe did a great piece when Hi Lo was taken over by Whole Foods, interviewing Hi Lo's employees about their pay and benefits and comparing it, unfavorably, to the lower pay and benefits that Whole Foods offers. So shop at Whole Foods and enjoy the good feelings that brand apparently gives you, but don't spread the myth that this chain is better to its employees than local businesses, which is not true. And dont tell me Ill save money by shopping at Whole Foods when they take over the Foodmaster where I shop, since there is already a Whole Foods 1/4 mile away that is more expensive for my groceries than Foodmaster.

Who the hell shops at a grocery store for the "experience"?

I shop, occasionally, at Whole Foods for the better produce, cheeses and meats, and not for some bs "good feelings" or "the experience". I cannot even begin to fathom what those terms are intended to mean in this context.

Grocery shopping is strictly utilitarian. I need food to live and since I don't have space to grow my own (although I do pay someone else semi-locally to grow a lot for me), I have to buy it. I do that at grocery stores. Shopping for groceries is an incredibly dreary experience no matter where I go, and I want it to end as soon as possible because it is an incredible waste of time that could be spent doing things I actually enjoy.

Roche Bros. in West Roxbury

OK, not the experience of parking there; that's enough to frighten away the hardiest of Boston drivers. But beyond the groceries, it's really a community meeting place, where you go to catch up with the neighbors - something you just don't get at the Shaw's at the other end of the neighborhood.

When are people going to understand that the consumer wins?

Who cares which store pays their employees more? Hi Lo was so great to their employees that the employees don't have a job now. Great job Hi Lo! If Hi Lo had downsized, made more of a niche market and kept a clean store, they might still be in business. No one forced them to sell to anyone.

Jonnies is better than Whole Foods in many areas. Sales on meat, nuts, Fruit, yogurt, etc. But I can't go to Jonnies and get a salad bar and get a meal with 500 calories and 50 grams of protein for 4 bucks. In fact, I can't go anywhere for that except for Whole Foods. So yea, maybe I do go to Whole Foods for the "experience". That experience is a nutritional meal that you can't get anywhere else for the same price.

Depends on the Location, Pete

I can't go to Jonnies and get a salad bar and get a meal with 500 calories and 50 grams of protein for 4 bucks.

In Charlestown you can. They have a Salad Bar. When I worked in the Navy Yard, I used to go there for lunch all the time.

Johnny's in Melrose is so

Johnny's in Melrose is so expensive my 89 and 90 year parents cannot afford to shope their. Johnny's rises their prices so the retirement condo next to it are stuck at paying higher than average prices. They are taking advantage of the elderly. Also the food is awful. Wholefoods has some expensive, but alot of reasonable priced items and are good quality. It is a matter of price checking.

It's called GhettoMaster for a reason

Johnnie's may once have been a solid and reliable local grocery store chain, but not in my local lifetime. Honestly, Johnnie's across the board skeeve me out. They earned their GhettoMaster name easily.

Market Basket is better quality, more variety, and good bang for your buck. So if a low brow & low quality 'local' chain goes out of business, it will hopefully encourage MB and WF to read their markets and locations wisely. The Wild Harvest location that was not far from the Somerville FM flailed and lost b/c they didn't serve the neighborhood's nearest them well.

Ghetto is a very over and misused word

In today's slang many young people [especially those of ANY race raised in a middle class suburban post 1990+ atmosphere] it means anything that's inexpensive and/or non-flashy or 'new'. Notice I didn't use the word 'cheap'. I used metropcs for a few years and the attitude I got from people was informative. The phone worked, gave me good unlimited mobile internet access, unlimited texting, unlimited minutes. Signal strength was consistently good, better than my previous AT&T, as good as or better than my previous Tmo. And cost FAR less than either per month. But because it's inexpensive and doesn't have a store on Newbury St. it's 'ghetto'.

Foodmaster and Market Basket provide decent affordable food shopping. WTF is wrong with this? Is it a completely sanitized, 'upscale' shopping experience? No.

Go away Wal Foods

There is another Wal-Foods a half mile away if I want to support the Tea Party, why do they have to kill off Johnnie's? Are their customers so fat and lazy they cant walk a couple hundred yards to the other one? They are getting to be like McDonalds or starbucks.

I may be getting trolled

I may be getting trolled here, but this isn't really Whole Foods "killing off" Johnnie's so much as the owners are killing these locations off by trying to get out with a profit.

Terrible job. Charlestown is

Terrible job. Charlestown is the only place I know of that carries Reese's peanut butter, plus their prices are great so I stock up on other stuff I can't easily carry from my local Shaw's home. Not worth a drive over if it's WF.

Fascinating. The key to the


The key to the story is that the upscale supermarket chains are battling it out. If it wasn't Whole Foods, it'd be Wegman's - or something else.

That's one thing that frustrates me about these stories, which are often presented as creeping gentrification. Supermarket chains aren't urban pioneers; they're not risk-takers. They're reactive and responsive. When a Whole Foods opens up, gentrification isn't beginning and it's not reaching a tipping point. It's over. It's already happened. There'll still be some in the neighborhood in subsidized units, or longtime homeowners. But the new units that are coming on to the market in any neighborhood with a Whole Foods are priced out of reach of median-income households, and the neighborhoods are already closed off to new arrivals who can't pay those prices.

Foodmaster is cheap and friendly - and the food and stores are accordingly mediocre. But if you're really going to miss it, get out their on the barricades in support of higher densities, taller buildings, and more commercial spaces in your neighborhoods. The higher the density, the greater the diversity of viable businesses. That's the only way to ensure that the Whole Foods doesn't come at the expense of the Foodmaster.

You have a point to make, but

You have a point to make, but you didn't make it. Hyde square in Jamaica Plain is not gentrified, but that's where a WF went. Hyde square is near a gentrified district, but it's as close to the Bromley-Heath housing projects as it is to the gentrified Pondside district.

In other words, yes - WF didn't start gentrification, but it still has plenty of opportunity to cause the spread of gentrification.

Been there lately?

I was hanging out there last week, and I was shocked at how much Hyde Square has gentrified in the past decade.

Good index of gentrification progress: count the fixies chained to fences. It's a sure sign the house is shared by a bunch of middle-class hipsters rather than a poor family. The hipsters used to be in south JP, now they've moved north. South JP now looks like Wellesley, and Hyde Square looks like what JP used to be a decade ago.

Whole Foods is around the corner to the south, but the newest outpost to the north is the ex-church, where the hipsters will soon be able take their MMA classes. The Latino stores will only hold out until the rents go up. Alex's Chimis can't possibly have the same margin as City Feed.

Coming soon: middle-class takeover of the JFK school with hipster progeny.

When those places can support

When those places can support other smaller businesses successfully bigger ones will move in.

Big supermarket chains have always fled higher crime areas, or at least areas perceived to have higher crime, because of shrinkage. Supermarkets operate at very tight profit margins and any significant theft causes them to operate at a loss.

The big supermarkets already

The big supermarkets already tried,Purity Supreme turned over two stores,one on Talbot ave,the other on Columbia rd, and tthey didnt last long.The Columbia rd one was robbed,there was a shootout between security guards and the robbers, and the police followed a blood trail across the street to the robbers house I believe.


After BK opens their new location on Beacon Hill, smart ass. Every business has a target market, just because WF is'nt in the hood does'nt make them a bad company. How come no bodegas have opened shop in Needham? Great Lodgic.


As a shopper of Johnnies when

As a shopper of Johnnies when I lived in Medford. Many Johnnie's stores are life lines to older folks that live near their stores. Unlike other stores, Johnnie's is a community market for many of their locations.

I really see there being an uphill battle by residents who live near these locations, especially Charlestown. There's no other grocery store near Charlestown, except Whole Foods near MGH, and the Somerville Stop & Shop.

I agree Johnnie's selection is kinda meh. I refuse to buy meat there anymore after finding expired meat and moldy cheese in the meat department. But it serves a purpose.

Johnnie's Food MASTER of Crumpets

Cream of tartar whey,
Boiling away.
I'm your source of healthy portions.

Pan monopoly.
Rich rotisserie.
Chop your breakfast on a mirror.

Taste me you will see,
More is all you need.
Dedicated to... how I'm feeding you!

Come shopping faster.
Obey Food Master.
Your fat burns faster.
Obey Food Master.

Master, master.

Master of Crumpets
I cook with a ring.
Toasted and served with a dollop of cream.

Minded by me
You eat my baking.
Just call my name 'cause I'll sell ice cream.

Master, master.

Where's the food that I've been after?

Master, master.

Promised only fries.

Laughter, laughter.

All I hear and see is laughter.

Laughter, laughter.

Laughing at my pies.

Health is worth all that.
Natural sausage brat.
Just a rhyme without a reason.

Never-ending maize.
Thrift on numbered days.
Now your spice is out of season.

Taste me you will see,
More is all you need.
Dedicated to... how I'm feeding you!

Come shopping faster.
Obey Food Master.
Your fat burns faster.
Obey Food Master.

Master of Crumpets
I cook with a ring.
Toasted and served with a dollop of cream.

Minded by me
You eat my baking.
Just call my name 'cause I'll sell ice cream.

Master, master.

Just call my name 'cause I'll sell ice cream.

Master, master.


I'm assuming you've been waiting a loooong time for a Johnnie's Foodmaster story to come up so you could use this.

Very nice. When do you release "...And Produce for All"?

Right after I finish...

Blackened (Swordfish)
Eye of the Beerholder
Harvester of Storrow
To Live Is To Fry
Pepper Messiah
Cabbage, Inc.
Holier Than Swiss
The Undefrosted
Of Boeuf and Man
The Cod That Failed
The Kugel Within
Ride the Icing
For Whom, the Spelt Rolls?
Fade to Plaque
The Wing That Should Not Be
Disposable Hoagies
Fight Fryer with Fryer
Don't Knead on Me
Through the Cleaver
Wherever I May Foam
Enter Canned Spam

Did you say SPAM!

Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spam Spam Spam Spam,
Spamly Spam! Wonderful Spam!
Spamly Spam! Wonderful Spam!
Spamly Spam! Wonderful Spam!
Spamly Spam! Wonderful Spam!

Not that Foodmaster in Arlington is anything special

but it at least gives Stop and Shop some competition, and there are three Whole Foods within ten minutes driving distance. Another isn't needed.

I wonder when a neighborhood "save our Johnnies, no more yuppies" movement will emerge. We can't let Jamaica Plain out-hip us!

Of course, as soon as the Burlington Wegmans opens, it's going to kill everything else within ten miles of that. But, details.

Beacon St. Somerville or MVP?

I strongly suspect that WF wants a bigger store very near their current location in Medford, which cannot expand.

Either that, or by "Somerville" they mean the Beacon St. location.

I have it on fairly good authority that the only reason they kept that Medford store, formerly a Poverty Supreme, was to keep Trader Joe's from snapping it up. It is, however, a much better size for a Trader Joes.

Johnnies is kind of run down, but they have really been improving in recent years. It is one of the few left that don't demand cards and massively overprice staple items. They also are one of the few grocery stores in the area - both at Beacon St. and Mystic Valley Parkway, and it would be tough for people who do not have cars to find general groceries if WF moved in.

Beacon Street, Somerville

Re-read the Globe article:

Negotiations are still in the early stages, but Whole Foods wants to move into six of the 10 Johnnie’s Foodmaster sites in Arlington, Brookline, Charlestown, Melrose, South Weymouth, and on Beacon Street in Somerville.
It is unclear whether Johnnie’s Foodmaster would continue operating the remaining four stores in Lynn, Medford, Whitman, and the Somerville location on Alewife Brook Parkway if it finalizes an agreement with Whole Foods.

I don't understand why Whole Foods wants the Inman Square Foodmaster. It's less than 3/4 miles from their Prospect Street store (orignally a Bread & Circus).

The Medford Whole Foods used to be a Wild Oats, which was a competing chain before Whole Foods bought them out. Before that, wasn't it a Wild Harvest (Star Market's attempt at an organic food market)?

I can't imagine Johnnie's continuing to operate a widely dispersed 4-store rump of a chain once the Whole Foods transaction goes through. Ideally for their customers, they'd sell the Alewife store to Market Basket -- but is MB interested in buying it?

It's not that close to Union Square

and I bet a fair number of people avoid it, and especially its chaotic parking lot, because it's such a madhouse. A second Market Basket would relieve pressure on it, and attract new customers who are scared off by the existing store, or who live in Arlington and will have just lost their Foodmaster.

Typically Market Basket likes

Typically Market Basket likes to OWN the store and/or plaza they reside in. Market Basket recently just got their lease terminated in a plaza they didn't own because Wal*Mart bought the plaza and gave MB the boot so Wal*Mart could build a store. (Wal*Mart knows Market Basket is a viable competitor..)

A quick look at the Registry of Deeds website for Middlesex County says that "Foodmaster Holding Company" and "FoodMaster Fellsway Medford, Inc" and "FoodMaster of Alewife, Inc." do seem to OWN the shopping centers the stores are in. From my quick glance, it appears that it LEASES all the properties going to WF (including Johnnie's original store at 41 Beacon Street, Somerville.)

I can almost guarantee the DeJesus family (the folks who own the Johnnies Chain) are looking for buyers of the Plazas they own. I wouldn't be surprised if Market Basket, or some other chain buys the whole plaza very soon.

Performance issues?

I don't know what the numbers are for the Johnnie's Foodmaster Beacon St. location, but given that it's seldom busy when I go by it (at least twice a day most days) I have to wonder if Johnnie's wants to get it off their books somehow as underperforming. This sale of other properties to Whole Foods could be a reasonable way for them to do that.

Seldom Busy?

I can tell you that it has a lot of people in there at rush hour and fairly long lines.

Unless your definition of "busy" = full parking lot, which it rarely has at any time.

I love my Johnnies

I love my Beacon St Johnnies. Where can you go and purchase your shopping, wine, and get $200 cash back in 15 minutes? Plus I love the staff. Please do not take by Johnnies away!