Word on the street is that the Dollar World on Farmington Avenue in the West End of Hartford is moving. Actually it’s the sign in the window that says they’re moving, but word has spread through the neighborhood like the flu through daycare. The locals aren’t upset with Dollar World, it just had the misfortune of leasing the storefront that previously housed the West End organic food institution of Cheese & Stuff.
About ten years ago, organic grocer Wild Oats bought Cheese & Stuff. They promised to keep the local market in business but later went back on their word. The small local market was closed to reduce competition for their newer and larger Bishop’s Corner location in West Hartford. After years of boycotting the bait-and-switcher Wild Oats, West Enders celebrated the arrival of Whole Foods a few years ago, but have never completely forgotten the Cheese & Stuff.
One of my friends suggested that Kyle and I reopen the Cheese & stuff now that the old location is going to be available again. We’re currently focusing on other goals, but the idea of opening a neighborhood market seems like it merits consideration.
The community would certainly be supportive, there is sufficient parking, and the Wild Oats (Bishop’s Corner Whole Foods) seems to be on the path to either a sale or closing due to a national anti-trust decision. The Whole Foods is still just a few miles down the road, but a local fresh food grocery could be an attractive alternative to the Blue Back Experience or the Stop & Shop/Shaws combo further down Prospect Avenue.
The main challenge to opening an upscale market is that a foodie needs to have a big role. Without selecting the right items or the ability to inspire customers, the store could have trouble building a loyal following. But if any neighborhood can do it, then it is the West End. We have the talent to identify the right mix of products, and the good sense to appreciate the effort.
So who’s going to bring back Cheese & Stuff?