Sunday, November 10, 2013

Can You Hear Us Now?

Atkins Farm Country Market deep South Amherst

Since the founding of our country the "right to petition our government"  under the vital protection of the First Amendment has been a cornerstone of American freedoms.

The infamous -- some would say sacrilegious -- cancellation of West Side Story at Amherst Regional High School in 1999 started out with a petition circulated by an attractive 17-year-old that garnered 158 signatures in one day.

Of course a year earlier that same High School had 300 kids sign a petition to Superintendent Gus Sayer demanding reinstatement of off campus privileges so kids could smoke (presumably cigarettes).

The ancient tried and true petition approach has, unlike newspapers, transitioned brilliantly into the digital age., a somewhat (sarcasm) left leaning organization sponsored by gazillionair George Soros, has made it as easy as eating apple to pie to start an online petition.

And you can tell it attracts a broad spectrum of petitioners -- not just uber liberals -- because currently Cinda Jones, a somewhat Conservative, has one gaining steam.

Her (naturally) business oriented petition seeks  to entice Atkins Country Market in South Amherst to open a satellite operation on the other side of town.  More specifically, in her about-to-be-built Trolly Barn, a mixed use 12,000 square foot commercial/residential building. 

Not one to take chances, the petition originally had a goal of 50 signatures which was attained within hours of going live, then reset to 100; and after that goal was quickly reached, reset again to 200.  And probably will be reset once more to 500 when that milestone is reached.

Interestingly North Amherst neighbors staunchly opposed to Ms. Jones other endeavor -- selling land for 175 units of student housing known as The Retreat -- have signed the petition.  So it must be a good idea.

At the very least each petition signatory should get a coupon for a free cider donut.  Or, perhaps, a used "Stop The Retreat" lawn sign. 


Anonymous said...

Please distinguish:

1) a person

2) a person's ideas

I tend to believe all people, like Cinda (and even Larry!) are good.

And sometimes their ideas are good (like Cinda's for Atkins' North).

But sometimes their ideas are not so good - i.e. bad - like The Retreat (at least in its current form).

Larry Kelley said...

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't a new location so close to the existing store just take customers away from the S. Amherst location? Honestly I saw the petition and thought that people will just sign anything. I mean to actually attract customers they would have to stock the same quality and variety as their other location, and in a town of this size, where would all the new customers come from? Especially considering all the dough they have just put into expanding their store, I do not see this happening.

Larry Kelley said...

You couldn't get any farther away without leaving Amherst. I would guess a minimum of 15 minutes from their store in South Amherst out to North Amherst.

Look how many Dunkin Donuts and Subways there are within 15 minutes drive of each other.

Cinda said...

25,000 commuters drive through North Amherst from the hill towns every day and have no place to stop for diverse fine groceries. 10,000 plus UMass kids live north of town. These people don't often, or ever, get to Atkins south. This is a great opportunity for Atkins and North Amherst. Thanks for considering it , Pauline!

Anonymous said...

wish instead a co-op like the one in Brattleboro could happen. A model for mixed use building.

Larry Kelley said...

Feel free to found one. I'm sure Cinda would be happy to rent to you.

Anonymous said...

Dunkin Donuts and Subway do not have anything near the overhead of an Atkins. An Atkins must stock many hundreds of fresh perishable items. If they were similar we would see Atkins popping up all over. Why doesn't Watroba's just follow the Atkin's model if it is so perfect?

Anonymous said...

Yep, let's encourage Atkins to make the same mistake Louis' Fine Foods did because Louis' is doing ever so nicely right now...,.

What people need to realize is that Atkin's has a niche market -- think in terms of "carrying capacity of the ecosystem." There is a finite amount of business for them as their market is quite narrow with places like Whole Foods & Trader Joe's on one side and the budget-conscious consumer on the other and the reality is that this market demographic is shrinking.

It ain't the '80's anymore...

UM Professors don't live in Amherst anymore - they live in places like Conway, Colrain & Concord. Amherst is no longer a community with a high discretionary income -- the cost to live in Amherst has gone way up from what it was in the '80s while the the number of people moving up the income ladder has dramatically declined.

Assuming for the sake of argument that there are 10,000 UM students living in North Amherst, it isn't like it was 30 years ago -- three dramatic differences. First, as both UM & housing costs have dramatically outpaced inflation over the three decades, most can't afford Atkins. Of those who can, most will go with Whole Foods because they aren't psychologically tied to the local area.

And this goes to the third thing that Atkins -- or any local merchant -- has to deal with: UM students no longer are no longer psychologically living in Amherst. In part it is the internet, in part it is that they now drive home more often, and in part it is that the townies mske them feel unwelcome -- but it isn't like it was in the '70's & '80's.

Anonymous said...

I remember Atkins ill-fated store in Belchertown. 'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

That's funny, because I think Atkins should start a petition for Cinda to building a housing development for students in S. Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:03 is correct. Unless they think the Retreat traffic will support the location.
Maybe a new Bar, Dunkin Donuts and 7-11 will pop up as well.